Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 10-4

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Second Session

TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
SPEAKER'S RULING: LIEB - Fiscal Policy Formulation,
(Pt. of Privilege by Hon. M. Samson [Hansard p. 29, 03/26/10])
Not a matter of privilege 169
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 171
TIR - Wagmatcook Roads: Paving - Support, Mr. K. Bain 172
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Fin.: Getting Back to Balance - Summary Rept., Hon. G. Steele 172
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
SMU Huskies: National University Men's Hockey Champions -
Tribute, The Premier 172
Health - Travel and Accommodations Assistance Policy,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 175
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 76, Earth Hour: N.S. Participation - Thank,
The Premier 178
Vote - Affirmative 179
Res. 77, Cameron, Hannah: Canwest Canspell Natl. Spelling Bee -
Congrats., The Premier 179
Vote - Affirmative 180
Res. 78, Justice: Crime Prevention Awards - Recipients Congrats.,
Hon. R. Landry 180
Vote - Affirmative 181
Res. 79, Easter Seals N.S.: Dedication - Recognition,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 181
Vote - Affirmative 182
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 10, Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act, Hon. P. Paris 182
No. 11, Diabetic Persons Support Act, Ms. D. Whalen 182
No. 12, Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act, Ms. K. Regan 182
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 80, Cromwell, Edith: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. S. McNeil 182
Vote - Affirmative 183
Res. 81, ERD: Yarmouth Ferry Serv. - Restore,
Hon. K. Casey 183
Res. 82, Wilson, Freddie: Freddie Wilson's Overpass - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex 184
Vote - Affirmative 185
Res. 83, Gov't. (NDP): Deficit - Truthfulness,
Mr. L. Glavine 185
Res. 84, Gov't. (NDP): Campaign Slogan - Meaning Explain,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 186
Res. 85, Coral Hbr. Pee Wee Hockey Team:
Julian Mem. Hockey Tournament - Welcome,
Hon. J. MacDonell 186
Vote - Affirmative 187
Res. 86, Thibault, Marguerite: Western Co. Reg. Library - Anniv. (29th),
Hon. W. Gaudet 187
Vote - Affirmative 188
Res. 87, Coalition for Kids Intl.: King's Edgehill Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 188
Vote - Affirmative 189
Res. 88, Lockeport Reg. HS & Elem. Sch. - UNESCO Designation,
Hon. S. Belliveau 189
Vote - Affirmative 190
Res. 89, École Grosvenor Wentworth Park Sch. -
"Racism. Stop It!" Comp., Ms. K. Regan 190
Vote - Affirmative 190
Res. 90, Gov't (NDP) - Yarmouth Ferry Serv.: Loss - Effects,
Mr. K. Bain 191
Res. 91, Cole Hbr. - East. Passage MLA: Engagement - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Whynot 191
Vote - Affirmative 192
Res. 92, HPP: United Way Campaign (2009) - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 192
Vote - Affirmative 193
Res. 93, Riemersma, Fred & Sippie - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. M. Scott 193
Vote - Affirmative 194
Res. 94, Canning - Reagh: Commun. Contributions - Acknowledge,
Mr. G. Burrill 194
Vote - Affirmative 194
Res. 95, Crooks, Gerald: Hfx. Reg. Fire Serv. - Retirement Congrats.,
Hon. K. Colwell 195
Vote - Affirmative 195
Res. 96, Com. Serv.: Rockcliffe Apartment Residents - Min. Meeting,
Hon. C. Clarke 195
Vote - Affirmative 196
Res. 97, Admiral Digby Museum: Melodeon - Acquisition,
Mr. H. Theriault 196
Vote - Affirmative 197
Res. 98, Gov't. (NDP): Cat Ferry - Funding Cuts.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 197
Res. 99, Russell, Bruce, QC: Cdn. Tax Fdn. Bd. of Governors -
Election, Ms. K. Regan 198
Vote - Affirmative 198
Res. 100, Gov't. (NDP): Soft Tissue Cap - Retain,
Mr. A. MacMaster 198
Res. 101, Firth, Cory - Cdn. Canoe/Kayak Assoc. Award,
Hon. K. Colwell 199
Vote - Affirmative 200
Res. 102, Lawrencetown Exhibition Youth Arena: Hockeyville Comp. -
Vote, Hon. K. Casey 200
Vote - Affirmative 200
Res. 103, Wharf Rat Rally - TIANS Award (2009),
Mr. H. Theriault 201
Vote - Affirmative 201
Res. 104, Sydney Mines Commun. Policing Office: Volunteers -
Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 201
Vote - Affirmative 202
Res. 105, Cooley, Pam/CanShare Hfx. -
Hfx. Chamber of Commerce Award, Ms. D. Whalen 202
Vote - Affirmative 203
Res. 106, Com. Serv.: Cumb. Child Advocacy Bd. - Thank,
Hon. M. Scott 203
Vote - Affirmative 204
Res. 107, Waterman, Archbishop Vincent: Crawford Award - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 204
Vote - Affirmative 204
Res. 108, Brown, Kerri Lyn/Tamarac Educ. Ctr.: African Children -
Fundraising, Mr. A. MacMaster 205
Vote - Affirmative 205
Res. 109, Sampson, Donna/Bayview Grade Class - Haitian Fundraising,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 205
Vote - Affirmative 206
Res. 110, Harvey, Marvin: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. K. Bain 206
Vote - Affirmative 207
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, ERD - Yarmouth-Maine Ferry: Subsidy Cut - Reasons,
Hon. S. McNeil 207
No. 2, Southwestern N.S.: Transportation Study - Fast-Track Request,
Hon. K. Casey 209
No. 3, Prem.: Barristers' Soc. Fees - Details,
Hon. S. McNeil 210
No. 4, ERD: CFIB Round Table - Attendance Info,
Mr. L. Glavine 211
No. 5, ERD - Yarmouth Ferry Serv.: Decision - Explain,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 212
No. 6, SNSMR: User Fees/Gov't. Charges - Details,
Mr. A. Younger 214
No. 7, ERD - Yarmouth-New England Link: Cuts - Implications,
Mr. K. Bain 215
No. 8, Com. Serv. - Rockcliffe Apts.: Prev. Subsidy - Cancellation,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 216
No. 9, Justice - Cumb. Co. Correctional Ctr.: Closure - Impact,
Hon. M. Scott 218
No. 10, Health - DHA Deficits: Assistance - Details,
Ms. D. Whalen 220
No. 11, Nat. Res.: Northern Pulp - Land Purchase,
Mr. L. Glavine 221
No. 12, C.B. & Central N.S. Railway: Operation - Support,
Hon. C. Clarke 223
No. 13, Justice: Courtroom Safety - Ensure,
Hon. M. Samson 224
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, House of Assembly Management Commission Act,
The Premier 226
Hon. S. McNeil 228
Hon. M. Scott 230
Adjourned debate 233
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. A. MacMaster 233
Adjourned debate 241
HOUSE RECESSED AT 5:10 p.m.. 241
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:13 p.m. 242
ADJOURNMENT MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
ERD: Yarmouth-U.S. Ferry Service - Funding:
Hon. W. Gaudet 242
Hon. P. Paris 245
Hon. C. d'Entremont 247
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Mar. 31st at 2:00 p.m. 250^^
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 111, SMU Huskies Hockey Team/Coach/Staff: CIS Championship -
Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 251

[Page 169]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Gordon Gosse, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Alfie MacLeod

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll now get underway with today's proceedings. I want to announce the winner of the late debate. First of all, it will be held at the moment of interruption at six o'clock. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly urge the Minster of Economic and Rural Development to provide funding for a ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States and support the local economy.

That is submitted by the honourable member for Clare. That will be at six o'clock this evening.

SPEAKER'S RULING: LIEB Fiscal Policy Formulation (Pt. of Privilege by Hon. M. Samson [Hansard p. 29, 03/26/10]) not a matter of privilege

Secondly, I have a Speaker's Ruling I want to read from an issue that was raised here in the House the other day. The honourable member for Richmond rose on a matter of privilege on Friday, March 26, 2010. The Chair reserved dealing with the matter and indicated a decision would be provided at a later date.

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169

The honourable member for Richmond alleges that a statement made by the honourable member for Lunenburg West in this House on March 25, 2010, constituted privilege. To summarize, the honourable member for Richmond states that all Parties in the House have, and have had, representation on the Legislature Internal Economy Board and that all the members of the House bear responsibility for the system that has been in place respecting members' expenses, not just some members or some Parties or the government at the time; in other words, that all bear responsibility for policies relating to MLA expenses.

It is true that no one government past or present set up the fiscal policies related to MLA expenses, rather it was the decision of various LIEB board members over the years. The Chair treats this matter seriously. I believe though that the statement complained of is not a matter of privilege. It is known that matters of members' expenses are dealt with by the LIEB on which all Parties have representation. It is also known by the Chair that decisions taken there were based on unanimity or consensus. Therefore, the statement about this government, or for that matter any other government, not creating fiscal policies in relation to this matter is factual. Certainly the matter of MLA expenses has been a difficult issue for all of us and I thank members for their attention.

The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I must say I do find the ruling that has been made unfortunate and what that will do for this session, but at this time I would like to present to you a document that was left here in the House of Assembly. The nature of the document is that it appears to be the Hansard version, the top part of the comments made by the honourable member for Lunenburg West. The last line on the second paragraph, it says:

"Our government was not the creator of these fiscal policies related to MLA expenses, but we will be the government that sends them packing."

From there, Mr. Speaker, the document has written, and I will read as follows. It says:

"Frank: Compare what Gary Ramey said to Graham Steele's remarks about IEB rules in his famous 2005 speech in the House.

Freedom of speech is the most fundamental privilege of MLAs. Not to be interfered with lightly, especially by the Speaker!

If Graham could make those remarks, on an occasion when he stood alone against all other MLAs, and it was not a matter of privilege, simply a difference of opinion, and nothing was withdrawn, how the heck does the Clerk or Speaker suggest that Gary's mild remarks ON FISCAL RESTRAINT be withdrawn?

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It is well known and identified that MLA allowances were reduced as a budget item, last Fall. The Throne Speech says MLA allowances were excessive. Must that be withdrawn also??

If necessary, I would be happy to join you for a discussion with Rod . . ."

. . . which I believe is Mr. MacArthur, the Clerk of the House . . .

". . . about privilege versus differences of opinion."

Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you that this was typed by Mr. Dan O'Connor, chief of staff to the Premier's Office and it was advice that was given to the Government House Leader, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. I believe the integrity of your office is essential for all members of this House and this certainly raises into question as to who was behind the ruling that you have given today, whether it was yourself as Speaker or whether it was Mr. O'Connor, the chief of staff for the Premier's Office and the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, I made that decision based on consultation with my Clerk and my ruling is final.

We're going to move on now to the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, yes, day three. This petition circulated Cumberland County as a result of newspaper ads last May 13th. The headline says: Dexter says he'll keep Tory promises. We all know what happened with those promises. The prayer says:

"We, the residents of Cumberland County implore that Premier Darrell Dexter keep his word and build a correctional facility in Cumberland County!"

Mr. Speaker, this petition I'm tabling today has 40 names to bring a total to this point of 118, to which I affix my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

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The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the Wagmatcook First Nation, the operative clause being, "We, the residents of Wagmatcook are signing this petition to let all integral parties relating to the actual beginning of the paving process of provincial roads in Wagmatcook know we support the paving of these roads."

This petition contains the signature of 212 residents and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a document entitled, Getting Back to Balance Summary Report, a report on the back to balance consultation sessions held around the province over the past two months. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure for me to rise in the House today and pay tribute to the newly crowned National University Men's Hockey Champions, the Saint Mary's Huskies. (Applause) I would like to welcome the coaching staff and those members of the team that were able to join us for a few moments from their studies, which I am sure is important at this time of year, to join us in the gallery. I thought I would just try and introduce the ones that are here, I hope I have everyone.

They are: Andrew Hotham; Justin Munden, who the Minister responsible for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says is one of his star students (Laughter); Kyle Doucet; Brandon Verge; Scott Brophy; also Steve Sarty, who is part of the coaching staff and Athletic Director; Trevor Stienburg, who is the Head Coach; alumni liaison Chris Larsen; Assistant Coaches Tom Lee and Tyler Naugler; and VP of Administration, Gabe Morrison. I hope I haven't left folks out, but if I have, thank you very much for being here.

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For those who watched the game, I don't have to tell you about the extraordinary display of skill, determination and poise that was demonstrated by both the Huskies and the University of Alberta Golden Bears in Sunday night's final and while there were many remarkable plays and miraculous saves throughout the Huskies' journey to national supremacy, I want to take a moment to talk about this team off the ice.

Every day these university athletes perform a tricky balance of academic, athletic and social responsibilities. They are to be commended for their dedication both to their sport and their studies, because this goes beyond the hockey season, these young men are preparing for the rest of their lives.

It should also be noted that this team showed tremendous bravery and leadership with its decision, mid-season, to welcome Mike Danton into their family. This is an individual who made mistakes but who paid his debts and I want to acknowledge the team's courage in offering this man a second chance. (Applause)

I also want to thank these players for being such strong role models for their peers and for all Nova Scotians. The University of Alberta Golden Bears should also be commended for their outstanding performance, these 13 time national champions gave the Huskies a fantastic battle but in the end, after a gut wrenching overtime period, this extraordinary group delivered the first national hockey championship in Saint Mary's history. This is a significant accomplishment given the long and consistently successful program the Huskies have brought to the rink.

To Coach Trevor Stienburg, a two time CIS Coach of the Year, you have found your place in Saint Mary's University athletic history along side the likes of the great Bob Boucher, who coached Saint Mary's for many years but who came up just a little bit short in four national championship appearances.

To all the players - in particular the seniors - remember this journey, remember the days and weeks following and cherish these memories and this accomplishment for the rest of your lives. This is something you earned together and will be a bond for all of you forever - thank you for allowing us to share this moment with you.

On behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, congratulations on your success. Thank you for being such wonderful ambassadors for your university and for your province. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House as a proud Saint Mary's alumnus, to add my congratulations to the Saint Mary's University Men's Ice Hockey Team. As mentioned in yesterday's ChronicleHerald, Bob Boucher is up in Heaven,

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looking down proudly on these young men who won Saint Mary's first-ever CIS championship in men's hockey.

All season the Saint Mary's Huskies have impressed Halifax with their hockey talent and have demonstrated to all of us that this is a team who not only play with a great deal of passion, but act with a great deal of maturity. We, as members of the Legislature, cannot be prouder of these young men and what they have accomplished as a team. It has been 37 years since Saint Mary's played a Canadian university hockey final and they did not disappoint us - even sweeter, Mr. Speaker, they were able to win by defeating the Alberta Golden Bears, who entered the final game with a record of 13 national titles.

On behalf of our Liberal caucus, Mr. Speaker, I congratulate coach Trevor Stienburg and assistant coaches Tyler Naugler and Tom Lee for their successful season and, most importantly, I congratulate all members of the Saint Mary's Men's Ice Hockey Team. They worked hard and they have earned the right to be called national champions. So, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, we extend our best wishes to our national champs and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As a Saint Mary's University graduate, it gives me great pleasure to rise in response to the Premier's statement this afternoon and to congratulate the Saint Mary's University Huskies Men's Hockey Team on winning that first national Canadian inter-university sport hockey championship.

This year's team, built on resilience, heart, and talent, did something that has never been done before in the history of university's remarkable athletic history - they brought home the title and they made us proud. This victory is special in so many ways, Mr. Speaker. As we know, it takes more than talent to assemble a championship team. From training camp to the last overtime goal, the Huskies were determined. Their victory is a testament to the strength and perseverance required not only to defeat the favourite Alberta Golden Bears, but also to come together when it mattered most.

Mr. Speaker, much credit must be given to all players, to coaches and to staff, to the athletic director Steve Sarty - a former student of mine at Alice Street School in Truro - and the fans who supported the team throughout the year. Taught you everything you know, Steve. Each player, coach and fan can collectively take pride in this victory. The players, because of their commitment to the game and to each other and to the university - when the puck crossed the goal line at 9:15 of overtime, it was their moment to share and celebrate a year of hard work and effort; coaches and staff, because they commit so much to the building of the right team - they sacrifice time from their families, they patch wounded players and

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they willingly give back to the game they love; and the fans, because they carried the team throughout the season, supporting them and rejoicing in every goal, every save and every check.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, congratulations to the Saint Mary's University Huskies for solidifying their rightful place in men's CIS hockey. You are the champions and, more importantly, you represented your province and your university well. Congratulations. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to make a statement on a matter that is of great interest to all members of this House and their constituents.

In the Speech from the Throne, we outlined our plan to bring better health care to families, to make life more affordable, and to make the right decisions in difficult times. Nova Scotia has an excellent health care system, but we are one of Canada's smallest provinces and there are some specialized services that we are not able to provide. When someone needs to go out of the province to get a medically-insured health care service we pay the cost of the procedure, but the cost of travel and accommodation can be an obstacle for many people.

In the past, we have advocated that government should provide assistance with these costs so that Nova Scotians can access the type of health care that they need. Not being able to afford to travel should never be the reason why someone does not get health care. We made a campaign promise to change that, and I'm happy to tell all Nova Scotians, through you, Mr. Speaker, that we have created a travel and accommodation assistance policy that will help ease the burden for patients. This assistance will be made available to patients who have received approval for medically-insured services that are not available in our province. (Applause)

It is the next major step in making health care more accessible. We are pleased to provide up to $1,000 per round trip and as much as $125 per night up to a maximum of $1,500 per month for accommodations. This policy takes effect on Thursday, April 1, 2010. This policy will not cover every cost for every individual. That is not what we promised, because that is not affordable, responsible, or sustainable.

We know that communities will continue to rally around families - that's just what Nova Scotians do - but they can do that now knowing that government is also doing its part, providing a reasonable level of assistance to people who require insured medical care not available in Nova Scotia.

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As we move forward, we will continue to look for ways to ensure that available dollars can meet the greatest needs. At the same time, we are doing what we can to provide as much assistance as possible while living within our means.

Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence I'd also like to make an introduction, if I might. Joining us today in the east gallery is Louis Brill, the President and CEO of the Nova Scotia Lung Association. With Mr. Brill is Lesley Dunn, Manager of Resource Development of the Lung Association. Mr. Brill and his colleagues at the Nova Scotia Lung Association have been important advocates on behalf of patients who need to travel away from home for health care. I ask all members of this House to welcome Mr. Brill and thank him for the work he and his organization have done on behalf of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[2:30 p.m.]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today and just respond in a few words to the minister's statement and her announcement of a travel and accommodation policy for the people of Nova Scotia.

This is certainly something we've needed badly, and something that the Liberal caucus has been calling for, for a number of years, and it is good to see that a commitment made has now been followed through on. It was certainly a promise made during the election. (Interruption) Well, we're keeping record, we're looking at them, but I agree with the speaker who said yesterday that we have to acknowledge when something is done right for Nova Scotians, and that is what we see here today. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: That's the Liberal way, Diana.

MS. WHALEN: This is a very important thing to all of us as members. We all have constituents who may find themselves in need; it could be ourselves, a member of our family, or somebody that we represent. We know from past experience that there have been some very brave Nova Scotians who brought their stories here to the Legislature.

At this point I would like to mention my colleague, the honourable member for Richmond, who represented well his constituents, the late Marilyn MacKay and her husband Ken, who had the courage to tell their story and shine a light on what was missing here in Nova Scotia - the financial difficulties that can face Nova Scotians who have a need to travel out of this province for medical care. In fact, they explained to us how it can take your focus away from getting well, from looking after your health, when you have tremendous financial worries and cares. I think we owe them a great note of thanks today as well, and the fact that they would do that.

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I'd like to mention that it has been brought to our attention from a number of other people who are receiving care out of the province that they believe this policy should carry Marilyn MacKay's name to remember her in future as this goes forward. I'd like to mention that to the minister, that there may be an opportunity to do that.

At the same time we would also like to acknowledge the hard work of Louis Brill of the Nova Scotia Lung Association. We realize he has been on the front line of bringing these stories to the attention of Nova Scotians and to the attention of us here in the Legislature. It's important that their tireless work is now recognized and that people who become sick and must leave the province for treatments that we don't offer will now have the opportunity to do so with far less worry and concern and the ability to actually concentrate on their health. That's what is most important today.

Mr. Speaker, again, I've acknowledged and congratulated the government, and I think that is the proper thing when the right thing is done for Nova Scotians. This has been a battle that was fought by many people, and today the ultimate winners are the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I too am very pleased to stand today to talk to this ministerial statement that was brought forward by the honourable Minister of Health. I too want to extend my warm welcome to Louis Brill, as well as Lesley Dunn. Louis - I remember when he first became the executive director at the Lung Association. He came in to familiarize himself with the minister, bring his issues forward. At that time, I was lucky enough to be the Minister of Health.

We had a long discussion about out-of-town procedures and having to live and wait for these types of processes. Of course we did talk about Marilyn MacKay, and we did talk about a file that was before all of us at that time, and the member for Richmond brought this one forward on many occasions here in this House when I did have the opportunity to sit in that chair.

At that time I was very happy to bring a program forward, one that was to be developed further. It was a $350,000 program at that time and I'm very happy to see a fuller program, a $750,000 program, one that will have a full slate of regulations and rules that will go with it. I can say that our Progressive Conservative caucus supports the NDP's expansion of this program as well as that formalization of the program criteria.

I do have one quick concern, though, and that is to make sure the criteria are well known, make sure they are up on the Web site, make sure the Lung Association and other associations that do advocate on behalf of patients who do have to travel outside Nova Scotia

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know what the rules are so that we don't really set expectations too, too high. We do know the Newfoundland program, I believe, is much, much richer and does cover lots more things.

I do fully endorse this program. I do thank the minister for bringing this forward, and I'm glad to have played a little part in this one as well. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted to welcome in the east gallery, the radio and television arts students from the Waterfront Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system, and faculty members Yvonne Colbert and Dave Bannerman. I would ask you to rise and receive the warm welcome from the House of Assembly. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all our guests here this afternoon and hopefully they enjoy the proceedings here at the Legislature.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise in my place in the House today and introduce three residents of Sydney: Linda Roach, Virginia Dauphinee and Heather Warner. Mrs. Roach is here today representing the tenants of Rockcliffe Crescent in Sydney and is here to meet the minister today and she's accompanied by her backup team who are here today. I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome them to the House and wish them much success with their meeting later today. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education got ahead of me there, but I do want to also bring the attention of the House to a former Page of the Legislature when I was a Page here, and that is Garreth MacDonald. He is also here with the radio and television arts program. Garreth, if you could stand and have the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 76

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

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Whereas Nova Scotians must do their part to help end the damaging effects of climate change by making significant efforts to reduce our reliance on coal and oil; and

Whereas Earth Hour is held each year as a symbol of energy conservation efforts and people in more than 120 countries around the world mark Earth Hour by turning off all unnecessary electrical equipment for one hour; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power reported an 18-megawatt reduction in consumption during Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27th, which was 20 per cent better than last year and which represents enough power to light more than 1.4 million 13-watt compact florescent light bulbs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank and recognize the many Nova Scotians who participated in Earth Hour and encourage them to continue to make efforts to reduce energy consumption and have a cleaner and greener Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 77

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

Whereas Grade 7 student Hannah Cameron from Halifax competed in the 2010 Canwest Canspell National Spelling Bee in Ottawa; and

Whereas Ms. Cameron, a student at Herring Cove Junior High, competed against 21 other participants from across the country and placed third; and

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Whereas Ms. Cameron earned a spot in the national competition because she won The ChronicleHerald regional final in February and was awarded a $5,000 educational award and a trip to Ottawa to compete in the nationals;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulated Hannah Cameron for winning third place at the 2010 Canwest Canspell National Spelling Bee and her inspirational commitment to lifelong learning and fun.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 78

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

Whereas I was pleased to recognize today Nova Scotia's leaders in crime prevention for their outstanding work to prevent crime and make communities safer; and

Whereas recipients were chosen based on commitment to their local issue, empowering their community, leadership by encouraging and educating others, working together to build partnerships, and being innovative, inclusive and flexible; and

Whereas the awards were presented in six categories: Donald Clairmont received the individual award, Ross Heimpel was the winner of the youth category, the community group or organization recipient was Eskasoni's Parents Against Drugs, community policing award went to Deputy Chief John Collyer, Gary Nickerson was the recipient of the media award, and the business community award went to Emera and Henry's Cameras;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Donald Clairmont, Ross Heimpel, John Collyer and Gary Nickerson who are not only leaders but are committed to empowering Nova Scotia's communities to be leaders in crime prevention.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I do my resolution would you allow me to do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In connection with my resolution on March being Easter Seals Month, I would like to introduce some people who are here in the gallery today. I'd ask them to stand. Heather MacDonald is Coordinator of Community Programs and Barry Saunders is Chairman of the Board of Easter Seals Nova Scotia. Easter Seals enables Nova Scotians with physical disabilities to enhance their quality of life by realizing their potential. This month they have an Easter egg hunt to raise funds and more exciting events occur in July and October as well. So I'd like the members of the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 79

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

Whereas for the past 79 years Easter Seals Nova Scotia has been helping children, youth and adults with physical disabilities to obtain necessary devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers and communication aids; and

Whereas Easter Seals provides family and community support, including job skills training for adults with physical disabilities, support networks and information for families with disability concerns; and

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Whereas March is Easter Seals Month;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the dedication and commitment of Easter Seals Nova Scotia to the people of the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce my bill, would you allow me a brief introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Sure.

MR. PARIS: Thank you. I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery. We have some guests with us today and I'd like to briefly introduce them. I would like to ask them to stand as I read out their names: Mary Tulle and Ray Kavanagh from Destination Cape Breton; Keith MacDonald from Cape Breton Partnership; Scott MacAulay, Cape Breton Resorts; Eileen Lannon Oldford from CBCEDA; and Marlene Usher from ECBC. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[2:45 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 10 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 63 of the Acts of 2005. The Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act. (Hon. Percy Paris)

Bill No. 11 - Entitled an Act to Support Diabetic Persons in Nova Scotia. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

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Bill No. 12 - Entitled an Act to Support Students with Diabetes and Other Life-threatening Illnesses. (Ms. Kelly Regan)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 80

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

Whereas on November 12, 2009, the residents of Inglewood, and indeed all Nova Scotians, lost a teacher, a mother, a community leader - a truly remarkable lady - with the passing of Dr. Edith Cromwell; and

Whereas Edith, who was known for her integrity, sense of humour and humility, was the first member of her African Nova Scotian community to graduate from high school and also one of the first African Nova Scotians to attend the Nova Scotia Teachers College in Truro; and

Whereas Edith received many honours in her life, including the Order of Nova Scotia, was inducted into the W.P. Oliver Wall of Honour, was a recipient of a Doctor of Civil Law from Acadia University, and was one of the six leading ladies honoured during this year's African Heritage Month;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize the life of Dr. Edith Cromwell and her many contributions to the people of her community and all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

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The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

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

Whereas hundreds of concerned business owners, residents and community leaders travelled to Halifax to demonstrate their support for a ferry service in Yarmouth; and

Whereas on that day this government sat behind closed doors, ignoring the passionate remarks of community leaders, labour leaders and tourism leaders; and

Whereas the minister himself refused to entertain this group in public and chose to meet with a small delegation, only to comment that this NDP Government was not interested in revisiting the subject;

Therefore be it resolved that this government and this Premier listen to Nova Scotians and take immediate action to restore a vital international link to Nova Scotia, beginning in the 2010 tourism season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. JIM MORTON: May I have a moment to make an introduction, Mr. Speaker? I would like to draw your attention to the east gallery and introduce Don Fraser who is with us today. Don is in the practice of law in Kentville. He's a long-time political activist known to many of us in this House and he is the vice-president of my Kings North NDP Riding Association. So welcome, Don. Please give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

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RESOLUTION NO. 82

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

Whereas Freddie Wilson of Hantsport has been a welcoming sight to many motorists along Highway No. 101 for over 30 years; and

Whereas he has generated much notoriety as the "waver" of the Bog Road Overpass; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has recently placed signage at the overpass naming this structure as "Freddie Wilson's Overpass";

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Freddie Wilson for his years of welcoming travellers to the Annapolis Valley, and congratulate him for having the overpass at Bog Road named Freddie Wilson's Overpass.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 83

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

Whereas just before they were defeated, the Third Party shifted payments to universities which, in his former role as critic, caused the current NDP Minister of Finance to cry foul with great indignation; and

Whereas against the explicit advice from his own hired consultants and abandoning his former crusade, the NDP Minister of Finance chose political optics over good public

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policy and artificially inflated his deficit by shifting a university payment from this coming budget to one the NDP thought they could blame on the Third Party; and

Whereas the NDP has to borrow $341 million before tomorrow - the bill collector has come knocking on the door - and our shared debt is now $341 million higher, thanks to the Minister of Finance's political shell game;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly urge the NDP government to finally abandon their hypocritical political posturing and start telling the truth. I'll just table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 84

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

Whereas federal, provincial and local politicians travelled to Halifax in an attempt to wake this government up; and

Whereas passionate remarks were delivered by all in an empty attempt to save the lifeline of Yarmouth; and

Whereas this government refuses to ask the federal government for assistance to maintain a ferry service in Yarmouth now and into the future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House ask this government what their 2009 campaign slogan, "Genuine leadership for today's families" really means.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

[Page 187]

RESOLUTION NO. 85

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

Whereas Peter Julian spent much of his life promoting and facilitating minor hockey in the community of Indian Brook First Nation Shubenacadie; and

Whereas the Peter and Mary Agnes Julian Memorial Hockey Tournament brings young hockey players from across Canada; and

Whereas the Coral Harbour Peewee Hockey team from Nunavut will compete in this year's Peter and Mary Agnes Julian Memorial Hockey Tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly welcome the Coral Harbour Peewees to Nova Scotia and congratulate the organizers of the Peter and Mary Agnes Julian Memorial Hockey Tournament and wish them success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 86

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Monsieur le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que, le 6 juillet 2010, Marguerite Thibault de l'Anse-des-Belliveau célébrera son 29e anniversaire à titre de bibliothécaire au sein de la Western County Regional Library; et

[Page 188]

Attendu que Mme Thibault est bien connue de la population de Weymouth et des localités avoisinantes pour son amour de la littérature et sa détermination à aider les gens à trouver le bon livre à lire; et

Attendu que Mme Thibault a très hâte a l'ouverture de la nouvelle bibliothèque de Weymouth ce printemps;

Par conséquent, il est résolu que les membres de cette Assemblée reconnaissent le travail de Marguerite Thibault, la remercient d'avoir aidé les clients de la bibliothèque pendant toutes ces années et lui souhaitent du succès dans ses nouvelles entreprises.

Monsieur le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

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

Whereas on July 6, 2010 Marguerite Thibault of Belliveau's Cove will celebrate 29 years as a Librarian with the Western County Regional Library; and

Whereas Mrs. Thibault is well-known throughout the village of Weymouth and the surrounding communities for her love of literature and her commitment to helping people find that good book for an interesting read; and

Whereas Mrs. Thibault is looking forward to the opening of the new Weymouth Library this Spring;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the contributions Marguerite Thibault has made and thank her for assisting the library patrons she has helped over the years and wish her all the best in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

[Page 189]

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 87

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

Whereas Coalition for Kids International (CFKI) is a non-profit organization which gives support to Canadian youth who want to bring happiness to less fortunate kids who are faced with terminal illnesses; and

Whereas Ben Church, Francis Laing, Tyler Graves, Shawna Ellis, and James Keddy are students at King's-Edgehill School in Windsor who recently travelled to Poland as part of a 12-day Journey for a Lifetime program, where they spent time with about a dozen children helping to fulfill their wishes; and

Whereas encouraging and supporting initiatives such as the one these five amazing youths embarked upon will impress upon them the importance of helping others and will inspire them to continue to give back to those in need in their own communities and beyond;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate these youths on undertaking such a rewarding and humbling challenge and wish them great success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 88

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

[Page 190]

Whereas Lockeport Regional High School and Lockeport Elementary School are the first schools in Nova Scotia to be formally accepted as participants in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Associated Schools Project Network; and

Whereas the participation of the Lockeport schools in the UNESCO ASP Network will enhance the learning experience of the students by providing holistic learning and meaningful knowledge-building on the strength of the provincial curriculum; and

Whereas Lockeport area students and teachers will have opportunities to develop new skills in creativity, problem solving, communications, and information technology by being involved in the UNESCO ASP Network;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Lockeport Regional High School and Lockeport Elementary School for becoming the first schools in Nova Scotia to be formally accepted as participants in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Associated Schools Project Network.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 89

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

Whereas the "Racism. Stop It!" Awards are a national video competition for students aged 12 to 20 to help mark March 21st as the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and

Whereas Andrew Stickings' Grade Five class at École Grosvenor Wentworth Park School in Halifax had three entries make the top 55 videos in this national competition; and

[Page 191]

Whereas the Grosvenor Wentworth entry Alone won top prize in this national competition in Ottawa on March 23, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Stickings, the Grade Five students, and all the participants in this national competition, and wish them well in their fight against racism.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Victoria-The Lakes

RESOLUTION NO. 90

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

Whereas thousands of room nights are booked across this province each and every year; and

Whereas from Yarmouth to Cape Breton and all points in between, the hospitality sector has become dependent on the ferry service in Yarmouth to deliver tourists looking for accommodations, attractions, and great food; and

Whereas on release of this NDP Government's refusal to honour a contract with Bay Ferries for the 2010 tourist season, thousands of room nights have been cancelled, forcing some businesses to look at layoffs;

Therefore be it resolved that this NDP Government explain to Nova Scotians how cutting the ferry service to Yarmouth, and the loss of 500 jobs in the area, is part of their platform plan to make life better for today's families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:00 p.m.]

[Page 192]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 91

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

Whereas the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is a member of the NDP Caucus and is always working hard for the best interests of her constituents, her colleagues and for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the member met and fell in love with Gerry Goldsworthy; and

Whereas yesterday, in front of her friends and fellow MLAs, Gerry proposed to the honourable member and she has happily accepted;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on her engagement to Gerry and wish her all the best in their new life together.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 92

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

Whereas the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, as lead department for the 2009 United Way campaign, organized volunteers and 43 government departments and agencies; and

Whereas the provincial government once again exceeded their United Way fund-raising goal, raising more than $528,000; and

Whereas the financial support from government employees played a significant role in enabling the United Way to raise over $6 million for organizations who have a tremendous impact in our communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the staff of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection for their leadership on the provincial government campaign and extend our appreciation to all government employees, individuals, donors and volunteers alike for their efforts in supporting the United Way.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 93

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

Whereas Fred and Sippie Riemersma of Rodney, Cumberland County, will have been married for 50 years on April 21, 2010, and are celebrating that anniversary with friends, family and the community on April 3rd; and

[Page 194]

Whereas Fred began his relationship with Sippie as pen pals in Holland and after a short courtship were married before Fred set off across the Atlantic to come to Canada to work as a farmhand in Cumberland County; and

Whereas Fred and Sippie have had five children, 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren who will be visiting them on their Rodney farm and celebrating with family, friends and neighbours in the Rodney Community Centre on Saturday afternoon;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Fred and Sippie on being an inspiration to hardworking Canadian immigrants who have made a good life in Nova Scotia, their successful 50 years of marriage, and best wishes on many more happy and healthy years together.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

Certainly the theme today seems to be romance, so that's, perhaps, a good thing.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 94

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

Whereas Reagh Canning of Upper Musquodoboit worked tirelessly on evenings and weekends between 1953 and 1956 in the original construction of the Upper Musquodoboit Community Hall; and

Whereas Reagh served as president of the Upper Musquodoboit Community Association, the owners and operators of the hall until 2006 that ran dances there every Saturday night in the late-1950s and 1960s, ran the canteen for the community hall picnic through the 1960s, and ran a weekly bingo in the hall from the early 1990s until 2005; and

[Page 195]

Whereas Reagh Canning is understood in his community to have been the drive and the heart of the Upper Musquodoboit Community Association for over half a century ensuring the continuing viability of this important focus of life in Upper Musquodoboit;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly join the people of Upper Musquodoboit in grateful acknowledgment of the life-long contributions of Reagh Canning to the community, especially through the Community Association, and express the warm hope that he may continue to throw hard in the late innings.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 95

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

Whereas Gerald Crooks has been a member of the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Services for the past 31 years; and

Whereas Gerald is one of the original members of Station 21 located at 3035 Highway No. 7 in Lake Echo; and

Whereas Gerald spent his entire career at Station 21 and retired from service on March 4, 2010, with an open house in his honour put on by his crew;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Gerald Crooks on his retirement and thank him for many years of service to the community of Lake Echo.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 196]

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 North.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad you said that the theme today was romance because there are some people here hoping the government will have a heart and show them some love.

RESOLUTION NO. 96

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

Whereas this government based its election campaign on proposing a better deal for today's families; and

Whereas residents of the Rockcliffe Apartments, a former subsidized housing complex in Sydney, were told by Community Services that a local businessman had purchased the property without accepting the terms of an existing affordable housing agreement with the province; and

Whereas tenants must now absorb a $150 per month rent increase or find another place to live, a situation many tenants simply cannot afford and plan to address today, March 30th, in a meeting with the Community Services minister;

Therefore be it resolved that all members encourage the minister to work with the representative of the Rockcliffe Apartments complex to address her government's promise of providing a better deal for families who cannot withstand an unnecessary rent increase or relocation costs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice, and that these folks will feel the love.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 197]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 97

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

Whereas the Admiral Digby Museum has inherited a melodeon that dated back to the late 1800s; and

Whereas melodeons preceded the pump organ and are wind instruments with brass reeds to make sound; and

Whereas Teresa Henderson of Weymouth donated the melodeon to the museum and it once belonged to her grandmother, Teresa Kinney, who kept it in her parlour in her house in Weymouth North;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Admiral Digby Museum on their inheritance of the melodeon and thank Teresa Henderson for her kind donation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 98

[Page 198]

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

Whereas the Fortress of Louisbourg is a national historic site and a key generator of economic opportunity as thousands of tourists annually visit the area to learn about our proud history; and

Whereas these tourists spend a lot of time and money while in the area, which provides much needed jobs and opportunity; and

Whereas by eliminating The Cat, the NDP are not only devastating the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia, but putting jobs all over Cape Breton in jeopardy as well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly speak out against the NDP's decision to cut funding to The Cat ferry and urge them to immediately reinstate the funding so that not one job is lost as the result of this senseless decision.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 99

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

Whereas the Canadian Tax Foundation is an independent tax research organization and registered charity with over 8,000 members in Canada and abroad; and

Whereas Bruce Russell, Q.C., of Halifax was recently elected to the Board of Governors of that foundation, the only tax lawyer from Atlantic Canada serving on the 34-member board; and

Whereas Bruce is also the Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce;

[Page 199]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Bruce Russell, Q.C., upon his election to a body well known for its objectivity and contributions to Canadian tax and fiscal policy, and wish him many more years of taxing work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 100

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

Whereas in 2003 the government of Dr. John Hamm placed a $2,500 cap on soft tissue injuries to make auto insurance more affordable for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this cap has helped to reduce the cost of auto insurance by over 25 per cent for the people of our province; and

Whereas the NDP have indicated that they will remove this cap, which will make auto insurance more expensive for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly urge the NDP to retain the soft tissue cap so that Nova Scotians can continue to enjoy more affordable auto insurance.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 200]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 101

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

Whereas Corey Firth, head coach at the Orenda Canoe Club in Lake Echo, received the 2009 Director General's Award; and

Whereas the Canadian Canoe/Kayak Association recognizes coaching excellence with this award each year; and

Whereas this award is presented to a coach who contributes to the development or advancement of sprint canoeing and kayaking outside of, or in addition to, their regular club coaching duties;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Corey Firth for his dedication to the canoeing and kayaking sports and congratulate him on receiving this prestigious award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 mined, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 102

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

[Page 201]

Whereas the Lawrencetown Exhibition Youth Arena was one of 255 national applicants who entered the Kraft Hockeyville 2010 competition; and

Whereas support for this Nova Scotian entry has been so strong that it is now one of the top five finalists for Hockeyville; and

Whereas voting ends at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, March 31st;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House help to make the Lawrencetown Exhibition Youth Arena the winner by voting for them and by encouraging all Nova Scotians to do the same.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 103

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

Whereas the Wharf Rat Rally has received the 2009 Ambassador Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this award is presented annually to an individual or organization that helped develop tourism provincially, nationally, or internationally, and which has had a tremendous influence on tourism and culture; and

Whereas this award was presented on December 2, 2009, in Halifax at a gala dinner attended by more than 700 people;

[Page 202]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Glenn Dunn, Board Chair; Peter Robertson, Executive Director; and the many volunteers involved in making the Wharf Rat Rally a great success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:15 p.m.]

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 Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 104

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

Whereas volunteers with the Sydney Mines Community Policing Office have served for many years; and

Whereas, according to Sergeant Tom Ripley, Executive Director of the Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities, not only have these volunteers taken care of issues in their own community and have helped set up policing offices in other areas, they're also willing to lend their support to other community groups as an invaluable resource; and

Whereas these volunteers have made a major difference in local communities working with children through to seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the many volunteers making a difference with the Sydney Mines Community Policing Office.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 203]

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 Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 105

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

Whereas the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Awards acknowledge outstanding individuals who contribute to the growth and vitality of the Halifax area business community; and

Whereas at the Chamber's 10th Annual Awards evening, Pam Cooley and her company CarShare HFX, were recognized with the gold award in the 2010 New Business of the Year category; and

Whereas CarShare HFX is an innovative company that provides members with an alternative to car ownership and the opportunity to lessen their carbon footprint through the use of clean, fuel-efficient vehicles which support a more sustainable lifestyle;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize Pam Cooley's environmental commitment and business acumen, and congratulate her on receiving the gold award for New Business of the Year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

[Page 204]

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 106

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

Whereas the Cumberland Child Advocacy Board serves as a vital community link between the Department of Community Services and Cumberland County residents, regularly providing much needed support for children, youth and families; and

Whereas strengthening family and community are the main goals of the Cumberland Child Advocacy Board starting with youth and children so positive values are entrenched early in life;

Whereas in addition to this day-to-day advocacy of children, youth and families, the Cumberland Child Advocacy Board also offers bursaries to local high school students that demonstrate the qualities that the board actively promotes;

Therefore be it resolved that on behalf of the Cumberland County residents, this House thank the Cumberland Child Advocacy Board for all of the hard work they do in our community and also thank them for taking the time to meet with me and other community leaders in February, to discuss their goals and visions for Cumberland County in 2010 and wish them well in their very worthy efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

[Page 205]

Whereas Archbishop Vincent Waterman was honoured with the Carl Campy Crawford Award in Sydney, March 19, 2010; and

Whereas the award is presented annually to a person who exemplifies leadership, commitment to fairness, equality, volunteerism, sportsmanship and justice; and

Whereas Archbishop Waterman proved himself a worthy recipient of such an award as he tirelessly worked to improve race relations, the human race and to strengthen his community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Archbishop Waterman on his award and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 108

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

Whereas more than 3,000 African children die each day of malaria; and

Whereas sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net at night can prevent 60 per cent of these deaths; and

Whereas Grade 3 students at Tamarac Education Centre sold ribbons to raise more than $400, which will purchase 58 bed nets for African children;

[Page 206]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mrs. Kerri Lyn Brown's class for making a difference to save the lives of children a world away from them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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

Whereas Grade 3 students Connor Zinck, Kylee Graven and Richard Gallant, at Bayview Community School, made heart-shaped pins; and

Whereas the pins were sold for $2 each for Valentine's Day; and

Whereas the proceeds from the sale of the pins are being directed to help victims of the Haiti earthquake;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Grade 3 teacher Donna Sampson, and her class, for raising more than $500 for such a worthwhile cause.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

[Page 207]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas the late Marvin Harvey was a well-respected educator and principal of Cabot Junior and Senior High Schools in Neil's Harbour and Baddeck Academy, while also serving as past chairman of Cape Breton University's Board of Governors; and

Whereas Friday, March 12th saw the university unveil a landmark with the naming of the Marvin Harvey Building in memory of the esteemed educator; and

Whereas the late Mr. Harvey's family attended the special ceremony including Mr. Harvey's mother, Catherine, his wife, Nancy, and their children, Will, Rachael and Heather;

Therefore be it resolved that all members in this House of Assembly recognize the tremendous educational values bestowed upon the many students of Marvin Harvey, while also recognizing the lasting impact Mr. Harvey had during his tenure on Cape Breton University's Board of Directors.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

MR. SPEAKER: It is now 3:23 p.m. - just a couple of reminders for Oral Question Period. The Clerk and I are working on the order of sequence and we will have a new list in the next day or so, but the numbers between both Opposition caucuses remain approximately the same so we will keep the same sequence for today and we will have a new list based on the Opposition. As soon as it is available we will circulate that.

[Page 208]

Secondly, just a reminder that BlackBerries and other electronic equipment are to be turned off during Oral Question Period.

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

ERD - YARMOUTH-MAINE FERRY: SUBSIDY CUT - REASONS

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. All three levels of government, including two provincial departments, were working on a transportation strategy for southwestern Nova Scotia, which is due out at any time now. But in December, the NDP Government unilaterally, without consultation with other levels of government, cut the strategy off at the knees by killing the subsidy to the ferry between Yarmouth and Maine. So my question to the Premier is simply, why?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we considered this matter, obviously, very seriously. The current strategy with respect to the ferry was put in place by the previous government and it entailed substantial subsidies. In fact, the subsidies were such that the government was essentially paying in excess of $400 for every person who was stepping off the ferry. That, obviously, was not sustainable. So the decision, although a difficult one, was a necessary one and, obviously, we intend to work with the other levels of government.

I had an opportunity to meet with Minister Ashfield the other day and indicated to him my commitment to work with him to ensure that there is a transportation strategy in southwest Nova Scotia that will provide what southwest Nova Scotia needs, which is a strong transportation strategy that will help strengthen the economy of that area of the province. (Applause)

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the entire community of southwestern Nova Scotia recognizes that the service was not sustainable in the form it was, but what they were asking for from this government was time, they were looking for some co-operation to be able to build a sustainable transportation strategy, one that this study would have provided.

When the Premier and his government announced they would no longer be supporting the international transportation link in Yarmouth, he did so without any objective evidence, without any economic strategy and without the results of this important study. The people of Yarmouth were in the midst of working towards a sustainable strategy but then this Premier turned his back on the community and pulled the plug on 189 jobs. Now more than 600 full-time and part-time jobs are in jeopardy - all because the Premier failed to consult with the community, failed to wait for the results of this study and failed to plan for the future. My question to the Premier is, why would you choose to shut down an entire community without waiting for the results of this important study?

[Page 209]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Leader of the Official Opposition gives credit to the people of Yarmouth and to the area of southwestern Nova Scotia. They have always been a strong, resilient people who work hard to strengthen their economy and I have faith in them.

What I do want to point out though is simply that we looked at this very, very broadly. We did much in the way of consultation. In fact, very early on when it looked like this was going to be a problem, I met with the member for Argyle. He had talked about what was going on and his colleague at that time from Yarmouth, talked about the conversations they had with the State of Maine. We followed up on that. We did so in good faith because we wanted to know whether or not the State of Maine, for example, was prepared to share the cost of the ferry since they were getting by far the largest benefit out of it.

Those are the kinds of things that we did in terms of consultation.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear with the Premier, I have faith in the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, I represent many of those people, but never before have the people of southwestern Nova Scotia been abandoned by a government as they have been by this NDP Government. (Applause)

Something doesn't add up for the people of southwestern Nova Scotia - $3 million to continue a ferry service this year versus the millions of dollars of damage to our economy. My question to the Premier is, would the Premier care to tell Nova Scotians, and the people of Yarmouth in particular, what is the real reason for killing this subsidy to The Cat?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is simply wrong. It wasn't $3 million. In fact, the actual cost of the potential subsidy is an unknown amount because it depends on the price of oil, it depends on the amount that would have been incurred because this was a cost-plus subsidy to the operator of the ferry, that was unknown.

What was known was that we had invested $20 million in supporting that through subsidies over the last number of years. This was unsustainable and we knew it and we're going to dedicate our opportunities, our resources to working with the community to make sure there is a workable and sustainable strategy. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

SOUTHWESTERN N.S.: TRANSPORTATION STUDY -

FAST-TRACK REQUEST

[Page 210]

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Without consultation or what appears to be any knowledge of the file or any understanding of the negative impact the decision would have on the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia and all of Nova Scotia, on December 15th your minister announced that your government would not provide a subsidy to Bay Ferries. On December 23rd, following a meeting with officials from southwestern Nova Scotia, you, as Premier, indicated you would be asking for the transportation study that was currently underway to be fast-tracked. My question to the Premier is, when did you ask for the study to be fast-tracked and to whom did you make that request?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is quite right, I did meet with officials. In fact, one of the officials I met with was the mayor of Yarmouth, who indicated to me at the time that he was, in fact, on the subcommittee considering this study. He told me he felt that it could be fast-tracked, so my office made that request directly through to the offices of ACOA, and the response that we got back was that they were completing their work and when it was ready to be released they would release it.

[3:30 p.m.]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier if he could provide for us a copy of that request and, considering it has been three months since he promised to have the study fast-tracked, could the Premier tell the people of Nova Scotia, as well the members of this House, what response did you get when you posed the question?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I indicated that the officials in my office contacted the officials in the ACOA office and they said they were completing their study. My understanding at this point is that some of that is now in a draft form - I'm not sure if the subcommittee members have already received it or not, but we are expecting to receive it. The original target date I understood to be March or April, so we're there now and I expect that we will receive it shortly.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that that would not be fast-tracking if the original date was March or April.

On my second supplementary here - on February 23rd an offer from the four municipal units in southwestern Nova Scotia was presented to the Premier and that offer included financial assistance from the municipalities. Would the Premier explain to this House why there was not a willingness to work with those municipalities to help bring relief to the devastating blow his government had dealt?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is we are prepared to work with the municipalities to come up with a strategy that's, one, going to actually strengthen the

[Page 211]

economy of southwestern Nova Scotia. We attempted to find out exactly what the nature of this offer was, and it was very difficult to determine. Apparently it involved the funnelling of some federal government money through the municipalities, but whenever we would go to the federal government to ask if that was the case there was never any money on the table. The reality is we did ask; we asked many times. We didn't just ask the federal government either - we also asked the State of Maine, since they were the ones who were receiving the bulk of the benefit from this service, whether or not they were prepared to contribute and they were not.

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

PREM.: BARRISTERS' SOC. FEES - DETAILS

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. It has never been the practice of taxpayers of Nova Scotia to pay for professional fees for MLAs. Premier MacLellan paid his own, so did Premier Hamm, countless ministers of the Crown have paid their own - including the Minister of Finance today. My question to the Premier is, how long were the taxpayers of Nova Scotia paying your Barristers' Society fees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in fact it was the practice of the Government of Nova Scotia since 1999 to pay for the professional fees of Cabinet Ministers and of the Leader of the Opposition. After the election this year that continued to be the case - this was brought to my attention and of course we terminated the practice.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe the Premier answered the question - we were looking for how long.

The Premier says from now on he will pay his own fees to the Barristers' Society, but he will not reimburse taxpayers for this inappropriate expense of the past. My question to the Premier is, how can it be wrong now to take taxpayers' money, but it was okay in the past?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, just as with all of the expenses that were dealt with, we have changed the rules in regard to these expenses and, like the other expenses, we terminated that practice in March.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said he will now pay for the fees going forward. He will pay $250 a year to be a non-practicing lawyer, but when the taxpayers were picking up the tab he went first class, at a price tag of more than $3,000 a year. My question to the Premier is, why do you feel it necessary to register as a practicing lawyer when the taxpayers were picking up the bill but now, when it comes out of your own pocket, it's not so important?

[Page 212]

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out to the Leader of the Opposition, these matters over the years - it was the practice of the government since 1999 to pay them. It was brought to my attention earlier this year. We made a decision at that point in time that we would change the policy with respect to those expenses and I will now pay them myself. We terminated that practice.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ERD: CFIB ROUND TABLE - ATTENDANCE INFO

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. On March 10th, I attended a round table on the economy of Nova Scotia. It was hosted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. There were engaged business people from communities as far away as New Glasgow, Greenwood, Amherst and Antigonish, to voice their concerns about the upcoming budget.

Mr. Speaker, the NDP did not think that this discussion was important enough to send even one elected official - not the Minister of Finance, not the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and surely small business is all about economic development.

My question to the minister is, could the Minister of Economic and Rural Development explain to the business community why he didn't think it was important to hear the concerns and respond to urgent questions?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my response is that as Minister of Economic and Rural Development, I am interested in hearing from all our constituents when it comes to economic and rural development. I think that thus far our track record speaks for itself.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the people who came to this session are the people who drive economic development in Nova Scotia and this is how concerned they are, Mr. Minister. It is these people who create jobs. It is certainly not the NDP Government which thinks nothing of recklessly killing 189 jobs in Yarmouth, or putting over 600 jobs at risk throughout the province on a whim, or arbitrarily hiking taxes to avoid making difficult decisions.

In contrast, at a highly-managed public relations exercise that the Minister of Finance has been busy with, the people who work in businesses across the province do not want an arbitrary tax hike. To a person, each talked about how hiking the HST will harm their business and hurt the economy.

Mr. Speaker, has the Minister of Economic and Rural Development spoken to the Minister of Finance and told him how an HST hike will hurt our economy?

[Page 213]

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Economic Development, as ministers of Cabinet who also sit on Treasury Board, are in constant contact, on a weekly basis, with respect to the economy and the business community of Nova Scotia.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, our businesses in Nova Scotia are filled with hard-working people. These people have one thing in common, they want a fair system of taxation that will allow them to grow, be able to deliver to goods and services that Nova Scotia want and need. These are the people who drive economic development in Nova Scotia. They do not want to be punished for being successful and they do not want the NDP Government to hike taxes.

My question is, Mr. Speaker, when will this minister get around to listening to the people and actually create jobs, drive the economy? When will he make their voices heard at the Cabinet table?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I take great pride in the consultation process that this government has taken in a number of sectors around Nova Scotia. It goes way beyond economic and rural development. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I would say that 3,000 jobs alone were created last year through efforts of the NDP.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

ERD - YARMOUTH FERRY SERV.: DECISION - EXPLAIN

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question through you is for the Premier. The economic and tourism future of the province has been dealt a very severe blow thanks to this NDP Government. Transportation access and the tourism industry within our province will be drastically damaged by the loss of the ferry service in Yarmouth. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier please tell Nova Scotians why he chose to make such a short-sighted decision knowing full well the devastating results such a decision would make or does the government just not care about rural Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in fact, of course we care very much about rural Nova Scotia and that's why we're making the difficult decisions that previous governments failed to make. We need to be able to have the resources that we can in order to invest and strengthen rural Nova Scotia. Investing in unsustainable services, and continuing to subsidize things that aren't working, is the way to make sure that you weaken rural Nova Scotia. What we are of course interested in is strengthening rural Nova Scotia.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, the Town of Yarmouth is a regional centre for southwest Nova Scotia with a population of 7,200 people and as a feeder community to some 70,000 people in the tri-county region. Yarmouth has

[Page 214]

historically been an entrance point to our New England neighbours and a destination for tourists and local residents, a destination that has enabled the tourist industry in southwest Nova Scotia to prosper and to employ hundreds of rural residents annually.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier please tell Nova Scotians why he abruptly halted a service that is an ambassador for all Nova Scotia, an investment in the Nova Scotia ferry service and the Yarmouth ferry service, represents an investment in the future of Nova Scotia, or does the Premier not realize that Nova Scotia extends beyond the HRM boundary?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in fact, we did a lot of consultation with respect to this in advance. I spoke to the governor of Maine at the New England Governors' meeting about this service. We're in constant contact with the federal government about it. Just even more recently I had the opportunity to meet with and talk to both Senator Collins and Senator Snowe from the State of Maine for the purposes of also discussing this matter.

It was made perfectly clear to me that none of the other partners in this saw it as a sustainable service and they certainly were not prepared to invest in it. We put that in writing to them so we would have it just to ensure that they understood that this was a considered matter and not something that was done at all in a short-sighted fashion. In fact, it's done for the long-term strength and health of that part of the province.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, Tourism Nova Scotia accounted for $1.3 billion in revenues in 2008 and we've heard from communities, businesses and industries on the loss of the ferry service in Yarmouth. The loss of this service will result in province-wide job losses, a weakened economy, and a reduction in Nova Scotia's ability to compete in the global tourism industry. My question to the Premier is this: When will the Premier stand up for rural Nova Scotia and work with all levels of government to retain the ferry service in Yarmouth for what is now the 2011 season?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course, I'm willing to work with anyone who wants to strengthen the economic opportunities for southwest Nova Scotia. I think, though, what I'm not prepared to do, of course, is to continue to put millions of dollars into a subsidy which actually weakens the region rather than strengthening it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

SNSMR: USER FEES/GOV'T. CHARGES - DETAILS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The first page of the user fees and government charges booklet for 2009-10 stated that government was going to tie most, if not all, fees to the rate of inflation. So my question for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, with inflation this year at close to zero, will fees be tied this year to zero?

[Page 215]

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: You'll have to wait until the budget.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I certainly congratulate the minister on such a short response. It's much shorter than the Premier's responses, anyway.

In the 2009-10 book, while some fees increased by 3 per cent as promised, there were a few hidden ones that went as high as a 100 per cent increase, especially on vehicles. Those fees were simply a sneaky tax grab right out of the play book of the Third Party when they were in government. This, after the Premier stated when he was in Opposition that fee increases hit lower and middle-income families the hardest. Well, now it seems the NDP has no qualms about hitting middle and low-income families the hardest.

Will the minister agree not to increase government fees in this fiscal year?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, would you please relay the message to the honourable member that he will have to wait until the budget?

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, maybe I will rephrase it in such a way that the minister will be able to answer it, as I will be seeking her opinion. In Opposition, the Premier asked the question that many Nova Scotians are asking today: How much more are they going to put up drivers licences? How much more is it going to cost to register the deeds in the registry, and how much more is it going to cost you when you go to probate court?

Does the minister agree with the Premier that middle and low-income families bear the brunt of all fee increases?

MS. JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, we will have to wait until the budget is out for any of these discussions. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

ERD - YARMOUTH-NEW ENGLAND LINK:

CUTS - IMPLICATIONS

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, Yarmouth's cultural and economic link to New England is as old and well-established as the town itself. It provides the livelihood for countless people in southwest Nova Scotia. My question to the Premier is, does the government truly recognize the implications of cutting such a vital link?

[Page 216]

THE PREMIER: In fact, Mr. Speaker, we recognize that what is important is that all of the transportation links of southwest Nova Scotia be as strong as they can be in order to support the economy there. That, of course, is why you don't invest money, especially in very difficult financial times, in subsidies for services that are unsustainable. That's why you take the resources that you have and you marshal them in a way that allows you to actually strengthen the economy of the region, and that, of course, is what you see the government on this side attempting to do.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, up to 150,000 people come across on The Cat ferry every year. Businesses from Barrington to Bras d'Or depend on the revenue those tourists provide. Undoubtedly, taking this number of people out of our province will shock our economy.

My question to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development is, has the minister calculated the total economic cost, both in dollars and job losses, that will result from cutting this link to New England?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, we thought about The Cat for a long time, and we deliberated about it. What we've done in southwest Nova Scotia is, we put together a team comprised of the Department of Economic and Rural Development, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, community leaders, and businesses. We are working with them to come up with more ways of economic and rural development in southwest Nova Scotia. We are working with the community, we are doing the job, we are looking at the economic impact.

The people in southwest Nova Scotia now are looking forward to what's going to happen over the next little while, what the consultation is going to come up with, and we are working with them.

MR. SPEAKER: I would remind members to address their comments or questions through the Chair rather than across the floor.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, hundreds and even thousands of jobs will be negatively affected by the loss of The Cat ferry. This comes at a time when the economy is in the worst recession in a generation. The former government understood the value of a ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine and recognized the need to keep $175 million in the Nova Scotia economy. This Premier's number-one campaign commitment to make life better for today's families was to create the secure jobs Nova Scotia's economy needs. My question to the Premier is, how does taking $175 million and upwards of 300 jobs from the economy make life better for today's families?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the honourable member has not kept abreast of the situation in Yarmouth. The reality is that the traffic on the ferry had declined

[Page 217]

by some 70 per cent. There were somewhere in the vicinity of 23,000 people who were actually stepping off the ferry in Yarmouth. The subsidy that was being put in place was such that the government was paying out over $400 for each person who stepped off the ferry in Yarmouth and that's just not sustainable.

The question is, do you take those resources and invest them, as we think is appropriate, in making sure you strengthen that region? That is what we have chosen to do. It's not the course of action that the former government decided, but people rejected that kind of thinking and what they're looking for is a substantive change in direction in this province and that is what's being provided. (Applause)

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

COM. SERV. - ROCKCLIFFE APTS.: PREV. SUBSIDY

- CANCELLATION

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community Services. A few weeks ago, residents of Rockcliffe Apartments in Sydney were informed by their landlord that their rents were going up by $150 per month. The reason, the existing agreement that was in place with the previous owner had been cancelled by the minister's department. Many of these residents are on very low incomes and cannot afford to pay the new rates without the provincial subsidy for these units. My question to the minister is, why was this agreement cancelled by your department after residents had been told by their MLA, the member for Cape Breton Nova, the subsidy would continue? I believe that member told them that in good faith. Why did you cancel that agreement?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to take this opportunity to inform the honourable member that I do understand and I appreciate the difficulty and the stress that this situation brings upon those people living at Rockcliffe. That's why I personally took over this file and worked very hard myself, and with the department, for months to see if there was any resolution. Unfortunately, the resulting outcome was not what I desired either, but we took a long, hard look and the facts resulted in the outcome that has happened. Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member is the minister of that department. The outcome she would prefer is the outcome we should be talking about. She certainly is not taking responsibility for that today. (Applause)

On March 5th of this year, the residents of Rockcliffe had an unsigned letter under Nova Scotia Community Services letterhead delivered to apartment mailboxes, under the cover of darkness in some cases. This unsigned letter makes many misleading observations, blaming the new landlord for the entire problem, including suggesting that tax dollars were at risk if the agreement continued. I'll table this letter. It starts off by saying: Hello, we have

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learned that you have just received a rental increase. It's under Department of Community Services letterhead.

My question to the minister is, will the minister tell this House and all Nova Scotians who wrote that Community Services letter and if she was aware of its contents prior to it being delivered to residents?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, several things. Firstly, the original deal was not cancelled. There are a lot of other aspects to that deal. As I said, my focus is on the people who live at Rockcliffe, and the fact is that it's very important for them to be informed. I directed our staff to inform them once we heard there might be a possibility. However, it is also important to note that, to the best of my knowledge, there has not been an official and valid notice of increase of the rent. Therefore, we are talking about speculation. In case the circumstances do change, my department is available to those individuals to talk to them and look at each of the individual cases as they come forth to us.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, instead of ducking the issue to a ghost writer - she will not come forward and tell who it was - the minister decides to just tell the people by an unsigned letter, sorry, you're out of luck here. That's basically what's happened to these people, who have been instructed that they have to either pay this rent increase or get out. That's certainly something that should not be allowed to happen to these people who are on limited income.

Mr. Speaker, the letter goes on to say that if the residents need housing, and the minister said this in the Cape Breton Post herself, they can call a provincial caseworker and get help, that help will be available for apartments for these people at Rockcliffe. Now, the member for Cape Breton Nova knows, as I do, that there are 360 people now on the waiting list for Cape Breton Regional Housing units. So that's not an option for the people of Rockcliffe, and she is fooling them if she is telling them that they can call the Department of Community Services or Housing and get help. That's simply not going to happen, and she knows that.

The option that she should be looking at is the option to reopen negotiations with the current owner of that particular apartment complex, and she should be doing everything she can to help current residents stay in their homes at Rockcliffe.

Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is, will the minister honour the commitment of the member for Cape Breton Nova and make it affordable for residents to remain at Rockcliffe, or will the member for Cape Breton Nova be the next to be thrown under the Dexter bus? (Applause)

MS. PETERSEN-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, firstly, what we want to do as a department is to be open and communicate with individuals to let them know what the situation is, and

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that is being fair. Therefore, as I said, in this situation we turned over every stone to see if there was anything we can do, and unfortunately, we weren't able to do that - but I am willing and I have offered to meet with the residents of Rockcliffe so that we can discuss this further and, as I've said, we're always open as a department to anybody who has those needs.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - CUMB. CO. CORRECTIONAL CTR.: CLOSURE - IMPACT

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. This NDP Government, the Premier, and the Attorney General have made a decision to close the Cumberland County Correctional Centre and to move it completely out of the county. They are forcing long-term employees to make decisions, whether they will keep their positions and move with the facility and leave families behind, or if they will stay and try to find other suitable employment and stay close to home. They've made decisions that will impact businesses in the area that have relied on this facility for many, many years. I simply want to ask the Premier, will the Premier agree that this decision will have a very negative impact on Cumberland County as a whole?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, of course, the decision to be made is one that is designed to benefit the correctional services of the province, and what the minister and myself are concerned with is ensuring that we have the appropriate facilities and that we have them located in the part of the province where they will actually be able to fulfill the role that they are required to fulfill. So those are the criteria that are being applied in this regard. I understand that it was not what the member wanted on behalf of Springhill and on behalf of Cumberland South, and I do understand his concern, and I understand what he is doing to represent that town and those communities. But the reality is, we have to make the right decision on behalf of correctional services in the province, and that's what will guide our decision.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, all I asked was if the Premier would admit to the House that this decision will have a negative impact on the economy of Cumberland County. I think it was a pretty simple question. Even his own member for Cumberland North had lots to say in the local daily news about this. He said, and I want to quote him, the honourable member for Cumberland North says: The whole impact - they're talking about an impact study that I'm going to table here in a moment. It says: The whole impact study was money not well spent because you don't have to be Kreskin the Magnificent to figure out there's going to be a loss to Cumberland County. So even his backbench can say that. I thought at least the Premier would admit that the decision they're making is going to have a negative impact on Cumberland County. That's all I simply asked.

[4:00 p.m.]

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Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, can the Premier tell this House if he or his office or staff, or the Attorney General for Nova Scotia or his office staff, had been in contact with the federal Minister of Public Safety or federal corrections to determine if there could have been possible savings had by partnering with the federal government when considering sites for a new provincial correctional facility here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to hand that along to the Minister of Justice for his response. I would just point out to the member who represents this area that we make many decisions in this department and in this government. Many of them are designed to, of course, benefit Cumberland County. They are investments in building the economic base there. Of course, each one of these decisions has an impact. I'll ask the Minister of Justice to directly answer his most recent question.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: In previous discussions with the honourable member, I did go back and check within our department. There was no business case or association with the federal government on this issue and we did follow up to see if there's any potential there and in the examination that we got, it would be limited.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for that. That being the case, I'd ask the honourable minister to table in this House documents that would prove that he or his department have had contact with the federal Department of Public Safety, the minister or his staff, in regard to this issue.

As the Speaker would know, we visited Ottawa the last two weeks and unless something happened in the last couple of weeks, I don't believe that contact was ever made. So I would ask the minister to table those documents in the House to show that they did follow up on that work that I originally did.

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the economic impact analysis correctional facility Cumberland region that was prepared for the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Authority, which I'll table. This report indicates Cumberland County will lose approximately $10 million as a result of the NDP's decision to basically turn its back and abandon rural Nova Scotia and abandon Cumberland County.

Will the Premier at least commit today to reading and reviewing this report and advise the people of Cumberland County how he intends to replace this very significant hit that his government has now placed on the Cumberland County economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to receive a copy of the report as tabled by the honourable member. I can assure him that we intend to continue to invest in Cumberland County, as we have done, with C-Vision and LED Roadway Lighting. There are other companies that we are investing in, in order to strengthen the economic base for Cumberland County and, in fact, for the province.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

HEALTH - DHA DEFICITS: ASSISTANCE - DETAILS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. Today's ChronicleHerald reported that the Department of Health was now prepared to cover a deficit for the South Shore District Health Authority for last year and up their budget for this year.

Mr. Speaker, we are acutely aware that this is probably not the only DHA that has a similar deficit position. The South Shore was certainly not alone in 2008-09 when the Capital Health District came forward with a $7 million deficit and was very public in how they would deal with that. My question to the minister is, could the minister please indicate which other DHAs have approached her government with a request to cover deficits for 2008-09 or 2009-10 fiscal years?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the South Shore District Health Authority had a persistent problem over a number of years. There was a structural problem in their budget that required some recognition from the Department of Health that they had this ongoing problem. So our government addressed that and we will go forward with them and with the other DHAs that are all adequately funded to provide the services that Nova Scotians require and that we support their getting.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I have to assume that that means the others have not come forward this year although we know there have been persistent problems in other DHAs as well but the problem really arising here is it also goes back to the fact that it takes several years to get approval for budgets and, in fact, in the article in the paper it was said that the former CEO, Kevin McNamara, who is currently the Deputy Minister of Health, warned of possible program cuts last year because the two previous years' budgets were not approved.

So, Mr. Speaker, given that we have seen persistently that these are late in arriving and getting approval, I would like to know, what specific changes has the minister made to ensure that budgets and business plans will have a more timely approval process this year?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I've had the opportunity to meet with many of the boards around the province and with the CEOs of the various district health authorities. I've impressed on them very much the position that the province finds ourselves in. I've asked for their assistance with respect to managing the kinds of astronomical growth that we've seen in health budgets across the province and I'm delighted that I've been getting full co-operation from the DHAs around the province.

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MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to stress that for a number of years we've brought this issue to the Legislature - the fact that delayed budgets and business plans from the DHAs to the Department of Health leads to an uncertainty in all of the DHAs and an inability to innovate and certainly it means that they are unable to manage effectively. So I would like to ask the minister if this year, in 2010, we will see the DHA business plans tabled along with the budget next week, which we expect next week, or is she going to continue the status quo of delayed approvals and uncertainty?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the honourable member, she should wait until Budget Day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.: NORTHERN PULP - LAND PURCHASE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. In February the NDP Government announced yet another forestry deal. This time they loaned Northern Pulp $75 million by magically adding tax dollars to the Industrial Expansion Fund. Northern Pulp will use much of the loan to buy 0.5 million acres of forest land at $175 per acre. Then our prudent and belt-tightening NDP Government will buy back 55,000 acres of that land for preservation at the higher price of $300 an acre. My question to the minister is, why are Nova Scotians paying almost double to Northern Pulp for land we just sold them?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a good question. It would be even better if his facts were correct. The land that we bought from them, we didn't sell to them. They bought that from Neenah Paper. The land that they bought was in the range of $200 an acre, not $175. The value of that land was appraised at $475 or $477 an acre, which we are really held to. When we are purchasing for Nova Scotians, we are bound not to go really beyond the appraised values but we bought that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources has the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: So the appraised value was $477 an acre for that land - we bought it for $300 an acre.

I think most members, or I'm assuming most members, could understand that they bought nearly 500,000 acres at $200 an acre. We bought one-tenth of that roughly, so you would say that because we actually got to cherry-pick the most significant parcels of that land to add to our 12 per cent protected areas you would expect there would be some increase in the value of that land for the province. The bigger the parcel you get, the less price you would expect, the smaller the parcel, more price you would expect.

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MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, protecting lands makes sense; paying an enormous premium from the lands bought with taxpayer dollars does not. The NDP had an option to acquire these lands for the same price that Northern Pulp paid. It made the choice not to do so; instead they chose to increase costs for taxpayers at a time when this province has financial challenges.

My question to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development is, what sound business case was used in your department when working out the logistics of paying double for land we just sold to Northern Pulp?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, with respect to Northern Pulp, we had ongoing consultations with the Department of Natural Resources. This was a very, very complicated transaction and together with the Department of Natural Resources we operated in the best interests of all Nova Scotians.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, if all the spending mismanagement by the NDP wasn't enough, government made the conscious decision not to impose sustainable harvesting and stewardship practices as a condition of the Northern Pulp loan. In the end, our tax dollars have gone out the door with no strings attached.

My question for the Minister of Natural Resources is, why did you allow this agreement to pass without ensuring Northern Pulp would be required to perform sustainable harvesting and stewardship practices?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the member raises, I think, an even better question. The department is undergoing a strategy at Natural Resources. This strategy was started under the previous administration through Voluntary Planning in 2008 - that was phase one. Phase two was four panels of expertise for parks, biodiversity, forestry and mines - the results of that second phase, I hope, will be on my desk by the middle of April. We expect that that process will get recommendations on harvesting practices in the province.

We certainly didn't intend to single out one company. We tend to take the broad approach to look at practices across the province and apply through a code of practices for all companies in the province, and we were not going to let that be something that was going to hold up a very important deal for Nova Scotians in acquiring that valuable piece of land.

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

C.B . & CENTRAL N.S. RAILWAY: OPERATION - SUPPORT

[Page 224]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. The Premier and his government have been effective in killing jobs and opportunities throughout Nova Scotia - look no further than the devastation in Yarmouth and southwestern Nova Scotia with 500 people thrown to the curb by the Dexter NDP to the cancellation of the ferry service, not to mention the withdrawal of support . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the member knows you're not allowed to use names other than the honourable member for or the minister of - you're not allowed to use Christian names, either first or last, so please refer to it as either the ministry or the honourable member for.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North has the floor.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. CLARKE: Again, look no further than the devastation in Yarmouth and southwestern Nova Scotia with 500 people thrown under the bus by this Premier and his socialist NDP Government, not to mention a withdrawal from the air service in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Transportation infrastructure is critical to the future of the economy of Cape Breton and citizens are worried about this government's commitment to their railway and ports. My question to the Premier is, will you support the continued operation of the Cape Breton Central Nova Scotia Railway between Point Tupper and Sydney?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I somehow always enjoy the member's questions. The reality, of course, is that he knows and we all know that the question of the ongoing subsidy for the railway is a matter of negotiation and one of the things you shouldn't do, if you're properly conducting the negotiations, of course, is to tip your hand - particularly where it's going to be reported in the newspaper.

So we have a process underway, Mr. Speaker, we recognize the importance of that piece of infrastructure, not just to the existing businesses but, of course, to the economy of Cape Breton Island and we're proceeding and negotiating, of course, in good faith, looking at all of the things that need to be considered.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the only train wreck in Nova Scotia soon is going to be the NDP Government and not the railway in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, on March 31st, the current agreement between the province and the railway of up to $2 million in operational support will end. It was based on the business case and he knows that business case. So to talk about negotiation is just drivel in this House.

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There has been no indication from the government that they will extend this subsidy which is essential to the commercialization of Sydney Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, the community is concerned that an application for abandonment of the line could be filed shortly given that the Minister of Economic and Rural Development mused publicly about its demise and was not concerned. Will the Premier inform this House what direction he has given or what assurances he can provide to counter his own minister's lack of leadership on this file?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the members opposite and I want to particularly assure the member for Cape Breton North that this is a matter that this government is dealing with. It's one that is front and centre in our considerations with respect to Cape Breton Island and with respect to the economy there. He's quite right - the best way to look at these is by actually considering the business case and understanding not just what your current circumstances are but what it's going to mean for the long term. Of course, that's what we're doing and once those matters are concluded, I'll be happy to inform the member of the decisions and the outcome.

MR. CLARKE: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Premier and his government knew the timeline with regard to the current agreement and why wait until the last minute but then, again, that's what's typical of this government. When the Premier was in Sydney last week, he did little to assure the community that he was committed to the continuation of rail service or the port for that matter. Platitudes and passing reference to community priorities versus real leadership and action to support the community are two different things.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier in this House assure the people of Cape Breton that he will not continue to be small-minded, retaliatory and vindictive against the people of Cape Breton as he has been against the people of southwest Nova Scotia, Yarmouth, or Springhill for that matter?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that I've been any of those things. In fact, there are two things that we have to avoid. One is action without thought and the other one is thought without action. What we are doing is carefully considering the matter. We haven't waited until the last moment. In fact, we've known that these negotiations have to take place over a particular period of time and we're dealing with them in that manner. I would be happy, as I say, to inform the member of the outcome of the decision once those negotiations are concluded.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: COURTROOM SAFETY - ENSURE

[Page 226]

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in the past six months there have been at least three high profile cases of courtroom violence and the Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys Association cites several more. This has our Crown Prosecutors worried and rightfully so. The Minister of Justice bears responsibility to ensure that our courts are safe working environments for all involved. My question to the Minister of Justice is, what is he doing to ensure safety in our provincial courts?

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Of course, the security and safety of all Nova Scotians is important to me as Minister of Justice, and there is an ongoing process for each court and each situation is reviewed by a committee. I can assure you that within our department issues are all reviewed and discussed and ways to address those concerns are looked at.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in response to a question I put to the Minister of Justice in November, he assured Nova Scotians that there was nothing to be concerned about. I asked if he was prepared to deal with any shortcomings with regard to court security. The minister's response was quite simple: everything is going along quite smoothly. He indicated that staffing levels were in a stable position and that he was very confident in the adequacy of court security. Clearly, the people on the ground, the Crown Attorneys, are not convinced. They have filed a formal complaint under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act and are even talking about the right to refuse work if conditions do not improve.

My question is, will the minister reconsider his position that things are good enough and recognize that there is a systemic problem with security in our court system?

MR. LANDRY: I have the utmost confidence in the sheriff's department to provide security, and in the systems that we have in place. The question is, should you be reviewing your system and processes, and if issues come forward, what steps you need to take. To be reactionary would not be beneficial. We have to look at what the issues are, what the underlying causes are, and what steps need to be taken. I am quite satisfied that we're in good hands.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, apparently the Crown Attorneys don't share the same level of satisfaction as our Minister of Justice.

Since a permanent metal detector was installed in the Spring Garden Courthouse in October 2008, nearly 2,000 dangerous items have been found - yet a person was still able to smuggle a weapon into the court in the Fall. The Minister of Justice still says things are fine. When over 30 men and women began fighting in the courthouse lobby in Dartmouth on March 10th, the Crown Attorney said it was just luck that things did not turn deadly, but the minister still seems satisfied.

Mr. Speaker, all provincial courthouses have safety committees who have filed safety recommendations, but little action has been taken. So my final supplementary is, what

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tragedy is going to have to unfold for the Minister of Justice to take safety seriously in Nova Scotia courthouses?

MR. LANDRY: To the member, I take the security and safety of the courthouses seriously. I think 98,000 people went through the one courthouse that he referred to, and if one person . . .

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

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. During Question Period there was some question brought forward about the addressing by Opposition members about the government, in using a name. I'd ask if you would have a look at Hansard and talk to the Clerks - I think if you looked back over the last 10 years, you will see many, many times that the Opposition referred to the MacDonald Government, the Hamm Government, on many occasions. So, just to be clear, I would ask that you go back and have a look at Hansard and have a discussion with the Clerks and let us know what your opinion is. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Can do. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - House of Assembly Management Commission Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to begin debate on the second reading of Bill No. 1, the House of Assembly Management Commission Act. It is time for change in relation to MLA expenses, and it is time for a complete break from the discredited former expense system.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by recognizing the efforts and work of Art Donahoe. Mr. Donahoe's interim report provided valuable recommendations that were incorporated into

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this bill. I want to thank Mr. Donahoe for offering his advice and recommendations without remuneration. He did this as a public service to Nova Scotians.

Nova Scotians demand an open, efficient, and accountable system of finances for the Legislature. My government, with the support of all Parties, has tabled Bill No. 1 to achieve just that, Mr. Speaker. It will create a House management system that can be effectively used by all MLAs. This legislation will provide clear and detailed guidelines to MLAs. It follows the significant changes that the government and this Legislature have already made to ensure that an effective, accountable system is put in place.

Since last June, Mr. Speaker, many steps have been taken to reduce MLAs' expenses and allowances. Some of these steps include freezing all MLA and political staff salaries, eliminating the $45,000 transition allowance for MLAs who retire, quit or are not re-elected, and reducing the daily per diem rate for MLAs while sitting in the Legislature to $38 per day.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the $2,500 technology fund available to each MLA was cancelled. The paying of per diem rates for committees that did not meet was eliminated, as was the $1,050 monthly allowance and, most importantly, we now require receipts for allowances that did not require receipts in the past.

Mr. Speaker, these are just a few of the measures that all the MLAs in the House have taken to modernize an outdated and inefficient system. This new and improved system will do its work under the watchful eye of all Nova Scotians. The practice of meeting behind closed doors will formally end and so does the Internal Economy Board. It will be replaced by an all-party House of Assembly Management Commission.

When drafting Bill No. 1, government reviewed what other jurisdictions were doing in order to get best practices and potential models for Nova Scotia's new system. Newfoundland and Labrador's model provided some valuable insights. Once the review was complete, the evidence showed that providing clear guidelines and ensuring regular audits in an open and transparent system was the best way to ensure effective management.

How would I describe Bill No. 1, Mr. Speaker? Well, it can be summed up, I believe, in three words: transparency, transparency, transparency. The work of the Management Commission will be done in public and its decisions, MLA expense records and other information, will be published on-line for the public to see and review.

The legislation creates an audit committee. That committee will also include independent, non-elected representatives to make sure the system is working as it should. To ensure the independence of these members of the audit committee, the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia will choose them, Mr. Speaker.

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To further ensure that the system is working properly, Bill No. 1requires annual financial independent audits. It also requires a compliance audit by the Auditor General at least once after every election.

Finally, any change in allowances must be debated and passed in the Chamber. This is unprecedented openness, Mr. Speaker. This legislation's biggest strength is how it embraces openness and independent public scrutiny. With openness comes education. Members must know what is expected of them. This legislation will provide members of this House with clear, detailed guidelines about expenses, allowances and procedures.

Newly elected members of the House and appointees to the commission will undergo orientation and training sessions and receive manuals and other helpful information. Under Bill No. 1 members will have access to information and tools they need to be able to be effective MLAs, as we all want them to be, Mr. Speaker.

The Auditor General in his report earlier this year pointed out the flaws in the current system. This legislation will mend those flaws. It meets or exceeds the recommendations of the Auditor General.

The fine details of this legislation, its regulations, are very important to its success. That's why they are being drafted now, so that Nova Scotians can see the details along with the intent of this legislation, as we debate Bill No. 1.

Mr. Speaker, all members of this House work hard on behalf of each and every Nova Scotian. I want to make that point again, because I believe this is fundamentally true; all members of this House work hard on behalf of each and every Nova Scotian. They do their best to represent their constituents. This proposed legislation will give members the tools they need to do their job successfully.

The members of the House of Assembly need to be a model of accountability to their constituents and I believe this legislation will help make this happen. As always, I look forward to hearing the suggestions from the other Parties on the ways that we can improve this legislation.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 1 and I will now take my place.

[4:30 p.m.]

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak to Bill No. 1. I want to thank the government for giving us some notice of this piece of legislation a few

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days ago. Our caucus has looked at it carefully. Obviously, today we made some suggestions on how we believe this bill can be improved.

I believe the decision on how we move forward on this piece of legislation will determine how Nova Scotians will begin to view this place again, whether or not the work we're going to do over the next couple of weeks around the budget, about how we're going to spend their tax dollars in delivering services to them, will only matter if we get this piece of legislation right and that Nova Scotians have confidence in the fact that we have listened, understood and are prepared to move forward to make the changes that are required to give them that confidence.

For some time now, our caucus has made the recommendation that all expenses relating to MLA's constituency offices and money that MLAs are spending should be put online so that their constituents get an opportunity to see how their elected official is spending their money. Not only will they be able to view how their own MLA is spending their money, but they will be able to see how all of us are treating their tax dollars.

I want to be clear though, as we review and look back on what has taken place, we all bear a responsibility for what has taken place in the past in terms of the way MLA expenses were being receipted. I believe we all have a responsibility going forward to make sure that this piece of legislation is as solid as can be.

I'm looking forward to the Law Amendments Committee and getting a chance to hear from ordinary Nova Scotians who have not had an opportunity to sit in this House, but all of whom have had an opportunity, through their own professional careers, to work in environments where they had to be accountable, had to be open, had to be transparent to their bosses, to the people that they represent. I'm sure they will bring a unique perspective to this legislation. I'm sure they will bring some positive ideas that we can look at, and perhaps adopt, as part of going forward.

Today I announced that our caucus is supporting that we believe there should be an additional amendment and we'll be making some amendments. It's called a code of ethics that in some jurisdictions is there; it's a code of ethics that would apply to all of us. There would be training that would take place for new members when they are first elected in addition to what is taking place now. Also, those of us who are given the honour and privilege to return to this House, would also have to take a refresher course following our re-election. It is a way to make sure that we have kept in mind that we are given a sacred trust of the people of this province to carry out their business, to remind us of that. It will be an opportunity for all members, not just government members, to be given an opportunity on how we deal with lobbyists who might want to come to our caucuses or lobby individual members.

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Ministers in this House operate under a Ministerial Code of Conduct. We believe that should be expanded and extended to all members. All of us should be afforded that same scrutiny, to be able to make sure that all of us are given the chance to understand the rules that are in front of us. I believe this is a great extension to some of the suggestions that have been brought forward.

It is our responsibility as a caucus. I know when I hear from the member for Cumberland South, their caucus, and indeed, members of the government side, to look at this legislation and strengthen it as we go forward. We, on first blush, have been receptive to what we see, but as the Premier has noted, the regulations around this bill will tell the tale.

We, as this caucus, have experienced passing legislation in this House around auto insurance only to find out when the regulations were changed at the Cabinet table that the intent of that legislation was changed and it was not what we voted on. It was not what was put in front of us. We will look very carefully at the regulations that are brought forward by the government. I know the Premier has assured us and all Nova Scotians that we will see those regulations prior to voting on this bill.

I also look forward to the Law Amendments Committee when Nova Scotians get a chance to come in and pass judgment on this bill and also bring their unique experience and expertise in to allow us, as a host, to draft the most open transparent piece of legislation in our entire country.

With those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's a privilege for me to stand today and to share some comments on behalf of our caucus in regard to Bill 1, an Act to Establish the Management Commission for the Effective Administration of the House Assembly.

Despite the Premier's characterization of this bill as being focused on the concept of transparency, transparency, transparency, which I heard again here today, we believe it comes up a bit short in regard to the lack of emphasis around expedient reporting practices. I know we're not supposed to get into the detail of the bill at this stage in the second reading or to be looking at it clause by clause. I do have a couple of comments I want to make around where we see some shortcomings and what we anticipate we'll be looking at doing ourselves as a caucus, or at least introducing over the next little while.

The transparency really remains little more than a concept than a bill that has many blanks yet to be filled. Our caucus absolutely believes it raises more questions than answers at this point. For example, I'd like to draw your attention to Section 11 (1) (f). Why would we wait for an annual report from the commission on its decisions and activities when we

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could ask for one to be completed every six months or perhaps even quarterly? Last Friday when the Premier introduced the Bill, he began by saying, you have to be careful in considering the public's right to have access to information on the way decisions are made.

The Premier is right, Mr. Speaker, and if there's one thing that members have learned since the release of the Auditor General's Report is that taxpayers feel isolated from provincial decision making and obviously the legislative process. They have been left feeling far removed from the day-to-day business of the people they elected to represent them in this Legislature. We believe that is because, in their estimation, they have no idea what is going on, the manner in which expense claims are filed, how often, the criteria that regulates what can be purchased and for what intent.

If we really want to create the triple transparency the Premier has brought forward, should we not be ensuring that accounting reports are filed more frequently? Mr. Speaker, the Premier said this legislation may pave the way for detailed accounts of MLA expenditures to be posted online every six months as is the case in Newfoundland. We're talking about everything from laptops to printer cartridges and everything in between, all out in the open for Nova Scotians to see.

We applaud this particular implementation as it truly represents the kind of transparency people are asking for and demanding, but why not take it a step further? Why not ask the commission to provide their written reports at the same frequency? We feel this will go a long way in creating transparency and re-establish the public trust that we all so much desire.

We do believe we're on the right track but we don't believe that we're there yet. Simply stated, this Bill does not go far enough in making sure that Nova Scotians have access to this information with the kind of frequency they deserve and want us to provide. We believe we should get it out there as often with as much detail as possible and let's make sure this legislation reflects that commitment the Premier made and that we made as legislators.

If we do this, we'll be leaving Nova Scotians with far more than a legacy of systematic changes built on transparency. We'll be giving them closure through the knowledge that we have heard their concerns and their disappointment, that we get it, and that the gap has been filled to an extent that we will never again have a system that is open to interpretive accounting.

As the Leader of the Official Opposition stated earlier, the detail is always in the regulation and we really look forward to that coming in the near future so we can have an opportunity to review it ourselves to ensure that it meets the test the public are demanding of us at this time.

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Mr. Speaker, just two other quick comments before I close. One is that this caucus has a couple of amendments that are prepared, that we'll be moving those amendments forward in the future. We're hoping that the government will give serious consideration to the amendments because we believe that it will truly provide for transparency in this legislation.

The last thing is this, in Section 12 of the bill, if I could quote just a short piece of it. Section 12 says, wherever possible and practical, the Commission shall arrange with various departments of the public service of the province to utilize members of the public service within the departments to discharge and perform duties and functions required for the purposes of the House of Assembly and conducting the business of the commission.

Mr. Speaker, one thing I've noticed over the last couple months, some people - and maybe it's in the public, through the media and some individuals - have taken the opportunity to point a lot of fingers toward the Speaker's Office. I've had the absolute honour, in my time both in the Chair and as being a member here, to work with the late Dale Robbins who was the director of administration in the Speaker's Office, and after Mr. Robbins passed on, the absolute honour again to work with Jocelyn Scallion who is the director of administration for the Speaker's Office.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell this House and everyone in this province, never at any time would I have ever thought that they gave it anything but 100 per cent. They are dedicated, professional public servants who do not deserve to have any kind of criticism towards them. The rules were made by 52 members of this House. The rules and regulations were provided to them to adhere to and I believe they did so to the very best of their ability every step of the way.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record for my caucus and say that we have the utmost respect for everyone in the Speaker's Office. When I look at Clause 12, I believe I'm reading something here that disturbs me a little in regard to that and the fact that I believe the government is intending on moving some of that administration away from the Speaker's Office which will, again, provide the suggestion out there to many that there's something wrong over there and there's not. There's absolutely nothing wrong in that office. They are professional, dedicated people and they deserve the respect of everybody here in this House.

The public of Nova Scotia don't have the opportunity to know of the dedicated service that we have over there but we do in this House, Mr. Speaker, and I think it's incumbent upon every one of us to stand up every chance we possibly can and give that support to those people. Again, Nova Scotians only know what they read in the papers, they only know as a result of the Auditor General's Report what has happened, but they followed the rules and regulations as we instructed them to and when I say we, I take full responsibility, as everyone in this House will and should. We created the rules and we created the opportunity for us to be in the situation we're facing today.

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Now Nova Scotians are looking for us to clean this up and I think, Mr. Speaker, it's incumbent upon all of us to do that but I want to close by saying that I have the utmost respect for Jocelyn Scallion and all her staff in the Speaker's Office and I think they deserve the support of each and every member here so that the public fully understand and appreciate that they are by no means responsible for anything that has happened as a result of the Auditor General's Report. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, I would move adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 1.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 1.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my address I beg leave to make an introduction. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. MACMASTER: I would like to introduce my sister, Mary Elizabeth MacInnis and her husband, Trevor MacInnis, who are seated in the gallery opposite, and I would ask them to stand and be recognized. (Applause)

[Page 235]

Mr. Speaker, years ago I recall waiting in the backseat of a long white Chevrolet Caprice Classic as I watched my father and mother enter the polling booth at the house of Heck Gillis of Judique. Today the people of Inverness County and the Town of Port Hawkesbury have seen fit to place their faith in me and give me the privilege of taking a seat in this Legislature - to work to make life better for them in Nova Scotia. One never knows what the future holds.

Much has changed since I gazed at Heck's house in wonderment and do you think they would tell me how they voted when they returned to the car? Not a chance. Much has changed. I miss the seats in those cars. They were big and rangy and we didn't bother with seatbelts back then. My good friend, Billy MacIsaac from Margaree Forks reminded me, it was often a parent's arm that would be extended across to stop us as we braced ourselves, standing up in the front seat, when the car would come to a stop.

[4:45 p.m.]

Since the 1960s, one could say the same thing about governments. They grew big and rangy and there didn't seem to be any brakes on spending but let us not be too quick to judge those governments. Nova Scotians were voting for them, in large measure because people expected the hand of government to carry the economy so that people could keep their jobs. Today we see fully one-quarter of our provincial debt is as a result of keeping Sydney Steele in operation, but let us not forget the billions of dollars spent right here in Halifax, home of provincial government, the universities, the capital for health care for Atlantic Canada, and our naval operations for National Defence.

In the 1990s, things began to change. There came a sense that the spending of government may carry with it consequences, painful consequences. People realized the cost to pay the interest on this debt was hurting our prosperity. Then there appeared on the horizon a man who would make a difference in Nova Scotia. He gave Nova Scotians their first balanced budget in 40 years and, despite unpopularity at the time, I think that people, including members from all sides of this House, will agree that Dr. John Hamm did what was right for Nova Scotia. It was Dr. John Hamm who brought Nova Scotia back to balance, and for eight years Nova Scotians enjoyed travelling on a ship steered by the hand of government towards a better future, away from debt.

Why does this matter for the people of Inverness? Well, I believe that what is good for the province is good for the people of Inverness, for they are much like Nova Scotians living in your constituencies: they want opportunities to work close to home, they want to be close to family, they want the services they receive from government to be sustainable, and for some, they just want government to step out of the way so they can run a profitable business. All of these things depend on a strong economy across the entire province, a well-managed government, and a well-managed treasury. Nova Scotians need the people in this

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Assembly to be good managers of government. The health and welfare of their families and our families depends upon that.

Today we sit the week before Nova Scotians will see the provincial budget for the year 2010-11. The Speech from the Throne indicated last week that this will be the second deficit budget introduced by this NDP Government.

Now in fairness to this government, there were some things I was pleased to hear in that Throne Speech. The initiative to reduce administrative costs in health care; relieving workload strain on our physicians by allowing pharmacists to refill prescriptions; and a five-year plan to pave roads will be good for the people of Inverness - and may I add, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of our Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, that I have been a loyal Boston Bruins fan since I was five years old, and perhaps that will give us a good foundation of commonality and purpose to ensure the roads of Inverness are looked after.

Now, on a more serious note, I was also happy to see an undertaking of a new mental health strategy. Too often people with mental illness are forgotten because they are misunderstood and their illnesses are hard for people to accept or to understand. These people live with us, and I ask that all Nova Scotians make an effort to support them in our communities. This support can be as simple as interacting with them so they have the confidence to know they are accepted, they are appreciated, and they have as much potential as anyone to live a rewarding life.

Something struck me in this Speech from the Throne, and I quote, "for my government, above all else, will never leave people behind." Mr. Speaker, this government will not leave behind the people behind us; it may leave behind those who are with us; but I tell you, through the budget deficits they create, the NDP Government absolutely leaves behind the people ahead of us. It is our youth, and Nova Scotians who are born this very year, who will inherit this debt.

You know, when I was a young boy in the early 1980s, governments were making decisions - decisions whose consequences I live with today. I had no control over that. The result: Nova Scotia ranks second for having the highest amount of government debt per person. It means $1 out of approximately every $8.50 that we pay the government is thrown away in interest payments on the debt - very real consequences.

That is why I am here. I want to impact the decisions being made today so the young boys and girls who are perhaps playing outside after school today can enjoy their future; a future where they don't have to pay for our debts; a future with an economy that runs on the strength of entrepreneurship and creativity; a place where they feel fully connected to the prosperity of the world around them and a place where they feel loved in a family that can support them.

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I am here because people of Inverness have given me a chance. I thank them for electing me as their representative and I will thank them every day by listening to them, by championing their ideas, by looking out for the interests of our communities in much the same way as all of you will be looking out for the interests of your communities. I'll be working hard to bring employment opportunities to the area, for when we have a strong economy in Inverness, we have a better Nova Scotia.

As we enter 2010, the economy of Inverness finds strength in forestry. We are home to NewPage, North America's largest producer of coated papers. I say home because, although the plant is located in Point Tupper, just across the border in the riding of Richmond, many people in Inverness County work there. I am happy to report this major employer has been hiring new employees over the past number of months.

The Strathlorne Forest Nursery will continue to operate, thanks to the support of the Minister of Natural Resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank that minister at this time. (Applause) The nursery will employ 21 people this year and although that's less than were employed last year, the situation is much better in the sense that at least that operation is still running and we want to try to keep that operation running. This facility produces seedlings to ensure our forests are healthy and resilient.

We also have silviculture in Inverness County and trucking businesses to help support pulp and paper production. We have further wealth in our fishing and farming industries. There are many dairy farm operators throughout the fertile lands of Inverness. There are also lobster and crab fishermen along the western coast of Cape Breton Island. One of those fishermen sits in the gallery, Trevor MacInnis. That is how the bread is put on the table for an extension of my family and that's very important to me.

These primary resources contribute greatly to our local economy. Our challenge will be to ensure that business owners and workers in these primary industries are able to obtain a fair share of the market price for the end products that we consume.

We have the mining of gypsum, the most of any province in Canada. Georgia Pacific operates a mine in Sugar Camp and also in Melford. Marble is mined by MacLeod Resources at River Denys. This exceptional resource is shipped to markets all over the world. In the Strait area we have a hub of economic activity. While some of these businesses may not be in Inverness, I consider them part of my home because many people in Inverness County travel there each day to work.

We have the Nova Scotia Power generating station, which generates a great amount of energy for NewPage. I understand that NewPage consumes about 10 per cent of the province's daily energy use, but they are also moving towards a biomass project whereby

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they will be able to use product that was normally considered waste from our forests in a more sustainable way, which will help reduce our carbon footprint.

The Minacs Call Centre is located in Port Hawkesbury and unfortunately recently had a reduction to the tune of 94 jobs. I will be working to try to find replacement work for these people. This is a significant number of jobs to lose in a constituency. Ocean Nutrition Canada, located in Mulgrave, brings in a lot of good wealth for our society, for our region in Inverness County. We have Martin Marietta Materials located in Aulds Cove. Some of you may be most familiar with this organization as sometimes the causeway is opened to allow the passage of goods through the causeway to their destination.

We have NuStar Energy. Some of you may be surprised to note that the Strait of Canso Superport has the largest quantity of goods passing through there of any port in Canada each year. We hope that it may be the future home of Melford International Terminal. This terminal has been in the works for many years and if it does come to fruition, it will provide great sustainable employment, high-paying jobs for people in our area. I look forward to working with the proponents of that project, with this government and with the federal government to ensure that government can do all it can to help them make progress.

Our health and education infrastructure has benefited from recent government investment, including the expansion of nursing homes in Cheticamp and also in Port Hawkesbury and the improvements in the hospital and manor in Inverness. These investments establish more stability for people working in these chosen careers. Nurses, doctors, teachers form a significant portion of our employment base in Inverness County and I am happy to see that when they go to work each day, they are able to go in facilities that are top quality and first class.

I am hopeful that recent improvements in high-speed Internet access bring opportunity in non-traditional industry for rural Inverness County. For some businesses, we are truly living in an age where you can work from anywhere, and what better place to work from than the hills and coastal drives of western Cape Breton Island, a visitor's paradise and home to our Cabot Trail.

A stable economy supports our arenas and cultural facilities. Most have received support over the last number of years. The volunteers of these organizations deserve recognition of merit for their leadership. Some things cannot be measured in dollars.

Inverness is home to many ethnic cultures. I had the pleasure of meeting many people in Waycobah during the election campaign and I got a chance to sit down with a number of people and I have some stories that I could share with you and perhaps I will do that on another day, but those people are special people to me. I know that there is talk of Aboriginal self-government and I know that Chief Morley Googoo and his band council are working to help the people on that reserve, but I also want to offer to them that as their representative

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that I want to be working with them too and to offer anything I can to help them make progress with their initiatives.

The Acadians, who are mostly located north of the Margaree Harbour Bridge and in the community of Cheticamp, are very important. They just recently celebrated Mi-Carême and although I didn't get down this year, I plan to be down next year to see what trouble I can get into there. The Acadians are a wonderful people. I know that throughout Inverness County, my family has had some heavy involvement in music but one thing I do notice is that the Acadian population loves the fiddle music and loves the Cape Breton music and I was struck by that as I travelled around during the election campaign. That culture is strong and will remain strong as long as we continue to support it by supporting their language and some of their cultural activities.

The Gaels may be most noted for their fiddle music but it should be noted that people from every ethnic background in Cape Breton are now playing this music and they enjoy it. As the resolution that I read here last night indicates, I am very much in favour of all members, from all sides of this House supporting Gaelic; it was something that I took on a whim in university and it is something that I can honestly say that for something that I took on a whim has made a significant impact on my life. For anybody who might question why we support languages like Gaelic, I can tell you from personal experience that it makes a lot of difference for people. It is important for young people to know where they come from. Many people of my background aren't even aware of their immigration story. Although it happened some 200 years ago, it is just as important as everybody's else immigration story.

I want to make note, also, of the industrious qualities of some of the Dutch people in Inverness. They began to settle the area after World War II and they have made tremendous contributions, particularly in the field and sector of agriculture.

One more note about my friends in Waycobah. While the population of many Nova Scotian communities is declining, the population of Waycobah has increased. I want to see that these people share in the future of our province with the same opportunities as we do and I will be working to help them in any way that I can and something tells me that I will learn a lot from these people over the coming years.

Tourism is an important sector of Inverness County and our economy. We have a number of tourism operators; as I mentioned earlier, we are home to the Cabot Trail, which is probably our finest resource. Tourism is very important and I had the chance to work in tourism years back and it is a unique sector. We have tourism operators in all of our constituencies and I say it is unique because it is one sector of the economy where people don't compete necessarily all of the time, they actually co-operate to work together and many times operators in my region have recommended people travel to, say, the region of Pictou to experience the attractions that they would find there. Likewise, people in Yarmouth and Halifax might say, why not travel to Route 19, the coastal trail to the Cabot Trail in Inverness County. I think that's unique and I'm glad to see we have that co-operation in our province.

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[5:00 p.m.]

Today I would also like to thank those who helped me in my aspiration to achieve public office. To the teachers and staff at Judique-Creignish Consolidated, I am so sorry that our school no longer exists, but it still exists in my heart. From our recreational experiences to the quality of learning and, yes, even to the discipline that I received from time to time, all the times that I've been given the opportunity to participate in debates and drama, model parliaments, I thank you, I thank all the staff and I thank all the friends that I made there over the years.

To my friends at St. F.X., thank you for the formation you provided. While I did not become a Rhodes Scholar like our esteemed Minister of Finance, my colleagues at Burke House taught me many things that will come in handy in this House of Assembly.

I want to thank my coaches and I think of Sandra Buker whose dedication to helping youth in Judique taught me the value of hard work and also to appreciate when people care enough to pass their talents on to you. I thank Sandra and I will say that sport has been, and always will be, an important part of my life.

There's another gentleman I'd like to thank and his name is Cyril Reddy. Some of you may remember Cyril, he used to travel around with Dr. Hamm quite a bit and he became a good friend of mine when I was working in government prior to serving as an MLA and I thought, what better way to pay tribute to Cyril today than to share with you a few of his one-liners that he would deliver on occasion. There are a few that I can share and I hope you enjoy them and I hope you see the humour in them.

One here is when speaking about somebody who might not often tell the truth, he said he'd tell a lie when the truth would do. If he was examining somebody to see what side of politics they would be on he might say, what is his ilk? One thing that's very true - and it often pops up in my mind - is, where you stand depends on where you sit. There are some other expressions he would use for people and as we all know, sometimes we come across people who may be difficult to get along with and one expression he liked to use was, he would start a fight in a phone booth. Another one, he got a house for 50 cents. For somebody who might be unscrupulous, he would say, he'd sneak into a free show and charge you for the popcorn.

Now, I thought some of these sayings were ridiculous but over time I grew to appreciate them. Another one he would say, which is relevant today in this age of BlackBerries, he would say, when we'd be sitting down in a meeting, put those BlackBerries away, he'd say, get out the Bearcat scribbler and a pencil and let's get down to work. Something the government may want to keep in mind, sometimes when you're putting forth legislation, you may put something forth that you end up regretting and he would say in a

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situation like that, you may be the proud owner of both pieces, indicating that if you left the auction and if the item you bought was broken you're stuck with it. He also said one time that he was going to do a study to find out who "they" are because we often say that they did something or such.

One final thing, which I think is good advice for us all, as Cyril would say, if you're going to give somebody your time, give them your time and I think that's very relevant in the work that we do.

I want to thank the candidates of the October by-election, each was professional and honourable in their bid for public office and this was noticed by the people of Inverness.

I want to thank my caucus and our Leader, Karen Casey, for their support as an elected member and I look forward to trusting in their counsel as I proceed in my time here in this House of Assembly.

I want to thank all members of this House. All of you have made me feel welcome. I look forward to getting to know you better in the days ahead and please do not feel discontent when I challenge your government. It is my role as an effective member of an Opposition to do this and be assured that you will hear more than just differences of opinion, you will also hear ideas and I hope you will be open to those ideas.

I want to thank the many volunteers who came forward to help in the October by-election campaign. Sometimes the days were long and, as you know, with your volunteers, these people continue to give of themselves tirelessly. I want to especially thank my campaign manager, Robert MacDonald, my official agent, Bonnie MacIsaac and Willanna MacDonald in our constituency office. I would like to thank those who were with me every step of the way as we drove through many scenic country roads of Inverness County. I must say that on more than one occasion I felt a little bit guilty about getting to drive around those nice country roads in the Fall because it didn't feel like work, I was quite enjoying myself.

I would like to thank Gerry Gillis for driving with me, Donald "Roddie" MacDonald, Trevor MacInnis who is with us here today, and a man no stranger to the member for Cape Breton South, Cyril MacDonald. I am sure he could appreciate that I am happy to report that when I left Cyril, I left with many stories. They were good stories.

I would like to thank the family of the Honourable Rodney MacDonald. I will tell you that you will find no finer people than these MacDonalds and Beatons of Mabou, and I want to thank Rodney as well. He worked very hard during that campaign to help me and I thank him for that and I thank him for the good work that he did for the people of Inverness. It lays out a real challenge ahead for me to continue that, but I do intend to.(Applause)

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I would also like to recognize Kay MacDonald of Judique and William MacIsaac - Big Bill - of Margaree Forks for nominating me at my nomination, for they started it all back in September. I would like to thank them both. Most of all I would like to thank my family, my sister Mary Elizabeth MacInnis, who is sitting with us here today, along with Trevor MacInnis, her husband. Mary Elizabeth quietly became a political heavyweight in the early days of my bid and I will count on her valuable counsel in the days ahead. I am sure she will keep me grounded in the values that we were brought up with in our home in Judique.

I want to thank my father, Buddy MacMaster. I think my early days were heavily influenced by his love of people. I remember it would take hours to travel back from the stage to the car at the Broad Cove concert as he talked to just about everybody we crossed paths with on the way. Now if I could only make people enjoy politics the same way he could make people enjoy fiddle music.

I want to thank my mother, Marie. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs who always gave an honest day's work and then some. Hugh Beaton and Sons and Anne Beaton, and I must recognize my uncles Al and John who are still in the business today, close to retirement, and I'd like to recognize my aunt Pauline who passed away some years ago of cancer. Hugh Beaton and Sons and my grandmother, Anne Beaton, who was married to Hugh, owned a blacksmith shop and as horses were replaced with cars, they opened up a service station. They sold International Harvester trucks and tractors for some time and they operated a general store, which was perhaps the first form of social assistance in our province as Nova Scotians were extended credit for families in need.

My mother actually worked across the street from here, in the Provincial Building, for the Department of Finance some years ago and perhaps one day I will work there too. May I honour them in this Legislature with the values they have instilled in me.

In closing, you know people often want to achieve the same things in life, they just see different ways of getting there. Politics aside, I hope we can find ways to work together for the benefit of Nova Scotians, they deserve that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Inverness like to adjourn debate?

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to adjourn debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is to adjourn debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business today. Tomorrow being Opposition Day, I would ask the Opposition House Leader to give us the hours and debates for tomorrow, please.

MR. SPEAKER: We're going to take a five minute recess, with the permission of the House.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[5:10 p.m. The House recessed.]

[5:13 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting House Leader of the Official Opposition to bring forward the business today for tomorrow.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, you can never have too many skills in this business - you never know when things change. The business tomorrow will be Resolution No. 4, as well as Bill No. 6.

MR. SPEAKER: Would you move the House now do rise?

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the hours will be 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and we can adjourn now.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is to now adjourn to meet again tomorrow at the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The adjournment motion was submitted by the honourable member for Clare:

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"Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly urge the Minister of Economic and Rural Development to provide funding for a ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States and support the local economy."

[5:15 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

ERD: YARMOUTH/U.S. FERRY SERVICE - FUNDING

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to say a few words on this resolution. As we brought this topic to the attention of the House last week in an urgent debate. It was said that just before this past Christmas this NDP Government on December 15th had advised Bay Ferries that they would no longer continue to subsidize the ferry service out of Yarmouth to Maine for the upcoming tourist season.

Mr. Speaker, you can imagine when this announcement went out that was made by this NDP Government how devastating it was for the people working on the ferry and their families just days before Christmas. Bay Ferries indicated that there are roughly 189 full-time and part-time jobs that would be lost on The Cat ferry running out of Yarmouth to Maine.

Mr. Speaker, this decision that was made back in December, as I indicated earlier, has certainly brought a lot of discussion, has created a lot of stir, has certainly been talked about and still is, has certainly brought a lot of shock, a lot of anger not just to the Town of Yarmouth or to the County of Yarmouth and neighbouring communities, but around Nova Scotia and certainly outside of our province as well.

Following this discussion, Mr. Speaker, many questions have been raised. This evening I will raise some of the questions that were raised by the media, through the media, through correspondence that I've received, naturally through many discussions that I've had with many individuals from my area as well.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that since December 15th, many people have been wondering or are trying to figure out why this NDP Government decided to make this announcement to cancel the ferry service out of Yarmouth to New England. Many questions have been raised on who the government consulted with before making this decision back in December.

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Naturally the list is certainly growing as we are speaking. Was the tourism industry contacted before the government went ahead in making this decision? We've heard this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, the tourism industry in Nova Scotia is worth approximately $1.3 billion. There is no doubt, by cancelling this ferry service, it will have a significant impact on the tourism industry in southwestern Nova Scotia - as a matter of fact, right throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, the question was also raised, did the provincial government consult with the Town of Yarmouth, with the town council about eliminating the ferry service for the upcoming tourism season? We've heard the Mayor of Yarmouth, Mr. Mooney, on several occasions trying to send messages to the province and asking questions on behalf of the people he represents, looking for answers. Of course there are other municipal units in that region as well. You have the Municipality of Yarmouth, you have the Municipality of Argyle and Yarmouth County and, of course, neighbouring to the Town of Yarmouth you have the Municipality of Clare. So these immediate four municipal units certainly will be affected in different ways.

Naturally, Mr. Speaker, a question was raised. Did the provincial government get a chance to contact or to sit down or consult with the local regional development authority? I'm quite sure, again, those discussions did not take place.

At the same time, we've heard the MP for West Nova, Greg Kerr, who has raised this issue more than once, has the provincial government been in contact with the federal government or with the minister responsible for Nova Scotia? Again, Mr. Speaker, I'll have a chance to elaborate on whether there were some discussions with the federal government.

Did the provincial government consult with anyone in the southwestern region of our province? The obvious question that comes to everyone's mind is, who were the stakeholders that the NDP Government consulted with before they went ahead in December to make this decision?

Again, always looking back, was there any thoughtful discussion, was it researched properly before this provincial government went ahead back in December, just before Christmas, announcing to Bay Ferries that they would no longer be subsidizing this ferry service? Again, this raises many questions along the way. I'm sure we'll have more opportunities to talk about the devastation that this government announcement will have, especially in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia.

We do know that with no ferry in Yarmouth, there will be fewer people coming in to Nova Scotia. There will be less money spent, not just in the Town of Yarmouth but throughout our province. The ripple effect will be far-reaching and I'm sure, as I've said earlier, the final results in terms of how many jobs will be lost is still unknown. Everyone knows that the Town of Yarmouth will not be alone taking the hits from this decision made by this government. Many communities throughout Nova Scotia will be hit.

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When you start looking at what we do know now, that approximately 500 jobs will be lost and probably more to come, along with the number of businesses that will be affected along the way - we heard last week that Captain Kelley's business that was located on Main St. in Yarmouth, a restaurant, a pub, they've decided to close down the business. I'm sure more bad news will certainly be coming our way.

Again, Mr. Speaker, you have to wonder if the province's decision to no longer subsidize the ferry service from Yarmouth to Maine was a wise decision made by this NDP Government. Obviously there are many people in our province who don't agree with this government's decision and not just people from the Town of Yarmouth but people throughout our province. We've heard Mark MacDonald, CEO of Bay Ferries, say that the ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine is not in a position now where it can operate without financial assistance from government. We know there are many factors that certainly come to play in terms of why this company needed some assistance from the government.

In closing, I hope that the government will have an opportunity in the near future to certainly - knowing what we do know now, obviously the question is, did the government know, or have all the facts in front of them back in December, before going ahead, making this decision in terms of how devastating this decision would be to southwest Nova Scotia and to our province?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss government's decision regarding Bay Ferries' Yarmouth ferry service. At the same time I want to confirm this government's commitment to make life better for families in every region of the Province of Nova Scotia. This is an opportunity to focus on the future. I will take this opportunity to share with you what the province is doing to work with stakeholders in business, the tourism sector, and other levels of government to create new opportunities for growth and success in this region of the province.

Mr. Speaker, despite the economic challenges of the last year, many Nova Scotia companies and communities have been successful in their efforts to compete and innovate. In the southwest region we've seen great successes experienced by companies such as Register.com, Tri-Star, and JHS Fish Products. Tri-Star is a world-class manufacturer of ground ambulances of all types. Established in 1973, the firm exports its products worldwide - reaching 42 companies. (Interruption) Thank you, countries. I'm glad you're listening. The company's corporate headquarters are in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where it operates a modern 60,000 square foot manufacturing facility.

Mr. Speaker, in 2003 JHS of Iceland was exploring new locations to grow its business to meet increasing demands. They learned that Nova Scotia may have the raw

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materials that it needs. The province, through Nova Scotia Business Inc. - NSBI - is committed to working with JHS FishProducts, a company that truly demonstrates business innovation with a fascinating export market.

Mr. Speaker, since 2001 Register.com has grown in Nova Scotia to become the largest private sector employer in Yarmouth. Phases of growth since 2001 have seen the company expand to include work-from-home positions in the southwest shore area and an expansion to include an office here in metro. Currently Register.com's successful footprint and employee group in Nova Scotia ranks as significantly larger than its head office, which is located in New York.

Mr. Speaker, these are just a few examples of the great work and successes we are seeing in the area. We also know that entrepreneurship and collaboration are the key strengths in southwestern Nova Scotia. InNOVAcorp recently awarded Yarmouth-based Xona Games first place zone winner in its provincial I-3 competition. When the Broadband for Rural Nova Scotia initiative began in 2007, almost 200,000 rural residents had no high-speed service. With a population of almost one million people, approximately 925,000 Nova Scotians now have the opportunity to subscribe to high-speed Internet access. In the coming months the remaining 25,000 will also be able to subscribe. Then all of our students, businesses, and institutions will have the opportunity to connect and compete locally and globally as well.

Another great moment for Yarmouth is the recent announcement of the reestablished air service from Yarmouth to Portland. The Yarmouth International Airport Corporation led the way in developing this vital solution to keep Maine and Nova Scotia connected at such an important time, and recently Tourism, Culture and Heritage staff were contacted by the owner of Trout Point Lodge, who is exploring the possibility of attracting yet another air service to the Yarmouth area. While it is too early to comment on the viability of that idea, more discussion will be taking place in the coming weeks between the department and Mr. Perret. By focusing on our assets and diversifying our economy, we will attract new jobs, we will attract newcomers and build a more sustainable future for all Nova Scotians.

[5:30 p.m.]

Sustainability is key. It's vital to what our future looks like. It is through these partnerships and relationships that we are able to thrive and can create a strong business climate. The Business Retention and Expansion, BRE, is helping to build a stronger business climate for Nova Scotia. This program helps drive growth and competitiveness in Nova Scotia's business. Since BRE began, over 25 businesses have been reached out to, generating nearly 2,000 service referrals in creating or maintaining over 3,600 jobs.

I want to stress that Yarmouth and its neighbouring communities have proven to be strong and resilient throughout their history. Today there are some positive things happening

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in this region and some great success stories. At the same time, the decision by Bay Ferries to discontinue its service to Maine has meant challenges for the area. Unfortunately, the ferry service has been hit hard by a fluctuating dollar, rising gas prices and a shift in the U.S. economy.

To be more specific, a 40 per cent change in the value of the U.S. dollar since 2002 has seriously impacted ferry revenues that are in U.S. funds. Fuel prices have risen from 68 cents per litre in 2004 to $1.08 a litre, and still rising. The cost for a family of four with a vehicle to travel on The Cat to Maine and back costs more than $1,070 U.S.

Tightening U.S. security has meant challenges and changes in family travel plans and patterns. In fact, vehicle travel on both the Bay Ferries Yarmouth to U.S., and the former Scotia Prince Cruises runs have decreased by 71 per cent, down by a huge amount. That's a significant decrease. In 2009, just over 1 per cent of visitors to the province used Yarmouth as their point of entry. This equates to just over 26,000 people of an estimated total of over two million visitors to Nova Scotia. In the past four years the company has had to rely heavily on government subsidies to keep its operation going. This included over $21 million in subsidies from the province's Department of Economic and Rural Development.

Those subsidies have not helped to make Bay Ferries Yarmouth stronger. In fact, they work in the opposite direction. The company's need for government assistance was growing at a time when we were required to work hard and make the tough decisions that will get Nova Scotia back to balance. At the same time we are committed to creating good jobs and to growing the economy.

Since 2007, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has invested almost $400,000 in development and marketing projects in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores area and is working with industry members and municipal officials to explore new opportunities - not with the old, new opportunities. We're looking toward the future, not the past. Previous investment has enabled stakeholders in southwest Nova Scotia to develop a tourism destination development plan for the area. That plan would help Yarmouth and surrounding municipalities build on their strengths and seek new, strategic opportunities that enhance their appeal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his words and I was going to read fully an email that I got because we stand here and we talk, and a lot of times we want to hear each other talk, and it goes on that way. I thought it would be better to really bring forward an email that I received from a constituent, a person in Yarmouth who is affected by this, but the minister did provide me with a number of issues that I want to comment on quickly before I go into that.

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Mr. Speaker, he talked about Tri-Star and thankfully we do have Tri-Star. Tri-Star is a wonderful organization, they've been there for a long time. I'm very happy to have been an employee of Tri-Star during a time. I'm very happy that they do have markets around the world, but they do have a very small organization when it comes to employees and very little opportunity to grow a lot bigger than what they are to employ the 500 people that are without a job today.

JHS FishProducts - and I thank the minister, both ministers, for their work on this one, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Minister of Economic and Rural Development for their work with JHS FishProducts - but what we're hearing also from this group is that they're not finding the by-product that they need from the fishery because a lot of the protein that they would require, the fish heads and such, are not available because they're being used in mink production, they're used to feed the mink on the largest mink production in Canada.

I want to thank them for their continued support of Register.com, but Register.com has grown to its size and I doubt it can grow any bit more. I hope it does and I hope that the minister stands someday and says, listen, Register.com is going to hire 300 more people, but I'm not going to wait patiently because I know it's probably not going to happen.

The minister talks about broadband and what great opportunities that will bring. We were very happy to be the government that brought that process into place, and we're very happy to see that this government is bringing that one forward, but there's going to be a number of people who are not going to be able to afford broadband because they don't have a job any more. It's great to talk about it but they're not going to be able to use it.

He also talks about the loss of traffic since the loss of Scotia Prince, you know, it's somewhere near 71 per cent. Well yes, you took a whole boat out, no wonder you're going to lose 71 per cent of the traffic there. They're not all going to hop onto The Cat and come across and we lost those people. We'll never get them back, just as we've lost the people that take The Cat and we'll probably never get them back.

I'm going to read an email that I received and I do have their approval to use it in this House and I will table it as soon as I'm finished with it. It comes from Esther and Gil Dares. They run the Harbour's Edge Bed and Breakfast on Vancouver St. in Yarmouth, a lovely facility, a lovely house and they've done a lot of work so please listen attentively.

Dear honourable Premier, ministers and MLAs,

My husband and I opened our B&B in 1997. We rescued a burned-out historic home in Yarmouth in 1994 that was assessed at $40,000 and over the next two years put our hearts and souls (and our wallets) into our great house at the head of the Yarmouth Harbour. The property's assessment has

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increased 100 per cent. The house is a municipal and provincial heritage property and we were the recipients of the 1997 Nova Scotia Home Award for historic restorations. We are in our 13th year of business and our guests love staying in our home. Your decision not to fund the ferry will seriously impact our ability to afford this great house.

My husband has recently retired from the RCMP after 35 years. We depend on our income from the B&B to afford the upkeep of this big house. Last year we paid $14,000 just to have the exterior painted. We have to do that every five to six years, no kidding. For the last couple of years we've had struggle but we are keeping our heads above water. The economic situation in the U.S., the passport regulations and strong Canadian dollars have all been challenges, but these come and go.

Yarmouth has had a boat to New England since before Confederation. Your government's decision not to invest in this vital piece of infrastructure for the benefit of all Nova Scotia until a sustained link can be established is, frankly, short-sighted and ill-informed. With the taxpayer-funded transportation study only weeks away, this decision is premature and irresponsible. Before this action was taken there should have been consultation with the industry, the communities affected and other stakeholders. If you add up the HST from the fares that users of the ferry pay, plus the HST paid on room nights, meals and gasoline, they are directly attributable to the existing ferry. If the ferry is gone, those revenues are lost. On top of that, the provincial income tax paid by the employees of the ferry, the accommodations and restaurants factor and others, who, if they remained employed would be putting more revenue into provincial government coffers. If Yarmouth loses the ferry for even one year, we will lose the customs office, those federal government jobs are hard to come by in small town Nova Scotia.

We will also lose infrastructure like large accommodations and some restaurants that were built to support this link to New England. They are not able to coast through this year waiting for your government to come up with a solution. The ferry impacts businesses from one end of the province to the other. Ask any reputable fixed roof accommodation operator in this province, they will tell you that they have significant numbers of guests who come to Nova Scotia on the ferry from New England.

The whole province will regret this careless and reckless decision. It is my sincere hope that your government realizes the critical error you made and fix it before it is too late. The province's role in this should have been to work with our communities towards a more sustainable link, not pull the rug out from under our communities in the tourism sector businesses. They should

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have been working with us to find a seamless transition to a more sustainable service. Shame on you.

Yarmouth has lost her train, air service and now the ferry. The province hasn't even given us a completed 100-Series highway to Yarmouth. I would suggest to you that it is these small towns and rural areas of this province that our visitors come to see. Cut investment to these areas at your peril.

Just a couple of days ago Transport Canada cancelled a tendered project on the wharf for lighting and fencing, this was awarded to a local Yarmouth County contractor and was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. For the employees who would have worked on this job and their families, it is the meals on their table, skating lessons and hockey registration. It is hair cuts, take out coffee, and YMCA memberships. The loss of the ferry has far-reaching impacts on our communities. This is just one example.

Mr. Speaker, I could read every night another e-mail that I have received from people from the Yarmouth area.

What I found interesting too is the response to this - and I still have a few more minutes here - and someone that actually responded to this and I do thank the member for Lunenburg for answering this one, this was directed to you. But everybody got the same answer, it didn't matter which MLA responded to Mrs. Dares, they got the packaged answer, well, every one that I saw - I see the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations shaking her head. Most of them went like this: "Thank you for your letter expressing concern about the loss of The Cat ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine. Our province is on an unsustainable path, facing a $525 million deficit . . ." and I can go on but I'm sure everybody has seen that.

There is a second piece there and maybe some other evening I will have the opportunity to stand again and read the response that Esther responded to, the honourable member for Lunenburg as well. It is less glowing than the body of the letter - and I know that it is not the fault of member for Lunenburg, but it is one that is the fault of this Premier and this Minister of Economic and Rural Development that they did not consult. The underlining issue here is that the whole community was caught offside. They did not see that coming, they do not understand why it was done.

Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that we have an opportunity for 2011; 2010 is done. It does not matter where you go in New England right now, they have destroyed the market. There are no buses coming, there are no tourists that will be coming because of it, so even if you were able to save it and put it in tomorrow, you wouldn't have anybody on it.

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So we have 2011, we have Team Southwest Nova Scotia that I hope that the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage will participate in, in the future, will come with some dollars and try to find ways to keep the tourism industry in Nova Scotia, the tourism industry in southwestern Nova Scotia whole for this season so that I don't have to see these people come to my door and look for help from their government because they can no longer keep food on the table. So thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much. I want to thank all members for their participation in the debate tonight.

The House shall now rise and meet again tomorrow at the hour of two o'clock in the afternoon.

[The House rose at 5:45 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 111

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party)

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

Whereas being a Saint Mary's University graduate, I am pleased to rise and congratulate Saint Mary's University on its stellar reputation for athletics; and

Whereas the Saint Mary's Huskies have captured their first National Canadian Interuniversity Sport Hockey Championship; and

Whereas the Huskies hockey team defeated the favoured University of Alberta Golden Bears 3-2 in overtime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House join me in congratulating the members of the Saint Mary's Huskies hockey team, head coach Trevor Stienburg and his staff, and Saint Mary's University on a hard fought and well-deserved National Hockey Championship.