Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 10-14

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

THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
SPEAKER'S RULING: Tabling Document Referred to by the Premier
(Pt. of Order by Hon. S. McNeil [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10])
Premier referred to a policy but did not table the document.
Not a point of order. 845
SPEAKER'S RULING: Quote Referred to by the Premier Misleading
(Pt. of Order by Hon. S. McNeil [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10])
Disagreement between members. Not a point of order. 845
SPEAKER'S RULING: Speaker's Instructions Being Given Before
Question Period (Pt. of Order by Hon. M. Scott)[Hansard p. 820,
04/14/10]) Speaker in agreement 846
SPEAKERS' RULING: Length & Number of Questions During Question Period
(Pt. of Order by Hon. M. Scott [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10])
Number of questions are within the average of past sessions 846
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 848
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 377, Dalhousie Student Soc.: Intl. Engineering Comp. (2010)
- Hosting Congrats., Hon. M. More 848
Vote - Affirmative 849
Res. 378, Atl. Gateway/Port of Halifax: Bus. Attraction
- Recognize, The Premier (by Hon. F. Corbett) 849
Vote - Affirmative 850
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 379, Trade Ctr. Mgt. Team: Meetings/Conventions Ind.
- Congrats., Hon. P. Paris 850
Vote - Affirmative 851
Res. 380, Natl. Soil Conservation Wk. (04/18 - 04/24/10) - Recognize,
Hon. J. MacDonell 852
Vote - Affirmative 852
Res. 381, Agric.: Food Safety Specialists/Meat Inspectors - Certified
Professional Food Safety Designation, Hon. J. MacDonell 853
Vote - Affirmative 853
Res. 382, Autism Awareness Mo. (04/10) - Recognize,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 854
Vote - Affirmative 855
HOUSE RECESSED AT 12:28 p.m. 855
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 1:40 p.m. 855
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 30, Police Act, Hon. M. Scott 856
No. 31, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act,
Mr. C. Porter 856
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 383, MacDonell Group/Vaughn Engineering - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. S. McNeil 857
Vote - Affirmative 857
Res. 384, Educ.: Leaning Disabilities - Public Sch. Inclusion,
Hon. K. Casey 858
Vote - Affirmative 858
Res. 385, St. Stephen's Anglican Church: Commun. Support
- Recognize, Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 858
Vote - Affirmative 859
Res. 386, PSC Min.: Cabinet Income Tax Cut - Justify,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 859
Res. 387, Sydney Hbr.: Dredging - Support,
Hon. C. Clarke 860
Res. 388, Smith, Shaynea/Team - Tri-County Reg. Science Olympics,
Hon. S. Belliveau 860
Vote - Affirmative 861
Res. 389, Fraser, Ms. Trina: East Preston Day Care Ctr. - Work (11 Yrs.),
Hon. K. Colwell 861
Vote - Affirmative 862
Res. 390, Boat Hbr.: Cleanup Decision - Reconsider,
Mr. C. Porter 862
Res. 391, Kyle, William - Fam./Commun./N.S.: Contributions
- Recognize, Mr. C. MacKinnon 863
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 392, Titanic: Anniv. (98th) - Remember,
Hon. S. McNeil 863
Vote - Affirmative 864
Res. 393, NDP/Cumb. North MLA: Negative Tax Increase - Reject,
Hon. M. Scott 864
Res. 394, Thompson, Shelley/Pygott, Ian - Merritt Awards,
Mr. M. Smith 865
Vote - Affirmative 865
Res. 395, Bishop, Patricia/Oulton, Josh -
Atl. Outstanding Young Farmer Award, Mr. L. Glavine 866
Vote - Affirmative 866
Res. 396, NewPage Invitational Tournament: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacMaster 866
Vote - Affirmative 867
Res. 397, Blenkhorn, Brad: Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Skabar 867
Vote - Affirmative 868
Res. 398, Clare Acadien Atom B Team: SEDMHA Hockey Tournament
- Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 868
Vote - Affirmative 869
Res. 399, Cobequid Medical Ctr.: 24/7 Operation - Campaign Commitment,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 869
Res. 400, Shubenacadie Canal Commn.: Value - Recognize,
Mr. A. Younger 870
Res. 401, Sm. Bus.: Tax Increases - Effect, Mr. K. Bain 871
Res. 402, ERD Min.: Cabinet Income Tax Cut - Justify,
Hon. K. Colwell 871
Res. 403, Lemon, Dick - TIANS Award (2009),
Hon. K. Casey 872
Vote - Affirmative 873
Res. 404, The Chickenburger - Anniv. (70th): Innes/MacDonald Families
- Congrats., Ms. K. Regan 873
Vote - Affirmative 874
Res. 405, Chaisson, Warren: Musical Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacMaster 874
Vote - Affirmative 874
Res. 406, Digby Dashing Diamonds: Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Theriault 875
Vote - Affirmative 875
Res. 407, Hatcher, Bruce: Fish. Res. Conservation Coun. (Can.)
- Appt., Mr. A. MacLeod 875
Vote - Affirmative 876
Res. 408, Dart. East MLA: Younger People - Political Involvement,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 876
Res. 409, Terry Hawkins Ind. Ltd. - Manning Innovation Award Nomination,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 877
Vote - Affirmative 878
Res. 410, Atl. Fashion Wk. (2010): Designers/Organizers/Participants
- Congrats., Mr. A. Younger 878
Vote - Affirmative 878
Res. 411, MacDonald Michael - Excellence in Bus. Development Award,
Mr. K. Bain 879
Vote - Affirmative 879
Res. 412, Miller, David: Forum for Renewal Energy - Establishment,
Ms. D. Whalen 879
Vote - Affirmative 880
Res. 413, Joggins Fossil Cliffs Interpretive Ctr.: Visitors
- Increase Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 880
Vote - Affirmative 881
Res. 414, Fin. Min.: Cabinet Income Tax Cut - Justify,
Mr. L. Glavine 881
Res. 415, King, Rick: Vol. Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 881
Vote - Affirmative 882
Res. 416, Nichols, Patricia: Certified Professional Secretary Rating
- Congrats., Ms. K. Regan 882
Vote - Affirmative 883
Res. 417, TIR/Energy: Alders - Energy Plan,
Mr. H. Theriault 883
Vote - Affirmative 884
Res. 418, Belliveau Motors - Pineapple Award,
Hon. W. Gaudet 884
Vote - Affirmative 884
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 140, Prem.: Pictou - Amalgamation Study,
Hon. S. McNeil 885
No. 141, Prem.: Public Sch. Funding - Shortage,
Hon. K. Casey 886
No. 142, Prem.: Sch. Closures - Prevent,
Hon. S. McNeil 887
No. 143, Citizenship & Immigration: Sydney Office - Layoffs,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 888
No. 144, Fin. - Prog. Conservative Budgets: Min. Vote - Explain,
Mr. A. MacMaster 890
No. 145, Energy - NSP: Rate Increase - Min. Position,
Mr. A. Younger 890
No. 146, TIR - Travel Costs: Air Canada - Intervene,
Hon. C. Clarke 892
No. 147, LWD - Min. Wage: Enforcement - Stance,
Ms. K. Regan 894
No. 148, Energy: Oil/Gas Sector - Redevelopment,
Hon. C. Clarke 895
No. 149, Nat. Res.: Brigadoon Camp - Neighbouring Land,
Mr. L. Glavine 896
No. 150, TCH: Tourism - Travel Strategies,
Mr. H. Theriault 898
No. 151, Prem. - Tax Increase: Revenue Loss Review,
Hon. M. Scott 899
No. 152, LWD: Injury Stats. - Reduction Plans,
Ms. K. Regan 900
No. 153, Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.): Fed./Prov. Partnership
- Explore, Hon. M. Scott 901
No. 154, Com. Serv.: Wheelchair Recycling Prog. - Details,
Hon. W. Gaudet 903
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 15, Viola Desmond Day Act, Mr. A. MacLeod 905
Mr. A. MacLeod 905
Hon. P. Paris 907
Hon. K. Colwell 909
Hon. C. Clarke 911
Mr. L. Glavine 914
Hon. M. Scott 915
Mr. C. Porter 917
Mr. A. MacLeod 919
Vote - Affirmative 919
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 4:26 P.M.. 920
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. . 920
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
^Boots on the Street Prog.: Fourth Yr - Completion:
Hon. M. Scott 920
Hon. R. Landry 923
Hon. M. Samson 926
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M.. 929
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:59 P.M.. 929
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 16th at 9:00 a.m. 930
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)
Res. 419, Coleman, Coach Ted/Mem. Marauders - Hockey Championships,
Hon. C. Clarke 931
Res. 420, MacDonald, Alexa - Honduras: Medical/Pub. Health Brigade
- Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 931
Res. 421, Luker, Rev. David: Knight of the Order of St. George
- Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 932
Res. 422, Sterling Products Ltd.: C.B. North - Welcome,
Hon. C. Clarke 932

[Page 845]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order.

Before we go to the daily routine, I just want to make a comment on a couple of the points of order that were raised here in the House yesterday so I have a short statement here. I'll deal with the points of order the way they were presented.

SPEAKER'S RULING: Tabling Document Referred to by the Premier (Pt. of Order by Hon. S. McNeil [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10]) Premier referred to a policy but did not table the document. Not a point of order.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition raised a point of order about tabling a document. I reviewed Hansard and the Premier referred to a policy but he did not actually read from the document so, therefore, I find no point of order.

SPEAKER'S RULING: Quote Referred to by the Premier Misleading (Pt. of Order by Hon. S. McNeil [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10]) Disagreement between members. Not a point of order.

Secondly, the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition referred to a quote attributed to the honourable member for Clare, as referred to by the Premier. I believe this is simply a disagreement between two members and not a point of order.

[Page 846]

845

SPEAKER'S RULING: Speaker's Instructions Being Given Before Question Period (Pt. of Order by Hon. M. Scott [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10]) Speaker in agreement.

Finally, the member for Cumberland South rose and asked about the Speaker's instructions being given before the start of Question Period. I certainly agree with that and I will be trying to do that in the future.

SPEAKER'S RULING: Length & Number of Questions During Question Period (Pt. of Order by Hon. M. Scott [Hansard p. 820, 04/14/10]) Number of questions are within the average of past sessions.

Secondly, the honourable member for Cumberland South asked about the length of the number of questions during our daily Question Period. I don't actually recall the request, it may well have come, but I did check the number of questions over the last few days. Yesterday we had 20 questions, on Tuesday we had 14 and last Thursday we had 13, so I think we're within the average of the number of questions that we have had in past sessions. I think actually one day previous to that we had close to 16 on one particular Tuesday or Thursday. So anyway, thank you for your attention.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Regarding the question of the Premier presenting the policy on the paying of legal fees to the House, it was the Premier himself who mentioned the issue about following a previous policy when his legal fees were paid by the public purse. All we're asking for is for him to present that policy to the House because nobody seems to be able to find a policy saying anything about payment of legal fees for members of the Legislature, so I would like you to reconsider.

All we're asking for is for the Premier to present to this House the policy that he continues to refer to in his position in this House. We certainly want to know why those legal fees were paid. If there is a policy, we'd like to see it.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday during Question Period the Minister of Natural Resources stated in a response to a question on the Shubenacadie Canal Commission that my facts were wrong and that the $1.5 million I referred to that he says:

". . . actually HRM has not made any commitment on the $500,000. They'll make a decision on May 2nd or May 3rd."

Well, as I suggested yesterday, the minister misled the House and I have the document here in my hands which I will table, approved by council on February 1, 2010, a

[Page 847]

conditional award in the amount of $500,000 to the Shubenacadie Canal Commission contingent upon the discussion terms which includes:

". . . leverage funding from other potential contributors, including the Province of Nova Scotia as the owner of the property . . ."

I will table both Hansard and that document and I would ask the minister to retract his comments.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take that point of order under consideration or I'll give the minister a chance to respond.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know whether I need to say point of order to respond. I do want to table some communication with people at HRM and also the minutes from February 9th. The minutes indicate:

"Approve a one time capital grant in the amount of $500,000 to the Citadel Theatre Society . . . Refer the application from the Shubenacadie Canal Commission, Dartmouth, back to the Grants Committee for review of additional information, regarding the application . . ."

In the communications from staff there:

"- The municipal financial commitment is still under consideration.

- Staff prepared an initial report to Council.

- The Grants Committee was directed to follow-up with a supplementary report - due back to the Grants Committee on May 3.

- While there has been consideration and interest on this project by the Grants Committee and HRM, nothing has been voted on by Council yet."

Mr. Speaker, I will not be retracting my statement and if the member opposite wishes to apologize, he can stand up and do that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I don't see a point of order, I see a difference of opinion here between members and I'm going to simply state that that is exactly what it is.

We'll commence with the daily routine.

[Page 848]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, here we are at day 13. They say 13 is unlucky, well, Nova Scotians have been unlucky for the last 10 months because of broken promises. It all began with this headline that says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises." We know, Mr. Speaker, what has happened to those broken promises over the last 10 months. This petition, 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!"

It is signed by 86 residents of Cumberland County, bringing the total today to 911 - with thousands more to come, Mr. Speaker - and I have signed my name to the petition.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

Before we move onto the order paper, I want to mention the late debate for tonight at the moment of interruption, it reads as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that this NDP Government commit to completing the fourth year of the Boots on the Street program so that police agencies across Nova Scotia can have the resources they require to combat a constant threat to public safety.

That has been introduced by the honourable member for Inverness and that will be at the moment of interruption at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 377

[Page 849]

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

Whereas Dalhousie University has been selected to host the first collaborative engineering competition for students in May 2010; and

Whereas the student-organized competition will bring together 48 of the top undergraduate engineering students from across Canada and Europe; and

Whereas Nova Scotia will have a chance to showcase itself as a source of brilliant minds and as a supporter of student development and creativity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the members of the Dalhousie Student Society for being chosen to host the 2010 International Engineering Competition, and wish the best of luck to all of the aspiring engineers participating.

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 Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 378

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

Whereas the Port of Halifax continues to be the gateway for products destined for the consumer-rich East Coast of North America; and

Whereas CKYH Alliance commenced shipping service with the Port of Halifax from Asia via the Panama Canal with eight Panamax vessels in May 2009; and

[Page 850]

Whereas CKYH Alliance, in co-operation with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, just announced they will launch a Pearl River-Southeast Asia-Suez Canal express service in mid-May, with the Port of Halifax as the first inbound North American port;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the achievements of the Atlantic Gateway, along with the Port of Halifax, in attracting and retaining business for our port and maintaining Nova Scotia's position as one of the premier seaports on the East Coast of North America.

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 read my resolution, with your permission, I would like to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today we have, and we would like the House to welcome, Roberta Dexter, a member of the executive of the Atlantic Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, and Scott Ferguson and Nina Kressler of Trade Centre Limited.

Today is National Meetings Industry Day, which acknowledges the importance of the Canadian meetings industry and its positive impact on our communities and on our economy. I would like to note that Trade Centre Limited was honoured with the Atlantic Chapter 2010 National Meetings Day Award. The award is presented each year to an individual or organization that positively supports the development of the meetings and convention industry. I would like to extend my best wishes to Atlantic Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, and congratulate Trade Centre Limited on a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, if the House would give them a warm welcome it would be appreciated. (Applause)

[Page 851]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 379

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

Whereas Meeting Professionals International Atlantic Chapter is celebrating National Meetings Industry Day on April 15 to acknowledge the significance of the Canadian meetings industry and its value to our communities; and

Whereas the National Meetings Industry Day Award is awarded annually by each chapter to an individual or organization that has positively supported the development of the meetings and conventions industry; and

Whereas Trade Centre Limited, a provincial Crown corporation with a mandate to create economic impact and community benefits, was honoured with the 2010 National Meetings Industry Day Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend the management team at Trade Centre Limited for continuing to grow the meetings and conventions industry in Nova Scotia and generate positive economic impact for the entire 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 Agriculture.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and the indulgence of the House, I would like to do an introduction before the resolution, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

[Page 852]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today we have a gentleman, Mr. Tim Marsh. This year is the 25th year of the Soil Conservation Week being recognized in Canada. Mr. Marsh is vice-president of the Nova Scotia Soil & Crop Association and he is a director with the Soil Conservation Council of Canada. He is a dairy farmer from Hants County, Hants West, and as a matter of fact, he and I graduated from Acadia some years ago, so if he would stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 380

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

Whereas National Soil Conservation Week is being held this year from April 18th to 24th to continue to drive dialogue across Canada on soil and the importance of managing this resource on farms; and

Whereas the organizer of this initiative, the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, is the face and voice of soil conservation and operates through its members to ensure soil degradation problems are addressed and ultimately solved; and

Whereas soil management and conservation are essential elements of sound environmental management on farms today, soil conservation is something every Canadian should be concerned with as soil provides the basis for agricultural production, a source of ecosystem biodiversity, carbon sequestration and a natural filter for water;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize April 18th to 24th as National Soil Conservation Week and salute the exemplary work being done by the SCCC and its provincial partners.

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 853]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could do another introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to announce that several staff from the Department of Agriculture recently received an internationally recognized professional designation. Some of them are here today and they are Cheryl Cameron, Sara Morrison, A.J. Connell and Kristin Ruelland. I believe they're joined by the Director of Food Protection, Mike Horwich; a food safety educator, Gary Moulton; and food safety specialist Rosemary Arsenault. I would ask them to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 381

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

Whereas food safety specialists and meat inspectors employed with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture protect the public health by conducting food safety education, inspection and enforcement in food establishments; and

Whereas the National Environmental Health Association awards the prestigious designation of Certified Professional Food Safety to individuals who exhibit true professionalism and pass a rigorous science-based examination; and

Whereas recently, Food Safety Specialists and Meat Inspectors for the Department of Agriculture tested their knowledge and food safety expertise to obtain this prestigious designation.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Department of Agriculture Food Safety Specialists and Meat Inspectors who were awarded the Certified Professional Food Safety designation by the National Environmental Health Association.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 854]

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, could I do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the attention of the members of the Assembly to the east gallery, where we are joined this afternoon by members of the Group of IX, who no doubt are here to have their regular meeting with the Department of Seniors. I see the officials from the department here with them, and I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 382

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

Whereas autism spectrum disorders are neurological conditions, ranging from mild to severe, which occur in about one in 150 individuals; and

Whereas autism spectrum disorders may have long-term implications and create many challenges for these individuals and their families; and

Whereas parents, caregivers, individuals with autism spectrum disorders, community organizations, and government departments are all working together to create opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorders to achieve their full potential;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize April 2010 as Autism Awareness Month in the Province of Nova Scotia and thank the committed professionals and caregivers for their tireless efforts.

[Page 855]

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 Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the House I move that we take a recess for approximately half an hour, reconvening at approximately 1:00 p.m., so members can get over to the ceremonies for Viola Desmond.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We shall recess until approximately 1:00 p.m.

[12:28 p.m. The House recessed.]

[1:40 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, I call the House back to order.

The honourable Premier.

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, may I make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

THE PREMIER: I'd like to draw the attention of members to the Speaker's Gallery. As you know, we have all just returned from an historic event in this province, the granting of a free pardon to Mrs. Viola Desmond.

[Page 856]

It is truly an honour to have with us today in the gallery Wanda and Joe Robson - Wanda is Viola's sister. Wanda and Joe Robson are from North Sydney, and with Mr. and Mrs. Robson are their son, Joe Robson, Jr., his wife, Kate, and children Hunter and Callum and also Michael Davis.

I'm very happy that they could be here today to witness the pardon ceremony, and I would ask if they could stand and receive the warm welcome of the House on this historic day. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all of our special guests here this afternoon and hope they enjoy the proceedings here in the Legislature.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, just on the heels of the Premier talking about the historic event that has been here today, certainly on this side of the House we agree to that.

Mr. Speaker, the House would be aware that the honourable member for Cape Breton West introduced a bill earlier in this session, Bill No. 15, the Viola Desmond Day Act. This bill, if enacted, would make November 8th of each year a day that " . . . shall be kept and observed under the name of Viola Desmond Day."

Mr. Speaker, we think it is appropriate and we would ask the government at this time if they would agree, after Question Period, to set the business of the House aside so this bill can be debated today and we can move it into law as quickly as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we'd be more than pleased to do that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: So after Question Period we'll debate that bill. I'm not sure of the number, but it's the Viola Desmond Day Act. Bill No. 15 is it? Okay.

We'll continue with the daily routine.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 31 of the Acts of 2004. The Police Act. (Hon. Murray Scott)

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2000. The Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. (Mr. Chuck Porter)

[Page 857]

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

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution, could I do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. MCNEIL: I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery where we have with us today Dr. Philip Vaughan. Dr. Vaughan, 50 years ago, started an engineering company here called the Vaughan Group. Also with him today are members of the MacDonnell Group and I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House.

[1:45 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 383

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

Whereas the MacDonnell Group/Vaughan Engineering recently celebrated 50 years in business; and

Whereas this Nova Scotian-owned business, founded in 1959 by Dr. J. Philip Vaughan, is a firm of professionals who create exceptional places for people to live, learn, work and play; and

Whereas innovation has always been at the core of the company's business in the design and management of bridges, marine facilities and community infrastructure;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Ralston MacDonnell, now owner and president of the company, honorary Chairman Dr. J. Philip Vaughan, and the professional team for their many accomplishments over the past 50 years and wish them great success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 858]

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 384

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

Whereas providing quality education continues to be a priority for the Progressive Conservative caucus; and

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Government demonstrated that priority by introducing the Tuition Support Program in 2004; and

Whereas the report of the Tuition Support Program Review Committee, released yesterday, was called for by the previous government but falls short of addressing the broader issue of inclusion in public schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education address the issue by ensuring that programs for students with learning disabilities in our public schools are enhanced so that these students can remain in their own schools, in their own communities, with their own peers, and receive the appropriate instruction they deserve.

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 859]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 385

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

Whereas we have just completed the season of Lent; and

Whereas St. Stephen's Anglican Church holds a soup luncheon every Wednesday during the season of Lent; and

Whereas each week there is a guest speaker and the proceeds of this luncheon are given to a charity of the speaker's choice;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the dedicated work of St. Stephen's Anglican Church in bringing community together and supporting their community groups.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 386

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

[Page 860]

Whereas it has been confirmed that the Minister of Finance provided the Premier and Cabinet colleagues with a sizable income tax cut by eliminating the surtax on Nova Scotians making more than $83,000 per year; and

Whereas this NDP budget is paying for the income tax cut by raising the HST while providing no income tax relief to the majority of Nova Scotians, forcing the middle class and working poor to pay for the honourable Minister of the Public Service Commission's tax cut; and

Whereas this NDP Government has clearly thrown the working poor and middle class earners of Nova Scotia under the Dexter bus, creating a "bitter deal for Nova Scotia families";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly implore the honourable Minister of the Public Service Commission to explain to the people of Nova Scotia and his constituents why he deserves this income tax cut while the middle class and working poor shoulder the burden of this government's ill-conceived tax regime.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 387

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

Whereas Progressive Conservatives believe the dredging of Sydney Harbour is vital for the future development of the Port of Sydney; and

Whereas the former Progressive Conservative Government made this an infrastructure priority and were committed to financing the project under capital investments; and

Whereas the current NDP Premier made several commitments during the last election campaign about supporting Cape Breton infrastructure and the dredge of Sydney Harbour;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly endorse and support the work and investment necessary to realize this very important project for the future economic viability of the Cape Breton region.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 861]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 388

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

Whereas Forest Ridge Academy's Shaynea Smith was a member of the winning team, Brainless Maniacs, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's Regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009; and

Whereas Shaynea Smith helped her team to a third place finish in the Grade 4 competition; and

Whereas the Brainless Maniacs were among the 27 teams of Grades 4 to 6 students who advanced to the Regional Science Olympics by topping district competition;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Forest Ridge Academy student Shaynea Smith who was a member of the winning team, Brainless Maniacs, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's Regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009.

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.

[Page 862]

RESOLUTION NO. 389

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

Whereas the East Preston Day Care Centre celebrated its 35th Anniversary on October 24, 2009; and

Whereas Ms. Trina Fraser started work at the centre in 1998 and is a graduate of St. Joseph's College of Early Childhood Education; and

Whereas Ms. Fraser has provided early childhood education for hundreds of children who have come to the centre over the years and is now the executive director;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly join me in acknowledging Ms. Trina Fraser for her hard work and dedication to the children and families of the East Preston Day Care Centre for the past 11 years.

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 Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 390

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

Whereas wastewater from the Northern Pulp Mill in Abercrombie Point has been a source of pollution in Boat Harbour; and

[Page 863]

Whereas in 2008 the residents of Boat Harbour were promised that the effluent would be cleaned up; and

Whereas the current government has stated it is not interested in working with the residents of the Pictou Landing First Nation to clean this once pristine inlet;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly request the government reconsider their decision and make the cleanup of Boat Harbour a priority.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 391

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

Whereas William Kyle of Greenwood Road, Thorburn, came from Scotland to Pictou County where he and his wife, Annabelle, raised their three daughters; and

Whereas on his 100th birthday on December 23, 2009, William Kyle took his family and friends and MLA on his regular walk atop MacLellan's Mountain, a walk he has taken through his life many hundreds of times; and

Whereas William Kyle, now a resident of Valley View Villa, is an example to all Nova Scotians through his positive, hard-work approach to life and a daily exercise regime that has kept him active for more than 100 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly recognize 100-year-old William Kyle for his contributions to his family, his community and to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 864]

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 Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 392

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

Whereas today marks the 98th Anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic; and

Whereas Halifax was not only the closest landfall to the sinking but also served as a home port for rescue operations as well as a media centre; and

Whereas today our strong legacy with the Titanic can be found in historic gravesites throughout Halifax where victims of the sinking of the Titanic were laid to rest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House remember this tragic event and acknowledge the individuals, past and present, who continue to commemorate this historic anniversary.

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.

[Page 865]

RESOLUTION NO. 393

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 uncompetitive Nova Scotia tax rates are felt nowhere more than in Cumberland County - an area that already struggles with the negative effects of cross-border shopping; and

Whereas a tax increase will simply compound the current issue and force businesses in Cumberland County to close their doors; and

Whereas Amherst simply serves as a local example of how Nova Scotia is falling behind in an increasingly global economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly encourage the NDP, in particular the MLA for Cumberland North, to look beyond their own borders and reject a negative tax increase which will put Nova Scotia business at a competitive disadvantage.

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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 394

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

Whereas the 11th Annual Merritt Awards, which recognize outstanding performance and achievement in professional theatre, were presented on March 29, 2010, by Theatre Nova Scotia; and

[Page 866]

Whereas Antigonish has a thriving professional theatre in Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre; and

Whereas Shelley Thompson and Ian Pygott of Festival Antigonish were Merritt Award winners for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and Technician of the Year respectively;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Merritt Award winners Shelley Thompson and Ian Pygott for their achievements with Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre.

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. 395

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

Whereas on February 26, 2010, Patricia Bishop and Josh Oulton of Port Williams, Nova Scotia, were awarded the Atlantic Region's Outstanding Young Farmer Award; and

Whereas working together, Patricia and Josh have developed a 23-acre organic farm while launching a community-shared agriculture program in an effort to improve the health of their family and community; and

Whereas as the winners of the Atlantic Outstanding Young Farmer Award, Patricia and Josh will represent our region as they compete for the national title recognizing young farmers and the important role they play in the future of the industry;

[Page 867]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Patricia Bishop and Josh Oulton for their success in farming and wish them continued success as they strive for the national title.

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. 396

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

Whereas for 30 years, the annual NewPage Invitational Minor Hockey Tournament in the Strait-Richmond area has hosted hundreds of teams with players from age five to 18 competing in 11 divisions; and

Whereas the NewPage tournament brings more than 1,500 players, coaches and officials, along with their families, to the area every year where they spend money at hotels, restaurants and other local businesses; and

Whereas numerous volunteers work diligently to make this tournament memorable for all of the participants and fans;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly send congratulations to the organizers of the NewPage Invitational Tournament for the excellent work they do supporting minor hockey in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 868]

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 North.

[2:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 397

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

Whereas Amherst's Brad Blenkhorn, having lost his right foot at the age of 18 months, has shown strength, dedication and perseverance in becoming one of Canada's most talented amputee hockey players; and

Whereas Brad, now 29, has made the Canadian Standing Amputee Hockey Team for the second season in a row, after returning with a Gold Medal from the World Championships in 2008; and

Whereas Brad is one of only two players east of Quebec who will travel to Montreal for the 2010 World Amputee Hockey Championships the week of April 26th in Montreal, where the Canadian team will compete for its fifth consecutive Gold Medal and world title;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Brad Blenkhorn on his achievements thus far and wish him and all the Canadian players the best of luck in their quest for gold.

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 869]

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 398

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

Whereas the Clare Acadien Atom B Hockey Team participated in the 33rd SEDMHA International Minor Hockey Tournament in Dartmouth from March 31 to April 2, 2010; and

Whereas the team played against TASA in the Accord Division final; and

Whereas the SEDMHA International Hockey Tournament is one of the largest and most respected multi-level hockey tournaments in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Clare Acadien Atom B team and their coaches for winning the Accord Division final during the 33rd Annual SEDMHA International Hockey Tournament.

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. 399

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 the NDP made the bold campaign promise of ensuring that the Cobequid Medical Centre would remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, during the last provincial campaign; and

[Page 870]

Whereas the Cobequid Health Centre closes at 10:00 p.m. and opens again at 7:00 a.m.; and

Whereas the last time I checked, that meant another NDP broken promise on health care made to the people of Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly demand the Minister of Health be honest with the people of Sackville and state that the NDP promise will never see the light of day on the Cobequid Health Centre being a 24-hours a day, seven days a week operation.

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 Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the attention of the House to your gallery, the Speaker's Gallery, to introduce Wayne Adams, who is no stranger to this place. We are always welcome to see you here but especially on this day, when the Nova Scotia Government corrected a wrong and removed a mark off our history. Wayne, it is always great to see you. Would you rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome Mr. Adams here today and, of course, we have the opportunity to see his picture on the wall here every day the Legislature is open.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 400

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

Whereas on May 26, 1986, an Act to Establish the Shubenacadie Canal Commission received Royal Assent; and

[Page 871]

Whereas the Act provides that the commission, a body corporate for the Province of Nova Scotia, is to oversee, promote, and operate interpretive centres, canal lands, buildings and infrastructure on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia and the Government of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the commission began with an annual operating grant of $186,000 a year, which was reduced by the John Hamm Government to $32,000 a year, a cut which is now maintained by the NDP Government and does not cover the operating costs for the facilities that it owns;

Therefore be it resolved that House of Assembly recognize the value of the Shubenacadie Canal Commission and its supporters to the history and continued economic development of Nova Scotia, and request that it be funded to at least meet the basic operating costs of the lands and facilities it manages on behalf of the provincial government.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 401

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 Nova Scotia business sector has repeatedly warned that economic growth will be hurt by the recent HST hike; and

Whereas Progressive Conservatives recognize that the most vocal have been members of the small business sector, seen by many to be Nova Scotia's economic backbone; and

[Page 872]

Whereas at an economic roundtable held last month by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, attendees warned that a tax hike will risk the health of a small business sector already dealing with rapidly rising costs during a period of economic recovery;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly demand this NDP Government explain why it has turned its back on small businesses in Nova Scotia by increasing taxes after a campaign platform of political rhetoric and empty promises, which assured Nova Scotians this would not take place.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 402

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

Whereas it has been confirmed that the Minister of Finance provided the Premier and Cabinet colleagues with a sizable income tax cut by eliminating the surtax on Nova Scotians making more than $83,000 per year; and

Whereas this NDP budget is paying for the income tax cut by raising the HST while providing no income tax relief for the majority of Nova Scotians, forcing the middle class and working poor to pay for the honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development's income tax cut; and

Whereas this NDP Government is clearly throwing the working poor and middle income earners of Nova Scotia under the Dexter bus creating a "Bitter Deal for Today's Families";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly implore the Minister of Economic and Rural Development to explain to the people of Nova Scotia and

[Page 873]

his constituents why he deserves an income tax cut while the middle class and working poor shoulder the burden of this government's ill-conceived tax regime and tax increases.

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 403

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

Whereas Dick Lemon, a businessman from Five Islands, Colchester County, has become well known for his development of a retreat on the island known as Long, which is used by groups such as the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, Kings College, Nova Scotia Symphony and Mount Allison University, and Long Island being one of the five islands; and

Whereas Dick is also responsible for creating the Not Since Moses Run, which attracts over 1,000 runners who complete their run on the ocean's floor, as well as for opening Mo's Café, a book and art store, and hostel; and

Whereas Dick has been presented with the Nova Scotia 2009 Innovator of the Year Award by the tourism industry of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to Dick Lemon for receiving this prestigious award for his many contributions to Nova Scotia's tourism industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 874]

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. 404

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 Chickenburger is a well known landmark in Bedford and surrounding communities, and is reputed to be the oldest drive-in restaurant in Canada still in existence; and

Whereas Jack and Bernice Innes for many years ran the "The Chick", and sold it in 2007 to well known Halifax businessman Mickey MacDonald; and

Whereas in March of this year, the Chickenburger celebrated 70 years in business as it has always done, by serving the best milkshakes, chicken burgers and onion rings on the planet;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Innes and MacDonald families on providing an iconic food experience for the past seventy years and wish them well in their 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. 405

[Page 875]

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

Whereas Cheticamp native Warren Chaisson has dedicated his life to music, beginning his formal musical training at age nine and has travelled the world sharing his musical talents; and

Whereas in Warren's distinguished career, he has released three albums and composed and played in over 1,700 Broadway performances; and

Whereas Warren's work has been critically received by the Trenton Times, the Duke Ellington Society, the AP, and the New York Times even referred as "one of the six top vibraphonists of the last half century";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Warren Chaisson on receiving such critical praise and wish him continued 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 member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 406

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 Digby Dashing Diamonds are a wonderful synchronized skating team from the Digby area; and

[Page 876]

Whereas this team took home gold at both the Valley Open and the provincial championships earlier this year; and

Whereas the team manager summed up this season as excellent and the skaters had good attitudes and had fun;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize team manager Lori Sabean, coach Cheryle Gaston and the entire Digby Dashing Diamonds team for their outstanding accomplishments this year and wish them well in their 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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 407

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

Whereas Cape Breton University Chair of Marine Ecosystem Research and Director of the Bras d'Or Institute, Bruce Hatcher, has been named to the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council of Canada; and

Whereas this council is currently looking into the state of the East Coast ground fisheries, looking into the conditions necessary to achieve and maintain a sustainable ground fishery; and

Whereas Cape Breton University will be able to translate this research into a significant contribution to policy and implementation;

[Page 877]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Hatcher on his recent appointment and wish him the best of luck with his work in this very important field of research.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 408

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources yesterday stated that "when the 'younger' member is an older member, he'll get his facts straight" when referring to the member for Dartmouth East; and

Whereas such age discriminatory remarks at a time when this government is attempting to recruit and retain our younger people in this province is counterintuitive; and

Whereas younger people being involved in politics is a rarity in this day and age and very few take the step to run for public office;

Therefore be it resolved that we all celebrate that a 'younger' member for Dartmouth East sits in this House and is showing younger people that they have a place in Nova Scotia politics.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 878]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 409

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 Progressive Conservatives believe Nova Scotians are innovative people who continue to excel on the global stage; and

Whereas an excellent example of this is Terry Hawkins Industries Ltd. which uses gelcoat to create large sheets for sign panels, largely from recycled material, which are purchased all over North America; and

Whereas Terry Hawkins Industries Ltd. was recognized for its excellent work by recently being nominated for a Manning Innovation Award which is presented to Canadians who have developed and successfully marketed a concept which had both a social and economic impact;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Terry Hawkins Industries Ltd. on this nomination, as well as continued success into 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 member for Dartmouth East.

[2:15 p.m.]

[Page 879]

RESOLUTION NO. 410

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

Whereas Atlantic Fashion Week is a highly respected and well attended annual event which promotes the innovative local fashion industry; and

Whereas Halifax is currently hosting Atlantic Fashion Week's fourth season from April 14th to 18th; and

Whereas Atlantic Fashion Week 2010 enhances the profile of Nova Scotia's growing fashion industry by providing a dynamic venue for top fashion designers from Atlantic Canada, and particularly Nova Scotia, by attracting buyers and creative investors from across the country;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly join me in congratulating the featured designers, organizers, and participants of Atlantic Fashion Week 2010 and wish them success in this endeavour.

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. 411

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

[Page 880]

Whereas Michael MacDonald, a resident of Big Bras d'Or, recently received a HYPE Award - Honouring Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs - in Cape Breton; and

Whereas Michael is a successful small business owner operating Revive Hair Studio; and

Whereas Michael was awarded the Excellence in Business Development award, recognizing his recent business growth and expansion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Michael MacDonald on his recent achievements and much deserved recognition and wish him continued 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 Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 412

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

Whereas Halifax businessman David Miller has applied his experience in business development in renewable energy to establish a new firm, Forum for Renewable Energy; and

Whereas the new venture will help Nova Scotian and Atlantic Canadian companies to access green business opportunities in the United States; and

Whereas Mr. Miller recognized the opportunity to connect Nova Scotian firms to the many opportunities and the expanding green economy;

[Page 881]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate David Miller on the establishment of the Forum for Renewable Energy, which will assist Nova Scotian environmental companies to grow and thrive.

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. 413

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

Whereas in 2008, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; and

Whereas despite stagnant tourism numbers in Nova Scotia last year, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs Interpretive Centre saw its second straight year of increased visitors; and

Whereas the increased number of visitors to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs means more tourists in Cumberland County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Joggins Fossil Cliffs Interpretive Centre on a great year and wish them another successful season in 2010.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 882]

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. 414

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

Whereas it has been confirmed that the Minister of Finance provided the Premier and Cabinet colleagues with a tax cut by eliminating the surtax on Nova Scotians making more than $83,000 per year; and

Whereas this NDP budget is paying for the income tax cut by raising the HST while providing no income tax relief to the majority of Nova Scotians, forcing the middle class and working poor to pay for the honourable Minister of Finance's tax cut; and

Whereas this NDP Government has clearly thrown the working poor and middle income earners of Nova Scotia under the Dexter bus, creating a Bitter Deal for Today's Families;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly implore the honourable Minister of Finance to explain to the people of Nova Scotia and his constituents why he deserves the income tax cut while the middle class and working poor shoulder the burden of this government's ill-conceived tax regime.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 415

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

Whereas volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others for a particular cause without payment for their time and services; and

[Page 883]

Whereas volunteer Rick King of Hantsport was recently awarded a certificate for Volunteer of the Year for his countless hours of dedication and contribution to his community; and

Whereas spending his time as a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, the Hantsport Lions Club, the HMCC Board of Directors, as well as spending time as a volunteer at the Hantsport School and maintaining an outdoor rink within his community, Rick has shown he truly deserves the Volunteer of the Year award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Rick King on caring about others in his community and thank him wholeheartedly for making a difference.

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. 416

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 International Association of Administrative Professionals offers a designation of Certified Professional Secretary; and

Whereas the CPS designation certifies that an individual has a high level of knowledge and expertise in the administrative profession, having completed rigorous multi-part examinations in finance, business law, office technology, human resource management, administrative communications, and management; and

Whereas Patricia Nichols of Halifax, who is the executive assistant to the headmistress at Sacred Heart School, has received the CPS designation;

[Page 884]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Nichols upon receiving her Certified Professional Secretary rating and wish her well in her chosen career.

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. 417

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 wood biomass business seems to be on the agenda as a renewable green energy resource in the province, but is being disputed by some who fear that clear cutting will increase to supply future demands for electricity; and

Whereas in western Nova Scotia a resource exists that could fill a huge portion of this future demand to supply our province with renewable energy and also make a lot of people very happy; and

Whereas this resource of alders that will grow four feet per year in western Nova Scotia is a nuisance to the people and a great expense to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, trying to keep them out of the highways and ditches;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal work with the Minister of Energy in creating a plan to use these fast-growing trees for future energy supplies that will create a win-win-win situation for this entire province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 885]

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. 418

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia presented its 2009 Pineapple Awards; and

Whereas the Pineapple has become the international symbol of hospitality and is widely displayed in residences and businesses to extend a warm welcome to visitors; and

Whereas the 2009 Pineapple Award was given to Belliveau Motors of Church Point by the Nova Scotia Tourism industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Belliveau Motors for receiving this award for outstanding personal service to the tourism industry in Nova Scotia and wish them continued success 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 886]

We are soon going to be coming into Question Period, and I just want to remind members that no electronic equipment is to be on during Question Period time. Secondly, all questions and answers are to be directed here, through the Chair.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:25 p.m. and end at 3:25 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM: PICTOU - AMALGAMATION STUDY

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: My question is for the Premier. Because of the decision of his government to raise the HST, municipal governments have an even widening revenue gap. The HRM is looking at a $2 million revenue shortfall, CBRM is close to $1.6 million, and smaller municipalities are facing an average of $25,000 in a revenue shortfall thanks to the NDP HST hike. Towns and municipalities have to explore all options that are in front of them. So, Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, have the towns of Pictou County approached you for assistance with an amalgamation study?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no, they have not.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, towns have asked the province for help to fund the feasibility studies. As a matter of fact, those municipalities are telling us that they've asked this government for assistance on a feasibility study. Towns and municipalities are trying to deal with the problem this NDP Government has downloaded onto them. They're looking for solutions to the problems this government has put in front of them. So my question to the Premier is, will you work with the towns in Pictou County to help them solve this problem and look at the possibility of amalgamation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. Indeed, it was one that was posed to me on a number of occasions, I think in town meetings that we had in Pictou County, but also by the media. What I have said on the question of amalgamation is that I believe, for amalgamations to be successful, they should take place organically. They should come from the leadership of those communities, like the community that I'm originally from in Queens County where that process took place, and that if it was possible for the government to provide services that would help that discussion to take place and to facilitate it, the Government of Nova Scotia would be happy to work with the municipalities to make that happen.

[Page 887]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, just so we can be clear, to the Premier, I would agree with you. I believe that, if there's going to be a municipal amalgamation, it must happen in those communities. They must come forward with a request to assess what amalgamation would do for them and their constituents, but my question to you is, are you prepared to financially support the communities in Pictou County to do a feasibility study on an amalgamation?

THE PREMIER: Well, I would put it this way, Mr. Speaker, I would certainly be pleased to receive the request. Of course, when we're dealing with questions of finance, we would want to see, and be able to assess, what the costs are but certainly if they were reasonable and if they were being used in order to head in the direction that would ultimately save money for the Government of Nova Scotia and for the municipalities and expedite services and delivery of services to citizens, of course, we would consider it very seriously.

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

PREM: PUBLIC SCH. FUNDING - SHORTAGE

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. The response from the Minister of Education to yesterday's report on the Tuition Support Program fell short of addressing the real issue of accommodating the needs of students with learning disabilities in our schools.

My question to the Premier is, recognizing that education for all students must remain a priority for this province, will the Premier explain why his government support for public schools fell short of the dollars identified by the partners in education, which were just to maintain existing programs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I suppose the short answer is because of the financial ruin heaped on the province by the former government. (Interruptions) I think the longer answer has to do with the fact that we are bringing this province back into balance, that we're doing it in a thoughtful way, and we are prepared to work with the school boards through the Department of Education to ensure that the services required by young people, by the students in this province, are properly secured.

MS. CASEY: Enhancing existing programs, expanding services, providing professional development for teachers, hiring teachers with specialized training in learning disabilities, are required in order to better accommodate students with learning disabilities. My question to the Premier is, how does he expect his government to provide these services and supports when he has failed to acknowledge that additional dollars are required to do so?

[2:30 p.m.]

[Page 888]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of not wanting to provide additional dollars, the simple fact of the matter is that the province finds itself in deep financial difficulty as a result of decisions that were made in the past. What we are attempting to do, of course, is to make sure that there is an appropriate balance of the expenditures we have and the financial resources of the province. So that's the answer to the honourable member's question.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, having students educated in their own communities, in their own schools and with their own peers, is important to every family in this province. Having just received unanimous support today for a resolution to ensure that programs for these students will be enhanced, my question to the Premier is, with the tuition support now limited to three years, what plan exists to address the broader issue of inclusion for students with learning disabilities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we set out a program yesterday that ensures that these services will be available for parents. I understand what the member opposite is saying. The reality is that we would like to be able to see all of the appropriate services covered within the public school envelope; however, we recognize the fact that the province has significant financial challenges in front of it over the next number of years, so we are looking at how we can address these issues in a reasonable fashion that recognizes those challenges.

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

PREM.: SCH. CLOSURES - PREVENT

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: My question is for the Premier of promises made and promises broken. Yesterday in the House the Minister of Finance made an extraordinary comment, directed at the Finance Critic of the Progressive Conservative Party, "They may be willing to close hospitals, they may be willing to close schools, they may be willing to lay off nurses, they may be willing to lay off teachers, but we are not." (Applause)

My question to the Premier is, will he confirm - you might even say promise - that his government will not close schools during his administration?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course all of these decisions are based on our funding of school boards, they make their own decisions. (Interruptions) The member knows that we are building new schools in many communities, and when we build new schools old ones will close.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, when the Finance Minister stood to respond to another question from the Finance Critic of the Progressive Conservative Party, he said the new member will quickly learn that rhetoric in this House won't get him anywhere.

[Page 889]

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier has made so many promises, let me remind you of some of them: no deficit, no increase in debt, no increase in taxes, no ER closures. He was even making those promises during the by-elections of Inverness and Antigonish last Fall, when he knew he couldn't keep them. My question to the Premier is, will he confirm that no teachers will be laid off during his administration?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can confirm is that the funding that is in place for the school boards in this province is going to continue to increase. They will use that money to fill the human resource demands that they have.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign he was making promises he knew he couldn't keep, and now his Finance Minister in this House is making promises we know he can't deliver on.

The Minister of Finance has repeatedly insisted that the health spending in this province is unsustainable. During Budget Estimates, the Minister of Health said one of the largest costs to the system is wages. My question to the Premier is, will he confirm that his government will not lay off nurses during his administration as the Minister of Finance promised to this House yesterday?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course I appreciate the question. What I can tell him is that we will continue to fund the services that Nova Scotia needs in the health care system. What we are not going to do is to follow the practice of the last Liberal Government, which was to close 1,000 hospital beds and lay off or pay 1,500 nurses to leave the system, which the health care system in Nova Scotia has never recovered from.

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

CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION: SYDNEY OFFICE

- LAYOFFS

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today my question is for the Premier. The Cape Breton economy is taking another hit and unemployment is again rising. Recently there was news of 150 people who worked for the federal government are being laid off. These people worked at the Citizenship and Immigration centre in Sydney. Those are good jobs, important jobs for Sydney and the surrounding area.

My question to the Premier is, were you aware of the pending layoffs and, if so, have you been in contact with Nova Scotia's political minister, Peter MacKay, to express your concerns?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member that I learned about those layoffs, I would expect, in the same way that he did when they were reported, I

[Page 890]

think, first of all by the employees from the centre. I think that once they were notified many of them started to e-mail various members of the House of Assembly, so that's how I became aware of it.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, one would have thought with layoffs of this magnitude that Peter MacKay would have contacted the Premier to let him know what was going on, or failing that, that the Premier would have contacted Mr. MacKay to find out about the seriousness of the situation and what it means to the economy of Cape Breton.

This is devastating news for those employees and families. This government turned its back on Yarmouth with the ferry service, it gave no help or encouragement to the people in Port Hawkesbury, no help for the people of Canso or Cheticamp.

My question again to the Premier is, what is your Minister of Economic and Rural Development doing to provide assistance to the people of Sydney in the wake of this devastating news?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can say is that we are in constant touch with the members of the federal government, the various ministers in relation to this matter. We've raised it with them and I've also instructed my officials to make sure that that objection is officially on record as well, by way of a letter from my office.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if I heard the Premier right, he said that there was a letter sent from his office to the minister regarding this problem. Would the Premier table that letter in the House today so all Nova Scotians will be able to judge whether or not that was the appropriate letter to be sent to the minister?

Government has a host of programs that could help the skilled employees who are facing the loss of their jobs, both financially and with retraining opportunities so they can stay in the area. Yet, just like the workers in Yarmouth, this government is telling the workers in Sydney, you're on your own.

My question for the Premier is, will you commit to sending officials from various departments to meet with these workers in Sydney to provide them with the resources they need to retrain or prepare for other jobs or, better still, to use the Premier's Office to convince the federal government to cancel the job cuts?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just so I'm clear with the member opposite, I said I've instructed my officials to send the letter to the federal government so that our objection to this is officially on record, that's what I said. I know that the people of Cape Breton have two representatives who are also there to represent their interests with respect to the federal government and I would expect that they are doing that as well. Certainly, if there is any

[Page 891]

assistance we can be to those employees, we would want to be able to do that, but I understand that Service Canada would also be providing many of those transition services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

FIN. - PROG. CONSERVATIVE BUDGETS: MIN. VOTE - EXPLAIN

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. In 2004, 2005, 2007, and possibly in the voice recorded vote in 2006, the Minister of Finance voted in favour of budgets tabled by the Progressive Conservative Government. Did you use your personal judgment to evaluate these budgets before you voted for them? (Interruptions)

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the member is establishing a pattern of asking questions and I know the kicker is in his third question, so maybe he could just skip right to his third question.

Mr. Speaker, the budget presented by a government represents their plan for the next year of the government of the province and, of course, each year, I, along with my colleagues, would evaluate that plan and vote accordingly.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't vote for a budget if I didn't believe in it and I certainly won't be voting for this budget. Why, today, does the Minister of Finance say that past government decisions created a mess when he voted for them?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this budget, among other things, includes a measure that will put $12.5 million in the hands of seniors with an income low enough to receive Guaranteed Income Supplements, I'm very proud of that and I think that any member who votes against that should be ashamed.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, since I didn't get an answer, I am going to ask the same question again to the minister. Why did he vote for past budgets that he didn't believe in?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the budget represents a plan of the government for the following year. These days the budgets are $9 billion, covering the entire scope of government programs and services and, of course, I, every year, like my colleagues, evaluate the entire plan. And I have to say that this year's plan is the most fair and most balanced plan that I have ever seen in this House.

[Page 892]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENERGY - NSP: RATE INCREASE - MIN. POSITION

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy. Nancy Brockway, a U.S. consumer advocate working with Nova Scotia Consumer Advocate John Merrick, has raised concerns about Nova Scotia Power's Demand-Side Management Plan for 2011. It seems only a few thousand households will benefit from the program being proposed and this is under a scheme that the NDP once opposed, in fact I will quote the Premier. He said at the time, in June, "This is the wrong time to impose a rate surcharge for the next three years. The bottom line here is affordability." I will table that press release, which I have tabled before, many times.

But it was effectively then endorsed by the NDP when the Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation Act was introduced in the last session. So, Mr. Speaker, what is the minister's position on the proposal to again increase power bills for Nova Scotians, justified by a scheme that appears to have little benefit for most Nova Scotians?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. You know, I, too, read the business section of The ChronicleHerald, right after the sports section, incidentally. I too, of course, recognize the comments of that U.S. consumer advocate and it's always an opportune time when complex issues of this nature are being discussed, it's important to hear from all sides. I'm certainly looking forward to having follow-up conversations with the proponent in this particular example and it's something we'll look forward to in the future.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, well the Minister of Energy will be happy to know I not only read The ChronicleHerald but I also read the consultant's report, which I hope he read, which says: "The lack of clarity about purposes and prioritization of demand size management (DSM) investments poses a significant risk of suboptimal, if not imprudent investment." The consultant points out that while all Nova Scotians will pay another power rate increase, the programs proposed by the funds, such as rebates on high efficiency washers and dryers will have the most benefit to high income earners who can most afford the programs.

Mr. Speaker, how does the minister feel about the fact that higher income households will be more able to participate in the proposed demand size management program than lower income households?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member opposite for continuing to do his homework. This issue, of course, is before the Utility and Review Board.

[Page 893]

There's likely to be a lot of information and various opinions and those various opinions and pieces of information are important as we go forward to look at the various options ahead of us. This particular consumer advocate has one of the suggestions. There are many more coming and those other ones we're looking forward to hearing from.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I guess I can only assume the NDP Cabinet is happy that they will be able to afford the proposed programs, just like the Finance Minister's ministerial tax cuts. It appears the benefits are quickly accruing to members of the NDP Cabinet out of the pockets of hard-working Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, the House will recall that I proposed amendments to the Efficiency Nova Scotia Act, prior to it being passed by this House, to address some of the concerns, the very concerns, now being raised by this consumer advocate. But the minister chose not to support those amendments at the time. My question is, as consumers see power bills rising again under this NDP Government, quickly wiping out the savings from the HST cut, will the minister take action to ensure that DSM funds benefit the majority of Nova Scotians and prioritize low and middle income families?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker (Interruption) I'm not going to accept the information or advice from the member for Cape Breton Nova on this particular question. (Laughter)

The complexities of this issue and the information that's being presented - it's important that we listen to all involved. At no time in the 12 years I've been in this House did I ever espouse the fact I have all the answers. I advise that member opposite to accept that for awhile and stop proposing all the answers.

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

TIR - TRAVEL COSTS: AIR CANADA

- INTERVENE

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Air service to and from Sydney is becoming a major concern in the area with regard to the rates that Air Canada are charging. I want to table before the House, on April 6th to April 7th the cheapest fare possible was $1,442.16. I looked today, April 15th and returning Friday, the cheapest flight possible is $1,326.00.

For Cape Bretoners needing to travel, especially for medical travel - this is very prohibitive to them. My question to the minister is, is he prepared to intervene with Air Canada and if yes, what are you prepared to do, minister?

[Page 894]

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite on this very important topic. I have an upcoming commitment in beautiful Cape Breton, in fact in the particular Town of Dominion on April 25th, at which time I've been given the responsibility to emcee an important event for a certain favourite MLA in that community. I'm not making light in any way of looking at this - my first reaction was, I must see what a flight would cost. I certainly share that concern, I want you to know.

In the past we have encouraged the possibility of allowing other carriers to come in and provide service to the Sydney market. Then, of course, as you would know as a regular user, you see what happens. This is an ongoing problem. I look forward to working with the members on this side of the House and the members opposite who use that regular carrier to see if we can get some positive solutions.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the minister's response and I hope that he'll take advantage of the opportunity, while in Cape Breton, to meet with the Sydney Airport Authority to go over the concerns that have been there. As the minister knows and he has indicated, another carrier comes in and all of a sudden the Air Canada prices go down to try to drive that carrier out of the marketplace, which is unfair, now if we're going into seasonal opportunities.

But I do want to note, there is another opportunity to the minister because the Halifax Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the president and CEO of Air Canada here on Wednesday, May 19th, for one of their Distinguished Speaker Series. I'm hoping that will be an opportunity, while the president and CEO of Air Canada are here, not just to talk about platitudes and all the great things they're doing through Halifax, but to be able to address the real concern of price gouging going on to and from Cape Breton.

So I'm wondering if the minister can confirm that he'll make efforts to meet with the president and CEO of Air Canada while he's here in Halifax and address this directly?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure of my commitments on May 19th. If it can be arranged, we'll see what we can do. I want to assure the members opposite, I want to assure members on this side of the House and all Nova Scotians who continue to use the opportunity to travel to beautiful Cape Breton by air, through Sydney, that we will continue to push for competition and open markets because that's, after all, the best way to serve the people of Cape Breton, and to serve the customers with the potential of visiting Cape Breton.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I agree with regard to an open and competitive marketplace, but when we have a monopoly that's driving costs up that are unfair to the consumers, especially for those on fixed incomes, to be able to travel. We know a lot of people can't go for medical appointments at these kind of dollars and another thing I would like to do is to ask the Minister of Communications Nova Scotia, in terms of where the government's plan would be, if he can respond to this given his intimate knowledge of the challenges in Cape Breton.

[Page 895]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the route that question took is as mixed up as an Air Canada route. I wholeheartedly agree with the member and I look across here and see the other members for Cape Breton who are experiencing the same difficulty in the costs and clearly we would certainly like to support anything that would make air travel anywhere in this province more reasonable, and clearly we support this, as the CBRM was a leader in this a couple of years ago when they made representation. But with that said, the reality is that the demise, and the real injury done on small airports, was in the Mulroney era of deregulation and that really hurt that airport.

Mr. Speaker, along with many members we will continue to push Air Canada and its subsidiary, or its partner if you will, JAZZ, to come up with reasonable airfares for people who have to travel here to capital and make a reasonable effort to grow the economy in Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

LWD - MIN. WAGE: ENFORCEMENT - STANCE

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, in Tuesday's debate on estimates I asked the Community Services Minister about a case involving a senior in my riding. Her daytime home support worker had not been receiving minimum wage. Now, the NDP had been keen to publicize her plight before the election but they dragged their heels afterwards and it was only when the son of this woman threatened to talk to me that suddenly, six months after the election, they received the news that the worker would get minimum wage. My question for the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development is, is this government committed to enforcing the minimum wage in this province?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not clear as to the function of this particular worker and certainly I would be willing to sit down with the honourable member and discuss the details and provide a more thorough comment later.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, maybe I need to write it down on a napkin or serviette or something like that.

The home support worker is now receiving the minimum wage, and for that the family is very appreciative, but they do feel that Services for Persons with Disabilities, a program in the Department of Community Services, underpaid this worker for a year. They have asked repeatedly for the back pay to be paid to her. They have not received a response to those queries.

On Tuesday the Minister of Community Services told me that the home support worker should file a complaint with Labour and Workforce Development. That is direction

[Page 896]

that I appreciate, but my question is to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. Why should a 65-year-old woman on minimum wage have to fight your department for what she is owed?

MS. MORE: Certainly the Department of Labour and Workforce Development puts in place the processes by which people can appeal differences of opinion in their work situation. Again, I don't know the details of this particular issue, and I'm certainly willing to check into it and get back to the honourable member. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, when I brought up this issue on Tuesday, the Minister of Community Services told me there would be no reprisals or retribution if a Nova Scotian complained about issues like this. My constituent faxed me a letter received in response to requests for back pay for the home care worker. The letter states that, should your support needs increase, you will be offered an assessment for residential placement within the most appropriate program.

Her son and his family, with whom she lives, are very shaken up because they did not ask for an increase in her care. Mr. Speaker, they feel this is clearly a threat. My question to the Minister of Community Services, is this letter the departmental equivalent of "shut up or we'll put you in a home"?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, definitely not. That is just an explanation that there's an alternate route for the family to take, and in no way implies any kind of threat. (Interruption) Well, they may not have asked, but you know, one thing is we like to try to give as much information as possible, and that is what they were doing. Thank you. (Applause)

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

ENERGY: OIL/GAS SECTOR - REDEVELOPMENT

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Energy. We all know that the oil and gas sector has been very important and vital to Nova Scotia. You have to look no further than the harbour of Halifax. We all know that they have been a key driver for revenues for this province. However, with Deep Panuke delayed and Tier 3 of Sable left to drift, will the Minister of Energy inform this House what, if anything, the government plans to do to restart development in our oil and gas sector?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Cape Breton North for another important question on an important issue. I share your concern, but in light of the comments and the tone that was set yesterday with being positive, I think it's always important for us to remember the glass is half full, it's not half empty. I remember that

[Page 897]

analogy, how, many years ago when the Premier at the time, Gerald Regan, stood with that little vial and said good days were ahead.

Let me assure you that Nova Scotia is open for business. That message is continually demonstrated to our partners. We reassure those companies involved in the offshore that we are looking forward to a bright future. There are, I should say in as tactful a way as possible, some sensitive discussions underway. Those sensitive discussions were all involved - we're going to say that Nova Scotia still does have a bright future in the offshore. (Applause)

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the honourable minister for being positive about this, and I do credit him with that, but for months now, both the Premier and his Robin Hood over there have bemoaned the decline in revenues from offshore yet have failed miserably when it comes to reviving this vital economic sector. Exploratory drilling, seismic, and development activity have dried up as much as the Finance Minister's thinking.

Mr. Speaker, can the positive Minister of Energy explain to this House why his Premier and the Minister of Finance fail to understand, appreciate, and support him in his quest to grow the oil and gas sector in Nova Scotia?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, or Little John - those analogies aside, I want the member opposite to know that when this particular topic is discussed, whether at our caucus or at other discussions, I have the complete and utter support of my Premier and the Minister of Finance. We are fully on side with the fact that we have a bright future, and we're going to work with partners, we're going to make sure the message is out there among industry interests that Nova Scotia is still in the offshore game and we're going to make it a winner in this province.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, again I appreciate the minister's positive outlook on things, but exploration from the Laurentian sub-base into Georges Bank should have been a priority for this government decrying loss and declining revenues. Yet they've chosen to spend time - and the Minister of Finance has - about the financial woes in New Brunswick. The Minister of Finance has spent much time engaged in the blame game, rather than tending to the actual work of growing the economy.

Will the Minister of Energy - since the Premier and the Minister of Finance won't - inform this House of the specific plans he has to incent, invest, and explore our offshore revenues and resources?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you again to the member opposite. The specifics at this time would not be appropriate to bring forward on the floor of the House. I'm being positive again. When questions are asked in this House of this nature to me in whatever portfolio, I

[Page 898]

wish I could divulge some of the details that are involved. I want to reassure the member opposite that there are sensitive discussions underway, and the best interests of Nova Scotia and the best interests of the offshore will be taken care of, but I do thank you for your interest.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.: BRIGADOON CAMP - NEIGHBOURING LAND

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The Brigadoon Children's Camp Society is a real success story in Nova Scotia. This organization will have an exceptional year-round facility for children and youth living with chronic illness. We know that the Minister of Natural Resources and the member for Kings South recently met with the society, because most of the Wagner lands needed by Brigadoon are in her riding.

My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is, what action are you taking to meet the request by Brigadoon to secure the neighbouring lands owned by Wagner Forest Management?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Actually, I'm not taking any action at this present time. I have to say that my staff tried very hard to purchase that property that the member raised in question. I can tell the member I think the price - we're kind of limited by appraised value, but even my staff tried to push the size of the parcel, to actually take in more land so we could come in as close to the appraised value as possible. We're right to our limit for what we could try to do, and we needed a little bit of give on the side of the people who owned the property. We couldn't get it, and so we couldn't acquire it. They worked very hard to try to acquire that piece of property and were unable to do it.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I think all Nova Scotians interested in Brigadoon were hoping that Wagner would, in fact, be a good corporate citizen here. However, the bargaining has been tough. I'd like to come back to the minister with, why did you not procure enough acres from Wagner in your negotiations to reserve a buffer for Brigadoon Children's Camp?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we even tried that, but they were unwilling to go where we were trying to go, and they owned the property. We couldn't really take it, so we couldn't come to an agreement.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, having free and nearby access to the wilderness surrounding the camp is a key component to Brigadoon's success. This organization has tremendous support from community, from business and from government; however, if there is not a buffer zone between Brigadoon and any potential development by Wagner, the camp

[Page 899]

may not achieve what will be a world-class facility. My question to the minister is, for less than $2 million, why can't you find a way to ensure no development will be going on next door to Brigadoon?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member it was quite a bit less than that, it was $200,000 that we couldn't get them to move. So, look, I want the member to understand we thought that was an important purchase. We could not get to where we needed to be. And as much as I think my staff and I regret that, we are dealing with the private sector. It was their property, and we couldn't come to an agreement that would allow us to purchase it. Maybe at some point in the future, before anything happens that would jeopardize that project, there may be a possibility, but I would say that presently it seems like that door is closed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

TCH: TOURISM - TRAVEL STRATEGIES

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Tourism operators in the province believe that this coming tourism season may be one of the worst since they started in their businesses. The Minister of Finance is scaring everybody to death with his belt-tightening and tax increase and, on top of that, we've lost a tourism ferry out of western Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, many people have been made to believe that a luxury such as travelling should come last in their personal budgets, and our tourism businesses will suffer for this. My question to the minister is, does the minister realize that this has taken place and what is he doing about it?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, with respect to tourism in Nova Scotia, and I think it's important for me to point out that the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has worked very hard in the last 10 months and I think the numbers have indicted that. Even in a time of recession, these troubled times, our tourism industry has remained a $1.3 billion industry.

I will assure the member opposite who is asking the questions that we will continue - as a matter of fact we've just started to showcase some videos and some commercials that are highlighting Nova Scotia in a very positive way. We will continue to put those strategies in place, to keep the tourism market at a level that is acceptable to all Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, the previous government promised to double our tourism business in this province by 2012. The Liberal Government grew tourism, and since

[Page 900]

the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have taken over, tourism hasn't grown one bit. So my question to the minister is, are you going to follow through on the previous government's commitment to double tourism in Nova Scotia by 2012?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I wish I did have a crystal ball. That was then, this is now. Times have changed. The Canadian dollar is at par now with the U.S. dollar, which is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to tourism. We just came through a recession. These are different times, and different times require different measures. I'm not about to try to fulfill any promises where I didn't have input.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, there are always going to be tourists, no matter what goes on in this world - right now there are just fewer of them. And unless we change what the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage is doing, we're going to see even fewer tourists to this province.

Mr. Speaker, these fewer tourists who are going to travel will want to see something special and unique, and Nova Scotia has one of the most unique attractions in the world and that's our famous Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy is up for candidacy for one of the seven natural wonders of North America. What a wonderful gift we've been given. What is your Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage doing to promote this special and unique natural wonder that will attract a good share of these fewer tourists to this province?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I do agree with the member opposite that we have a great attraction with respect to the Bay of Fundy and I can remember, in my hometown, boasting about the highest tides in the world in Windsor, Nova Scotia, which, unfortunately, we have since lost as a result of the causeway. But we continue to advertise or I could say, piggyback on the Bay of Fundy, and we will continue to advertise not only the Bay of Fundy but all the other unique experiences that one can have here in the Province of Nova Scotia, which the honourable member alludes to. We will continue to advertise through our Web site, through all those channels of communication including social media.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

PREM. - TAX INCREASE: REVENUE LOSS REVIEW

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier and ironically we were talking about the highest tides, I want to talk about the highest taxes. Mr. Premier, I want to quote from an article today in the Cumberland County newspaper talking about cross-border shopping. These quotes are from a New Brunswick business person: "'People already drive over here (from Amherst) for gas and milk because of the significant price

[Page 901]

difference in those items,' said Chris Harbourne, owner of Downtown Digital on Main Street. 'So adding another two per cent on top of that should be a benefit for Sackville businesses.'"

My question for the Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker, is, has the Premier ordered a review of the lost business, the lost provincial revenue and potential job loss because of his government's decision to raise taxes, and if he hasn't will he do so, please?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, well, as the member knows, the Minister of Finance will be in Amherst tomorrow, he is going to be speaking with the business community there. He is going to review a number of matters and I'm sure he will have some information that he is going to be able to share with them.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary through you to the Premier. This article goes on to say, "This move . . ." this increase in taxes ". . . is expected to result in an increase in cross-border traffic into New Brunswick this summer, particularly an influx of shoppers who are looking for a two per cent savings on bigger-ticket items, such as TVs or home renovation materials."

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, will the Premier finally admit breaking his election promise not to raise taxes is going to severely hurt Nova Scotia, especially Cumberland County and be to the benefit of New Brunswick which has already said, contrary to the Minister of Finance here, they have said that they would not be raising the HST?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would just point out to the member opposite that the 15 per cent HST rate was in place for, I think a decade of the last 13 years. The businesses in Amherst were able to operate during that time. We're certainly not happy with the fact that we had to take this measure to raise revenue but, unfortunately, because of the decisions that were made by the previous government, driving the province so deeply into debt, it is a necessary matter.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. Convenience store operators, gas retailers and others have either closed or said they will be closing as a result of the cross-border shopping issue and especially the government's direct hit on them by raising taxes, which the Premier promised he would not do. Will the Premier commit today to putting government resources in place in Cumberland County to help its citizens and businesses so that they can continue to provide jobs and survive throughout this very difficult situation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is deep irony in the member's question simply because this government came forward with a plan to try to assist gas retailers in the area and it was vigorously opposed by the member, and I think that's a shame, but what he can rely on the government to do is to continue to look for ways to try to strengthen that community.

[Page 902]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

LWD: INJURY STATS. - REDUCTION PLANS

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, last Friday the 2009 Workers' Compensation Board Annual Report was released. The report stated that over 28,000 Nova Scotians were injured at work that year. Now, I recognize that this was a significant decrease from the year before, and I appreciate the work that is being done, but 28,000 workers were injured last year. Year after year the statistics remain startling. My question to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development is, what new actions is this government taking to ensure the numbers significantly decline over the next year?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, one of the priorities of this government is a safe workplace. We are initiating a number of initiatives, including streamlining the process in terms of the workplace safety insurance system. We're working closely with the Workers' Compensation Board. They are putting in place a number of different safety associations, and it's interesting, we just recently heard from the Province of Alberta, and they're perhaps the fourth or fifth province that have adopted the advertising, the safety promotion campaign that many of us are familiar with throughout the media. They feel it's an excellent campaign, and I believe it's actually up for an award, although we haven't heard the results of that. So we're doing a number of things to decrease workplace injury and death.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I do note that the injury rates for Alberta are significantly lower than they are here in Nova Scotia. Despite the progress, we have some serious challenges here in Nova Scotia. Our neighbours in New Brunswick are doing much better. The injury rate in New Brunswick was 1.36 per 100 covered employees. The injury rate in Nova Scotia is 2.26. Can the minister explain the significant difference in the injury rates between the two provinces?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia we have responsibility for creating safe workplaces in this province, and those are the figures. One injury, one death, is one too many, and I just want to mention that we've done a number of initiatives to try to create understanding of their rights and workplace safety situation with first-time workers. So we've added a six to eight-hour part of the curriculum in Grade 9 to help young workers, perhaps starting off in their first jobs, to better appreciate the things that they need to be aware of when they start their new jobs. Unfortunately, one of the highest rates seems to be with our younger workers, but we have a menu of comprehensive strategies that we're using to try to make workplaces as safe as possible in this province.

MS. REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, minister, for outlining that new program for Grade 9 workers. These are kids who are going out into the workplace, so

[Page 903]

it's important that they have some of that background information. I note that WorkSafeNB health and safety officers conducted 8,548 workplace inspections in 2009. The word "inspection" appears nowhere in the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Board report. Will the minister please tell us how many inspections it does on an annual basis, and why the number was not published in the Workers' Compensation Board report?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to get the numbers, but I think the reason it's not in the annual report for the Workers' Compensation Board is because it's the Department of Labour and Workforce Development that does the inspections, but I would be pleased to get the actual number and report back to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL FACILITY (CUMB. CO.):

FED./PROV. PARTNERSHIP - EXPLORE

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Very simply, can the Minister of Justice tell this House if he has ever personally spoken to federal officials or the Minister of Public Safety, federally, about potential cost savings that may be possible by partnering with the federal government with regard to locating a provincial or federal correctional facility in Cumberland County?

HON. ROSS LANDRY: I haven't.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, that's about what I expected. After the minister raised the issue the other day about this side of the House going to Ottawa to do the government's business, I would have thought at least the minister would have had an opportunity to speak with someone federally. I spoke to the minister and I spoke to the government in Ottawa, in fact, they were surprised that the Dexter Government never once ever raised the issue of a possible partnership with them with regard to corrections. Can the minister tell this House why he's turned his back on the correctional officers and is forcing families to make decisions about splitting up, following jobs out of the county and why he's given up on Cumberland County? Can the minister tell the House that?

MR. LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, first off, we haven't turned our backs on anyone. As we said dealing with Cumberland County, the issue of the jail was that it was not in the best interests to all Nova Scotians nor corrections itself. As a result, we are conducting an overall study on where best to put the jail and what type of facility is best for this province. As a result of that, that process is well underway, as I've reported several times in this House before. I'm looking forward to getting that information so the decision for a first-class correctional institution will be built in Nova Scotia, will serve all Nova Scotians and be tax savings to all Nova Scotians. We can reinvest those tax savings into communities such as your neighbourhood.

[Page 904]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will be for the Premier. Can the Premier explain to this House, even more importantly, to the people of Cumberland County, why he's allowing for the loss of jobs and services in Cumberland County with a negative impact on the economy, especially a negative impact on those correctional officers' families? He hasn't even ensured that every possible opportunity has been explored with the federal government for saving money or by saving finances through geothermal energy in Springhill using lime water.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the work that's being done by the Minister of Justice is being done to ensure that the Corrections Service will have the best possible facility in order to accommodate the needs of the Department of Justice and of course of the people of this province.

The question could well be posed to the member himself. Of course, the minister said this proposal was made prior to the last election and the commitment made, and yet there was no business plan. There was nothing in place that addressed issues exactly like the ones he has just raised.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

COM. SERV.: WHEELCHAIR RECYCLING PROG.

- DETAILS

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. A few days ago there was a fundraiser in Halifax in order to raise funds to help an individual rent a new wheelchair. The wheelchair she currently uses is worn out and medical insurance did not cover the cost for a wheelchair. Her friends wanted to help her out because the government would not. The guidelines for the wheelchair recycling program are too strict. My first question to the minister is, is this individual the only person who has been turned down for the wheelchair recycling program and is there a waiting list?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, one thing that I can tell the honourable member is that I'm very proud of the fact that the Abilities Foundation, who are now called Easter Seals, my department and I have met with them numerous times. Although I can't talk about an individual case, I would encourage the individual to make contact with them because we've been extremely supportive of their wheelchair program. It's a fabulous program. It is turning around the lives of many people who wouldn't have the ability or accessibility to a wheelchair, so I would make that recommendation to the honourable member to pass that information along.

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

[Page 905]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Every day in this House the Premier continues to mislead the people of Nova Scotia. As the Premier, he would know this province spent pretty near $1 million on correctional facilities leading up to his government cancelling a project. He would know Cabinet documents can prove that money was in place. He would know it was in the budget, he would know there was design done, and he would know that the people of Cumberland County know that he has turned his back on them.

He can say all he wants in this place here. Cumberland County knows the difference, Mr. Speaker, and I will provide the documents in this House on a future day. I can tell you, there's a legal process that's going to unfold. We'll challenge you on the comments you made here today.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In regard to the issue I brought forward here earlier today, I am also going to request the unanimous consent of the House in regard to Bill 15, which was brought forward by the member for Cape Breton West, that when we set aside the business of the House the issue of the committee work that would normally take place through committee, through the Law Amendments Committee , that we process through second reading and third reading today so this bill can be moved out of the House today and be ready for proclamation.

MR. SPEAKER: First of all, on your point of order, honourable member, I will take that under advisement, for starters. Your second point was on Bill No. 15 . . .

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, if there's going to be denial of this request, I would ask for a recorded vote in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, all it needs - in the absence of unanimous consent it's not necessary to have a recorded vote, but if he wishes.

MR. SPEAKER: So the question is to proceed with Bill No. 15.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Regarding that issue, it would appear the mood has changed from when the guests left the Speaker's Gallery until now. Having said that, this is not a precedent of this House. This has been done before on important bills that are in the public's interest. All the member for Cumberland South was asking was that we fast-track this bill. We have fast-tracked other bills that would not seem

[Page 906]

to be controversial bills. For the government to deny unanimous consent for that today speaks volumes about how they really feel about this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I will put the question to the House, then, on Bill No. 15, whether you want to proceed with it through the various stages here today. So the question is, are we going to proceed here today on Bill No. 15?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the House has already agreed on a second reading of that bill, so the business of the House will be set aside now. We've already agreed to second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: That's true.

MR. SCOTT: The further request is to do what I said a moment ago, so we're going to second reading regardless, as the House already decided. I'm requesting, in light of what the Premier said here earlier today about an historical moment in this province - and I agree totally. What I'm asking is that, as the member for Cape Breton South said, the precedent has been set many times that we proceed through second and third readings and we set aside the issue of committee, the Law Amendments Committee and Committee of the Whole House, so that we can put it through the House today on this historical day and get it ready to be moved for proclamation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to address this issue. We want this matter to move to second reading. That was the request that was made. We believe that there is work that needs to be done in order to improve the bill. That should be done in the Law Amendments Committee. That is what was agreed to. Why the member wants to change what he proposed is beyond me. He must recognize that there is a process that, if we can improve the bill in the Law Amendments Committee, that would be desirable for everybody. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. We had agreed earlier to have second reading of Bill No. 15. The further question is, do we have unanimous agreement to proceed to other stages of the bill?

I hear several Noes.

We'll proceed then with second reading of Bill No. 15.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 907]

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Viola Desmond Day Act.

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

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I rise on my feet today to talk on Bill No. 15, the Viola Desmond Day Act. Today in this House, in the Red Chamber, we saw a government move forward to right a wrong, a wrong that has been identified and has lasted for 64 years. The reason for bringing this bill forward, to talk and name a day after Viola Desmond, is very important.

When we started out, the government of this House, of the day, had made a very good gesture toward the family, toward African Nova Scotians in this province. Now, they seem to want to play games with this bill and I'm sorry, I'm very sorry to hear that, but what I am proud of is the fact that Wanda Robson was here today and she saw a correction made to something she felt had been bad for her sister, her family and for her heritage. This government had the courage to stand up and change that and now they want to play silly games with this passing of a bill.

Why is it important to have a day called Viola Desmond Day? Because if we don't have such a day in the Province of Nova Scotia, people will forget what took place. The whole idea behind declaring Viola Desmond Day was so that Nova Scotians would never forget where we were, where we've come from and what we've accomplished. It was so that people would remember that these times that we enjoy in Nova Scotia, the freedoms and the rights that we enjoy, did not come easy. These rights came as a result of people making personal sacrifice. We look around and we say to ourselves, will we remember this?

One of the things that prompted our caucus to bring this bill forward was the very fact that it is important that it be remembered, important in the same way as Remembrance Day. A lot of people in the Province of Nova Scotia and right across Canada don't really understand what Remembrance Day is all about anymore and that's why the Legions have started going into the schools to educate our children, to give our children a sense of what did take place and why we celebrate Remembrance Day. It's not just a day off of school, it's

[Page 908]

not just a holiday, there were some significant occurrences that took place that gave us, the people of Nova Scotia, the members who sit in this House, it gave us some privileges that sometimes we forget and we just take for granted.

The whole idea of Remembrance Day is being brought forward by our veterans to young people. The same thing, in my opinion and in our caucus' opinion, can be done with Viola Desmond Day. It is an opportunity for people to remember a significant date in our history. Who was Viola Desmond? What did she do? What did she accomplish? Do you realize that she was fully nine years ahead of Rosa Parks? We talk about Rosa Parks as being a leader, but we were nine years ahead here in the Province of Nova Scotia. This woman was a teacher, she was a business person, she was a person who was driven to make things better for her community, for her heritage, and for her province.

On a drive to Sydney to deliver supplies to a student of hers who had gone through her beauty college, she had car trouble and she stopped in New Glasgow. Why did she do that? She had to fix her car. She went into a theatre and she sat in the wrong seat and was told she had to move, had to leave, and in the days, somebody arrested her and charged her with not paying the right tax. Today we are looking at where things are, we are wondering why, indeed, do we recognize Viola Desmond.

The government of this province saw fit to right what they believe was a wrong that occurred 64 years ago and, Mr. Speaker, they were right in doing that. They were right in correcting something that went wrong and they should be applauded for doing that. (Applause) They should be applauded and I give them credit for doing it. What I don't understand is why all of a sudden there's a change in their attitude toward this?

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a bill that should pass today. It's a bill that could pass today with the unanimous consent of this House, and it is a bill that would finish a job that was started by this government this morning - a government that said we want to recognize a wrong, we want to fix a wrong, and now we want to make sure that people don't forget that in the Province of Nova Scotia we're proud of what we were able to do and we want to make sure that we remember the kind of leadership that was given to this province by Viola Desmond.

This government should be standing up on their feet today making sure that this bill passes so that, indeed, the family of Viola Desmond can walk away from this House, walk away from this area, and say we were treated right. My sister was treated right. Our heritage has been treated right.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I would move second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

[Page 909]

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, for the first time since I've been in this House, I must say, if you notice a little quiver in my voice, it's emotion. This has been a very emotional day, I would say probably for all of us, certainly as the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. In the Red Room today I personally was almost brought to tears on a couple of occasions. I think that afterwards, when I spoke to some of the brothers and the sisters who were there, I'm sure we shared some very special moments as well.

I've also got to say, with all due respect, I appreciate this bill coming forward. During the previous speaker's presentation, he made some assertions that certainly weren't accurate and I've got to say that on a day when we all should be proud, trying to rush a bill through the House, without consultation from the Black community, is not the right thing to do. (Applause)

This does not demonstrate in any way, shape or form a change in the attitude of this government. What it does do, Mr. Speaker, it reinforces the determination that we have to do right by a community that has been done wrong far too many times.

In the past people have done things - I think, and I'll give the benefit of the doubt to all persons - they think they have done things in the right vein by doing for the African Nova Scotian community. What I propose, and what I hope that we all understand is that we want you to do "with", and not "for".

I certainly don't think there was any malice, certainly I feel there's no disrespect meant by proposing this bill. I think it would be disrespectful of every member of this House to rush this bill through without having a vehicle, an opportunity for people from the community to have their say.

Earlier today, on the advice of the Executive Council, the Lieutenant Governor exercised the Royal Prerogative of Mercy to grant a Free Pardon to Viola Desmond. It was a great afternoon which maybe now we can salvage something out of that afternoon. A free pardon is based on innocence and recognizes that the conviction was in error. A free pardon is an extraordinary remedy and is considered only in the rarest of circumstances. This is the first time a free pardon has been granted in Canada after a person is deceased.

Traveling on her way to Sydney, Nova Scotia, on November 8, 1946, Mrs. Desmond experienced car troubles. She stopped in New Glasgow to have her vehicle serviced, to have it repaired. She decided to pass the time, she had some time to spare and what a great thing she thought to do, I'll go to the movie and this will occupy some of my time.

When she awoke that morning I'm sure that Viola Desmond had little way, had little knowledge of what was in store for her that day. A few hours later Mrs. Desmond was wrongly jailed and fined for sitting in the white only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow. Throughout recent history Mrs. Desmond has often been referred to as Canada's

[Page 910]

Rosa Parks. Mrs. Desmond has become a symbol of defiance and non-compliance, certainly here in the Province of Nova Scotia. She stood her ground in the face of discrimination and injustice.

At that time, as everybody knows, there was a theatre policy for persons of African descent which prohibited them from sitting on the main level of the theatre. African Nova Scotians were required to sit in the balcony, where seating was less expensive. You see, what Viola Desmond did, and I mentioned earlier today, she violated an unwritten law, a law that stated without words - but that law was etched in the minds and in the attitudes of people who made and enforced those laws.

Throughout her entire ordeal, few acknowledged that Mrs. Desmond's arrest was not just simply a matter of refusing to pay the higher price, the higher price for preferred seating, but call it what it was, it was all based on one thing, the pigmentation of her skin.

In 1946 Viola Desmond did something that few people had dared - she challenged the status quo. She refused to stay silent. She dared to ask questions and she dared to challenge or to accept that all men and all women were not created equal and that fairness should prevail.

[3:45 p.m.]

The story of Viola Desmond should not just be a symbol of hope and pride in the African Nova Scotian community - and I said this earlier - it should be one that we all, as Nova Scotians, can be proud of. (Applause)

You see, Viola Desmond's story is one of many great stories of perseverance in the African Nova Scotian community. I look across the way, every time this House is in session I look at the honourable member for Hants West, and he serves as the reminder to me, being from Windsor, Nova Scotia, of the accomplishments of my father and so many other African Nova Scotians. There are so many told and untold stories of many brave men and women who stood tall, strong and proud in the face of adversity, and who continue to press on.

This past African Heritage Month, we had the opportunity to honour six women from across the province who were unsung community matriarchs: Edith Cromwell, Ada Fells, Geraldine White, Beryl Brathewaite, May Sheppard, Willena Jones made many great and significant contributions to the success of their communities and of its members. As a result of those individuals, and there are so many of them, we all are better people today.

We are proud to call them our leading ladies who, indeed, left lasting legacies. Mr. Speaker, they are just a small example of the many great men and women of African descent who have dedicated their lives to doing great work in and for the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 911]

I would like to reiterate, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this bill forward and I will certainly take it under advisement and under consideration. But I believe, I truly believe that this bill will require consultation from the community before moving forward. Law Amendments Committee, at the very least, will provide only but one vehicle for that to happen.

Mr. Speaker, when I heard Bill No. 15 was coming forward, I started to write about so many people who had made contributions, and I covered a page, and there are so many others. I thought about the Jones family, a very well known family in the Province of Nova Scotia who worked tirelessly - father, son, mother, brothers and sisters. I think about the Paris family in New Glasgow, Henderson in particular. I think about the Hamilton family; I think about the Daye family, certainly a familiar name with this House; I think of the Oliver family; I think of Tony Johnstone; I think of Brad Barton; I think of Cecil Wright; I think of Wanda Thomas Bernard; I think of Edith Cromwell; I think of Lorne White; I think of James Robinson Johnston; I think of Carrie Best; you can't forget Richard Preston, without him we might not have an AUBA; Portia White; Corrine Sparks; Daurene Lewis; George Elliott Clarke; William Hall; I could stand here, Mr. Speaker, for the rest of the afternoon and recite names to you, but I'm sure all members of the House get the picture.

AN HON. MEMBER: And Percy Paris. (Applause)

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I want to say in closing, I thank the member, I thank the Party for bringing this bill forward, no doubt about that, but - and this is the but- the African Nova Scotian community deserves to be heard. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, a wonderful day for Nova Scotians today. Viola Desmond has truly been recognized today and, indeed, a wrong has been corrected. I want to congratulate the government for doing that. I think it was long overdue, and it is too bad that it couldn't had happened during her life time so that she could have seen the significant contribution she has made to our province.

Indeed, as the minister has just indicated, there are a lot of things that happen in our communities, especially in my community in the Prestons, and even today there are difficulties that we see that most people aren't aware of and it is unfortunate that today, even in today's society, we don't see the wonderful contribution that a lot of people from the Black community have made.

When I look at the community, and I can tell you that by representing the community, my life has truly been enriched. I met people, some people I have known almost my whole life, but in more detail now as MLA, and the hospitality in the community is incredible and

[Page 912]

the accomplishments that people have made in the community are incredible. A few of the people's names were listed by the minister and that is only a very short list.

You see the things that we see in my area, I will give you an example, East Preston Day Care. When the day care was started, there was a real problem in the province and that only goes back into the 1970s, not back to 1946, but in the 1970s, where children in the Black community were not allowed to get an education. So the community said, we're not going to tolerate this, and they put a class action suit together to challenge the province and the school board. They won that case without ever having to go to court and to this day, some of those recommendations haven't been put into place. But the point was, they started this incredible day care centre, which has won national and international awards for the work they have done.

First of all, the Department of Education would come to the community and say, well, your children aren't educated enough or they can't go to school and that actually happened in the 1970s in this province. Then, after the day care got going, they started sending their children off to Primary, the school board came back to them again and said, you're teaching them too well and, indeed now, the children are beyond the expectations of a Primary student and well beyond that again. That says a lot for the community. The community has done a tremendous amount, and I want to state that the community did this, they did it out of necessity. That shouldn't have had to have been there. It should have been the fact that they were accepted and racism wouldn't have to exist in our province - and it does exist in our province today, very unfortunately. It does hurt. It hurts us, it hurts our families, and it hurts the whole province when that happens.

I'm very pleased that this bill has come forward today - Bill No. 15, the Viola Desmond Day Act. As this moves forward through the process, I'm sure it will be improved, if that's possible, but one thing we should really look at for this day is, we should be ensuring that our children in the schools in the province - and all of the province, not just in areas like my community - are educated about the absolute necessity to eliminate racism in our province.

As I say, it still does exist. I deal with people in my community on a regular basis who have had things happen to them that definitely shouldn't have happened. We work with them to resolve those problems the best we can. Sometimes we're very successful and sometimes we're not, but always we make some progress to ensure that that hopefully never happens to anyone again.

So I think it would be a wonderful day if November 8th is set aside to make sure that all of the schools teach the children why it's so important to eliminate racism and respect each other's cultures. After all, this province is made up of many, many cultures, and that makes us very strong, and indeed, one of the most wonderful places you can possibly live in the province. I think that we should also expand the day to include public workshops, maybe

[Page 913]

a speaker series on racism, to truly educate the people in our province on how important this is and how significant the contributions of the Black community have been to our province.

You see, you go and talk to the elders in the community, the people who really make things happen, and see over the years how they've changed the attitudes of people outside their community. I think it's very positive. The sad part is they shouldn't have had to do that. They should have been accepted for the fine people they are and the fine work they have done in our community. The work that the province did today - and I'm pleased to say Mayann Francis signed that pardon today, and really recognized the plight and the struggle that the Black community has had over the years. This is a step forward.

We need to make many more steps, and with those few words, we are in full support of this bill and look forward to moving it forward as quickly as possible to ensure that this day is not only a day of a pardon and recognition of a fantastic Nova Scotian, but also to ensure that we eliminate the need for these things to happen in the future. Hopefully, one day we'll be recognized as one people instead of different people, and people recognize that, for the importance of the contribution that people make and the wonderful work they do in the community and, indeed, the wonderful community that they are. Again, it's my true pleasure to work in the community of Preston and deal with the people, and it has truly enriched my life. Thank you.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased, in fact I believe I'm very honoured, to be able to stand to speak to this bill - Bill No. 15 - as presented to the House. Before I start my comments, I do want to thank the government, the Executive Council, the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and African Nova Scotian Affairs, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, because I think what they have recognized today truly does go down in the history books of this province, but not only that, indeed our country.

We should never lose sight of that, even in our enthusiasm to want to recognize this, that the government did the right thing, and it was a very good thing for us as Nova Scotians to be able to say that we were part of this history - part of positive history in this province, and hopefully setting a new pace and tone with regard to race relations and how people are treated - because we do know, and I've known, Mr. Speaker, and I believe the minister has referred to this, in the history of this province, there were written laws of the day, written policies with regard to where Blacks or Whites could sit. Then again, in this society of today, while they may not be on paper, we know that the policy still stands with regard to racism and prejudice in this province. That is something that all of us, I believe, today, were part of wanting - to make sure we eradicate and we educate.

[Page 914]

I was so happy to hear about education and the theme of young people being embraced so their generation is a generation that moves forward in a manner with their eyes wide open and embracing of people and individuals for who they are and not because of their colour or race or religion or ethnicity.

[4:00 p.m.]

Again, I do commend the government fully for that. I echo the minister's comments as well, and the member for Cape Breton West, in wanting to bring this forward, indeed, to provide a day that is marked annually to recognize Viola Desmond. We saw the enthusiasm about having that. I do know, and I know the minister in terms of my own relationship and knowing Wanda Robson and her husband, Joe, being from the Northside in the community of North Sydney and a teacher.

To look at that family and to see from someone who took an interest and how patterns go, when you listen to Wanda's story of how we got to today and that someone else took the interest that she was able to grow and expand upon and have other people embrace it. I think that's part of what the legislative process is about, and that this was, is that there actually is a piece of legislation that's enshrined to mark a day that celebrates, but also remembers, that we have much more to do in this province, that we have to look at what the root cause of this legislation is. It was a bad Act - because of bad policy, wrong policy, ill-headed policy at a time when someone stood up.

Really, this day is about an individual who had courage beyond probably her knowledge of that moment, because of the power and strength of her character, to be willing to stand up and challenge the establishment or the status quo as it was seen. For that we owe her a great debt of gratitude as we have recognized today.

I believe it was a celebration, but it was also a recognition of a wrong made right. It is sometimes symbolically that we do these things. We can't eradicate the wrong because we also know we've recognized wrong still persists in this province. But with our common commitment and with a common objective of working together, working across race lines, working across boundaries, economic and social - I know what it's like to be where economically you are prejudiced against. I can only imagine, can only imagine, what it would be like when the colour of your skin is the primary reason, versus your socio-economic status. That also meant a challenge for our African Nova Scotian community here. That is something we need to all be committed to and I think we are.

I'm listening to the minister's comments and I do truly respect and admire what he had to say here today. I also recognize the intent of what Bill No. 15 is intended to do, to recognize a day, to bring things on an annual basis so we don't lose sight, so that every year there is an opportunity to pause, to reflect, to remember, and also move forward in a positive way.

[Page 915]

I know that, as the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs has said, for those who are African Nova Scotian, for those who believe we are all one - and I know in my own faith community and those who believe in being brothers and sisters in Christ and being brothers and sisters in society - that's something you have to do. It trumps, regardless of your economics, where you've come from, where you go, it's about the quality of the person and individual and that's indeed what we should be marked by, rather than any other societal perspectives.

I also want to say it was really great to see Wanda and Joe here. I think it moves forward where you are. I know Wanda and Joe were married in 1971, getting on close to 40 years. Can you imagine? In 1971 Wanda and Joe, it was an interracial marriage. You talk about the strength of character of a family. I can't imagine back in 1971 what some of the societal views would have been and the lens people would put on that.

I can tell you one thing that I know about Wanda and Joe is that love trumped any colour on either side, that the quality of the individual and their integrity, and who they are and in terms of what they did, trumped all of that and that speaks to a great strength and a strength that no racial divide can break.

I see that in terms of their contributions in our community. When I look at Wanda who, as was indicated earlier, has been very involved with the Girl Scouts, particularly, she was a leader within the Brownies movement for over two decades and it didn't matter to her who those youth were, they were included. In our community, there were no issues if they were from the Lebanese community or whoever they were, and she had an opportunity to lead and provided leadership in a community where there weren't many people at all of African Nova Scotian descent, but was a contributor in that community, and was seen as that. I'm happy with my community because of looking at that leadership role, and embracing it, and knowing that she was as equal a citizen as anybody else.

I also know, from what I hear, that even with today's proceedings, in terms of granting an official apology and free pardon that even within a family - we're a legislative family and we dispute things and we have different perspectives - and I believe within the family itself about what is the proper recognition or not, how should it be done or not, we're always going to have that. But hopefully, at the end of the day, you find the consensus or the outcome that moves us forward.

I do hope that we as a legislative family from differing perspectives and different backgrounds will come together and at the end of the day see this piece of legislation through and make sure that with or without amendments, whatever the case may be in the dialogue, that we will be able to say that this was a great day in Nova Scotia, a great day in Canada and throughout the Commonwealth, where Nova Scotians did the right thing and are committed to doing the right things as we go forward.

[Page 916]

With that, I want to reiterate and thank the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs for his very heartfelt comments and that they have not gone unheard in this House. Indeed, we all have to be committed to work together and make sure that we move forward and ensure that this bill, when it gets proclamation, is one we all can say we had our own small part in to make sure it is brought to its final conclusion, which will be in perpetuity to recognize Viola Desmond, and every other person like Viola Desmond who was prepared to step forward to do what she believed in and to be recognized as an equal in our society and someone to be respected and remembered and celebrated. For that, I'm very pleased to have had a moment to speak here in the House today.

Again, I thank the government for co-operating to have second reading and I would say we have other work we must do and we will agree to tend to that work legislatively. I think we can all hold our heads high and be proud as legislators here in the Province of Nova Scotia for what occurred here today. To every member, and every individual outside this Chamber who had a role to play, we extend our thanks and our indebtedness to them and, in fact, that we may celebrate for years and years into perpetuity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased today to join the debate on this bill and to say a few words. It was quite overwhelming, as the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs alluded to, with the experience that we had in the Red Chamber today. It reminds all of us that our work here is important, and can change direction, and for the government to be integral part of the process of making today possible and correcting an injustice that went on and was so vividly in the minds of Nova Scotians that it had to be corrected.

I've had the opportunity in my teaching career to spend at least five years teaching the very valuable course, African-Canadian Studies, that's in our highschool curriculum here in our province. I know how much that I have learned, and also gained a great sense of what has gone on in the struggle of the Black community in our province.

To even take a look at where the Black communities were established is, in fact, an unbelievable revelation about discrimination, that they were not welcomed into the mainstream communities that had been established. The act of Viola Desmond to challenge mainstream society and to get us to think about basic rights, will now march forward in a renewed way. It challenges all of us to recommit to making sure the subtle acts of racism and discrimination are eliminated from our society. That's what all Nova Scotians need to pick up from today.

That's why having an annual event, and how more appropriate than in February when we have African Heritage Month? For all Nova Scotians and for all of our students to take

[Page 917]

this card we were given today that outlines, in a very brief profile, the life of Viola Desmond and for all Nova Scotia students to have a look at her life and what she stood for, should have a special day.

I know our Party is very, very strongly in support of having this day. We also recognize what the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs has brought to the floor today. While perhaps haste is part of the exuberance of the moment and of the day, we do need to be very, very conscientious of what our African Nova Scotian community does have to say. I know in due time, Viola Desmond's stand and the position that she took will have a stronger presence in the minds of Nova Scotians and future children, and that our Black community will be one and whole because of a day like today in the Nova Scotia Legislature. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's a real privilege for me to stand for a few moments to share some of my thoughts around Bill No. 15. First of all, I want to thank the government again and the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs for what's brought us here today.

As I listened in the Red Room about names that were mentioned and I listened to the minister this afternoon bring names forward, I can tell you in the Red Room the name that means a lot in my area, and to me personally in my own community, is a gentleman whose name is Maurice Ruddick. I don't know if the minister has ever heard the name, but Maurice Ruddick was a Black miner who had 13 children. Maurice was trapped underground in excess of a week. He became known worldwide as the singing miner.

Maurice was a very religious man. Maurice was very talented himself and had three girls that started out as just babies really, singing together with Maurice. I think in different times - and this has been said around the Springhill area, they actually would have been about Anne Murray's age - in different times, in a different place, maybe a different community, a different country, I think they would have been very famous today. In fact, I know they would have been. They were very, very talented young girls. Unfortunately, due to the situation of those days and where they lived, I really believe those young girls were held back and they believed it as well.

As I said, Maurice who was trapped underground for an extended period of time, became known as the singing miner. These men who were trapped underground for days would share the little bit of food they may have had in their boxes.

You know, mining communities are very close-knit - I know the member for Cape Breton Centre would attest to that. After the very fact of these miners being rescued, there was an invitation - and had I known I was going to get up here today I would have made sure

[Page 918]

I had the facts right - they were invited, I believe, to go to New York; the Ed Sullivan Show was part of it. Anyway they were invited to go to New York, the arrangements were being made and somehow they found out that Maurice Ruddick was Black and they were going to deny him access. Well, his fellow miners said that if Maurice wasn't going, none of them were going.

[4:15 p.m.]

That shows the kind of attitude back then, but I can tell you that in our community of Springhill, I believe there was no such attitude - people worked together day in and day out, they raised families, and, as I said, Maurice had 13 children. His wife, Norma, is actually still living in Springhill, and one of her sons, his name is Dean, and I'm going to run a risk here - Dean is a police officer in Springhill and he actually today has been with the department there probably 40 years.

Dean today is the acting chief, he and I have been childhood friends and grew up together, worked together and played together. And I said this many, many times to him, that I hope I live long enough to see the day when he is named Chief of Police in Springhill because my understanding is - I'll be coming to you, sir, if this happens because the Attorney General, I believe it was in Ontario at the time when I was Attorney General here, we had discussion about the fact and we did some research and I think you'll find there has never been a Black chief of police in Canada. I know I'm saying this and he'll read it, but anyway I'm hoping that we actually see the day when this gentleman becomes the Chief of Police of Springhill because I think it will, again, be something that will be recognized across this country.

I was going to say that the Attorney General in Ontario at the time, when we talked about it, was very interested as well because he felt that it is something that our province should be and would be very proud of and something he would want to have been part of himself. I think he actually now is in the Dominican or somewhere - he has left the country.

I couldn't today listen to the names mentioned and when the minister mentioned those names this afternoon, read those off, I thought about Maurice Ruddick and the challenges he faced and the fact that his family, as talented as they were in those times - and that would have been in the 60s - really never had the opportunity that otherwise they may have had if circumstances had been different for them, or different in our world, I guess.

Although we may not be able to put a face to all the names we hear, I think we can certainly, as Nova Scotians, try to understand the challenges that were faced in those years, and I think, as was said here today, we can try to do what we can do collectively to ensure that our children are better aware and better responding to those types of issues.

[Page 919]

I'd like to think that as the generation changed, that is happening; I would really like to believe that is true. That was 40-plus years ago in Springhill with those three young girls (Interruption) no, no, I remember my mother telling me about it - that would be 40-plus years ago when these young girls went through that. But it is over 50 years ago with the last disaster in Springhill - it was actually in 1958 - in 1956 and 1958.

Again, I just want to put on the record that those challenges that were mentioned today, and that the minister talked about here today, I would imagine every community in this province could tell the same stories. If people had an opportunity to be here today they would tell the same stories - different names, but the same story.

I do want to say to the minister that earlier today I got up and I was really hopeful that this bill would pass today, solely for the fact, as the Premier said himself, it is a very historic day in Nova Scotia and I just thought it sure made sense to me that it passing today would have kind of ended the day as I felt it should. But I listened to the minister and, Mr. Minister, having heard what you said, if that's your will and you believe that is the will of the Black community, we have to respect that, and I have to respect that and I do.

Again, thank you for your comments earlier and thanks to all the members who have shared their thoughts here today. I look forward to this bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour as well for me this afternoon to take just a few minutes to speak to this bill, one that I believe is a very important bill being put forward by our caucus and, more specifically, by the member for Cape Breton West. It has been quite a day. I'm sure the family are a bit overwhelmed with everything that has transpired in the last short while, and I think members of the Black community are quite overwhelmed with how this has all come up - as a matter of fact I know that they are, from talking to them.

Again today, the member for Cumberland South spoke, just moments ago, about what needs to be changed - can it be better, has the consultation been done? I think that's a great thing, too. Just so that the minister knows, I think it's an opportunity for everyone to have a say on how this should end up, since it is going to be enacted and be in place forever and a day, as far as we hope it will be. We want it to be a successful bill and we want it to capture everything that it should capture.

Not having much notice, I guess, that this would be called today, I never really thought about bringing a whole lot of notes, but a few things do come to mind. As the honourable minster would know, where I grew up, a little community called Newport Station, which is next door to what is referred to in this today - and I didn't know, at Page

[Page 920]

16 of the document that was produced, it came out there today on our desks, No. 23 - Three Mile Plains is recognized in this brochure as the Black community.

Of course, I grew up next door knowing all these folks, and it was interesting, as a kid growing up, we never thought about colour. It was nothing that we ever heard about where I grew up or in my home. There was no separation. Whether we were on the ballfield or we were in school, there never seemed to be a separation. I know "separate" may not be the right word - forgive me for the lack of the right word today - but everybody was the same. Nobody had a lot of money in the community I came from, or anywhere near us for that matter, not that that meant everything. We had a lot of fun together as kids growing up, and certainly now in an older life we get into a lot of fun together, as we grew up through life and went to school, as I said, and we certainly enjoy each other's company today regardless of the colour of our skin.

I'm pleased to say that because my children don't know the difference in the Black community, or the Native community - you name it. It's not something we ever hear about. I'm pleased to say that solely because it is important. At the same time, it's important to recognize individuals who have made great contributions from certain communities.

When we think of politics, we see Senator Don Oliver, who was the first African Nova Scotian to become a member of the Canadian Senate, and a Deputy Speaker, I believe; Linda Carvery, a singer and a Canadian Citizenship Court judge. We all know Les and Sharon Oliver and the contributions they have made in this province; certainly Ray Tynes is the deputy mayor, I believe he's the Deputy Mayor of Truro; and many others. There are a lot of names, local names, that come to mind - Clyde Gray, someone in here might have heard of Clyde Gray in the past and his great accomplishments throughout the world, just to name a few very quickly. (Interruption) He what? Taught him everything. I wonder if you would say that with him here, minister? (Laughter)

There are a lot of others who have made great contributions in and around our different communities throughout this province, and ones we should all be very proud of regardless of where they come from. So I just wanted to take a few minutes to get on the record that I'm pleased to see this bill not only put forward, but for the government to call it, to have some discussion, to move it forward to Second Reading. Let's talk about the amendments that may need to be made throughout the course of this bill and the debate. We certainly look forward to seeing it get back to this side of the House, this Chamber, Third Reading and onward, proclamation and so on.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted those few minutes, and I thank you very much. Again, I want to thank the minister for his comments earlier.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton West, it will be to close debate.

[Page 921]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, if I could, I would like to first congratulate all the members of the House for the words that they had to say here, but in particular, I want to congratulate the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs for the words that he has spoken here in this House today. As I started out earlier, I was anxious to see this move forward, but as I heard the minister speak today - and he spoke so well - it made me realize that, indeed, we are going down the right track and I congratulate you for bringing me back to where I needed to be.

I would say this, the minister did mention a number of names of very great Nova Scotians who moved forward, but I would remind the minister that, of course, if it hadn't been for Viola Desmond and the courage that she showed at her day, that those people may not have had the chance to be so great here in Nova Scotia, so we do owe all of them a big vote of thanks. (Applause)

With that, I would like to close debate on second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

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 you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[Page 922]

[4:26 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Good evening. We have now reached the moment of interruption. The topic, as chosen earlier today for late debate:

"Therefore be it resolved that this NDP Government commit to completing the fourth year of the Boots on the Street program so that the police agencies across Nova Scotia can have the resources they require to combat a constant threat to public safety."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

BOOTS ON THE STREET PROG.: FOURTH YR. - COMPLETION

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, It is an honour to stand here tonight in my place and to talk about this issue that is very important to me and I know very important to police officers in the communities across Nova Scotia. I'm just going to read, "Therefore be it resolved that this NDP Government commit to completing the fourth year of the Boots on the Street program so that police agencies across Nova Scotia can have the resources they require to combat a constant threat to public safety."

I want to begin by saying that I am kind of disappointed that the resolution I put forward was denied by the government. As members of the House would know, being a former police officer myself and the Attorney General being a former police officer, having the resources to do the job, particularly in the climate today in the policing community, the technology and the ability of criminals to be able to create a lot different atmosphere from the policing community - to tackle them is a lot different today than it was decades ago.

I remember when I first became the Attorney General, Premier MacDonald at the time was doing a provincial tour. He met with me one night and he said that one thing that was very prevalent to him in his travel was the number of our youth involved in drugs and drugs around schools. It wasn't very long after that, in fact, from the honourable Attorney General's own riding, chiefs and the RCMP came into the department and wanted to meet with me and we met.

[Page 923]

They had devised a plan that they felt would help them tackle crime better in Pictou County and it was going to require some resources. They said the communities there felt there were huge problems, they needed help and they asked if I could find funding to specifically help them. At the time I wasn't able to tell them because we had the Boots on the Street program in the works, but I certainly told them I would do what I could. They went away hoping they were going to get some help from the province.

The then-Premier, in his travels, heard loud and clear from a lot of parents about drugs around schools. We heard from the policing community ourselves that there was a lot of work that needed to be done that should be done and municipalities didn't feel they had the resources to tackle it right here in HRM. I had discussions myself with the chief and deputy and the mayor about resources and about the need to put more uniformed bodies, on the street and to help fight crime.

You know, Mr. Speaker, in my previous career I understood fully where these folks were coming from. It was pretty obvious to me that a lot of departments will amalgamate or they will change services. I worked in Moncton and I know you go from 25 or 30 - and I forget the number now - within the regional area, down to six or eight or 10 on the street at night. You can't expect one-third or half of the people, when you have increasing crime rates, to do the same job as the higher number prior to that.

Mr. Speaker, we gave it a lot of thought and did a lot of consultation with the policing community and went back to the Premier and said, we can do this but it's going to cost a substantial amount of money to put a program in place. We can start and put the funding in place right away, in the first year, and we can signal the municipal units and the RCMP that we're going to be there to support them, but they had to obviously know this earlier on so they could prepare for those doing the training and get prepared to do the hiring. I think even the RCMP have a challenge today in regard to attracting the proper number of bodies across this country. I think it is a challenge for them like it is for the armed forces.

We tried to signal earlier on that we were going to be there for them, that we would develop a multi-year program, which turned out to be a four-year program - to put 250 additional police officers on the streets of Nova Scotia. Those positions would be paid for by the Department of Justice through the Government of Nova Scotia.

I also wanted to ensure that small units, wherever they were in the Province of Nova Scotia, would not be left out of the equation, and made the commitment that every community throughout these rounds of allocation of officers would all receive at least one, even smaller communities like Annapolis Royal. I was pretty proud, and I think one of the smartest moves any government has made - I've seen in a lot of years with regard to tackling a specific issue - in this case, crime - and offering resources to those who provide it to help them get the job done.

[Page 924]

I remember some of the officers went to a combined unit down in southwest Nova Scotia, a highway patrol unit. I remember watching over a number of months after that, a phenomenal amount of work done by that group with regard to highway safety. The other thing the Premier had said to me at the time was, in Justice and in Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, we had a high number of deaths on our highways in Nova Scotia - over 100 at the time, I believe - and he wanted myself and our departments to try to work on reducing that number. I think that's a pretty onerous mandate to be given, to reduce the number of people killed on your highways.

I just had a discussion this morning with someone on the phone about keeping headlights on, and they were upset over the fact that they have to have their headlights on in Nova Scotia now. I said, you know what? If at the end of my days as an MLA, if one person's life is saved because people have their headlights on now, I'm happy with that. I can live with that. As I said, we had the support of all Parties here to move some of that legislation through. There were no arguments. In fact, there was a lot of help from the members opposite here, so we moved it all through.

Back to the issue of the officers. I truly, truly believe, I said to the Premier at the time, after we had the full implementation of the 250 officers it will cost the Government of Nova Scotia $25 million a year to keep this program going. I may have the number wrong here, I'm sure the Attorney General will set me straight, but I think 167 is the number that has been met, somewhere around there, but I'll wait to see what he says.

Then, my understanding is that the program - I don't want to say cancelled, but my understanding is the program is frozen. (Interruption) Ah, 163? Oh, 183, thank you - 183 is the number that has been allocated to the RCMP and the municipal units throughout Nova Scotia so far. Pictou and the Bridgewater area, I think they were the first to actually take positions and make street crime units where the RCMP - and probably the Attorney General was part of that himself, because that's where he served the last number of years of his career - were able to take the municipal units and the RCMP and actually put them together in a street crime unit and tackle those issues head-on.

In Bridgewater I was there and met with them, and I believe they've done the same down there from the early-on days - phenomenal results, results I'm very proud of. I think it's led to reduced crime in neighbourhoods. It's given people a good sense of safety in their communities. I think it's really tackled the issue of drugs in and around our schools. It's a phenomenal program and one that I'll be proud of for years to come.

There are other areas where maybe they weren't able to bring their resources together as quickly as I had hoped they would, but I felt it was important to allow them to have the ability and flexibility as well, and I thought eventually they would come to an agreement that they would have to work together. Cumberland County, as an example again, earlier on that didn't work like it did in Pictou, but now my understanding in Cumberland County is those

[Page 925]

municipal and federal officers, provincial officers are working together in an integrated street crime unit. I just watched the paper for the last three months - phenomenal results.

Drug charges. There are warrants being executed on a regular basis, there are people being charged who I believe, without the additional resources being provided through the department, would have escaped being charged and would have gone on to do what they're doing.

I know I only have a minute left. I do want to say that I'm really disappointed that this government has decided the Boots on the Street program will - I don't want to say be cancelled, but I understood it would be put on hold. I think it's a program where, yes, it costs a lot of money. I'll tell the Attorney General this. I had to go to Cabinet and I had to fight hard to keep that program going because there are lots of demands such as Health and Education, and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal of course.

I know that it's not easy to get those dollars, it's not easy to get those dollars, it's not easy to get Cabinet to find dollars, but I think for the safety of our communities and for the protection of our children, the future generations who are coming here, and especially around our schools, and the great work the police are doing around Nova Scotia, they need the support of the government. They need the additional resources to help them get their job done and I would ask the minister to reconsider this program to be sure it continues in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise here today and discuss the government's plan on policing and public safety. I, like the member across, was a police officer for over 35 years and I'm committed to police officers. There's nothing probably more important, and one of the reasons that I'm here today, is because of my background and my commitment to that very issue. I'm in a portfolio where I can actually have an influence and make a difference, and I feel very strongly. I have worked many years in this Justice system and to improve public safety is one of my goals and objectives.

So we both share that and as I heard the honourable member speak, there's nothing in there that we have a difference of perspective on. The only issue that we have is the financial situation we're in and I will talk about the numbers. I think the resources are there that we need. Nova Scotia is a great province to raise a family and I believe we are very fortunate to live in a province that is safe and secure. I know that to be true and as someone who has patrolled the streets of Nova Scotia - and I was involved in the very project, in the initiation, and I appreciated the work that the honourable member did as Attorney General in providing support for Pictou County for an issue and problem we had in dealing with front-line issues. So I acknowledge that work, I'm very pleased.

[Page 926]

Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to report that the latest studies show that we have an increase of police officers in Nova Scotia. The per capita number that we have is 199 per 100,000 people; there are almost 200 officers per 100,000 and this exceeds our goal of being above the national average. The national average is at 197 per 100,000. I am proud to say Nova Scotia's ratio of officers per capita has increased by 18 per cent since 1999 and that doesn't go unnoticed, the good work that the honourable member did in making that become a reality.

In 2007, the government launched Boots on the Street. After two years the commitment was fulfilled to ensure that all 55 municipalities receive at least one new officer. So his point that he made, that an officer needs a community, that has been achieved and that's there. We have received a great deal of support and gratitude from provincial police agencies for the additional policing support and we have also seen good, positive results from that as he outlined and articulated.

In 2005 reports from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics rated Nova Scotia as the second most violent province. From 2007 to 2008 crime in Nova Scotia decreased overall by 7 per cent and the severity of crime was down by 9 per cent. This is the fourth consecutive year in which we have seen a decrease and it's the second largest decline among the provinces. Nova Scotia is also lower than the national average on crime severity, although this past month here in the City of Halifax with 11 shootings, it raises a concern, but we're working on that. We're working in partnership with the municipal police department, with the provincial police, with the federal police, and with the mayor and council of the HRM area to address that issue. We had a meeting yesterday and it happened to fall in line with this issue but it was a scheduled meeting that we put together.

We still have a long way to go and there are commitments to finding ways to further reduce crime rates in Nova Scotia. We want to continue the downward trend. However, we need to make sure that our resources are placed in the most cost-effective ways and with the most positive impact on our province's public safety. We are looking at all potential avenues for crime prevention and reduction.

I want to make a statement that we don't need our police officers working harder, we need them working smarter. We have smart, talented, bright police officers who are highly skilled, and adding another 100 police officers on the street won't solve our problems. Investing in crime prevention, investing in the communities, identifying root causes, and ensuring that the police officers have the tools and that they're strategically focused.

We are increasing our concentration on youth and communities at risk. We are focusing on the prolific offenders and proved it, offender integration. We are addressing the root causes of crime and developing a coordinated response to domestic violence. Domestic violence is a huge issue and we need to do a lot more there and we are going to do a lot more in that area.

[Page 927]

[6:15 p.m.]

Outside of the organized crime, other types of crime and social injustice in our community contribute greatly, so we need to address not just officers on the street but the whole system, we need a holistic approach. Our government has also given full support to the current 183 officers positioned under the Boots on the Street program, that's committed. I had to fight hard, as well, to keep them there, especially in these tough economic times that we're faced with.

As any responsible government, we are conducting a review of the program to ensure provincial priorities will be addressed. I don't want anyone to read in that that we're taking away or dismantling the system. We're just looking at how we're spending the dollars, how the resources are being applied and having a good collaboration with all stakeholders. We are also investing in the front end to prevent crime before it starts. It is necessary for all communities, police and levels of government, to get involved in addressing the root causes of crime in Nova Scotia.

I was asked a question today by the media, what are you going to do about the shootings and am I upset and alarmed? Of course I'm upset and alarmed whenever there's violence in the society or in the community but one of the underlying problems that we're faced with on the issue of crime in our community is the fact that some of the victims aren't coming forward and taking responsibility and giving the police the necessary information to go on. Also, many members in the community that have information are not coming forward; they need to come forward. The police can only police those who wish to be policed and on security of a community, everybody has an investment in that and a responsibility.

We need to do more in crime prevention and we have taken great steps in that. In February of this year 15 organizations involved in community recreational activities each received $12,000 from the province's Lighthouses Program. The Lighthouses Program helps community groups provide recreational, educational, cultural and life skills programs for Nova Scotia youth, that's $180,000 that went directly to addressing the root causes of crime.

This is a program that will be continued this year and, in fact, I will be in Sydney, Whitney Pier, tomorrow to give a presentation and to talk about the launch of our program for next year. None of us want to see our youth get involved in crime so we are positively supporting after-school programs like the Whitney Pier Youth Club that help the youth stay focused on positive activities. As a former police officer, I met many young people who were at risk and I tried from a personal level to convince them or to guide them or to provide them with opportunities to go in a different direction, I committed a lifetime to them.

[Page 928]

The grants will help continue to go to organizations that have a track record with helping divert youth from criminal activities or the potential to be involved in crime. We need a multi-faceted approach to dealing with the criminal element where youth are at risk.

Police officers on the street is an important part of crime prevention and reduction. Our continued support and funding of the 183 positions is a demonstration of our commitment. However, we can't put all our eggs in one basket and all our resources and tools in one direction. We want to be diversified. We want, as a government, to be able to support police and look at new and creative ways in which we can deal with crime. If we stay with the mentality to put more police officers on the street, we're not going to get there. If we had another 50 officers on the street today, I doubt that that would have made a difference in the shootings.

What will make a difference in the shootings is that we look at policing and crime prevention in a more creative manner, that we have a very clear strategic focus, and that the resources are there, that the management within policing know that this Department of Justice and this government supports them and are there to look at new ways to work with the community. We are actively engaged in that manner and I am committed 100 per cent in addressing the social issues, the criminal issues within our community.

So on the issue of Boots on the Street - and I want to make sure each and every police officer out there knows that I am committed to them. I know that they go to work each day, put their uniform on or go in a plainclothes capacity - which I had the pleasure to work in both - and they put their life on the line and I know the good member across the House put his life on the line and I respect and value that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure as the Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus to be able to join in this debate, in fact, I believe this is my first late debate since the last election, so it has been a bit of time in coming but I'm certainly pleased to be able to speak on an issue which I have spoken on so many times previously as Justice Critic.

Mr. Speaker, the program that was started by the previous government was meant to address the fact that many of our communities needed extra support to assist in crime prevention and with this additional funding, certainly the higher populated areas received more officers but in Richmond County for example, which is one of the smaller areas, a population of less than 10,000 now, it meant one additional officer. That might not sound like much to the Minister of Justice or to others but it meant a lot, I know, for the police officers in our county, and it certainly meant a lot for the sergeant who, all of a sudden, was able to have a new officer to deal with some of the areas that traditionally they didn't have the manpower to be able to specifically deal with. I know he certainly spoke very favourably regarding that.

[Page 929]

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I want to say what a pleasure it has been to work with Sergeant Rick Beaton, in Richmond County, and what I have noted, very interestingly, is that since he has become sergeant, he has undertaken a very aggressive media campaign in that any time that someone is charged in Richmond County, a media release is sent out, and I have been added on that release along with many others.

It is amazing how it brings a level of awareness of just how much work the police are doing and it also serves as a reminder to people, especially when they're doing some of their roadside checks for drinking and driving and pointing out that they've made some arrests in that regard. It sends a message out to everyone in the community, often we take for granted the work that they're doing, but that more aggressive approach was making people aware of the work that the police in Richmond County are doing, which, I do believe, is paying off.

Mr. Speaker, if we were to say that crime is not an issue here in Nova Scotia, I don't think anyone would believe us. All week we've been seeing front page stories talking about shootings and again, today, it seems there is an even another one. So to hear the Minister of Justice say more police officers is not the answer, I'm certainly curious as to how many more shootings are going to take place before long-term solutions are going to kick in?

Nobody questions any proposal to do more education and more sensitivity toward the issues of crime prevention, but the question is, what do we do to make Nova Scotia a safe place today? More and more - and I know my colleague for Clare mentioned it and I even hear from home - people are saying, I'm not going to Halifax, I'm going to get shot if I go to Halifax. Because it is now to the point that people believe that there are just random shootings taking place in the streets of Halifax.

Now, those who have followed the stories a bit closer will know it certainly is much more isolated than that but that is what is creating and the question is, how much longer before that message gets outside of Nova Scotia where people in P.E.I. or New Brunswick or other areas that regularly come to our province start having that same fear, that Halifax is not a safe place to visit? That downtown Halifax is dangerous, that areas around peninsular Halifax are dangerous, that is something that is going to have very negative connotations for our province.

Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear the minister talk about the Lighthouses Program and I know that program has been able to assist various organizations. I believe that Chapel Island First Nation is one of the recipients of some of that funding and that is all good. The problem with the Lighthouses Program is that these organizations will do the best they can with the monies that are provided, but the question always has to be, what happens when the funding runs out?

We've seen this in the past, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you will be aware yourself, where the federal government a number of years ago came in with all this funding and all

[Page 930]

these great programs were put in place, but after a year the funding was gone. The employees who were put there, the coordinators, everything else, there was nothing left and the communities on their own were certainly not in a financial position to be able to pay people's salaries to undertake - many of them were after-school programs.

So the concept is great and the concept of Lighthouses is great, but the minister needs to realize that after next year these groups are going to come back and say, now what? I am sure that the minister naturally will be saying to himself, well I need to spread around the funding to different organizations, I can't keep funding the same ones, there's only so much money. That's natural - that's not a criticism, that's reality. I am sure the minister will want to share it around amongst different groups throughout the province, but for those who are approved that will be the question - what do we do now?

That is the unfortunate thing because through the Lighthouses Program, they will create programs that will be very valuable programs and just when they're about to have the impact that we want them to have, the funding will run out and then it is, what do we do next?

If the minister is serious about wanting to do education and wanting to do long-term planning, there needs to be funding to back that up. You can't just go do a photo op, present a cheque and then say this is going to be a success. It will be short term, but it won't be long term.

What we've been waiting to hear from this government, because I know when they were in Opposition they agreed with me in saying that we need to have a better system to work with at-risk youth in this province, we need to have a sustainable go-forward plan, not just a one-year program, but something that we can work with going forward.

The problem is that what we're seeing with this Lighthouses Program, like so many other programs, is they are short-term fixes, so the challenge will continue. I would urge the minister, as he goes forward, to try to work on a plan that we can sit here, whether it is a three-year plan, a five-year plan, or a ten-year plan, where we can be able to work with at-risk youth throughout the province, work with these many valuable organizations that are trying to address these issues by making sure that it is not just going to be a one-year funding and then it is over. We've been through that - the federal government tried it, and it had limited success because of the fact that when the money ran out, it was all over. The fear is that we're going down that same road here.

I'm sure the organizations are very appreciative of the monies the minister has made available to them, but when the funding runs out they're right back to square one. The sad thing is that while these people should be focusing on working with our youth, they spend a great deal of their time trying to figure out where the funding is going to come from next. It is almost similar to economic development groups in our communities - 80 per cent of their time is spent looking for where their funding is going to be next rather than being

[Page 931]

focused 80 per cent on doing the things they want to do, which is grow the economies of their communities.

That is the same issue that is created here in the announcement - and what is a bit frustrating in having this debate now is we haven't had the chance to do the estimates of the Minister of Justice, to be able to ask these specific questions such as have there been any cuts to the Department of Justice budget? My understanding is that this Boots on the Street program is frozen, funding for that is frozen - he's not going to move forward with the next phase in the hiring of more officers.

My question is what else is in the Department of Justice? Are there going to be closures of courthouses, for example - is that going to take place? Are we going to see reductions of some of the programs that are already in the Department of Justice? For example, the Ankle Bracelet program, a program that was meant to assist people, probation officers and law enforcement officers by having these bracelets on people who, for the most part, were given house arrest. So rather than having our law enforcement officials having to chase people to see if they're home or not, these ankle bracelets were a way of having a monitoring system in place which means that people were actually serving the sentence they were given, and saving precious resources from law enforcement.

So those are some of the questions that I have as to whether those are cuts that either have been made or are being proposed as part of this budget.

We'll certainly have the opportunity to ask many more questions, specifically the new correctional facility that is being proposed, what that facility will look like, what planning has taken place to make sure that that is going to meet the needs - because we certainly don't want to see ourselves back in situations of the previous government where we didn't have the capacity to house inmates, that we were sending them all around the province because there wasn't a capacity. Hopefully the minister will be able to reassure us that they have done the planning to ensure that will not be the case with the new facility.

Mr. Speaker, again, more police officers, I believe, has paid off dividends, and until we can see a time where Nova Scotia once again is the safe place that we all want it to be for ourselves, for our parents, for our children, for our families, until that happens we have a lot more work to do. I certainly hope that the minister will not exhaust all avenues to addressing the issue of crime in this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all members who took part in tonight's excellent debate. The time allotted for late debate now has expired.

We will now take a short pause as we revert to the Committee on Supply and bring forward the Office of Health Promotion and Protection.

[Page 932]

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Hon. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[7:59 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made considerable progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the business of the government for the day. I move that the House do now rise to meet at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit until 3:00 p.m. or until the conclusion of the business. After the daily routine we will go into Supply and then from there, hopefully, all the members will enjoy a very relaxing weekend.

I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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 House is adjourned until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

[The House adjourned at 8:00 p.m.]

[Page 933]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 419

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas the Memorial High School Marauders became the 2009-10 Cape Breton High School Hockey League champs; and

Whereas the Marauders won the best of five championship series 3 to 0, defeating the Glace Bay Panthers; and

Whereas the Marauders were victorious in their final seven straight playoff games;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating head coach Ted Coleman and the Memorial Marauders for capturing the league title.

RESOLUTION NO. 420

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas Alexa MacDonald of Springhill is a first-year Environmental Sciences student at Mount Allison University who was part of a medical brigade that travelled to Honduras in February 2010; and

Whereas Alexa was among 60 students who travelled to Honduras as two groups - one working more on the medical side of things and the other was a public health brigade - where Alexa worked on home renovations and living conditions for families, giving them new cement floors, a new stove, and creating a latrine and a water storage unit; and

Whereas along with helping to improve the families' living conditions, MacDonald said she and the other students promoted cleanliness in the community by going to school and talking to students;

[Page 934]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Alexa MacDonald on travelling to Honduras to make a difference in the lives of these less fortunate families and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 421

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas Reverend David Luker of St. Matthew Wesley United Church in North Sydney was knighted into the Order of St. George late in 2009 for his contributions over the years to his community and country; and

Whereas Reverend Luker's experience includes being a Scout leader, chaplain for Memorial Branch 19 Royal Canadian Legion, chaplain for 35 Service Battalion, and a member of a Pastoral Care Advisory Committee from the Northside General Hospital, Safer Cape Breton Communities, the Atlantic Ecumenical Council, Canadian Bible Society, and St. John Ambulance; and

Whereas Reverend Luker as a young boy dreamed of being a knight - a dream that has now come true when he became a member of the more than 680-year-old Christian Military Order of Chivalry;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Reverend Luker on becoming a knight in the Order of St. George and wish him continued success and many more years of professional and personal achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 422

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas Sterling Products Ltd. of Australia has acquired the production facility in the North Sydney Industrial Park and will be producing compounds and pharmaceuticals for the global marketplace; and

Whereas Sterling Products Canada has a number of plants in Canada, the major one located in North River, Prince Edward Island; and

[Page 935]

Whereas after three months of hard work and effort, Sterling Products Canada will be hiring employees to work at the plant;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in welcoming Sterling Products Ltd. of Australia to Cape Breton North and wish them every success for a long, successful, and profitable tenure in the Northside Industrial Park.