Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 10-2

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

FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.),
Hon. M. Scott 31
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1, Estimates - CWH on Supply,
Hon. G. Steele 31
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 1, House of Assembly Management Commission Act,
The Premier 32
No. 2, Health Act, Hon. S. McNeil 32
No. 3, Provincial Finance Act, Mr. L. Glavine 32
No. 4, Electricity Act, Mr. A. Younger 32
No. 5, Provincial Finance Act, Mr. L. Glavine 32
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2, Conrad, Sarah: Vancouver Winter Olympics - Congrats.,
Mr. A. Younger 33
Vote - Affirmative 33
Res. 3, Alward, David: Leadership - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 33
Res. 4, ERD: Yarmouth Ferry - Serv. Ensure,
Hon. S. McNeil 34
Res. 5, MacArthur, Charles: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. A. MacMaster 35
Vote - Affirmative 36
Res. 6, Casey, Joe: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. H. Theriault 36
Vote - Affirmative 37
Res. 7, Wong, Jessica - Hockey Medal,
Mr. K. Bain 37
Vote - Affirmative 38
Res. 8, Brown, Garnet: Death of - Tribute,
Ms. K. Regan 38
Vote - Affirmative 38
Res. 9, Jodrey, Wilfred: Freemasonry - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. C. Porter 39
Vote - Affirmative 39
Res. 10, MacArthur, Charles: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. K. Colwell 39
Vote - Affirmative 40
Res. 11, Gov't. (N.S.): HST Increase - Halt,
Hon. M. Scott 40
Res. 12, MacDonald, Father John J. - Birthday (80th),
Hon. M. Samson 41
Vote - Affirmative 42
Res. 13, C.B. & Cent. N.S. Railway: Operation - Endorse,
Hon. C. Clarke 42
Vote - Affirmative 43
Res. 14, Taylor, Sgt. Kirk: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. L. Glavine 43
Vote - Affirmative ^Res. 15, ERD: Bay Ferris - Funding, 44
Hon. C. d'Entremont 44
Res. 16, ERD: Yarmouth - Ferry Serv,
Hon. W. Gaudet 45
Res. 17, McPherson, Jill - Atl. Coun. Intl. Co-operation Prize,
Mr. A. MacLeod 45
Vote - Affirmative 46
Res. 18, Purple Day: Megan, Cassidy - Recognize,
Ms. D. Whalen 46
Vote - Affirmative 47
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 19, MSVU: Communication Studies Dept. - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 47
Vote - Affirmative 48
Res. 20, Earth Hr.: Nova Scotians - Participation,
Mr. A. Younger 48
Vote - Affirmative 49
Res. 21, Cumb. Co. Commun. Cred. Union Midget Girls Hockey Team -
Championship, Hon. M. Scott 49
^Vote - Affirmative 50
Res. 22, ERD: Yarmouth Ferry - Funding,
Hon. K. Colwell 50
Res. 23, MacEachern, Katie/Green Team: Commun. Dedication -
Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 50
Vote - Affirmative 51
Res. 24, Vancouver Paralympic Games: Cdn. Athletes - Congrats.,
^Hon. W. Gaudet 51
Vote - Affirmative 52
Res. 25, Bernard, Bertrum/Parsons, Steve -
Aboriginal Fin. Officers Assoc. Essay Contest,
Mr. A. MacLeod 52
Vote - Affirmative 52
Res. 26, Windsor Rotary Club: Commun. Spirit - Acknowledge,
Mr. C. Porter 53
Vote - Affirmative 53
Res. 27, SV Concordia Staff/Students: Safe Return - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 53
Vote - Affirmative 54
Res. 28, C.B. Post Spelling Bee: Competitors - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Bain 54
Vote - Affirmative 55
Res. 29, Gov't. (NDP): Tax Raises - Stop,
Mr. A. MacMaster 55
MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT RULE 43:
ERD: Yarmouth Ferry - Funding, Hon. K. Casey 56
Vote - Affirmative 56
Vote - Affirmative
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Hon. S. McNeil 57
Hon. K. Casey 62
Adjourned debate 67
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 43:
ERD: Yarmouth Ferry - Funding,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 68
Hon. W. Estabrooks 72
Hon. S. McNeil 76
Hon. C. Clarke 80
Hon. S. Belliveau 85
Hon. W. Gaudet 89
Mr. C. Porter 93
Mr. G. Ramey 97
Hon. K. Colwell 99
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Mar. 30th at 7:00 p.m. . 103^^^
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 30, Spearns, Sgt. Michael: HRP Retirement - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 104
Res. 31, Pictou Reg. Dev. Commn.: Rural Econ. Dev. Corp. -
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 104
Res. 32, Berwick Food Bank - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 105
Res. 33, Lawrencetown FD - Awards Banquet: Recipients -
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 105
Res. 34, Agric.: N.S. Cattle Producers - Engage,
Mr. L. Glavine 106
Res. 35, Purple Day (03/26/10) - Recognize,
Hon. M. MacDonald 106
Res. 36, Upper Stewiacke Maple Syrup Fest.: Luck - Wish,
Hon. K. Casey 107
Res. 37, Windsor Rotary Club: Commun. Spirit - Acknowledge,
Mr. C. Porter 107
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS:
No. 1, Health - Bayview Mem. Health Ctr.: Expansion/Renovation Proj. - Status, Hon. M. Scott (Oct.
20, 2009)
[by Hon. Maureen MacDonald] 108
No. 2, Fin.: Securities Matters - Fines Levied,
Mr. C. Porter (November 5, 2009)
[by Hon. W. Estabrooks] 109
No. 3, Agric.: Beef Farmers - Issues, Mr. C. Porter (November 5, 2009)
[By Hon. John MacDonell] 110
No. 4, Energy: Québec-Hydro/N.B. Power: Atl. Energy Gateway,
Mr. C. Porter (November 5, 2009)
[by Hon. G. Steele] 111
No. 5, Educ. - Grade 12 Math Exam Results,
Hon. K. Casey (November 5, 2009)
[by Hon. M. More] 112

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HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, we'll call the business of the House to order and welcome everybody again to our Chamber, looking forward, certainly, to a good session over the next number of weeks.

The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm rising on a point of privilege. Do you wish me to go to that now or do you wish me to wait to do it later?

MR. SPEAKER: You might as well do it at this time.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as members of the House we have all gone through a very difficult time around the issue of MLA expenses. Yesterday in this House the member for Lunenburg West made comments in this Chamber that have also been repeated by the Premier and other members of government outside the Chamber. I am now quoting the member for Lunenburg West when yesterday he said, "Our government was not the creator of these fiscal policies related to MLA expenses, but we will be the government that sends them packing."

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29

Mr. Speaker, the Internal Economy Board has always had representation from each Party in this House, as a result of that, all members of this House bear equal responsibility for the system that was put in place regarding members' expenses.

Our Leader of the Liberal Party has acknowledged that the silence of Liberal members over the years was effectively consent. Mr. Speaker, that was a silence that was heard from all sides of this House. To have members stand in their place and make statements that put the blame for Internal Economy Board decisions on Opposition Parties alone, statements that were repeated in the media by the Premier himself, I believe violate the rights and privileges of the members of this Legislature due to the fact that it cast aspersions on certain members of the House.

As a result of this, Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is a prima facie case of a violation of my privileges as a member of the Legislature and the privileges of all members in this House. I, therefore, request that you ask the member for Lunenburg West to retract his statement and caution all members from making any further similar statements. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, very simply put, it's not a matter of privilege, it's a matter of opinion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, from our caucus, first of all, I want to thank the member for Richmond for bringing the issue forward. There's no question about it, the last number of months have been very difficult for the 52 members of this Legislature, and I would hope that you would give serious consideration to the request being brought forward. It's a very serious allegation, and I think, as the member said, it does paint a very bleak picture of all MLAs, unfortunately, and when comments like that are made either in the House or outside it only further fuels that fire.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, and I would hope you would give this very serious consideration and take some real direction from the Clerks in regard to this request at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take the matter under advisement, and certainly the record of it would be in Hansard, but if there is something in writing that the member for Richmond can give me, it would be appreciated. I will reserve judgment on it at this moment, but in due course I will report back.

We will begin the daily routine.

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PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the welcome back and I just want to say that today will be the first of many for me to stand in this House to table a petition and, as well, a copy of the headline that this House has obviously seen on many occasions and will see every day during the next session, that says: Dexter says he'll keep Tory promises.

Mr. Speaker, that prompted a petition in my area, and I want the government to take notice. They should take notice of some of the comments that are being made by people, not just from my own riding, but throughout Cumberland County. The petition says:

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

Mr. Speaker, it is signed by 52 residents and I have affixed my name for tabling.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall:

transmitting the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, for the consideration of this House;

(2) table the Estimates Books;

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(3) table the Crown Corporation business plans;

(4) table the Estimates and Crown Corporation business plans resolutions;

(5) deliver my Budget Speech; and

(6) move that the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, being Supply to be granted to Her Majesty and the Crown Corporation business plans be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: [The notice is tabled.]

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, for the information of the House, the budget will be presented on Tuesday, April 6th.

[10:15 a.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 1 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Management Commission for the Effective Administration of the House of Assembly. (Hon. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 2 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 195 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Health Act. (Hon. Stephen McNeil)

Bill No. 3 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Provincial Finance Act, Respecting District Health Authorities. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

Bill No. 4 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2004. The Electricity Act, Respecting Renewable Energy Providers. (Mr. Andrew Younger)

Bill No. 5 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 365 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Provincial Finance Act, Respecting Write-offs. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 33]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2

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

Whereas the 2010 Winter Olympic Games were held this past February in Vancouver, British Columbia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia was represented by only two athletes at the Games, including Sarah Conrad from Dartmouth, a member of the Canadian snowboarding team and a competitor in the half-pipe snowboarding events; and

Whereas Sarah not only made it to the semi-finals in Vancouver but showed tremendous sportsmanship and the true spirit of the Olympics;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Sarah on her inspiring performance at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and wish her the best in her 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 Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3

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

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Whereas for many months the people of New Brunswick, and indeed all Atlantic Provinces, have lived under the threat of seeing a vital energy network in New Brunswick being sold to interests in Quebec with uncertain long-term economic impacts; and

Whereas New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward has laboured tirelessly to preserve this valuable resource to the benefit of all Atlantic Canadians; and

Whereas the Premier of New Brunswick has now announced that the sale of New Brunswick Power will not go forward;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate David Alward for his leadership and his consideration of the interests of all Atlantic Canadians.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 4

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

Whereas Yarmouth and Western Nova Scotia have depended on a ferry service to deliver American tourists to their area for decades; and

Whereas this vital service directly employs 189 (Interruptions)

Do you want me to start over again?

MR. SPEAKER: Sorry, yes, go ahead.

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

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Whereas Yarmouth and western Nova Scotia have depended on a ferry service to deliver American tourists to their area for decades; and

Whereas this vital service directly employs 189 people and carries tens of thousands of people to and from Nova Scotia every year; and

Whereas on December 18, 2009, the NDP Government recklessly announced that it would cease funding this service, causing a devastating blow to Nova Scotia's economy, tourism operators and revenues to this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly join me in urging this NDP Government to make certain a ferry service is in place, to ensure the economic prosperity of western Nova Scotia.

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 Inverness. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 5

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

Whereas Inverness County lost one of its greatest citizens this past February when Charles MacArthur passed away at the age of 89; and

Whereas service to the public was always at Charles' core as he served his community as a member of the Knights of Columbus, he served Inverness County as councillor and warden, he served his constituency as an MLA and he served Canada in the Second World War; and

Whereas upon his retirement as an MLA in 1998 he had served the people of Inverness on the municipal and provincial level for 28 years, giving his heart and soul for the betterment of his community;

[Page 36]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge Charles MacArthur's service to the people of Inverness County, the Province of Nova Scotia and our country.

I would ask members to rise for a moment of silence.

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.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 6

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, after I read this resolution, if it passes, I ask, too, for a moment of silence.

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

Whereas we lost the former MLA for Digby-Annapolis and a very proud Nova Scotian, Joseph H. Casey, on February 16, 2010, at the age of 91; and

Whereas Joe will be remembered by all for his wonderful sense of humour, his love of telling stories and representing his constituents where political partisanship always took a back seat when it came to the concerns of his constituents; and

Whereas Joe had a full life, he sold fish, he was in the navy, he worked as a harbour pilot in the Bay of Fundy, he operated several fish plants, he operated a hotel and cottages, he travelled the world as a motivational speaker, telling stories that interested everyone and, of course, he was a politician;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize Joe Casey for his dedication to his family, his friends, his business associates and his constituents

[Page 37]

and always remember a life is never lost unless they are forgotten and Joe Casey will live forever as he will never be forgotten.

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.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 7

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

Whereas while the goal was perhaps a couple of levels of importance away from Sidney Crosby's Gold Medal-winning goal on February 28th, nothing should be taken away from Baddeck's Jessica Wong, who scored an exceptional and vital championship goal in triple overtime as she led the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to the NCAA Women's Hockey Championship over Cornell University Wednesday evening; and

Whereas Wong, a member of Canada's national under-22 women's hockey team, provided the University of Minnesota-Duluth with their fifth NCAA Championship in 10 years since the NCAA began awarding women's hockey championships; and

Whereas Wong has travelled to Germany and played for Canada in the under-18 world women's championship before her invitation to Calgary and the under-22 team this past August;

Therefore be it resolved that all members in this historic Legislature recognize the incredible talent of one dynamic hockey player from Baddeck, Ms. Jessica Wong, and continue to wish her every success in all of her future hockey pursuits and studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 38]

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.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 8

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

Whereas A. Garnet Brown was a prominent Nova Scotia businessman, athlete, and politician, who represented the riding of Halifax Eastern Shore from 1969 to 1978 in this House; and

Whereas Garnet, as a member of Nova Scotia's Executive Council under Premier Gerald Regan, served as Minister of Highways, Public Works, Tourism, Environment, and Recreation - and was, in fact, this country's first Minister of Recreation; and

Whereas Garnet was known far and wide for his business acumen, as one of the best baseball catchers to emerge from this region, and as a devoted volunteer, community leader, and soft touch;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House observe a moment of silence in Garnet's memory and send condolences to his wife, Betty, and family on the loss on January 7, 2010, of this larger-than-life Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 9

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

Whereas Freemasonry is the world's oldest and most respected Fraternity, which encourages good men to become better men by promoting a life devoted to high ideals, community service, and benevolence; and

Whereas on March 16, 2010, Wilfred Jodrey of Windsor celebrated 50 years as a proud member of the Welsford Lodge No. 26, under the registry of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, where he currently holds the position of District Chaplain; and

Whereas Mr. Jodrey has also been a long-standing member of numerous other organizations, including the Eastern Valley Shrine Club as President and Club Parade Marshal, Philae Temple, Friends of Dykeland and their involvement with the Windsor Senior Citizens Bus Society;

Therefore be it resolved that all members in this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Jodrey on his 50 years of Freemasonry service and dedicated community volunteer activity while wishing him and his fellow Freemasons great success into the future.

[10:30 a.m.]

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 40]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 10

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

Whereas on February 24, 2010, the residents of Inverness, and indeed all Nova Scotians, lost a dedicated servant of the people with the passing of Charlie MacArthur; and

Whereas Charlie served in municipal politics for 18 years as councillor and warden before becoming elected as MLA for Inverness in 1988; and

Whereas a veteran of World War II, Charlie was a staunch supporter of Captain Angus L. Macdonald Legion Branch 132 in Inverness where he served as president for several terms and never missed a November 11th service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend our condolences to Charlie's son, Chuck, his daughter, Lorraine, and his nephew, Dennis, and honour Charlie's memory and true Cape Breton character through continued dedication to public service.

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. 11

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

[Page 41]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government is considering raising the HST in the province which will place our businesses at a huge disadvantage; and

Whereas the tax rate in New Brunswick will be lower than in our province and will further encourage more cross-border shopping for savings by consumers; and

Whereas businesses in Cumberland County are losing business to cross-border shoppers and consumers who are driving to Moncton and other New Brunswick locations to purchase both large and small-ticket items;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature join me in assisting the business community of Cumberland County by encouraging the government not to raise the HST in Nova Scotia.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 12

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

Attendu que le père John J. MacDonald a été ordonné le 12 juin 1954 et qu'il a servi dans les localités d'Inverness, D'Escousse, Louisdale, St. Andrews, Bras d'Or, de Petit-de-Grat, de Margaree, d'Arichat et de River Bourgeois; et

Attendu que, parfaitement bilingue, le père John J. a été un chef de file dans le mouvement des caisses populaires et des coopératives et dans le développement économique et social des paroisses où il a servi; et

Attendu que le vendredi 26 mars, sa famille, ses amis et des anciens paroissiens se réuniront au Civic Improvement Centre à D'Escousse pour célébrer le 80e anniversaire du père John J. MacDonald;

[Page 42]

Par conséquent, il est résolu que les membres de l'Assemblée législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse félicitent le père John J. MacDonald à l'occasion de son 80e anniversaire de naissance, lui souhaitent une bonne santé au cours des années à venir et tiennent à souligner les nombreuses années qu'il a consacrées au développement spirituel, social et économique des localités où il a servi.

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

Whereas Father John J. MacDonald was ordained on June 12, 1954 and served in the communities of Inverness, D'Escousse, Louisdale, St. Andrews, Bras d'Or, Petit-de-Grat, Margaree, Arichat and River Bourgeois; and

Whereas fluently bilingual, Father John J. was a leader in the Credit Union and co-operative movement along with the economic and social development of the parishes in which he served; and

Whereas on Friday, March 26th, family, friends and former parishioners will gather at the D'Escousse Civic Improvement Centre to celebrate the 80th birthday of Father John J. MacDonald;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Father John J. MacDonald on his 80th birthday while wishing him continued good health and acknowledging his many years of spiritual, social and economic devotion to the communities in which he served.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 13

[Page 43]

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

Whereas the former Progressive Conservative Government extended an appropriate

business-case supported, subsidy to the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway in 2003 and 2005; and

Whereas without a renewed agreement, rail service between Point Tupper and Sydney, industrial capacity will be dealt a severe blow; and

Whereas the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway is a vital piece of infrastructure required for the planned development of the Port of Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House endorse the continued operation of the Point Tupper to Sydney rail line and reaffirm support for the port master plan and the commercialization of Sydney Harbour.

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. 14

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

Whereas Sergeant Kirk Taylor was a dedicated reservist with the 84th Independent Field Battery based out of Yarmouth, who served his country with honour and pride in Afghanistan as a member of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team; and

Whereas Sergeant Taylor was a soldier who was relied on for his leadership, strength of character, sharp humour, and his willingness to be there to lend a hand, qualities which

[Page 44]

made him a well-respected leader within his military family and a devoted friend whose commitment to his community was manifested through his mentorship to troubled youth; and

Whereas on December 30, 2009, the country and the province, his friends and family, lost Sergeant Kirk Taylor when he was among four soldiers and a journalist whose light-armoured vehicles were struck by an improvised explosive device in the City of Kandahar;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize and honour Sergeant Kirk Taylor's duty to his country, his devotion to his friends, family and community, and his commitment toward making life better for all those around him.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice, as well as a moment of silence.

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.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 15

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 this NDP Government is running up deficits at an alarming rate; and

Whereas to date spending restraint has not been seriously considered and money for unions, land, and consultants seemingly flows without end; and

Whereas in spite of this, funding to Bay Ferries has been ended, meaning for the first time since 1855 Yarmouth will be without a service, meaning many businesses will close and many citizens will be without work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Assembly urge the NDP Government to reconsider its financial priorities and immediately provide funding so that ferry service can once again return to Yarmouth and Nova Scotia.

[Page 45]

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 16

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 people of Yarmouth and southwest Nova Scotia have depended on an international ferry service as an integral part of their economy; and

Whereas instead of developing a real strategy for economic growth before cutting this essential service, the NDP took the same approach as the Third Party always did when they were in power, which was to act before thinking; and

Whereas the people of Yarmouth deserve real solutions instead of the Progressive Conservatives' haphazard, band-aid attempts and reckless cuts by this NDP Government;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly urge the current government to avoid the duct-tape approach of the past government and start making clear, level-headed decisions.

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 Cape Breton West.

[Page 46]

RESOLUTION NO. 17

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

Whereas Jill McPherson, chair of the CBU student union representative council, is in her final year of studying anthropology and political science at Cape Breton University and this year's winner of the Active 8 campaign held annually by the Atlantic Council for International Co-operation; and

Whereas the Atlantic Council for International Co-operation is a coalition representing more than 70 organizations, institutions and individuals working in international development, global sustainability and social justice; and

Whereas Jill and her team acquired more than one-quarter of the pledges for action, earning them the top prize of $1,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jill McPherson from Port Morien on winning this competition and thank her for donating the $1,000 prize to the Haiti relief fund.

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. 18

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

Whereas today, March 26th, is Purple Day, an international grassroots initiative dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide; and

[Page 47]

Whereas Purple Day was founded in 2008 by 9-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia with support from the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation; and

Whereas Purple Day 2009 saw over 100,000 students, 95 workplaces and 116 politicians participate in initiatives to raise awareness for those living with this life-altering neurological disorder;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize March 26th as Purple Day and congratulate Cassidy Megan for issuing the challenge to Nova Scotians and people all over the world to stand up and show support for those living with epilepsy.

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 Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to do an introduction or two, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. CASEY: I would draw people's attention to the gallery opposite where we have a number of faculty, staff and students from Mount Saint Vincent University. I would ask that they stand as they are introduced, please: Dr. Alla Kushniryk, faculty, Department of Communication Studies; Akiko Lovett, Senior Communications Advisor; Kirsten Somers, Coordinator, Co-operative Education; Matt Decourcey, graduate student; Lana Power, graduate student; Meghan Finney, graduate student; and Melanie Brister, undergraduate student. These folks are here today to watch the proceedings in the House and to acknowledge the resolution which very positively impacts on the university and these students. (Applause)

[Page 48]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all of our guests here this morning and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 19

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

Whereas the Mount Saint Vincent University Department of Public Relations recently changed its name to the Department of Communication Studies; and

Whereas students and young professionals over the past four decades have been educated through this program, allowing them to provide quality, strategic, public relations and communications advice to organizations throughout the world; and

Whereas professors and students in the program can celebrate the exciting new focus and opportunity within the department, including a new Bachelor of Science Communication degree, and continue to lead our country in communications excellence;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House acknowledge the hard work of faculty and students within the Communication Studies Department and wish them every success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[10:45 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 20

[Page 49]

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

Whereas climate change and increased energy use are major issues facing Nova Scotia and the world; and

Whereas International Earth Hour will be held on Saturday, March 27, 2010, starting at 7:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Earth Hour is an opportunity for residents to demonstrate their concern over their personal impact on the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly encourage Nova Scotians to participate in Earth Hour and turn off their lights for one hour at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27th.

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. 21

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

Whereas the Cumberland County Community Credit Union Midget "A" Girls Hockey Crew is in Middleton this weekend, participating in the Nova Scotia Provincial "A" Female Midget Championship, along with their head coach Chuck Linney, assistant coaches Robert Kinnear and Lori Kinnear, and team manager Lisa Kinnear; and

Whereas it has been a long road for the team, which consists of players from Amherst, Springhill, Oxford, and Parrsboro, and they have worked hard since September to see themselves compete for the first time in the Nova Scotia championships; and

[Page 50]

Whereas the Cumberland County team is the youngest team in the tournament, with six of their players being Bantam age, and no one being more proud of them than their head coach Chuck Linney, who praised the girls, saying they played well and had a great season, ending their last tournament by defeating the Sydney, Cape Breton team in overtime to earn their place in the Nova Scotia Provincials - well, they are the best;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Cumberland County Community Credit Union Midget "A" Girls Hockey Crew on earning a spot in the Nova Scotia Provincial "A" Female Midget Championship and wish them all the best for the weekend and 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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 22

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

Whereas last year the New Democratic Government refused to provide funding to The Cat ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States; and

Whereas this reckless, ill-advised, and irresponsible decision by the NDP Government will undoubtedly lead to the closure of several tourism operations and hundreds of hotel and service jobs will disappear; and

Whereas this devastating blow to the local economy will result in more Nova Scotians leaving Nova Scotia to find work elsewhere in the country;

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

[Page 51]

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 Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 23

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

Whereas Earth Hour, which is promoted by the World Wildlife Federation, takes place at 8:30 p.m., March 27th, as a symbol for immediate action on climate change; and

Whereas Memorial High School Grade 12 student Katie MacEachern has been leading the school's Green Team to raise her community's awareness of environmental issues; and

Whereas MacEachern and other Grade 12 students have had many presentations in elementary schools to explain the effects of global warming and greenhouse gases, and on March 27th at St. Matthew-Wesley United Church they have organized a free coffee house by candlelight for the community to lead up and to celebrate Earth Hour;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Katie and her Green Team on their dedication and community consciousness.

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 52]

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 24

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

Whereas more than 500 athletes competed in the Vancouver Paralympic Games from March 12 to 21, 2010, and proved to be remarkable ambassadors of the human spirit; and

Whereas Canada had its best Paralympic Games in history, with Canadians winning 10 golds and 19 total medals; and

Whereas Nova Scotia was proud to cheer on two athletes, Tyler Mosher and Mary Benson, both of whom have ties to our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all Canadian Paralympic athletes for their hard work and skill during the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games.

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. 25

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

Whereas Bertram Bernard is a Grade 12 student at Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High in Eskasoni; and

[Page 53]

Whereas Mr. Bernard is the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada's top essay winner this year and was formally recognized at a national conference in Ottawa; and

Whereas the contest had students identify successes in their community and they were asked to expand upon them if they were placed in a leadership role;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bertram Bernard on his award-winning essay and his teacher Steve Parsons for having a student receive winning recognitions since the competition began in 2006.

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. 26

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

Whereas the world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, began operation in 1905 before spreading with great popularity to six continents in 1921, with the Windsor Rotary Club becoming involved in the club's world-wide popularity with the establishment of a local club in 1930; and

Whereas the Windsor Rotary Club celebrated their 80th Anniversary on February 17, 2010, under the capable leadership of various individuals, such as President Jon Oulton, President-elect Randy Hussey, Sergeant-at-Arms Jim Wells, Treasurer Ray Harvey, and Club Service Jonathan DeMont, while holding weekly luncheon meetings at the Elmcroft Reception Centre on Albert Street in Windsor; and

Whereas the Windsor Rotary Club is involved in a wide variety of community events, including their major fundraiser, which is the Rotary Radio Auction, held annually in early May;

[Page 54]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly acknowledge the tremendous community spirit and work ethic demonstrated by the Windsor Rotary Club, while wishing them every success with their endeavours as they celebrate eight decades of service to Windsor and surrounding area.

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. 27

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 SV Concordia, a Polish-built barquentine, encountered intense winds and sank off the coast of Brazil on February 18th; and

Whereas the Class Afloat program had 46 students onboard from seven countries and 16 staff members; and

Whereas the adult crew showed leadership and the students demonstrated their skills and a lot of courage in the situation at hand;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff and students of the SV Concordia for a successful and safe return and thank members of the Brazil Search and Rescue and the Brazilian Navy for their heroic rescue.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 55]

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. 28

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

Whereas thousands of students in Grade 4 to 8 enter the Cape Breton Post Regional Spelling Bee annually; and

Whereas competition begins early in the Fall with a series of classroom and school spelling bees held at schools throughout Cape Breton; and

Whereas from the thousands of anxious spellers the list is narrowed down to 48 students who competed in the Cape Breton Post Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday, February 27th in the Boardmore Theatre Art Gallery at Cape Breton University;

Therefore be it resolved that all members in this House of Assembly congratulate these 48 students, including Dylan Morley of Boularderie Elementary School, Dakota Warren and Jenacy Samways of Cape Smokey Elementary, Ben Fricker and Jakob Whitty of Cabot Jr./Sr. High School, Robert Messem of Middle River Consolidated School, and Molly Morrison and Dalton Rambeau, students at North Highlands Elementary for providing an afternoon of entertainment and excitement while extolling their brilliant wordsmanship and ability to spell before an attentive audience.

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 56]

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 29

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance recently completed a public consultation entitled Back to Balance; and

Whereas Nova Scotians knew our provincial debt was a problem eight years ago when Dr. John Hamm brought this province back to balance with the first balanced budget in 40 years; and

Whereas the NDP inherited those eight balanced budgets when they took office, with the Spring 2009 balanced budget confirmed by an independent audit by Deloitte;

Therefore be it resolved that the taxes of Nova Scotians should not be raised to pay for the deficit the NDP created in their first year in 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. (Interruption)

I understood that there was to be a request for an emergency debate and I understood that the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative wanted to introduce that.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, further to the notice that I had given you, I rise in accordance with Rule No. 43(1) and move that the business of the House be set aside at the moment of adjournment for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance and that issue is the devastating economic blow the NDP Government has dealt the economy in the southwest region and all Nova Scotia when they failed to honour the agreement to subsidize the Yarmouth ferry service without fully understanding the economic impact and consequences. I believe that this is of great urgency as the negative impact of this

[Page 57]

decision is already affecting the economy in Nova Scotia through the loss of jobs and loss to business.

As our caucus has already stated publicly, the NDP sank the ferry without understanding the impact that decision would have throughout the province. The Minister of Economic and Rural Development should be ashamed that he wasn't even aware of the penalty involved in the cancellation of the subsidy. It was obvious to the people that he had taken little time to study the issue. Our caucus recently held discussions with our federal counterparts to discuss the immediate pressures and concerns in the community. Like our caucus, our federal counterparts were dismayed see the province reject the effort of the region to provide half of the subsidy to support the ferry.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, honourable member, I think I have the gist of your resolution. (Laughter) I should mention that yesterday morning I received your request for an emergency debate under Rule 43(1). It came to me about 9:30 a.m. and secondly, I did receive a second request from the Liberal caucus about 45 minutes later at 10:15 a.m. on the same topic, more or less, but certainly the request from the Progressive Conservative caucus was first.

So I am going to ask the House, based on the request, does the honourable member have the leave of this House to move adjournment to discuss this topic at the end of regular business today?

It is agreed.

So, at the end of regular business today, we will debate the emergency resolution under Rule 43(1).

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before I call the business of the House, in consultation with the other two House Leaders, I believe that we've agreed that the response today will be by each Party and then we will recess and that will constitute the moment of adjournment and that is when we will start the emergency debate. I believe we've agreed to that.

[11:00 a.m.]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 58]

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thank you. It's a pleasure for me to rise for the second time to reply to a Speech from the Throne as the Leader of the Official Opposition. What an honour it is, and a privilege it is, for me to be given the opportunity to be in this House and I'm here only because of the constituents of Annapolis, the men and women who have entrusted their hopes and dreams and faith in me to be able to come here and represent them and I am deeply honoured by that and humbled by their support.

I also want to recognize my constituency assistant, Pam Van Roestel who came to work for me in 2003 shortly after I was elected. Over the course of the last number of years, as my responsibilities have changed, so have hers. She has shared a greater burden of what takes place in our office, as a matter of fact it runs pretty smoothly without me so I'm getting a bit nervous. But, I want to thank her for her commitment to public service, but more importantly, her commitment to the people of Annapolis and her unwavering support to me.

Yesterday I spoke about how difficult it was over the last two months to be an MLA. Whether or not you were named in the Auditor General's Report, we all bear a responsibility for a system of secrecy that allowed abuse. All three Parties had representatives on the Internal Economy Board, we all share the responsibility and we all share the blame. For any members to stand in this House and suggest their Party is blameless simply means they don't get it.

I would like to acknowledge our Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Mayann Francis and thank her for her dedication to her role and her enthusiastic commitment to the people of our province.

I also want to add my condolences to the families of the late Garnet Brown, Joe Casey and Charles MacArthur, former Liberal members who served this House with purpose, dignity and humour. Our thoughts are with their families.

Yesterday I acknowledged my appreciation to the Premier for including my mother in the Speech from the Throne. I also wish to thank him for mentioning the late Edith Cromwell, another strong matriarch from my riding, and of course, Willena Jones. I noticed her son, Rocky, was here yesterday. Even though I had not met Mrs. Jones, I can only

[Page 59]

imagine the strength she brought to her family and to our province. All three women have made a tremendous contribution to Nova Scotia.

I wish to thank the government for its recent announcement around the lost community of Africville. It is never too late to do the right thing and this is simply the right thing for our province to do. (Applause)

Today I am filled with a sense of deja vu. Less than six months ago we were here at this point listening to a Speech from the Throne. It was a thin document. It was filled with platitudes but no plans. We already knew this government was breaking most of its promises: no tax increases, no deficit and no increase in the debt. Then they delivered their first budget, more than $0.5 billion in deficit, with a 10 per cent spending increase.

A Speech from the Throne is supposed to show a vision, illustrate leadership and inspire Nova Scotians. This government failed in September and this government failed again yesterday. This government was hoping that Nova Scotians had a short memory, that they'd forgotten their promises. But we have not forgotten and we will not forget those broken promises.

This government was given the gift by the people of Nova Scotia. They took you on your word when you said you represented change. You have squandered that gift and you have wasted time. You don't get a do over. You don't get to reset the clock. This is reality, and the reality is we are in worse ship 10 months after you've taken power than we were before. In 10 months, this government has created a $525 million deficit. This government has increased spending by 10 per cent while revenue is falling through the floor. It has increased the amount we pay in debt servicing and has increased our debt by more than $0.5 billion. Those are the cold hard facts. Nova Scotians have been waiting for a government with fiscal common sense. They waited for years through mismanagement by the former Progressive Conservative Government.

Mr. Speaker, at the turn of the decade I was asked my thoughts on the last 10 years and I described it as a decade of missed opportunities. At a time when revenue growth was increasing, at a time when funding from Ottawa was flowing in, we had an opportunity to correct the financial sins of the past. Instead we had an increased spending on an average of 5 per cent under Premier Hamm and Rodney MacDonald increased spending 9 per cent, 15 per cent and 6 percent. Now, when revenue is dropping like a rock, Graham Steele is increasing spending by 10 per cent this fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows that he cannot refer to members of the House by name.

MR. MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I was just making sure you were paying attention.

[Page 60]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member, for checking.

MR. MCNEIL: And we know that the present Finance Minister has increased spending by 10 per cent this fiscal year. At the same time this government has been making the case for increasing taxes, increasing taxes such as the HST or income tax. This government talks restraint but does the opposite. Increasing taxes can have unintended consequences. We have the most uncompetitive tax regime in the country. What damage can an ill-conceived tax increase do to our business community struggling to lift itself out of this economic slowdown?

This government has spent the last three months trying to convince Nova Scotians that they had to tighten their belts while government was increasing spending. They are trying to convince Nova Scotians that a tax increase is good for them. It's just a bit of bad tasting medicine. I believe this government doesn't have a revenue problem but it has a priority problem. This government has the most uncompetitive tax system in Atlantic Canada; the only one with a capital tax on large corporations; only one of two with the personal income tax surcharge; the highest tax on business; the highest gas tax in the Maritimes; the lowest basic personal exemption in the entire country; and the list goes on. Not one step has been taken to address this huge competitive disadvantage.

I want to speak about economic growth. It is the orphan child of this government. While the government has worked hard to find tax increases and says it is in search for cost savings, it has ignored the need to create a competitive environment for business and economic growth. Economic growth needs to be supported, nurtured and cared for. We will introduce legislation this session which will put the focus back on economic growth where it belongs. Economic growth for this government can be summed up this way - a dozen men and women sitting around the cabinet table picking winners and losers with money from the Industrial Expansion Fund. No business case is shared with the public. Decisions are made in private outside the eyes of Nova Scotians. They pick winners and losers without explaining the basis for those decisions.

What was the basis for ending the subsidy to the ferry between Yarmouth and Maine? Why did this government make that decision without speaking to the local leaders or to the federal government? Why did they make this decision before a transportation study in southwestern Nova Scotia was released? What was the basis for the decision to pay $40 million to the Irvings for land or spending $8.8 million on Irving Shipbuilding in Shelburne? There are too many unanswered questions.

Government must defend these decisions. This government has preached openness but they have operated by keeping Nova Scotians in the dark. I believe Nova Scotians are fair-minded people. They understand that government needs to treat all its citizens fairly. Pictou County deserves economic development but so does Southwestern Nova Scotia.

[Page 61]

Never has our role as Official Opposition been more important than it is now. We will not forget the parts of Nova Scotia that are not on this government's map. We will not forget your broken promises.

Finally, I'd like to speak about an issue around energy security. Our energy security and stability is the foundation of economic growth in our province. This is an area that has been largely ignored by the Premier and his government. We need an energy corridor in this province to allow us to flow energy in and out of our province and we cannot wait. As a region, we need to all benefit from the greener energy solutions and resources within our provinces. That will require more co-operation, not less, in Atlantic Canada.

It means having a vision for the future which includes an enhanced transmission system that carries electricity to and from our neighbours. In the Speech from the Throne, this government's vision around energy security was to provide $60 million of taxpayers' money to Daewoo to build towers and blades for wind turbines. It may create a few jobs in Pictou County, but it will not produce one kilowatt of electricity.

We need to create an environment where renewable energy can flourish in this province. We need to allow renewable energy producers to sell directly to its customers who want it. We need to build an energy corridor for the future to connect Nova Scotia with the rest of our country. We cannot continue to operate in isolation and that will require co-operation and it will require a vision.

This government and the previous government have taken every opportunity to talk about harnessing the Bay of Fundy. They've taken every opportunity to stand beside the turbine when they get a chance for a great photo op. The reality is that energy will be harnessed in the near future. That energy will become a supply for our entire region. The fact will remain, we in Nova Scotia do not have a transmission system that can move that energy around. The people who will harness that energy will send a pipeline directly into New Brunswick and sell that energy to New Brunswick or to the eastern seaboard.

Our Premier once said we could become an energy island. The fact of the matter is we are an energy island and unless we, as a province, begin to show leadership on this file we will remain an energy island and our businesses will stay uncompetitive when it comes to the price of energy. (Applause)

Energy is one of the areas where, as Atlantic Canadians, we can unite behind. The power from Lower Churchill will be able to come into St. John's so that more Newfoundland and Labradorians get access to a renewable, clean energy and we can bring it into Cape Breton, flowing it through our province to allow Nova Scotians to have access to it as well as when we harness the Bay of Fundy, because we will harness the Bay of Fundy. It will allow us then to distribute that energy throughout our province and move it into New Brunswick.

[Page 62]

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it will allow us to sell our excess energy into the U.S. to provide much-needed capital here in our province not only to support energy projects but to support other economic development.

One of the ideas that has been floated by this government was to build an undersea cable from Yarmouth into New England. I want you to think about that for a second. That's like building a one way highway. That cable would only take energy out of this province. The sad fact is we need to build a system that would allow energy to come into this province. Too much of our energy is produced by foreign coal and oil. We have the natural assets here to make sure we can provide clean, stable, secure energy pricing for our province and for our region.

Ironically, today, as we stand here and talk about this, there's a conference at one of our universities talking about the very thing, talking about how we're going to harness the Bay of Fundy and the wind energy, all of which are important. But we need to build the transmission systems to make that happen and then open the market and allow energy producers to have direct access to customers. They will bring capital into this province. They will invest in their projects because they will be able to sell their energy and get a reasonable return, and we, as a province, can get ourselves off foreign coal and foreign oil.

[11:15 a.m.]

I want to be a part of a system that makes things better, that makes us all prosperous. Fairness is at the heart of a compassionate government. It is at the centre of a moral government. Let's not forget, we're all in this House to make things better for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Speech from the Throne.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct our members' attention to the gallery opposite me to two friends of mine who are here visiting today from Halifax Atlantic - Betty Boudreau and Greta Murtagh, tremendous volunteers for our community and good friends. (Applause)

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the respected members of the Legislature, to the guests in the gallery, and to fellow Nova Scotians: I'm honoured to be here today to

[Page 63]

deliver, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, a reply to the Speech from the Throne.

I wish to thank our Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable Mayann Francis, and to acknowledge our Premier, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and legislative staff.

It gave me great pleasure yesterday to welcome the newest member of our Legislative Assembly and a member of our Progressive Conservative caucus, Allan MacMaster. (Applause) Allan represents the constituency of Inverness, and he won the by-election on October 20th. He officially became a member of this House when he took the oath on November 25, 2009. Within the caucus, he has assumed the Critic responsibilities for Finance and for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. His effectiveness as a critic in both will become obvious during the sitting of this Legislature.

Allan possesses the qualities required to be a successful MLA: his work ethic, his interest in his constituents and his communities and all Nova Scotia, his solid background in finance, and his strong character.

In the presence of this House, Mr. Speaker, I wish to take the opportunity to thank the people of Colchester North for continuing to believe in me as their MLA. My appreciation for those people in Colchester North continues, and I thank them for the trust that they have placed in me. I have had their trust in my positions as Minister of Education, as Minister of Health, and in my current position as Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. I am proud to represent them in this House. It is a great honour to know that I have been their choice and it is a great privilege to work on their behalf.

It is important to thank them publicly for their work as volunteers in support of the constituency, of our association, and of me as their elected member. My success would not be possible without their tireless efforts. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank Nova Scotians, members of the Progressive Conservative Party, and members of the Progressive Conservative caucus for supporting me in my position as their Interim Leader.

While I have chosen not to run for the Party's permanent position as Leader, I am grateful for the expressions of interest, the commitments of support, and the words of encouragement that many Nova Scotians continue to give me regarding my potential leadership candidacy. (Applause)

I was asked to be the Interim Leader of this Party in June 2009, and since that time I have seized the opportunity to visit communities across this province, engaging Nova Scotians in dialogue about our Party and about their future. Our Party was built by hard-working, dedicated people who all share a responsibility to move this province forward.

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What Nova Scotians are telling me is that they expect a strong Progressive Conservative Party: one that will listen and then act, one that will define a course for the future and then deliver. Nova Scotians expect and deserve that of any Party that forms government.

Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that the past few weeks have shaken the foundation of our democratic system - the same system that every member in this House swore to protect and must now take action to repair. Integrity, transparency and honesty must be the foundation on which we stand as we serve the people of this province. It is important that all MLAs never forget that.

In my capacity as leader, I want to be clear on where the Progressive Conservative Caucus stands on the Auditor General's report. On February 3rd, the Speaker's Office provided each party leader with the names of MLAs cited in the report. My office immediately contacted our current and former MLAs to advise them of the information as it related to their expenses and encouraged them to work with the Speaker's Office to resolve any questionable expenses contained in the report. I do not condone the use of taxpayers' dollars to purchase items identified as inappropriate and I share with Nova Scotians their disappointment in the fact that not all MLAs have chosen to provide full disclosure.

The Auditor General is currently conducting a forensic audit and I will respect his findings. In fact, if his findings warrant further action or investigation, I expect those matters to be dealt with swiftly. We must move on. On February 25th during my address to the province on CBC Provincial Affairs, I stated: "I am sorry this has occurred, and I apologize to Nova Scotians." Today, before this House and again for all Nova Scotians, I repeat that statement, "I am sorry this has occurred, and I apologize to all Nova Scotians." But Nova Scotians want to hear more than I am sorry. Individually and collectively as MLAs, we must work hard to regain their confidence and to listen to Nova Scotians. This can only happen when we demonstrate that we are sincere.

Upon receiving the initial report, our caucus members met to identify topics for review and consideration as we move forward. Since we must not only tell Nova Scotians that we are prepared to fix the system, we must demonstrate it and that process has already begun. Our caucus, in a letter to the Speaker on February 17th, identified many changes to the processing of MLA expenses that we believe should be considered as we move toward restoring that integrity, transparency and honesty of which I speak.

Some of those recommendations include, but are not limited to: the full public disclosure of all IEB meetings, the posting of MLA expenses online and the requirement that receipts be submitted with expenses. Taxpayers have a right to know how their taxpayers' dollars are being spent and as their elected representatives, we have a responsibility to make sure that information is available to them. The changes recommended by our caucus will allow the system, we believe, to be monitored by the taxpayers of this province.

[Page 65]

Mr. Speaker, the government of the day has a responsibility to make decisions and to pass legislation that is good for all Nova Scotians. It has a responsibility to be honest when speaking to Nova Scotians about what it can and will deliver. It has the responsibility to honour those commitments made during an election campaign and it has a responsibility to understand the needs of the province and to respond accordingly.

Prior to the presentation of the Speech from the Throne, this government chose to prorogue the House of Assembly. What this NDP Government has done is, in effect, to write off their first nine months in office. The ideas of change that were promised during the June election have not materialized. During the nine months since June, poor choices were made, advice of Nova Scotians was ignored, and no plan to lead the province was presented.

As a caucus in Opposition, we have a responsibility to remind Nova Scotians of some of those poor choices. They include, but not limited to, enacted legislation which opened the door to unlimited, unaccountable and uncontrolled spending; allowed open-ended and successive deficits to be run year on year; artificially inflated the deficit from $51 million in July to $525 million in September; pre-empted a vital transportation study in southwestern Nova Scotia and discontinued funding for the Yarmouth ferry service; failed to honoura previous commitment to build a correctional facility in Springhill; and borrowed $54 million to purchase land.

In addition to those poor choices, the NDP made campaign promises that have not yet been kept. Nova Scotians, we believe, were misled.

The NDP promised to deliver a balanced budget; they have not and they will not. They promised to eliminate overcrowding in emergency rooms; they have not. They promised to keep emergency rooms open 24/7; they have not. They promised to hold taxes without any increases; they have not.

So what did this government do to prepare their plan as presented in the Speech? It's obvious: they went back in history. They went back to the accomplishments of the previous government. I am pleased to see many projects and programs that were initiated or well established by the previous government - our Progressive Conservative Government - included in the Speech.

In fact, most of the pages reflect the efforts of the previous government. Let me name a few: long term care beds; HealthLink 811; paramedic access to life-threatening information; initial discussion with Daewoo; attraction of Lockheed Martin to the province; the broadband initiative for rural Nova Scotia; "buy local" campaigns to boost sales of Nova Scotia products; Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act; cap greenhouse emissions; investment in wind power and tidal power; changes in the building code to improve energy efficiency in new construction; infrastructure and programs to expand the

[Page 66]

community college; expansion of continuing care assistant and licenced practical nurses' seats; caregiver allowance; and I could go on.

These initiatives of the previous government were important to Nova Scotians, and I am pleased that this government has brought many of these forward. What I am disappointed in, however, is that their presence in the Speech was not accompanied by any proper acknowledgment or proper credit. This is the government that has been quick to lay blame - they've been doing that since June. It may have been appropriate to give proper credit where credit was due.

One obvious omission in the entire document was reference to public education. By public education, I'm talking about Primary to Grade 12 programming - this includes early childhood and P-12. A slight reference to public education, two sentences in the entire document, referenced the trades program - the only reference to public education in a 16-page document. In a province that claims to be, and indeed is, the education capital of Canada, it is a travesty that this Speech does not focus on academic programs for our students. We know that the success of any individual, and indeed of an entire population, begins with education. That education is the responsibility of the government.

In September 2009, over 130,000 students were enrolled in our public schools, and these students have been abandoned by this government. The Minister of Finance and his staff, as part of their "Back to Balance" tour, heard consistently from members of the education community: the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Nova Scotia School Boards Association, parents, education partners, and indeed all Nova Scotians who value education. Their message was clear in every one of those meetings: save Grade 2.

We know that increasing the funding to maintain public school programs in this province is equivalent to the cost of delivering Grade 2. The message was clear and without that money, school boards across the province would not be able to deliver the programs that they are currently delivering to our students. My question is this, which part of the existing public schools program will not be delivered? Will it be no Reading Recovery, no Best program, no math mentors, no tuition support program, no support for autistic kids, no support for teacher assistants, no support for IB programs, no support for the O2 program, no support for Active Young Readers. To think that the second largest department within government has been ignored in this Throne Speech is appalling.

[11:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this brings me to the Finance Minister's Back to Balance road show. The minister knows that we had caucus representation at every one of those sessions and we

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learned a great deal about the manner in which this minister, his consultants and Communications Nova Scotia conducted these sessions but, more importantly, we learned more about the mindset of Nova Scotians and their position on tax increases and program cuts.

We had representation at all of these sessions because we are the voice for lower taxes in Nova Scotia. To let this government go unchallenged in its attempt to spring higher taxes would be wrong. That is why, Mr. Speaker, we chose to be there. In fact, I strongly urged all Nova Scotians to actively participate in those sessions as a way of expressing their concerns and ideas. Sessions went from more than 100 people to less than 50. NDP MLAs sat at the table as participants and promoted the government's tax hike message. When members of the public questioned the minister on why his government was not considering other options, his responses inferred, unrealistically, that the general public would have the same in-depth knowledge that he had.

Mr. Speaker, while the Back to Balance road show appeared to be a popular exercise in the beginning, it became very obvious that Nova Scotians had caught on. It was merely an exercise to set up Nova Scotians but I can tell the minister Nova Scotians didn't buy the message. In fact, the interest in raising taxes simply does not exist in Nova Scotia. In reality, increased taxes hurt lower income families, seniors, people on fixed income and small business. In a recent CBC-commissioned poll, 74 per cent of Nova Scotians stated that they opposed an increase to the HST. Furthermore, 73 per cent said they opposed an increase to personal income tax, so I wonder if the minister really understands that average Nova Scotians believed the Premier when he promised no raise in taxes.

Increased taxes will give Nova Scotians less disposable income to purchase goods and services, it will take away the competitive edge that we have in Atlantic Canada and it will not stimulate our economy.

Mr. Speaker, as a caucus we want to support programs, initiatives, investments and pieces of legislation that are good for Nova Scotians. It is our responsibility and we are looking forward to the delivery of the budget and the estimate debates that follow. At this time, I would ask that the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be adjourned. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: A motion to adjourn debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne has been requested.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

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The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government business for today. I ask that we meet again on Monday, between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., when we will continue with the Address in Reply.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just before we begin the emergency debate and I know it's not proper to identify the presence or absence of anybody in the House but I'm just wondering, given the importance of this very provincial issue that we want to talk about, are we going to have Cabinet Ministers in the House to hear the concerns of the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that he is not allowed to mention the absence of any members in the House, so I appreciate the ruling.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. As all honourable members know, it is certainly not the precedent to single out or point out any members in the Chamber who are absent. I would certainly ask all members, especially going into the emergency debate, not to make reference to any member of the House who is absent.

Having said that, as it was previously agreed by the House earlier this morning, the business of the House will now be set aside to deal with the urgent debate that was agreed to earlier.

ADJOURNMENT

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MOTION UNDER RULE 43

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

ERD: YARMOUTH FERRY - FUNDING

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can say that it has been a long time coming to have the opportunity to maybe ask questions and bring up some information about, in my mind, the horrific act of this government that brought forward on December 18, 2009, the devastating news to southwest Nova Scotia that they would no longer be funding the ferry service between Yarmouth and New England.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that over the course of this emergency debate over the next couple of hours that we do have the opportunity to hear from, of course, the Premier and the Ministers of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, Culture and Heritage, the individuals who have been so intertwined in this decision.

This year, 2010, will be the first year since before Confederation, since 1855, that Yarmouth will not have a connection to New England, that they will not have the opportunity to visit family, to have tourists come to our shores, to experience Nova Scotia. As I said, the community and all of Nova Scotia was left reeling, was absolutely dumbfounded when they learned of this government's lack of action on the tourism industry in Nova Scotia. After that bewilderment, the community was scared, it had a sense of abandonment by this government.

Mr. Speaker, I was very happy that the municipalities got together and started to lobby the government to understand this decision, to see if there were ways that this decision could be reversed. There were no real answers, there were no visits by either the Premier or visits by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Really the first minister to dare to come to Yarmouth was, of course, our Minister of Finance and I thank that minister for coming down and addressing that issue. He was the first one who actually dared to bring it up, he was actually the minister who had enough guts to talk about it to a public forum about this issue and the first one in front of a crowd who did it, to regular Nova Scotians, not just municipal councils.

I know the Minister of Fisheries is saying that he did. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware. Was it before the public or was it before municipal councils? (Interruption) Then again, it was not a public meeting, it was a meeting of municipal units, people by invitation only.

Mr. Speaker, after the day of December 18th - and I'm going to try to keep my comments as just as I possibly can and as respectful as I possibly can because the ministers who are sitting before me still have a lot of work to do on this one. Even though I agree, and I think everybody in southwest Nova Scotia right now agrees, that the 2010 season is lost,

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there's a lot of work to do to make sure we are all ready - and I mean everyone, everybody in southwest Nova Scotia, everybody across Nova Scotia - for the 2011 season.

I can say again, there was no visit by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, there was no visit by the Premier. Actually, the Premier did come to Yarmouth, I have to correct that, he did come for the funeral of Kirk Taylor, who was lost in Afghanistan. He flew in, came to the funeral, and flew back out without having the opportunity to address this issue with anyone.

After the decision was made and communicated to the individuals, to the population of southwest Nova Scotia, it took until December 23rd - the next week - to have a meeting with the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage and the Premier where the community, the mayors, the wardens, the two MLAs had the opportunity to present the information to the Premier and the minister.

What we were finding was we weren't understanding the logic behind this decision. We were not understanding where the economic impact statement was. We've been asking since December 18th to see the information that precipitated this decision, to see what the economic impact statement, the economic impact assessment, what it looked like, how they arrived at a decision to pull this service away from Nova Scotians.

I will table this once I'm done with this, the presentation that the individuals, the mayors and wardens who were at that meeting presented to the Premier and to the minister at that time. I'm going to read a few excerpts out of it, as well, to be able to be read into the record so that Nova Scotians understand what was presented to the Premier at that time.

The first quote is from the press release from the mayor of Yarmouth, Phil Mooney, which says: On one hand we welcome the Premier's announcement that he's still supporting the maintenance of the ferry link between Yarmouth and New England - that was sort of an aside statement that the Premier made when he was being scrummed. Mayor Mooney said: But on the other hand we worry that without some form of ferry service during the 2010 season, and until such time the new service is ready, that infrastructure such as Canada Customs, hotels, restaurants and trained employees will no longer exist.

The problem with all of a sudden just making this outright decision is that there is a lot of infrastructure that is going to suffer over the course of the next year until, hopefully, the community can come up with a new ferry service. I'll talk about job-loss projections as we move along during my 15 minutes of speech.

Again, the community got together - the tourist association, the development authority - and the gang got together to figure out who were the visitors who came across that ferry service during the course of the year. What was the visitor statistics? What we came up with were numbers that were far greater than what was being reported by Tourism, Culture

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and Heritage. But when that was presented to the department, to the Premier, to the ministers, it seems like that fell on deaf ears.

New England and mid-Atlantic accounts for 5 per cent of all tourism activity within Nova Scotia. Over 50 per cent of these people arrive via The Cat. Bay Ferries is responsible for all Nova Scotia marketing in New England. So it wasn't just no boat, it was no access to the market that is so great, that is the one right to our south, which is New England. The Cat brought in $37 million to the economy of Nova Scotia in 2008, $33 million to the economy in 2009. The spending is not just in Yarmouth County, or Shelburne County, or in Digby County, it is right across this great province of ours.

[11:45 a.m.]

Also in this document that I urge all members - especially the members of the NDP - to read and look at and consider, there are a number of quotes that I want to read into the record, as well, and they're found on Page 14 of this document that I will send in: The direct impacts are obvious in terms of lost business, lost employment, lost taxation revenues. By themselves these are immense tens of millions of dollars. Mr. Speaker, that came from D.A. Fawthrop, managing director of tourism incorporated.

Melanie Cookson-Carter of Joggins Fossil Institute said: 40 per cent of our U.S. visitors travel here from the New England States, many travel via The Cat. Danny Morton, chair of TIANS said: This particular access point has long served as a key entry point into the province and still holds tremendous potential for growth. The U.S. market is still one of Nova Scotia's greatest opportunities for growing the visitor economy. One more: We will lose $20,000, which represents 60 per cent of our self-generated operating budget. That comes from David Darby, manager of the Nova Scotia Firefighters' Museum in Yarmouth. I could quote a whole bunch of stuff out of this document that was put together by the community, something that warrants the perusal of all members in the government benches.

Mr. Speaker, the final piece in this was an option and the option that was presented to the Premier and to the minister at that time was to provide Bay Ferries with a subsidy for 2010 and a rolled-out RFP for a new ferry service in late 2010, so it would be ready and operating for 2011.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on about the ACOA study that was actually brought forward but that one fell on deaf ears as well. So there are many job losses and we estimate, and the community estimates the job losses, not only the individuals from Bay Ferries, people like Ken Winters or Shawn Cummings, people like Steve - I forget the last name all of a sudden - but people like that who have been with Bay Ferries since its inception 13 years ago. They are losing their jobs and in their negotiations right now they're talking about severance. Well, 13 years of severance for two days, two days for every year of service right now is what they're being offered. That doesn't really cut it.

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Mr. Speaker, the community actually got together and said, listen, if we raise half the money, would you use that $3 million cancellation charge, would you use that towards keeping the ferry service intact for the 2010 season? I'll table that document as well from the Town of Yarmouth and a wonderful opportunity signed by the mayor, Phil Mooney; Leland Anthony, the Warden of Yarmouth; Aldric d'Entremont, the Warden of the District of Argyle; and Jean Melanson, the Warden for Clare. All those communities were willing to put their dollars where their mouth was. That was a question that the Premier asked at that meeting, are you willing to help subsidize this, and they did, and it fell on deaf ears.

Mr. Speaker, job losses in Yarmouth we now figure will be somewhere near the 500th person which is an absolute disgrace, that 500 people right now will have to be looking for new jobs or will have to go on the unemployment roles or, God forbid, on income assistance. I'll provide that economic impact, the job losses as well, with a whole bunch of great information to peruse on the Opposition benches.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, thankfully, someone talked about the future in southwest Nova Scotia. MP Greg Kerr announced Team Southwest to be established. The Atlantic Opportunities Agency will join forces with government and community partners to identify ways of combating economic challenges facing southwestern Nova Scotia. So through the auspices of ACOA, through the auspices of the federal government, they're saying, because you were abandoned by this government during the 2010 season, we will step up to see if there's a way to keep your community whole, keep your community whole during the season so that you can be ready for next season.

Mr. Speaker, I invite the Premier to come to Yarmouth to address individuals about this issue. But the way this Premier is acting, whether he is travelling through the world - when folks came to this House and protested on the front steps of this Legislature, where was the Premier? The Premier was flying around somewhere, not paying attention to this province, not paying attention to regular Nova Scotians. (Interruption) Yes, expanding his carbon footprint. So, Mr. Speaker, I think that that is a cowardly act, that he did not come and address people directly.

So all I can ask is, maybe answer some of the questions for our community. I will give up my time, this caucus will give up some of their time, so that the Premier can actually answer some of these questions, that maybe the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage can answer questions, and as a third place, maybe the Minister of Fisheries - the guy who lives in Shelburne, who can talk for southwest Nova Scotia - can answer for us.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that I get some answers. I hope Yarmouth gets some answers. I hope the people from Yarmouth County who are in the gallery today have the opportunity to hear from this government on why they made this very bad decision.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I should point out to the House that I am the Acting Minister of Economic and Rural Development, the Acting Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify and make sure that the facts are laid on the table. Of course I want people present here to know, and those watching at home on Legislative TV, that this is no time for political posturing. Let's look at this issue. Let's look at this issue, and let's realize the fact that we - (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, if I am going to be yelled at while I make these comments - I mean the point being in this House is, let's have a discussion. I have some points to bring up on behalf of the government and I plan to do that at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The floor is yours, Mr. Minister.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I rise today to discuss the government's decision to end the subsidies to Bay Ferry and The Cat service. I welcome the opportunity to address the members opposite, and I thank the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for bringing this issue forward in a debate. This is an important issue for all Nova Scotians, as has been said. The economic impact the loss of the ferry will have on communities in this province remains a concern for this province, for this caucus, and this Cabinet.

I would like to point out that there was a resolution introduced earlier by the Leader of the Official Opposition, and members should know that when resolutions are introduced I, along with the Government House Leader, am one of the people who carefully listen to them. During that resolution, it was read that this government recklessly made a decision to stop the subsidies to Bay Ferry. I want members opposite to know and I want the people in the gallery to understand that that was not a reckless decision. That was a decision that took a great deal of time, that was a decision that we in Cabinet took a great deal of worry and detail to look at before it was made. This is an opportunity to focus, however, on the future and what government is doing to work with stakeholders and business, the tourism sector, and other levels of government to create opportunities for growth and success.

The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, the Department of Economic and Rural Development, and the minister responsible have been involved. These issues have been brought to the Cabinet Table. In particular, I want to single out - and I know he will be speaking later - the good member for Shelburne who has been a vocal spokesman on this issue, and I thank him again for being a strong voice for southwestern Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Let me begin by saying, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotia has weathered the economic storm of the last year relatively well compared to other jurisdictions. In 2009, employment in Nova Scotia decreased by just .02 per cent compared to the national decrease of 1.6 per cent. In southwest Nova Scotia, we have seen great successes and it is always important to

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emphasize the glass is not empty - the glass is not half empty, the glass is half full. The people of southwestern Nova Scotia have shown leadership in the past, they've survived the difficulties of the fishery, and we are going to work with them as they continue to survive and progress.

I want you to see that we have seen great successes by companies like Tri-Star and A.F. Theriault. In business for more than 70 years, A.F. Theriault & Son has earned an international reputation for its craftsmanship and technology in boatbuilding in partnership with an Alberta firm. Mr. Speaker, this is an example of the great work and success that we are seeing in this area.

We also know that the entrepreneurship and collaboration are key strengths in southwest Nova Scotia, the resilience and energy that are demonstrated by the people in that region and, of course, across the province, indicate that we will continue to work to have a strong economy all across this province. For instance InNOVAcorp recently awarded Yarmouth-based Xona Games first place Zone Winner in its provincial I-3 competition. Two brothers, the Doucettes of Yarmouth, independently own this innovative company whose game Decimation X is the number one rated Xbox live in Japan. This is just one example of how the province is supporting and fostering innovations and entrepreneurship.

Another great moment recently for Yarmouth is the announcement of the re-establishment of the air service from Yarmouth to Portland. The Yarmouth International Airport Corporation led the way in developing this vital solution to keep Maine and Nova Scotia connected at such an important time.

Mr. Speaker, by focusing on our assets and diversifying our economy, we will continue to attract new jobs, newcomers and build a more sustainable future. It is through our partnerships and relationships that we are able to thrive and create a strong business climate. The Business Retention and Expansion Program, or BRE Program as it is called, has helped to build a stronger business climate in this province. This program helps drive growth and competitiveness in Nova Scotia's businesses. For example, Nolan D'Eon, owner of Eel Lake Oyster Farms, has demonstrated how a small company faces challenges to successfully convince restauranteurs to embrace his high-quality oysters. Through this program Mr. D'Eon was connected to new trade shows and marketing opportunities that have helped him form and grow strategic relationships with suppliers and partners.

In 2008, Taste of Nova Scotia presented the Prestige Award for quality-driven members to the D'Eons. Today he exports his product throughout Canada and is currently in talks with European distributors.

Now while the region has experienced some of these successes, this is not to diminish the loss The Cat will have on the people and businesses of Yarmouth and neighbouring communities. A balance is needed, it is important to recognize the talents of the particular

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people who live in that region of our province. Mr. Speaker, we know that the seeds of the future opportunity and success are found in the abilities of these folks.

Government's decision to not continue subsidizing the Yarmouth ferry was not an easy decision, it was not a reckless decision. Bay Ferries Yarmouth has been a valued and professional partner. Unfortunately, the ferry service has been hit by a fluctuating dollar, rising gas prices and a shift in the U.S. economy. To be more specific, a 40 per cent change in the value of the U.S. dollar since 2002 has seriously impacted ferry revenues that are in U.S. funds. Fuel prices have risen from 68 cents per litre in 2004 to $1.08 per litre, or in that range today, throughout the province. The cost for a family of four, with a vehicle, to travel on the CAT to Maine and back costs more than $1,070 U.S. Tightening U.S. security has meant changes in family travel plans and patterns.

Tourism is a tough business. Mr. Speaker, I don't speak with great authority on this issue but I want you to know that based upon the example of the family from P.E.I. that I was fortunate enough to marry into, tourism is a business that is, after all, of real consequence to all parts of this region but it is a tough business. Vehicle traffic on both the Bay Ferries, Yarmouth to U.S. and former Scotia Prince Cruises, has decreased by 72 per cent from 2000 to 2009, while the costs of operating have increased dramatically. In 2009, just over one per cent of visitors to the province used Yarmouth as their entry point. This equates to just over 26,000 people at an estimated cost of over 2 million visitors to Nova Scotia, all important facts that we have to be made aware of. (Interruption)

[12:00 noon]

I hear the members opposite saying these facts aren't true. I heard the honourable member for Argyle speak earlier, I didn't see the reliance on any particular specifics at that time. I'm bringing forth some numbers that the department has brought to my attention.

In the past four years, the company has had to rely heavily on government subsidies to keep its operation going. This includes over $21 million in subsidies from the Province of Nova Scotia in recent years. In my opinion and in the opinion of this Cabinet, this caucus, and this government, these subsidies have not helped to make Bay Ferries Yarmouth stronger in the face of growing challenges.

In fact, the company's need for government assistance was growing at a time when we were required to make tough decisions that will get Nova Scotia back to balance. Government is working hard to help southwestern Nova Scotia to spur economic activity. I want you to know that the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage I have met with over the last couple of days have clearly pointed out the fact they are being proactive as they continue to make southwestern Nova Scotia and destination southwest an important part of the tourism strategy in this province.

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Since 2007, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has invested almost $400,000 in developing and marketing projects on the Yarmouth and Acadian shores and it's working with stakeholders to identify strategic options for investment. That plan will help Yarmouth and surrounding municipalities build on their strength and seek strategic opportunities that enhance their appeal as visitors' destinations.

This province has a critical economic situation which we are forced to face. We're going to do that job. In the case of the Bay Ferries Yarmouth to U.S. services, it became clear to us that no amount of government support will make the company financially viable. During the discussions at Cabinet, not to completely blow Cabinet confidentiality, one of the first questions that I, of course, asked was, I would like to know where is the Government of Maine on this issue? Where is the Government of Maine? It was a question that we asked publicly, we discussed it many times. Where is the Government of Maine? We waited for a number of weeks before we heard back from Governor Baldacci who said, on behalf of the Government of Maine, they cannot help out. They cannot help out.

The question of federal government support has emerged several times since Bay Ferries Yarmouth announced it would no longer operate. I know that my friend from Shelburne is going to discuss this issue later. The MP for the area, Mr. Kerr, has met with our minister and Mr. Kerr is fully aware of the fact that we were always willing to work with him or Mr. Keddy at any time.

While there have been some recent discussions with the government, it has been made clear to us that no future investments regarding ferry services will be made until the transportation study was completed in the region. Funded by ACOA, this study is guided by a steering committee that involves local businesses and municipal officials from southwestern Nova Scotia together with the provincial departments that we have mentioned - Economic and Rural Development, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Tourism, Culture and Heritage. It also involves the federal Transport Department and representatives from the Government of New Brunswick.

When we see the results of the transportation study, we hope it will provide answers to key questions about infrastructure needs in the region and help shape potential solutions to the challenges faced there.

We're looking forward to working with the people in southwestern Nova Scotia to develop a plan for success. Our commitment is to work with the community of Yarmouth and the southwest region to explore opportunities, to drive economic development, to make southwestern Nova Scotia the wonderful place that it has been and will continue to be. This commitment was announced in yesterday's Speech from the Throne read by the Lieutenant Governor. In fact, a team has been established with federal and provincial partners to mobilize and discuss the issues and opportunities facing southwest Nova Scotia.

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Provincial Tourism, Culture and Heritage staff are a part of that team. They've met with officials and stakeholders in the Yarmouth area twice in the past month. They are optimistic, they're working hard together and they know that southwestern Nova Scotia is important to this government. Measures to spur tourism, marketing and development in the Yarmouth area are being put together in collaboration with representatives from the region.

As this team continues its work, we will see that the area's entrepreneurial spirit and its successes with partnerships will come together to lead the way to renewed opportunity. We want to work with local residents and businesses, we want to identify strategic initiatives to help strengthen the economy in southwest Nova Scotia, to increase employment opportunities and create a stronger, more sustainable community. Our government is committed to bringing the province back to balance. In some cases this will require difficult decisions, tough decisions, but at the same time we recognize the vital importance of good jobs and growing the economy. This government has not forgotten southwestern Nova Scotia. You are represented in Cabinet and you have a bright future ahead with this government.

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on this major issue. Not only in southwestern Nova Scotia - many of the resolutions and the conversations that have happened here today have been talking about southwestern Nova Scotia, but this issue really affects the entire economy of our province. Whether you're a tourism operator in Cape Breton or whether you're one in Yarmouth, this ferry, this link, this vital international link affects your business.

One of the interesting things is that when this government came to power, Nova Scotians were looking for something different, and I believe that - I believe they took them at their word. Well, this decision was very much old-style politics, Mr. Speaker. The community, some of whom are here today - some of the municipal leaders who are here, the business community, the regional development authority - kind of came together long before you came to power, and recognized there was a transportation issue. Those municipalities said, we need to become masters of our own fate. We need to determine a plan, put together a direction on how we're going to deal not only with the ferry service in Yarmouth but the fact that Highway No. 103 and Highway No. 101 are not completed yet, to deal with the issue of the Digby ferry, the air service out of Yarmouth - a whole host of transportation issues.

They were building a strategy, and all of a sudden - and that strategy would have been released, Mr. Speaker, will be released this Spring. I expect government will probably see it soon. The federal government was part of supporting that. I'm not sure whether the provincial government had put some funding in there, but I believe so. It was an important first step. It was really a recognition by the men and women on the ground, who were being affected by the fact that there was a decline in numbers in tourism, that there was a problem,

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and how are we going to develop a way to get people in and out and goods and services in and out of our community. All of a sudden on December 18th, this government made a decision to really cut the legs out from underneath those organizations and municipalities without any forethought and conversation with them.

Mr. Speaker, it is lost on the community why they wouldn't have embraced the initiative that was shown by those municipalities and those business operators and communities and said, finally, a group of people who want a partner. A group of people who have not said, just send us the money, just keep throwing money at it - we know there's a problem and we want to try to find a solution. Why didn't they go talk to the federal government for money? The federal government has a responsibility to this link. This is not just the responsibility of the Nova Scotia Government or the municipalities in southwestern Nova Scotia. The federal government has a responsibility to keep this transportation link alive and well.

I don't think you would find one single person in southwestern Nova Scotia who believes The Cat is the right vessel. I don't believe you'll find one. I know you won't find - I can speak for myself, and I don't believe it's the right vessel, but what I do believe is that what was being asked for by the community was an investment of $3 million from your government to allow them to reach the next phase of moving this decision forward, to see what the transportation study showed.

There are some real challenges, Mr. Speaker. There's a $3 million penalty clause in that contract. We are paying Bay Ferries $3 million to leave its vessel at the dock. I'm not sure why that wasn't brought out sooner than it was. It's pretty obvious they didn't read the contract, but there are also members of the former Cabinet who knew that and delayed discussing that. Unfortunately, the municipal leaders who came to this city in early December didn't have all the facts because they were the ones who didn't get an opportunity to read the contract. Your Cabinet did and the previous Cabinet did. So they came here with not all the facts to make a decision to be able to go forward, but now that we know that we're paying Bay Ferries $3 million to stay at the dock, the municipal leaders took leadership and discovered another $3 million to help move this project forward and we still said no.

We know in southwestern Nova Scotia that we don't believe The Cat is the vessel. Once we break that link, once we sever the ties with the tourism operators in the United States, once people start having different migration patterns, how are the communities in southwestern Nova Scotia supposed to believe that they can reconnect in the years ahead and begin to rebuild this vital link? They were looking for a partner, someone who was willing to work with them.

Mr. Speaker, one of the real issues that is not being discussed in this whole debate - we're focusing on The Cat - but there's another real issue and that is that Bay Ferries has a 15-year lease on the dock and it is a real problem. There is no operator in their right mind

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that would bring a vessel into Yarmouth with the realization that Bay Ferries is going to own the dock and Bay Ferries is going to be the one to tell them what they're going to pay to tie up to that dock.

What we needed was time; what we needed in southwestern Nova Scotia was time. The people of southwestern Nova Scotia, the people of Yarmouth, the people of Argyle, the people of Clare, the people of Annapolis, Digby-Annapolis, the people of Kings West, the people of this province were looking for time. They knew the challenges, they knew they had to return the lease of that dock back to public hands, not to the private interest.

What has happened when the private interest gained control of that dock? One ferry left town, which meant the only vessel left was The Cat, and they left for the reason that the charges being levied on them were too costly. Their competitor controlled how much they were paying to pull their vessel up to the dock. We need to deal with that issue and we needed time and we need time.

The community is working with the federal government to try to find a way to either bring that dock into the hands of private interests or to be able to remove that lease so that we can engage serious business people from around the world and in our communities, who want to bring a vessel into Yarmouth to reconnect that link with the kind of vessel that is required to allow us to move forward.

It is not an easy issue but in order for us to be able to do that, we needed time. As the honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spoke about the amount of investment that is put into Bay Ferries and into this service, there is no question we knew and we know things have to change. Your government and no government should just write cheques to be able to keep a service in place when you know there's a problem, but the community wasn't asking for you to write cheques for now, for eternity. What they were asking was for you to write a smaller cheque than the government has been writing. They were asking for you to work with them, to be able to help us to move forward.

We subsidize a whole host of things. We subsidized the pork industry because we believed it was important. We subsidize the beef industry because we believe it is important. It is. Why wouldn't we subsidize this vital link for one more year, to allow the community to have an opportunity to provide a long-term, sustainable solution to this problem?

Those are the kinds of questions that the people of southwestern Nova Scotia are looking to have answered. They just wanted more time to be able to ride a viable solution to this challenge.

I know that you have tough financial issues in front of you, but I'm going to tell you, if you ask the people of southwestern Nova Scotia would they rather have $3 million for one more year for Bay Ferries or $40 million to Irving to buy land, they would have suggested that you pay $35 million in the land and keep the ferry service alive for one more year.

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(Applause) The other piece of this puzzle that's not being debated and talked about enough, in my view, is there are 189 direct jobs. These are families in southwestern Nova Scotia who on December 18th got the news that their jobs were finished. No warning, no direction, and no hope going forward.

[12:15 p.m.]

Government has at its disposal a whole host of departments and organizations that would be able to help these families in what would be described as a crisis for them. We described this as a crisis to the economy of Nova Scotia and southwestern Nova Scotia and, indeed, it will have a major impact. But for those 189 families, many of whom have worked for Bay Ferries for a very long time, it is a personal crisis. Their lifestyle, the way they live from year to year, was built around their employment at Bay Ferries and with no warning their jobs were finished.

I would ask the government, what have you done to reach out to ensure those families that you understand the challenges that are in front of them and that you are making available every possible tool of your government for future employment, around retraining, around providing them opportunities to be able to create a business in their community, to find new skills, to help them chart a course going forward? Or are we saying to them, the only option for them is to take the next car out of town - because they can't get the boat and the plane only runs periodically - to take the next car out of town to find jobs elsewhere?

I don't believe that's the message your government wants to send, I don't believe that's the message that we want to send from this House. If you truly believe the decision that you made around the financial deal with Bay Ferries, well I think you're wrong, I think you're wrong, wrong, wrong, I think you had a golden opportunity to show leadership, to develop a partnership with the community, to be able to build on something, to be able to challenge other communities across this province - don't just come to government looking for money, come to government with a solution. That's what southwestern Nova Scotians are in the process of doing and you said, no thanks, you cut them loose.

But if you believe that was the right thing to do, at the very least, you should be reaching out to those men and women who lost their jobs and saying to them, we understand the pain that you're feeling. We understand the difficulty that you're facing and here are the options that we have discovered at the disposal of your government. The government that cut your jobs is now in town to be able to provide you with new skills to move forward, to provide you with new educational opportunities, the hope of a new job or the opportunity to create their own employment in their community. That's the only fair thing to do. That's the only compassionate thing to do if you believe in the decision you have made.

Mr. Speaker, I want to finish up by expressing my great appreciation to the municipal leaders in southwestern Nova Scotia and to the business operators there who are being devastated by the fear of what this tourism season is going to bring. The tremendous

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leadership that they showed, I think should be applauded and should be replicated across our province. Everyone knows you guys have difficult challenges, everyone knows the challenges you're faced with financially. This community, this region understood that. They were charting a course, they were building a plan to come to you with a sustainable, long-term, viable transportation program and before they could get there, you cut the feet out from underneath them. You need to ask yourself, why would any other region or organization show the leadership that southwestern Nova Scotia did, if you're not willing to listen and partner? It is only fair that you show the people of this province the respect they deserve.

When the people of this province are asking demands that are too great, you have a right and responsibility to say no, but when the people of this province and the people of southwestern Nova Scotia are asking for your support and your partnership to build a long-term, viable solution, you have a responsibility, you have a moral responsibility to reach out, shake their hands and say we want to partner to find a long-term, sustainable transportation system for that part of our province.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to join in this debate. I hope someone in this government reaches out to southwestern Nova Scotia with a handshake and says we're prepared to help move forward. (Applause)

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm very pleased to rise in the House today for this emergency debate that took a long time coming because the government couldn't find the courage or the fortitude to address the people of southwestern Nova Scotia and thankfully, the government decided to come back to this Chamber where we can now address this issue fully.

Mr. Speaker, a tough issue like this and with the short timing, I want to do an introduction, if I can, of some people in the west gallery who have joined us here today.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. CLARKE: As you know, we have with us with us Ken Winters and Shawn Cummings of Bay Ferries. We're very pleased as well to have the Warden of Argyle, Aldric d'Entremont with us, who has been a steadfast supporter of southwest Nova Scotia. I know we have the Rodneys from Yarmouth who were the Best Western operators. Indeed, I ask all members of the House to welcome them here today on such short notice. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I heard some of the drivel coming forward on the floor of the House from the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, as the Acting Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, as the Acting Minister of Economic and Rural Development and in terms of dealing with this. So I can tell you I do believe the Rodneys are here and

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they've just closed down Captain Kelley's Restaurant as a result of the impact that is being felt in the community and what is happening. So for them to get up and say that there's no impact, for them to get up with their self-righteousness and indignation and say we had to do a business case, well they never thought through the real business case. When they say that they had genuine leadership for today's working families, they've just thrown 500 working families to the curb.

That is what the NDP are all about. And not only from one end of Nova Scotia, from Yarmouth, it affects all the way to Cape Breton. In fact, Mr. Speaker, when you look at the impact on the tourism sector in this province, for them to say this doesn't matter, the percentages of erroneous numbers that were presented, they are not what the community presented, they are not what people know to be the fact, it is not what the operators throughout this province know to be the beneficial economic impact of the service that is there. They just walked away from all that.

Quite frankly, the minister talked about there being a shift. Indeed, there has been a shift by this government, there has been a shift away from common sense to nonsense and it is being led by the Premier of this province. He should be ashamed of what he is doing to the people of southwestern Nova Scotia and all across Nova Scotia. So no platitudes today are going to work.

They had an opportunity to provide the support that is necessary. They had an opportunity to be genuine. Why should we be surprised by this, Mr. Speaker? We saw what the Minister of Justice and the Cabinet were prepared to do to the people of Cumberland County, and tear away opportunities, see communities that invested in an opportunity and turn their backs on them. We've seen that. The Attorney General knows what he has done to working families in Cumberland County and people of that area. We've seen the impact of this government and the negative impact of a socialist government.

Chairman Dexter can put on a smile all he wants but he won't go down and see the people in southwestern Nova Scotia. He can sit in the gallery and talk to a couple of folks; that's great courage. He doesn't have the courage to go and face the people. Mr. Speaker, I know he doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to call a by-election. He can use any excuse he wants but they can't go to the people because they know the people have the ultimate voice in a democracy, the people will vote with their voice. I'll tell you, the NDP never need to worry about putting a candidate on a ballot anytime soon in southwest Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Nova Scotia himself, the Premier in talking about, I heard the minister say well the investment is not there, the appropriateness, you know, we had to look at the numbers, we had to look at the feasibility. We agree with the Leader of the Liberal Party - the community understood that The Cat was not the appropriate vessel. That's why the Government of Canada invested $1 million into the transportation strategy for southwest Nova Scotia, recognizing that indeed there had to be a long-term strategy and plan, but in the short term there had to be a need to continue with jobs.

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For them to say, oh, it's not a big deal - well, I can tell you I'm speaking as a member from Cape Breton in this House, and I hope that the members of government who are from Cape Breton will also support the tourism sector - 40 per cent of the Cape Breton resorts traffic came through The Cat service through Yarmouth. That is a reality. Operators in Cape Breton are being negatively affected, just like the Rodneys are, all around them. They know from their colleagues, they know from the citizens in the community who are being negatively affected by this. Then they say, oh, we didn't know there was a $3 million clause.

Well, I know the former member for there had pointed that out, had told them that at meetings, but what's interesting, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal knew. The whole Cabinet, including the Premier, said they thought this through - but they didn't even read the agreement to begin with, because they would have known it was in there, in black ink on white paper, telling them what the cost was if you moved out. Then they say, well, that's off $3 million. Well, now you know why that clause was there - the fear of the likes of the NDP coming and wreaking economic havoc on working families around this province. That's the reality of what they've done.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia is quoted - and I will table this from The Halifax ChronicleHerald - about convention centres. He says, "Convention centres, they don't carry themselves in any jurisdiction, so far as I know. The question is one of economic benefit that comes from having them." Well, let's talk about convention centres, but then again, that's an issue because apparently he is going to abandon the people of Halifax the same way as he abandoned the people of Cumberland County, abandoning the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. I'll table that.

The Premier has one case to try to make a model. If he applied that same principle to the ferry service for Yarmouth in southwest Nova Scotia, indeed, there would be a case because it's what that service brings to the wider economy of this province. The community down there knew that things had to move forward. The community understood the challenges before the government, and indeed that we had to make some changes.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that for this lot who would claim to be the voice of the people, well, all they have done - and I'm glad the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spoke, because maybe you can erect a new sign down there, minister, because the new sign is going to be: Closed due to the lack of interest by the NDP. You put the locks on opportunity instead of recognizing the $6 million as a bridge opportunity to the future.

I can speak on the tourism operators of Cape Breton who recognized the fact that the government sunk the ferry and they sunk the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, they hurt tourism opportunities around the province because while they'll now say, well, we'll work toward the future, we'll look at that, the reality is by discontinuing the service for an

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operating season, the costs of renewing that, doing the marketing and trying to get the people back in that area, are lost.

Even when the community stepped up to the plate, the municipalities to their credit showed the leadership of being willing to put an investment in of what they could afford - which is far less than what this government did, with all of the deficit-Darrell spending that he has had in this last little while. They can deficit spend on land, but they won't spend on people and invest in people, and that's the very core of what this is all about, because it's people who are negatively affected by the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia, by the NDP Government, by socialists who talk one thing out in their statements and do another.

We've heard in the Speech from the Throne yesterday - egalitarian - I heard in the response from the member for Lunenburg West, we're egalitarian, you know. Well, if you were thinking about the people, you would make the right investments in the people of the area, which they have refused to do. It's despicable that they would do it, Mr. Speaker, but they were prepared, and I'm glad to see the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, it looks like he's getting ready to speak next, and I know he'll take accolades for bringing some shipbuilding jobs - $8.7 million for Irving Shipbuilding, and great for that opportunity - $6 million of it forgivable for 50 jobs, and $6 million that they were prepared to walk away from for over 500 jobs and the economic integrity of the tourism sector of this province.

I say to that minister, as a member from that area, as a regional minister, how can you go to the people of your area, how can you represent the issues of the people of your area when you're prepared to come to Halifax, sit at a Cabinet Table, and write them all off and set them adrift?

[12:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't know it was an issue.

MR. CLARKE: He claimed it wasn't an issue. The Minister of Economic and Rural Development said, I didn't realize the impact of this. He's the Minister of Tourism, Culture & Heritage at the same time. Who is telling who what, in this NDP socialist regime that's led by the deficit Darrell of the province. Chairman Dexter can say whatever he wants, but he's not representing the real interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, we had to call an emergency debate because they would not go to the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. Thankfully, some of the people from southwestern Nova Scotia came to this House like they did in February and came outside of this building and again, how many members of the government were there to address the hundreds who rallied here? None, they couldn't do it. Where was the Premier? Well, I'm going to tell the Premier that it's supposed to be a Nova Scotia-first, not an executive-first policy.

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I heard about all the things that they want to do, the Caribbean, they want to go over to Vietnam and all of these places, but we just found out, through the Speech from the Throne, the government's travel plans for the next several months, because that's exactly what they're doing. They're going out and trying to put these platitudes to say that they're doing things to grow the economy of Nova Scotia and at the same time, they've sunk the economy of southwest Nova Scotia. That is a disgrace and they should be ashamed of that for what they've done to the people there.

AN HON. MEMBER: By-election, they'll have to show up.

MR. CLARKE: In a by-election they actually might show up, they might try to show up and put a few million in like they've done in Antigonish in the throes of a campaign to try to make things look good.

AN HON. MEMBER: Put a library in.

MR. CLARKE: Well, maybe it's a library, but it isn't about the jobs that are there, that should be there that they abandoned. There's nothing they can say in the Speech from the Throne because it all rings hollow in these halls today. It rings hollow because they don't have the depth, capacity or the ability to represent the real issues of working women and men in this province who care for their families.

I know the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, when he was in Opposition, wouldn't have had a scripted speech. If 500 people from his area were thrown to the curb, he'd have something else to say in this Chamber and every one of us know that, he knows that. He knows that what they've done is fundamentally wrong and it is wrong because what has happened is the Premier, the NDP Cabinet and the NDP caucus have betrayed the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. They have not done what they should do and what they say in all of their pamphlets. They say that they will do all of these things. I know there is a very disturbing trend and part of the disturbing trend is the attack on rural Nova Scotia by this metro-led Cabinet of the NDP Government. The attack on rural Nova Scotia is disturbing to say the least.

The member for the region, the regional minister, will not stand up for and with the people from the region, thus the reason for us to have an emergency debate in this Chamber today. Because he's failed the people, it does not mean the Progressive Conservative Government who were happy to invest - $18 million has been invested since 1997 in that service. When you look at a $175 million return and then you tell me that the economics aren't there, when you look at the families who have benefitted and the tourism operators who have benefitted, the international travellers who have benefitted from the Nova Scotia experience, and we look at this, then the business case isn't there.

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I know the next thing - and I'm glad today they were willing to take a chance and say that they support the rail service in Cape Breton. I can tell you, if that's another attack in this province there will be many demonstrations, there will be lots of emergency debates going on. This government is now in session, we should be here as long as we have to be and we'll do everything we have to for the people of Nova Scotia.

While the Attorney General dismisses the people and doesn't take seriously anything with his foolish gestures over there, Mr. Speaker, the people of southwestern Nova Scotia care. The people of Cumberland County and Springhill know the Attorney General has written them off, he doesn't believe in them, he doesn't believe in the professional work they do, he doesn't believe in the communities.

The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations doesn't want to meet with municipal councils that actually have invested. Just like the municipal councils have in Yarmouth County, which were prepared to invest in their community. The community of Springhill was investing in that new correctional centre, they put over $1 million for the planning of that and everything else. Do you know what? I want to see when the legal case is brought forward in terms of this government breaking the trust and the fundamental trust that was given to them to form a government.

In their platform document they said lots of things and I'll tell you, they've got a broken record on broken promises and they're breaking the backs of working families around this province. That is the reality of what's going on.

I would hope that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture will stand and say what he is going to do. Has he spoken up? He hasn't said a word for or about the working families of southwestern Nova Scotia in Yarmouth County. He hasn't spoken about the businesses in there. I can tell you, I know what it's like to have been a regional minister and I would never turn my back, like you have minister, on the people of my region when it comes to the economic integrity of that region and the needs of that region.

Recognizing in Cape Breton the investment in the railway was about a bridge to the future and the commercialization of the port, the port of North Sydney, which has Marine Atlantic, the business case will never be there to have that operate without government support. The people of southwest Nova Scotia have a vital link through the ferry service there and the economic spin off from that is huge - far greater than anything else there.

Mr. Speaker, I hope this debate is not too late for this government to start getting common sense and get away from the nonsense they've been inflicting on the people of this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

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HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker and honourable members. I'm very pleased to be included in this particular debate today on this particular decision. As I listened to the debate here over the last few minutes, I was reflecting upon my previous career. I spent a number of years, decades, on the water and I know sometimes we had difficult decisions to make. You always want to be reassured that you have the right captain, that you're going to make the right decisions in difficult times and I can assure the members opposite and the residents of Nova Scotia that we have the right Leader and our Leader is going to make the right decisions for Nova Scotia. (Applause)

I listened with great interest and I know that everybody in this House, we are privileged here that we have an opportunity to present our opinions. We're entitled to hear the facts. I want to just lay out some of the investments that we have done - this government - in the last nine months for Nova Scotia and in particular southwest Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order please. Previous members were given the respect of the House. I would ask you give the same respect to the minister.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you. I'm talking about sustainable jobs and I want to lay out a couple of scenarios here in the next three minutes. I want to start with Yarmouth, particularly the Tusket area. This government has invested in J. H. Fisheries, which is a salt fish processing company. There are a number of jobs and I want to point out this particular company has been taking waste products, fish waste, and utilizing it, creating a product and also bringing in 60 per cent of that product from the local area, including the transportation of outside provinces, New England and other provinces, 40 per cent of that product is being transported to southwest Nova Scotia.

I also want to point out, some of the members opposite talked about the Shelburne Shipyards. Shelburne Shipyards was an investment by this government in the last few months. That facility has been there since World War II. This particular government invested in those jobs, between 50 and 70 of good, high-paying, skilled jobs that the members opposite - both Parties - had an opportunity to invest in over a number of years and they failed. They failed the people of southwest Nova Scotia, they failed the people of Nova Scotia, to invest in good jobs. One of the best harbours around the world is in Shelburne.

Also, in my community, Bayside Homes, that is being built as we speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who started it?

MR. BELLIVEAU: I can tell you who didn't start it. (Interruption)

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. The member opposite knows full well that it was our government and this minister that got

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Bayside started. If he wants to finish it, that is fine. If this minister wants to finish it, that is fine. But this minister, when I was a minister (Interruptions) Because he's lying to people.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, that language is not acceptable here in this House. You know that, I know that, all the members of this House know that.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I'll retract that but the member opposite knows full well that it was our government that started Bayside, even with all the things. So, Mr. Speaker, that's my privilege to stand here and say that and if he wants to retract that, I'd accept that apology as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member. The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Again I look forward to debate and I know that some of the members opposite, there is some sensitivity around the wording here but I also want to bring you back to Bayside Home. One of my very first speaking engagements in this House when I tabled the tenders and the blueprints for Bayside Home. The members opposite, both Parties, had 30 years, over 30 years to deal with that and they failed. I want to assure you there was highlighted that people in southwest Nova Scotia maybe wouldn't be interested in having an NDP member on that ballot. The three scenarios I just pointed out earlier, I can assure you that they are very pleased that an NDP member is on that ballot.

Mr. Speaker, one of these things I want to talk about here in the next few minutes is the member for Argyle in the most recent newspaper article of Sunday, March 21, 2010, and I quote the member for Argyle, "'We wanted to find out how much work . . . the provincial NDP government (has) actually done with Ottawa. Have they taken the effort to meet with federal MPs, federal ministers and what we're finding, overall, is that they haven't. There has been no contact with this federal government,' he said, other than a meeting between the premier and prime minister a few weeks ago."

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out clearly that the people in this House are entitled to their opinion but they are not entitled to their facts. The facts are, this particular government has talked with Maine, the U.S. Government, the federal government, and they did not want to come to this table and not one penny was forthcoming from those two governments.

I also want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that I have met with the mayors and wardens of the tri-county.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, respect was given to each member when they got up to speak to present their arguments, their facts, their information, and I would ask that we give the same respect to the member who is presently speaking.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries has the floor.

[Page 89]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Again I want to talk about the decision about The Cat and this particular decision and the members opposite talked about that all trade is going to be broken off from Nova Scotia and particularly southwest Nova Scotia.

I also want to point out, Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of being in Boston just a few weeks ago and I want to tell you that the trade is not broken off from southwest Nova Scotia or Nova Scotia. The trade is at one of the highest levels that we've seen in recent years. It is very interesting to note that a lot of the members here fail to mention that The Cat did not include any commercial traffic from our fishing industry or our forestry or other primary resources. That is an integral part of any ferry system and The Cat did not deliver that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. Again, if a member has a question they want to address to the Chair, I'd appreciate it that way, not directly to the minister.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I just want to point out that I met several times with the mayors and wardens for the tri-counties. I also met with them early, within 72 hours of this decision being made, at my constituency office and, probably more importantly, I just want to point out for the record that I had a phone call discussion. Mayor Mooney, the Mayor of Yarmouth, talked to me on Christmas Day. My job, I accept that but I just want to highlight that.

There's an interesting side note, Mr. Speaker, that the members opposite talked about why we may have not met with them. I clearly showed that we had met a number of times and my fellow colleagues have done the same. The member for Argyle has failed to mention that they met with the Premier, with a delegation from the tri-counties, the mayors and wardens, and that the member for Argyle walked out of that meeting.

[12:45 p.m.]

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I know that we will be having some difficult decisions in the next short term and I will not walk away from those particular meetings. That's what the member from southwestern Nova Scotia is going to do. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I met with the different mayors and wardens from the tri-counties and it talked about having the next step, about moving forward with a strategy to attracting tourism to southwestern Nova Scotia. I raised the question, that Sylvia Tyson is coming to Lockeport this summer and I raised that to make a point: that is, we're out there promoting tourism and bringing people to our communities. How many people knew that that particular singer was coming to southwestern Nova Scotia? To me, it's something that we can do with

[Page 90]

our advertisement and promoting our area and these are some of the strategies that we need to do to move forward. We need to sit down with our communities (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. Again, I am going to remind members to give the speaker respect as you were given respect.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My honourable colleagues have made reference that we have met several times with the community; I continue to have an open-door policy, whether it's Christmas Day, or the weekend or whatever. I believe that we have to come down with a strategy of making the right decisions for Nova Scotians, attracting people to our community. The member for Argyle is very aware that we have the Wedgeport Tuna Festival promotion, ideas like that, the Lockeport Shark Scramble, these are all opportunities that we can bring people to our community.

We also have a transportation study and I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that there is going to be a commercial component to a ferry system; not to have The Cat, and to quote the member from the Liberal Party saying that not one person thinks that The Cat is the right decision, and when you continue - the previous government has pumped in over $21 million in the last four years and the members opposite suggest that it is not the right decision.

I just want to close on this, Mr. Speaker, if I am going to be in some turbulence or rough settings, I want the person at the helm who is going to make the right decisions for the welfare of all Nova Scotians. I spent a lifetime on the ocean and I can assure you that I have that same confidence in our Leader that I have when I am facing that situation at sea. We have to make the right decisions and they are not easy. They are simply not easy, but to listen to the member opposite and say, no, that The Cat is not the right one for that area. So it comes back to making the right decisions.

I will assure you that we're with that (Applause) Mr. Speaker, I can assure you and I can assure the members opposite that we are with that community, we want to move forward, we want to address how we can attract tourism to southwestern Nova Scotia and all of Nova Scotia. We have been the leaders before, we are trading in our commercial products and will continue to do so and it was very evident when we were in Boston this week that the trade, the commercial component of our trade, is very alive and well. What we're dealing with here is a decision that was made three or four years ago that the members opposite did not have the backbone to do. (Applause) I can tell you that the members (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I will just close on this. I can tell you that the members for southwestern Nova Scotia, whether it is dealing with H.S. Fisheries, Shelburne Shipyards or Bayside Home, that they feel the confidence that the right decision is going to be made, the right person is at the helm and we are going to do this for Nova Scotians and we're going to make the right decision for tourism. Thank you very much. (Applause)

[Page 91]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, minister.

The honourable member for Clare.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to rise and say a few words in this emergency debate on The Cat ferry out of Yarmouth. Before I begin, I want to acknowledge our special guests in the gallery who have travelled from southwestern Nova Scotia to be with us today. So again, to all our visitors, thank you for coming and certainly welcome to our House of Assembly.

Let me begin, Mr. Speaker. Just before this past Christmas, this new NDP Government - these guys over there - on December 15th announced to Bay Ferries that they would no longer continue to subsidize the ferry service out of Yarmouth to Maine for the upcoming tourist season.

You can imagine that this announcement was devastating. It was devastating news to the people working on the ferry and to their families.

This decision by this new NDP Government on December 15th certainly has created a lot of stir, a lot of talk, has raised a lot of questions, has brought a lot of shock and a lot of anger in Yarmouth, in southwestern Nova Scotia, around Nova Scotia, and outside Nova Scotia. Yet there are still people out there who believe there is going to be a ferry running out of Yarmouth this summer - usually the ferry starts in late May.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, since December 15th many people have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out why this new NDP Government decided to make this terrible announcement a few days before Christmas. Many questions have been raised on who the government consulted with before making this decision.

Now why the government forgot, I presume, to consult with the tourism industry, why the government failed to consult with the Yarmouth Town Council or with the other municipalities in the southwestern region, why the government failed to consult with the local regional development authority, why the government didn't consult with the federal government, why the government forgot, I guess, to consult with anyone in our area or yet, why the government basically just did not consult with any stakeholders, is certainly beyond my knowledge.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, before going ahead and making this announcement, many people have been asking, was it well thought out? Was it well researched by the government? I'll come back to the fallouts about this decision in a minute.

[Page 92]

Back in January 2009, in a press release, it was announced by the government of the day, and I will quote, "A joint federal-provincial study will examine the transportation needs in southwest Nova Scotia to determine long-term decisions about the Yarmouth to Maine service. The federal government has committed $1 million for the study."

So again, another question is raised. Why did the province not wait for this joint federal-provincial transportation study to be released before deciding not to continue to subsidize the Yarmouth ferry? I understand, Mr. Speaker, back in December, just before Christmas, a draft copy of this report was available back then, so I'm trying to understand why the draft report was available back then and still today that study has yet to be released. So, again, when people have been asking why the delay, I don't know why the delay. I know we have raised this again and I'm sure in the coming days and weeks we'll probably have an opportunity to question people on the front benches on why there has still not been a report being released.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the government, as I understand, decided to invest around $250,000 in this study. So the federal government invested about $1 million in this study, the province invested $250,000 in this study, but yet they didn't wait a few months for this report before making a final decision on the future of the Yarmouth ferry. It is very difficult to understand why the province failed to wait until they had a copy - or maybe they do, I don't know - but yet back on December 15th, why they went ahead and told Bay Ferries and then a few days later they made a formal announcement.

So, again, why did the government not wait to see a copy of this report before making this final decision? Maybe the government was not interested in seeing the results of this report. I can only jump to a conclusion. Maybe they know, maybe somebody knows. I'm sure many people would love to hear why the government decided to jump ahead, make this decision before seeing a copy of this report.

Now, let's go back. Back in December when the government announced it would no longer continue to subsidize the ferry service out of Yarmouth, Bay Ferries announced right then that about 120 jobs would be lost. Phil Mooney, the mayor of Yarmouth, has said it very well, that The Cat ferry is an economic generator that this community can't afford to lose and he certainly had it nailed right down to the nitty-gritty. The Cat ferry is an economic generator that the whole community of southwestern Nova Scotia can't afford to lose, let alone the rest of our province.

The tourism industry, there's no doubt, will be severely taking a major hit, not just in southwestern Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, but right throughout our province. Mayor Mooney indicated that he had learned that the Rodd Colony Inn, the Rodd Grand, had lost 1,000 rooms in cancellations and also the hotels would be cutting about 85 jobs. Many tourism operators, hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfast operators, restaurant owners, other businesses, will certainly be severely affected as well.

[Page 93]

Mayor Mooney indicated that many jobs will be lost, in total 500 jobs in the Yarmouth area would be lost. Staffing at the Yarmouth Customs Office, which currently has 19 positions, there's no doubt, they will be affected as well. Staffing at the Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre in Yarmouth, just when you get off the ferry, the information centre is there to welcome visitors to our province, there's no doubt that staff of the Visitor Information Centre in Yarmouth will be affected as well.

Some businesses will most likely close and we've heard of one, and probably more in the very new future, but we have to also remember when businesses close, there's no doubt that this will have an impact on banks, on credit unions, on financial institutions. I know in speaking with the manager of the credit union in Clare, he has told me that they have a number of accounts that basically will depend on whether there is a ferry or no ferry.

[1:00 p.m.]

So, again, when businesses close, certainly it also has a direct impact on the tax base of the town and this will certainly bring other concerns to the town council to address.

Having no ferry in Yarmouth will mean less people coming to Yarmouth and less people coming to Nova Scotia to visit us. With less people, there's no doubt there will be less money spent in Yarmouth and in our province. The ripple effect is far reaching and I'm sure it will result in more job losses.

Everyone knows the Town of Yarmouth will not be alone taking the hit from having no ferry running this year. Many communities throughout Nova Scotia will also be hit. Many of the tourists and buses getting off the ferry in Yarmouth would travel to other parts of our province. I was told recently by our parish at home in Church Point, that has benefited from some of the bus tours coming off the ferry for many years, last year over 10,000 visitors toured our church which certainly generated much needed additional revenue for our parish council to use to run our church. Furthermore, it helped us hire four summer students.

Well, this coming summer I'm told the committee is looking at hiring only two summer students. They're actually considering not offering a guided tour of our church any longer. So when I look at the number of visitors coming through our church this year because there's no ferry running out of Yarmouth, the numbers will no doubt drop. As far as the revenue the parish council had to work with last year and the previous year, again, probably less money coming in so our parish council will be faced with making some real tough decisions.

[Page 94]

This is a direct spinoff from the ferry service out of Yarmouth. When I'm talking to our parish council at home, if we had a chance to reach out to all parts of our province and hear some of these stories, I'm sure the list would be extremely long. When I hear we're looking at probably losing 500 jobs - the final numbers aren't in - I'm sure this will have a ripple effect throughout our province resulting in many job losses.

When you start adding up, what we know now - 500 jobs lost, probably more to come, the number of businesses that have closed and the number of businesses that will be affected - it makes you wonder. It makes you wonder if this new NDP Government made the right decision on December 15th.

Obviously, there are many people in our province who don't agree with this government decision, yet we have a decision in front of us and we have to - what choices do we have? Many, many people have tried to convince the government to retract that decision, to sit down with the people involved, the stakeholders. It's not too late, but here we are, late March, with a ferry that was supposed to start late May. There's no possible way that can happen.

You really have to question in terms of what exactly happened here. I know my time is winding down, but I want to leave with this. This has been brought to me time and time again. I'm sure you've heard the government announcing millions, millions to support various projects in the last few months. Certainly after the government made this announcement back on December 15th, they've announced millions to support projects. They were good projects. Yet, you have to wonder, when the government said that we have to live within our means, again that raises a question. Does that mean that all parts of our province have to live within our means or is that only applied to certain areas of our province? I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, right now the people of southwestern Nova Scotia, there's no question in their minds - we have to live within our means, only applies to our people.

Again, Mr. Speaker, there have been many questions raised that I am sure in the weeks coming forward we'll have an opportunity to bring a number of these questions to the attention of the Premier and to various ministers. So with that, I will take my seat. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a pleasure to rise today and have a few minutes to speak on this very important issue. Again, this isn't an issue that is just about one area of this province, this issue affects everyone in this province and beyond. The economics of this are phenomenal and again, this wasn't thought out. We heard the other side talk today, the government, speak about how this was the right decision, how there was leadership shown. I don't see any leadership being shown in this whatsoever.

[Page 95]

I'm quite confused by that. We're missing leadership all together. We're forgetting about the people in this province. We're supposed to be leading, showing leadership for the people in this province. It's the people who we are supposed to be working for in this place, it's the people we're supposed to be caring about and making the right decisions, not only for today but for the future of the people - our children, our grandchildren and the children beyond, who will make this province.

The member yesterday spoke about, we're only passing through here. How true that is. We want those people to stay in this province, we want those people to be in Yarmouth, we want them to be in Halifax, we want them to be in Cape Breton, Springhill. We want them to be in every part of this province, we want it to grow. We're not growing anything, we're not growing a thing, we're taking it away.

We talk about people in this province - yesterday's Throne Speech, it was interesting. I note there's initiatives here about targeting an issue for older workers. Well that's great because pretty soon that's all you are going to have left in this province. You won't have to worry about any initiatives for other people in this province because all the young folks coming out of school are going to say, well, there's nothing in Yarmouth, there's nothing in Cape Breton, there's nothing in Springhill because they're moving stuff out of there that was previously promised, I might mention. It's all gone. All we're going to have here is maybe a few farms. We've seen that go to - well, I can't say that word - we've seen that go away.

Mr. Speaker, where is it going to end? We need leadership, there is no question about that. We don't have it today but it will be back. We need not worry, it will be back. These strategies we keep talking about, this government won't have to worry about those strategies ever being implemented, they won't be here, they'll be gone, they won't be here. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: One-term government.

MR. PORTER: Long-term, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: One term.

MR. PORTER: One term, it is going to see, oh minister (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, it's going to seem like a long term because we're just getting started. It's going to seem like a very long term by the time it ends and you'll probably be glad when it does.

Mr. Speaker, it's about the people in this province. I was here in the last few years, quite fortunately, and I heard the current day government when they were on this side, talking about the people, the people. Strange how things have changed when they cross the floor. It's amazing how much has changed and I'm not sure they have the picture, the real picture of what is going on for families in Nova Scotia.

[Page 96]

We talked about in the last campaign and I believe in the campaign before that, the slogan of this NDP Government read, a better deal for today's family. Well I can tell you what the people in Nova Scotia think today, the slogan probably should have read, a bitter deal for today's family because that is what it is. That is what the people of not only Yarmouth, this isn't just about Yarmouth, this affects every person in this province, Mr. Speaker.

I had the opportunity last night to speak to a tourism operator. He owns the Meander In Bed & Breakfast in Windsor and he was telling me that already we know the numbers for our nights booked. People used to get off the ferry in Yarmouth, they would make their way throughout the Valley, they would stop, they would do the tourist thing, they would leave their dollars here and they would be tired by the time they got four or five or six hours down to Windsor so they would pick up the phone and book a night in Windsor.

That is going to affect restaurants, the B & Bs, John Bregante is saying, we don't know what we're going to do this year because that traffic is not going to be there, we may not even be in business this time next year because of the losses. They count on this, especially when the economic times are tough, this little bit helps. We have to remember that and the government, why are they refusing to meet with the people? They say they have a plan. What is the plan? We're anxious to hear all about the plan.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture spoke about things, the fishing. I'm not sure where he was going, fishing/ferry, people/fish, tourism/no tourism, (Interruption) water, okay, well, there is water and there is a boat, perhaps he should have kept his investment and not divested it. He may need that again, if things continue.

The Minister of Economic and Rural Development, where is he on that issue? Where is he on that issue? Is he going to Yarmouth, is there a plan coming in place before the ferry is to start in May? I don't think so.

Now, this was an issue of $6 million, Mr. Speaker, $6 million was the issue. Now $3 million we have to pay to do whatever it is we're going to do with this - it's gone, that's $3 million that is already there. That investment is actually guaranteed to be made, that $3 million. Now, the municipal leaders and others said, well, we'll invest money as well, we'll come together. There would have been enough money if we combined it all. Poor leadership again, exactly. Short-sighted knee-jerk reactions have been the philosophy of this NDP Government. Unfortunately with that action, we are seeing hundreds of jobs gone.

Where are those jobs going to come back to? We have seen jobs throughout Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, all the way to Yarmouth now and throughout the Valley, the farming community, jobs gone, over 500 jobs I believe in the farming community through Kings County and the Valley gone, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations

[Page 97]

is more than aware of that, so is the member for Kings North. These are hard times throughout the Valley. Here again when there was an opportunity to invest a few million dollars and keep 500 jobs and more in families in Yarmouth and the spinoff and everything that goes with that, but they walked away from it.

Why walk away from that investment in people? We would rather spend millions and millions and millions, tens of millions, as a matter of fact, to buy dirt. Well, it's great to be investing in the environment when the time is right but if we were showing leadership, real leadership, what we would be investing it in? We would be investing in Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, people. People in Yarmouth, people in Cape Breton, people in Halifax, people in Windsor, people in Kings County, all the way through, people along the South Shore, everybody is affected.

Well, there is a question of, do we really care about the people or not, because the people in Yarmouth are saying, we're walking away. How can we trust a government that says, we're a better deal for today's families? No, it is a bitter deal, there is no question about that. They are bitter. They are indeed bitter and I am sure that any member who has been down there knows just how bitter they are. We talk about this upcoming ballot, it is going to be an exciting time in Yarmouth. There is no question about that.

Mr. Speaker, it seems that we have to do more to find jobs and if that government has a plan, maybe there are plans, why are we not talking about it now? Why are we waiting any longer? There is no plan or it appears there is no plan. If there is a plan, somebody should stand up there over there and tell us about the plan. Just don't tell us in this House, tell the people in Yarmouth what is the plan? Give the people in Yarmouth some hope. But this government is not about giving people hope. This government is walking away from people. A bitter deal. They're throwing it all away.

Yes, we have successful long-term business in Yarmouth - we need more. We need to continue growing the businesses in Yarmouth and Cape Breton and Halifax and Windsor and the South Shore, the Eastern Shore, Springhill, Cumberland County, we need to continue. We have to continue to grow our economy. We talked about taxes, potential for raising taxes, nobody argued it today, it almost appears as though that's coming. We talk about taxes, taxes will not do anything to help Yarmouth. It won't help to do anything to help any part of this province from an economic standpoint. The Amherst member is, I am told, supporting that, and probably so.

We talked to small business, big business, all business, this is about the economics. You don't grow the economy by raising taxes, you slow it. The economics are out there. We know what we have to do. This government has an opportunity to make it right in Yarmouth, they have an opportunity to invest in the people of this province, if it's not too late, we think we can still get to the table, Bay Ferries, huge, it's important.

[Page 98]

I've heard comments here today about the Government of Maine, well, I can't imagine the Government of Maine is worried too much about jobs in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. They're not. We need to worry. The Premier of this province, the government of this province needs to show leadership and worry about it. Don't worry about consulting with Maine, consult with the people of Yarmouth, consult with the people of Nova Scotia. That's what we need to do. But we have walked away from the people of Yarmouth. We have walked away from the people of Nova Scotia.

We obviously don't care. The government, for some reason, again, we have heard the term, latitude, hollow platitude, because when the Premier said that he recognizes the issues in Yarmouth, Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that he does, nor do the people of Yarmouth. (Interruption) Yes, when will the by-election be? We're all anxious for that by-election. We need consultation with Bay Ferries, we need consultation, it may not be the right boat, it is the right route. It may not be the right boat and nobody has said that it is the right boat. We need to make investments in a boat - not a fishing boat, we need a tourist boat. We need to bring tourists to Nova Scotia. The spinoffs are incredible - $6 million for $175 million. If I was a gambling man, which I am not, that's a heck of a good gamble, though. That's good return, that's good investment.

[1:15 p.m.]

Why can't you do the simple math on that side of the House? It's pretty easy over here. (Interruption) We can buy calculators and supply them, yes. We could go out and do that, no problem. Mr. Speaker, maybe you would supply them through your office? That would be great too. Let's start crunching the numbers. The next week is going to be interesting. It is going to be interesting to see what the budget is - maybe there will be surprises in there. I hope there are.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I see that you are giving me that my time is up, but I have enjoyed the opportunity to speak today. Remember, the people of Nova Scotia who are listening, this is a bitter deal for the people of Yarmouth, a bitter deal for Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. GARY RAMEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this very important issue. Obviously if the issue could have been solved by loud talk or desk-banging, it would have been solved this morning, but it is a very important issue and it has to be discussed in a reasonable and rational way. That's why I

[Page 99]

appreciated the words of the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition who talked about and acknowledged the fact that we are in tough economic times. He also talked, and so did the honourable member for Clare, as I was listening thoughtfully to what I could hear from this side, about time. I heard many references to time.

As many people will know, there is a symbiotic relationship between time and money; as time elapses and money is involved, as the time disappears so does the money. So decisions have to be made, and sometimes they have to be made quickly, and they have to be made in a prudent manner. That is what has been done.

Mr. Speaker, there's a reasonably straightforward reason why the funding for The Cat ferry has not been continued. Those reasons relate to a number of critical factors, and I think a lot of people know them, whether they admit it or not. One is that ridership was consistently going down while the cost of operating that ferry was consistently going up, and there were major changes. Somebody referred to them this morning - they were talking about changing tourism patterns. There were major changes in the way tourists were visiting our province.

I believe the previous government could possibly have signed a longer-term deal with Bay Ferries, had they been interested in doing that, but I believe they might have realized that it was a bad business case as well, and that's probably - and prudently - why they didn't do it.

The business case, Mr. Speaker, also couldn't be made with other critical partners, and these critical partners, of course, include the State of Maine. I disagree with the honourable member for Hants West - there have to be two terminuses when you have a ferry. It has to go from someplace to someplace, so they were a critical element. They chose not to be interested. The federal government did not yield many results either. Again, I would reiterate that I think the reason that didn't happen was because a good business case couldn't be presented that satisfied both of these parties.

Our government is totally committed to working to resolve this issue in a thoughtful manner. This is by taking a good look at the comprehensive transportation study that has already cost different governments a substantial amount of money and would be ridiculous to ignore. In at least two speeches in this House - one last session and one in this session - I personally have attempted to explain that our approach to solving issues affecting all Nova Scotians - all Nova Scotians - would be a thoughtful and reasoned one. This is why a thoughtful and reasoned approach is being taken with that soon-to-be-released study, rather than taking a scattershot or haphazard approach to this issue, resulting in throwing what I would describe as good money after bad.

In his response to Her Honour's Speech from the Throne in this House this morning, and I was listening to it - unfortunately I had to leave the House for a second, but I saw it on televison - the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition talked about fostering economic

[Page 100]

growth in this province and making the correct decisions. I agree with the honourable member that this needs to be done and that is exactly what we're doing.

Mr. Speaker, the facts are that in the past four years the province, through Economic and Rural Development, and Tourism, Culture and Heritage has pumped $20.15 million into this service to help cover operating costs. That's a lot of taxpayers' money. The facts are that the service has been heavily affected by conditions that no one could necessarily have anticipated and are not the fault of Nova Scotians - a fluctuating U.S. dollar, rising gas prices, new passport requirements which has had a huge effect on all sorts of tourism, and changes in travel patterns. Ridership on both Bay Ferries Yarmouth to the U.S. and the former Scotia Prince runs has decreased by 72 per cent from 2001 to 2008 while the costs of operation have increased dramatically and consistently, I might add.

We have to ask ourselves as stewards of the people's money, does such a scenario present a good case for further subsidization? I have to believe that any reasonable-minded person who looks at the problem through a non-partisan lens - and that should be the lens it's looked at, by the way, because it's affecting people's lives here, a non-partisan lens - they have to say no. Given the province's economic situation, which again I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for talking about at least a little bit this morning, every expenditure is being scrutinized. I thought I had covered that ground yesterday in my seconding of the motion on the Speech from the Throne but since it appears in Hansard and is a matter of the public record, I'm not going to repeat it here.

In the case of Bay Ferries it is clear that no amount of further subsidization would change the fact that the service is no longer commercially viable and I did hear that today from some of the other Parties. Everyone knows that successive governments in this province have put the province on an unsustainable financial path and if we really care about Nova Scotians, we should be talking about that because that's a very important fact and this province is already facing - and I think most people know this - a $525 million deficit this year.

We absolutely have to get the fiscal house of this province in order and we, as the current government, and by that I mean all of us on both sides of this House, must ensure that this happens. To not make the hard and responsible decisions we must make will be courting disaster and guaranteeing that essential services like health care and education will suffer. To not address these issues means a giant backpack of debt for every young person who wants to have a future in our province. We must not, we cannot and we will not let that happen. (Applause)

We are working hard to rectify the situation because we care deeply about the good people of southwestern Nova Scotia and the amazingly good people of Yarmouth County. Team Southwest has been established with federal and provincial partners to mobilize and discuss the issues and opportunities for helping southwestern Nova Scotia. Representation

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from Economic and Rural Development, Tourism, Culture and Heritage, along with ACOA and community partners are exploring strategic opportunities to drive economic development and tourism in the region and to develop and employ real long-term sustainable solutions which will truly benefit all those in that beautiful part of the province. So I want absolutely . . . (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. RAMEY: Mr. Speaker, I want the good people of Yarmouth County and all Nova Scotians to know that they are of the utmost importance to this government, to every member on this side of the House, and that absolutely everything that can possibly be done to make life better for the people in Yarmouth County and to make life better for every Nova Scotian will be employed by this government now and always. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Thank you. It's with great pleasure I rise today to speak and with great sadness to think that the community of Yarmouth, and indeed Nova Scotia, is losing a very valuable asset, an asset I think will have a long-term devastating effect to our economy. The present government is talking about tax increases and tax increases will also have another devastating effect on our economy as we move forward.

When you look at the fact that the Yarmouth ferry had been there since 1847, that's a long time. The need is still there. I'm not convinced that perhaps the way it was approached in the past was the best way to do it. I don't believe the approach the present NDP Government has taken is the right approach either.

During the time, the Progressive Conservatives were in place I didn't see them really supporting tourism, really pushing tourism, really going into New England and other areas in the U.S. to make sure that ferry was utilized. I didn't see that happen. There didn't seem to be a real positive plan. Lo and behold, the NDP Government takes over, no plan again.

When you look at what's going to happen - it's already started to happen in Yarmouth, you see businesses closing. When a business closes, first on the surface, you say that's not too bad, another one will start up and away we'll go again. That's not what happens. It takes a long time to establish a business, it's a big commitment by people. Not only is it a big commitment to start the business, it's a big commitment to make the business grow and prosper and employ people and help our economy in the province.

We see some of these businesses closed, they've been there a long time with the experience and the dedication the people have had and the serious financial commitment

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they've made and you see this go down the drain all of a sudden, that doesn't come back. This is going to have a very negative impact on the long-term economy in the province. You talk about 189 immediate jobs lost as a result of the ferry going. That's one item, just one thing. You look at the spinoff in the other areas and they're estimating between 325 and 650 jobs gone. That's a lot of revenue that's gone from the province.

Will that revenue also be spent in Community Services benefits? Let's hope not, let's hope people can get jobs in the area, but having the second highest unemployment in the province in Yarmouth, I doubt that will be the case. I would say and it's already been said here - most people will either have to leave the community or gone on some kind of social assistance or live a life that none of us want to live.

This is very, very serious. We've had other members here talk about how people come and visit the church. One church was used as an example, but I'm sure the many churches and many other local organizations will see the same devastation. As you go through this whole process and see what has happened and what could possibly happen and will happen, these things are real. These are not things that are maybe going to happen, these things are real. How can you justify not supporting the ferry in some manner?

It may be a different approach to things that has to be taken. I've always found over the years in business and when I was a minister in the government, there's always several approaches to be taken on something. Sometimes the answers aren't obvious, but you have to look for that answer. When you do find the answer, it usually works well for everybody.

Unfortunately the answer was, in December, just cut the funding and away we go and don't worry about anything else. It was already said here today, and I totally agree, we need to invest in people. People are the most important asset we have in this province. We see our brightest, youngest minds going all over the country to create jobs for themselves and pursue careers. I've said in this House before, I've traveled all over the world and almost everywhere you go you see somebody sitting in that boardroom who's making key decisions in very influential, large companies who are from Nova Scotia. Think about that.

This is going to be another situation where we will see many of these bright people, business people possibly, who are going to close things down, move somewhere else, hopefully still in Nova Scotia, but probably not likely after seeing this happen to them and their families being uprooted, their businesses being uprooted and not have the opportunities that they need in this province to ensure we grow our economy.

[1:30 p.m.]

There are rumours around that there is going to be tax increases here in the upcoming budget. That's going to have a negative impact, a very negative impact. But, if you don't have any people working, it's no good to put taxes up because there's nobody to pay it. It'll

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just complicate itself. It's going to get to be a more and more dire situation. I know studies were done, I remember in the early 1990s, about a point where taxes become a negative input to the province. You can only take taxes so high. When you take them so high, after that they decline, the income declines from it. When the income declines, in a situation we're in today, we won't have a $500 million deficit, we'll be in the billions and no way to pay it.

So we've got to ensure that we work with people, work with communities, and ensure that we have people working, working in jobs that are productive, working in jobs that people can pay income tax and people can put back in the community and do the things in a community that are so important for them to do. If you don't set that environment up, if you don't create that environment for people, the whole economy suffers. This will affect people in my area, it will affect people in Halifax, it will affect the people in Cape Breton. If you take away from tourism, if you've got passengers coming across there - last year from the numbers I have, approximately 76,000 passengers, 76,000 passengers travelled on this ferry.

Now, think about that number. If you take 76,000 people, even if you divide that by two, roughly two, and come up to 38,000 people who might have travelled on that ferry who were from outside of Nova Scotia, if you take 38,000 people out of that who aren't coming to Nova Scotia this year, 38,000, and assume that they're going to spend $1,000 each, that's a lot of money. They probably spend more than that. There are probably more than 38,000 people, there are probably a lot more who travel on the ferry and are affected by that, but if you look at that, some of those people might be business people looking for business opportunities here, not even intending to do that, because I see that often is the case. People come to Nova Scotia, love it so much because it is a wonderful place to live, and they decide to bring their businesses here and employ people and work with people. That opportunity is gone.

So when you look at opportunities and real opportunities for people in the province, it gets less and less and less. You couple this with tax increases that are being proposed - possibly income tax increases, we'll know when the budget is brought down - and all the other things that are going to factor in here, everything accumulates and all of a sudden you have a province that nobody wants to establish a business in and we're very closely getting to that. Very, very soon we're going to be in that situation and when you get in the situation, it's almost impossible to get out of it. I mean this is not something that happens in a day or two days and some marvellous thing comes up, that some government department is going to put $20 million into this or that.

Well, number one, they won't have the $20 million anymore and somebody comes here and saves the province, we've seen that over and over again, people investing, governments investing in huge companies that come, use our resources and our people, and sometimes take off with our people too, our good people, and really nothing positive comes to the province. I think this deal with Bay Ferries had to be reviewed. I don't think there's any argument about that but there are always solutions and there have to be solutions.

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If you look at the economic impact, and economic impact is part of it, but look at the families it's going to destroy and the hopes and the dreams that people had in the community, all in the area of tourism, the immediate jobs are lost, and you see all of a sudden you had hope. Well, maybe you were going to build a new home in the community. So that's another job that's going to be lost because someone is not going to be able to work on the home. All those plans come to a grinding halt and all of a sudden you have an economy that's going along reasonably well, even though there's high unemployment, all of a sudden you have a situation where people don't have hope. If you take hope away, you have nothing left. That's when people leave. They say, we can't stand this anymore, we can't put up with this anymore, and they're gone and once they're gone, they don't come back. They do not come back and if they don't come back, the economy suffers even more.

So the whole thing compounds and as it compounds, it gets worse and worse until you finally get to a point that - although Yarmouth is a beautiful place and southwest Nova Scotia is a wonderful place, wonderful people, hard-working people I will stress. I've spent a lot of time in the area dealing with people, business people and residents in the area. It's an area I have a great deal of respect for the people and their initiative. If that hope is gone, those same people who had all those hopes and things that they could do to help the province - and I stress, help the whole province - and help their community, that is going to be gone. If that dies there, that's like a rotten apple in a barrel of apples: all of a sudden the whole barrel is ruined.

So we're heading in that direction, and if anyone over there is smiling and thinking I'm wrong, you wait and see. Hopefully I'm wrong. Hopefully I am, but I don't think I am. As time goes on, we're going to see this situation get worse and worse.

We also had the Acting Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, Culture and Heritage saying this is no time for political posturing. I agree. Hopefully you don't come at the last minute and save the ferry to get someone elected in Yarmouth. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: That concludes our emergency debate time.

We will be back in session on Monday at 7:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 1:36 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 30

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 Sergeant Mike Spearns of the Halifax Regional Police has been a dedicated police officer for the past 33 years; and

Whereas Thursday, March 25, 2010 is Sergeant Spearns' last day of duty as head of the traffic division for Halifax Regional Police before he retires; and

Whereas Sergeant Michael Spearns has developed a well-earned reputation of fairness, dedication and excellence in his duties of educating Nova Scotians on road safety and developing a first-rate traffic services division that delivers first-class service to the residents of Halifax Regional Municipality ensuring the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sergeant Michael Spearns on his retirement from the Halifax Regional Police and wish him well on his hard-deserved retirement.

RESOLUTION NO. 31

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Pictou Regional Development Commission is holding Pictou County's first rural economic development conference in River John this April; and

Whereas the conference is designed to showcase young business leaders in the community, support services that are available to businesses and local success stories; and

Whereas delegates at the conference are being encouraged to make new connections and learn best practices for rural economic development;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish the Pictou Regional Development Commission the best of luck with their Rural Pictou County: Exploring Opportunities conference.

RESOLUTION NO. 32

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Berwick Food Bank saw an increase in the number of families served; and

Whereas food banks across this province depend on the generosity of their communities to assist those in need; and

Where the Berwick Food Bank relied on individual and corporate donations of food and money, donation boxes placed throughout the business community, an auction at St. Anthony's Parish Hall, and a partnership with the Coldbrook Lions Club to host 50/50 draws at the Valley Drive-In;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Berwick Food Bank for meeting their community's needs.

RESOLUTION NO. 33

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Lawrencetown, Annapolis County Fire Department recently held their annual awards banquet on February 20th, recognizing many memorable years of service; and

Whereas one of the honoured recipients was Matt Pembleton who received his 50- year service award from the department and was crowned with a gold helmet in recognition of his decades of selfless service; and

Whereas Robert Gesner received recognition for 40 years of service, with many of them being served as chief; 30-year award winners were Robert Rickey Beals, Jim Leslie, and James Wood; Bertrum Shaw garnered the department's 20-year pin and Cliff Guilbaulthis received his first recognition pin - it being the five year pin; these gentlemen along with the remainder of the Lawrencetown Volunteer Fire Department are seemingly

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always around most of the time when the community siren goes or their pager goes, ready for community service that could save a life at any minute;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate these brave men and applaud them for their many years of service while not thinking for a second at the time of emergency to do what has to be done to put fires out and rescue individuals in a time of need.

RESOLUTION NO. 34

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas for almost 40 years the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers has been the collective voice of Nova Scotia's beef producers in our province; and

Whereas this vital organization has been lobbying government for help to revive the ailing beef industry and develop a strategic plan for long-term survival; and

Whereas this Saturday, March 27th, the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers will hold their Annual General Meeting to discuss the future of this important industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly urge government to engage the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers in their struggle to maintain and revitalize this central part of our agricultural industries and provide a long-term management plan to allow producers to survive in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 35

By: Hon. Maureen MacDonald (Health)

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

Whereas Purple Day is a global effort dedicated to promoting epilepsy awareness in countries around the world, which was founded by nine-year-old Nova Scotian Cassidy Megan, who wanted people to know that if you have epilepsy, you are not alone; and

Whereas epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, estimated to affect over 10,000 people in Nova Scotia, over 300,000 people in Canada, and 50 million people worldwide; and

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Whereas one in 10 persons will have at least one seizure during his or her lifetime and the public is often unable to recognize common seizure types or how to respond with appropriate first aid;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize today as Purple Day in the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 36

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Colchester North)

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

Whereas there are over 70 maple syrup producers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas they produce more than 140,000 litres of maple syrup annually; and

Whereas the community of Upper Stewiacke is saluting this industry with their Maple Syrup Festival on March 27th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House wish Upper Stewiacke the best of luck with their festival.

RESOLUTION NO. 37

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the world's first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, began operation in 1905 before spreading with great popularity to six continents in 1921, with the Windsor Rotary Club becoming involved in the club's worldwide popularity with the establishment of the local club in 1930; and

Whereas the Windsor Rotary Club celebrated the end of their 80th Anniversary on February 17, 2010, under the capable leadership of various individuals such as President Jon Oulton, President-elect Randy Hussey, Sergeant-at-Arms Jim Wells, Treasurer Ray Harvey, and Club Service Jonathan DeMont, while holding weekly luncheon meetings at the Elmcroft Reception Centre on Albert Street in Windsor; and

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Whereas the Windsor Rotary Club is involved in a wide variety of community events, including their major fundraiser, which is the Rotary Radio Auction, held annually in early May;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly acknowledge the tremendous community spirit and work ethic demonstrated by the Windsor Rotary Club, while wishing them every success with their endeavours as they celebrate eight decades of service to Windsor and surrounding area.

RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

No. 1, Health - Bayview Mem. Health Ctr.: Expansion /Renovation Proj. - Status, Hon. M. Scott (October 20, 2009):

TO: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

FR. Hon. Maureen MacDonald (Health)

DATE: November 2, 2009

Dear Mr. Scott:

Thank you for you question tabled in the House of Assembly on October 19, 2009.

In 2005 the Department of Health approved funding of $210,000 for construction of additional space and updates to Bayview Memorial Health Centre. Originally, this was for a small addition and repairs to the roof. The project did not move forward as the Cumberland Health Authority did not submit an acceptable project scope within the allotted budget to the Department of Health.

In 2009 a consultant prepared a Role Study, Master Plan/Program which included a class D cost estimate in the area of $1.7 million. A class D estimate is a very high level estimate allowing for large variances in costs. The scope of this proposal would include the need to add two long-term care beds to the facility as well as updating the resident living/dining/recreation spaces. In addition, there is a component that addressed the health services side of the facility such as reception, rehabilitation and patient confidentiality. The addition of two long-term care beds was approved in principle.

An appropriate project scope and detailed budget must be finalized among all stakeholders before work on the project is commenced or detailed plans are announced.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Yours truly

[Page 110]

Maureen MacDonald

Minister

Linda Penny, CFO - Department of Health

Keith Menzies, Executive Director, Continuing Care - Department of Health

Abe Almeda, Interim Executive Director, Acute & Tertiary Care -

Department of Health

No. 2, Fin.: Securities Matters - Fines Levied, Mr. C. Porter (November 5, 2009)

TO: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

FR: Hon. William Estabrooks (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

DATE: Jan.13/10

Dear Mr. Porter:

I am responding to questions you tabled in the House of Assembly on November 5, 2009, regarding fine collections of the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) and the status of proclaiming section 146(0) of the Securities Act. You pose three questions, which I will answer in turn.

Your first question asks whether I will support, in discussions with the federal government concerning a single securities regulator, a judicial fine enforcement mechanism for self-regulatory organizations (SROs). Discussions with the federal government concerning a single securities regulator are at a very early stage and this issue has not been raised. It is not known whether changes will be proposed concerning the role of self-regulatory organizations under a new regulatory structure. However, this is an issue that Nova Scotia will raise at the appropriate time as the initiative unfolds.

With respect to the current enforcement system, you should be aware that SROs set and enforce their own bylaws (albeit, approved by provincial securities regulators) which set out compliance and market conduct standards for members, employees and representatives. Those who violate the by-laws may be assessed penalties and costs and these must be paid if the member wishes to continue working in the industry. The alternative is to leave the industry. This approach serves to protect investors by removing individuals not in full compliance with regulatory and industry standards. Investors harmed by the actions of a member may still pursue civil remedies through the courts.

[Page 111]

Your second question concerns outstanding MFDA fines in Nova Scotia. I am advised by the MFDA that there are no uncollected MFDA fines in Nova Scotia at this time. In your question to the House, you refer to a Halifax mutual fund salesperson being fined $200,000. I understand that this order is not final and no amounts are owing until the disciplinary panel releases its "Reasons for Decision", which has not yet taken place.

Nova Scotia continues to have a significant interest in cooperation and collaboration with all our neighbours. The Council of Atlantic Premiers meeting in Churchill Falls last month is only the most recent example of how we continue to maintain a dialogue on energy matters. I can assure you that officials in our government are working diligently to advance Nova Scotia's interests in this matter with Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the federal government, and will continue to do so.

I hope that I have addressed your concerns and thank you for your interest in the Atlantic Energy Gateway Initiative.

Sincerely,

Bill Estabrooks, M.B.

Minister

No. 3, Agric.: Beef Farmers - Issues, Mr. C. Porter (November 5, 2009)

TO: Mr. Chuck Porter

FR: Hon. John MacDonell (Agriculture)

Ref. # M136

DATE: December 3, 2009

Dear Mr. Porter:

I am responding to a written question regarding the Nova Scotia beef industry, which was forwarded to me by the Office of the Clerk and tabled in the House of Assembly on November 9, 2009. [November 5, 2009 Hansard]

The Department of Agriculture has supported the industry with over $25,000,000 in support payments since 2003. As well, the Department has supported the Nova Scotia Cattle

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Producers (NSCP) with approximately $200,000 in funding to maintain their association as they worked for the past twelve months on their strategic plan, "Collaborate to Compete".

Producers have a vision and direction for their industry. It will take time to implement some key pieces of this strategy and it may also take some time for the entire NSCP membership to embrace the work ahead and to see themselves in this new future.

Thank you for your thoughtful questions and support for the sector.

Yours truly,

John MacDonell

Minister

c Roderick K. MacArthur, Q.C., Chief Clerk, Office of the Clerk

No. 4, Energy: Québec Hydro/N.B. Power: Atl. Energy Gateway, Mr. C. Porter (November 5, 2009)

TO: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

FR: Hon. Graham Steele (Minister of Energy)

DATE: December 8, 2009

Dear Mr. Porter:

Thank you for your questions on November 5, 2009 as tabled in the House.

Our government strongly supports the Atlantic Energy Gateway initiative. My officials have met numerous times on this matter with their colleagues in the federal and provincial governments.

I have personally raised the matter with my colleagues at the Canadian Energy and Mines Ministers' meeting in September in St. John's. Our Deputies met following the conference to establish a foundation for an agenda moving forward.

That agenda includes the exploration of research and development for renewable technologies; work to ensure the regulatory system works effectively for the permitting and environmental assessment of renewable energy projects; studies of market opportunities; and an examination of opportunities to collaborate on system planning.

[Page 113]

The recently announced decision by the Government of New Brunswick to sell its electrical power interests, including electrical distribution, many generation assets and system operation, may have an impact upon these plans. The nature of any impact and how the Government of New Brunswick might plan to address them are still unfolding.

Your final question related to unproclaimed provisions of the Securities Act regarding investor restitution (section 146(O)). These provisions are based on Manitoba legislation in force since 2003. The Manitoba legislation has been subjected to several legal challenges, all of which have settled before being heard by the courts. However, there remains a significant risk of legal challenge regarding these provisions. I will continue to monitor this situation with the view of seeking implementation of this section when legality issues have been resolved.

I trust the foregoing satisfactorily addresses your questions. Thank you for your interest in these matters.

Yours truly,

Graham Steele

Chief Clerk, NS House of Assembly

No. 5, Educ. - Grade 12 Math Exam Results, Hon. K. Casey (November 5, 2009)

TO: Hon. Karen Casey (Colchester North)

FR: Hon. Marilyn More (Education)

February 19, 2010

Dear Karen Casey:

I am writing in response to the questions tabled in the House on November 5, 2009, regarding mathematics education in Nova Scotia.

Question 1: What is the status of math mentors in our schools now as compared to 2007/2008?

The Provincial Mentor Program remains a priority for the Department of Education and its board partners. The current program supports 25 mathematics mentors from grades primary-

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9. We are currently working on a Provincial Mentor Framework in partnership with board leaders, and will soon put an evaluation framework together. We are hopeful that the support for this program will continue and that we can continue to expand the mentor program by both increasing the funding and widening the scope to include high school mathematics mentors.

First Supplementary Question: What additional supports have been identified to assist students and teachers as they work to bring these results to an even higher percentage of achievement?

A high school mathematics website has been established to provide resources to teachers, students, parents , and tutors. This website provides access to tutorials and support material and it also provides a link to the new student mathematics Item Bank, where students, parents, or tutors can access questions, design review sheets, and practice assessments.

We are also reviewing the mathematics curriculum for each grade level. The two foci of this review are to ensure the curriculum is developmentally appropriate and that it is manageable for teachers to teach with depth of understanding desired. This is part of an ongoing effort to ensure all students are engaged and are successful mathematics learners.

Second Supplementary Question: Are the improvements in the Math 12 and Advanced Math 12 results directly related to the percentage of students enrolled in the program?

Evaluation Services Division of the Department of Education has found no correlation between the percentage of students enrolled in these programs and the Nova Scotia Examination (NSE) results.

I trust this information will be of use to you.

Sincerely,

Marilyn More

Minister of Education

c. Roderick K. MacArthur, Q.C.

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