Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 09-33

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/

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEMBER:
Mr. Maurice Smith (Antigonish), The Premier 2027
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: Trunk 4 Shoulders Repave, Hon. M. Scott 2028
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Civil Service Disclosure of Wrongdoing Regulations & Policy
Anl. Rept., Hon. F. Corbett 2028
NSCC - Rept. to the Community, Hon. M. More ~ 2029
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
NSCC - Rept. to the Community, Hon. M. More 2029
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 949, Can. Career Wk. (11/02-11/06/09): Workforce Partners -
Thank, Hon. M. More 2032
Vote - Affirmative 2032
Res. 950, Adoption Awareness Mo. (11/09): Adopting - Consider,
Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 2033
Vote - Affirmative 2034
Res. 951, Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Mo. (11/09) - Recognize,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 2034
Vote - Affirmative 2034
Res. 952, Nat. Res.: Mineral Resources Br. -
Environmental Systems Research Instit. of Can. Award,
Hon. J. MacDonell (by Hon. S. Belliveau) 2035
Vote - Affirmative 2035
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 58, Day Care Act, Hon. Manning MacDonald 2035
No. 59, Security and Investigative Services Act, Hon. R. Landry 2035
No. 60, Liquor Control Act, Ms. D. Whalen 2036
No. 61, Workers' Compensation Act, Mr. L. Glavine 2036
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 953, Health - H1N1 Vaccination Prog.: Med. Commun. - Support,
Hon. K. Casey 2036
Vote - Affirmative 2037
Res. 954, Inglis Jewellers - Bus. Dev. Bank of Can. Award (2009),
Ms. L. Zann 2037
Vote - Affirmative 2038
Res. 955, Health - H1N1 Clinics: Pub. Concerns - Respond,
Ms. D. Whalen 2038
Res. 956, HPP: H1N1 Pandemic - Min. Manage,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2038
Res. 957, Reg. of Queens Mun.: Econ. Dev. Dir./Econ. Dev. Officer -
Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 2039
Vote - Affirmative 2040
Res. 958, HPP - H1N1 Priority Group: Firefighters - Include,
Mr. K. Bain 2040
Res. 959, Geddes, Matthew: Olympic Torchbearer - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Boudreau 2041
Vote - Affirmative 2041
Res. 960, Hampsey, Pat: History Awareness - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 2041
Vote - Affirmative 2042
Res. 961, HPP - H1N1 Priority Group: High Risk Nova Scotians -
Include, Hon. M. Scott 2042
Res. 962, Manzer, Audrey - Dart. Commun.: Contribution - Thank,
Mr. A. Younger 2043
Vote - Affirmative 2044
Res. 963, Health - Gov't. (N.S.): H1N1 Vaccination Prog. - Control,
Hon. C. Clarke 2044
Res. 964, People's Place Library: Bldg. Comm. - Fundraising Congrats.,
Mr. M. Smith 2045
Vote - Affirmative 2046
Res. 965, Choyce, Lesley: Book Publication - Thank,
Ms. K. Regan 2046
Vote - Affirmative 2047
Res. 966, Intl. Baccalaureate Prog. (2009): Grads. - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 2047
Vote - Affirmative 2047
Res. 967, N.S. House of Assembly: On-line Petitions - Accept,
Ms. D. Whalen 2048
Res. 968, N.S. Highland Village - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. K. Bain 2048
Vote - Affirmative 2049
Res. 969, Harbourville Restoration Soc. - New7Wonders of Nature:
Bay of Fundy - Final 14, Mr. L. Glavine 2049
Vote - Affirmative 2050
Res. 970, Ship's Company Theatre: Parrsboro Schools Breakfast Prog. -
Donation Thank, Hon. M. Scott 2050
Vote - Affirmative 2051
Res. 971, Joggins Fossil Ctr. - Silver Leaf Award,
Mr. A. Younger 2051
Vote - Affirmative 2051
Res. 972, C.B. Search & Rescue Assoc. - Anniv. (40th),
Hon. C. Clarke 2051
Vote - Affirmative 2052
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE:
Mr. M. Smith 2053
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 52, Emergency Department Accountability Act 2057
HOUSE RECESSED AT 4:13 P.M. 2057
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:15 P.M. 2057
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 52, Emergency Department Accountability Act]
Hon. M. Scott 2057
Mr. L. Glavine 2060
Ms. D. Whalen 2064
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 2067
Vote - Affirmative 2068
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2068
Law Amendments Committee, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2069
[GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:]
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 50, Wilderness Areas Protection Act 2069
Hon. S. Belliveau 2069
HOUSE RECESSED AT 4:52 P.M. 2069
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:57 P.M. 2069
[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 50, Wilderness Areas Protection Act]
Hon. S. Belliveau 2070
Mr. A. Younger 2072
Hon. M. Scott 2074
Mr. L. Glavine 2081
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2084
Hon. K. Casey 2087
Mr. K. Bain 2088
Hon. C. Clarke 2089
Hon. S. Belliveau 2092
Vote - Affirmative 2093
No. 14, Judicature Act 2093
Hon. R. Landry 2094
Mr. L. Glavine 2094
Hon. C. Clarke 2095
Hon. R. Landry 2096
Vote - Affirmative 2096
No. 17, Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act 2096
Hon. J. MacDonell 2096
Mr. L. Glavine 2098
Hon. M. Scott 2098
Hon. J. MacDonell 2100
Vote - Affirmative 2101
No. 30, Public Trustee Act 2101
Hon. R. Landry 2101
Mr. L. Glavine 2101
Hon. M. Scott 2102
Hon. R. Landry 2102
Vote - Affirmative 2103
No. 54, Executive Council Act 2103
Hon. F. Corbett 2103
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2104
Hon. C. Clarke 2106
Mr. A. Younger 2109
Hon. F. Corbett 2111
Vote - Affirmative 2112
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 7:28 P.M. 2113
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:44 P.M. 2113
CWH REPORTS: 2113
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 7, Trade Union Act 2114
Vote - Affirmative 2114
No. 24, Pipeline Act 2114
Vote - Affirmative 2114
No. 28, Education Act 2115
Vote - Affirmative 2115
No. 29, Financial Measures (2009) Act 2115
Vote - Affirmative 2116
No. 38, Condominium Act 2116
Ms. D. Whalen 2116
Vote - Affirmative 2117
No. 5, Halifax Regional Municipality Charter 2117
Vote - Affirmative 2118
No. 47, Dietitians Act 2117
Vote - Affirmative 2118
No. 48, Pension Benefits Act 2117
Vote - Affirmative 2118
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 3rd at 2:00 p.m. 2118
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 973, Bear River FD: New Truck - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Theriault 2119
Res. 974, Digby Tigers U-14 Girls Soccer Team: Accomplishments -
Congrats., Mr. H. Theriault 2119
Res. 975, Whittier, Gary/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2120
Res. 976, Hale, Al/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2120
Res. 977, Aalders, Murray/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2121
Res. 978, Lloyd, Dale/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2121
Res. 979, Baxter, Mike/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2122
Res. 980, Carty, Gerry/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2122
Res. 981, Margeson, John/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2123
Res. 982, Kinsman, Mike/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2123
Res. 983, Redden, Bruce/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2124
Res. 984, Bethune, Paul/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2124
Res. 985, Nichols, Eddie/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 2125
Res. 986, Bryson, Jr. Justice Peter/Farrar, Mr. Justice David:
Supreme Court Appts. - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 2125

[Page 2027]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2009

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

3:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Premier will now present a new member to the House.

[Hon. Darrell Dexter and Hon. Frank Corbett escorted Mr. Maurice Smith into the House.]

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to you Mr. Maurice Smith, member for the electoral district of Antigonish, who has taken the oath and signed the roll and now claims the right to take his seat.

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome, honourable member, you may take your seat. (Standing Ovation)

We'll now begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 2028]

2027

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 1,053 constituents of my riding, mainly from the Wentworth area. The operative clause says:

"The Department of Transportation plans to remove the paved shoulders on Trunk 4 through Wentworth during a repaving project that commenced in September 2009. This plans [sic] presents a significant safety issue for the residents of the Wentworth community and the high volume of traffic that uses Trunk 4 on the frequent occasions the Cobequid Pass is closed.

We the undersigned, reject the plan to remove the paved shoulders on Trunk 4 and insist the Department of Transportation issue an order to repave the shoulders of the highway and leave the established passing lanes paved and intact."

Again, Mr. Speaker, it is signed by my constituents, 1,053 of them, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Civil Service Disclosure of Wrongdoing Regulations and Policy 2008-2009.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

I understand it's the wrong of order of business. So I guess it's the next one.

We're on Presenting Reports of Committees first of all.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, déjà vu. I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Civil Service Disclosure of Wrongdoing Regulations and Policy 2008-2009.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 2029]

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, before I table this report, may I make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, I would like to introduce Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair, president of the Nova Scotia Community College. I ask my colleagues to give her a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Report to the Community 2009 from the Nova Scotia Community College. Copies will be distributed to members.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, as I just tabled the Report to the Community 2009 from the Nova Scotia Community College today, I would like to talk about the college for a moment. The title of the report is 6o, referring to how the world is really a large community where people have many links to each other in many directions. For Nova Scotia, for our young people and for our economy, there are often less than six degrees of separation between them and the community college system. I would be surprised if anyone in Nova Scotia would have to count up to six to find their connection to the college.

[3:15 p.m.]

These linkages, these "six degrees of collaboration," to steal a line from the report, are what makes NSCC such a success. NSCC does not function in isolation. It's part of the community it serves. The NSCC works closely with businesses and industry to identify labour need. It helps meet that need through various learning opportunities, whether through courses at one of its 13 campuses or tailored learning for the employer. The college holds similar discussions on current and potential labour needs with government departments, including both Education, and Labour and Workforce Development. It also embraces future challenges. For example, look at the groundbreaking green learning changes at the college

[Page 2030]

as part of its Centre for the Built Environment Initiative. The linkages continue as the college talks to its other partners such as non-profits, community groups, and the federal government.

The goal is to develop Nova Scotia's workforce, whether for young people just out of high school, or for older workers looking for new skills. It is a place where young and old gather to learn the skills they need to have a promising future. The college is a labour crossroads for the province. The students, industry, and government come together to help foster a prosperous and knowledge-based economy. There are just over 10,000 full-time and about 15,000 additional part-time students at the college campuses across the province. That is why this government is pleased to support the NSCC with an increased budget of $116.1 million. We're also committed to having the college grow, giving even more opportunity for Nova Scotians.

These students' dreams are being realized: 92 per cent of NSCC graduates are employed, with 88 per cent working in their field of study. These dreams are also being realized right here in Nova Scotia: 92 per cent of NSCC grads go on to live and work here in Nova Scotia. Many of those grads are the young people that are, quite literally, our future.

We want more young people to settle in the province and build a life here. We want them to become part of our vibrant communities, put down roots, to live and raise a family in Nova Scotia.

The college is an important part of keeping and attracting young people in Nova Scotia. NSCC is one of the jewels in the crown that is the learning province, a place where there are many opportunities for educational growth, where students of all ages can pursue almost any vocation they desire, where a knowledge-based economy ensures future prosperity. (Applause)

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the staff and students at NSCC for their work under the leadership of Joan McArthur-Blair. Our community college certainly is a leader in the country. You know, it was not that long ago that the college, in terms of ranking, was near the bottom of the heap and now it's at the top.

The new building, the Centre for the Built Environment, on the Waterfront Campus is a good example of what can be done with excellent leadership, but NSCC's good work was threatened by a potential strike last month. When we saw this government put their political interest above the interest of the community college, 25,000 students faced uncertain futures. I find it ironic, that now the government is trying to take credit for NSCC's work within the community.

We would like to thank NSCC for their hard work, their students for their patience, their teachers for their patience during the last month. I would like to point out that there

[Page 2031]

were a number of contracts that the college would normally have undertaken with other institutions in other countries that were, in fact, not fulfilled this Fall because of the threat of a strike and that did not help NSCC.

That said, this looks like a fine report. We congratulate NSCC on their continuing success. (Applause)

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for presenting her statement on Nova Scotia Community Colleges and congratulate her and all members of the community college and the Department of Education who recognized the importance of the jewel in the crown, so to speak.

I just want to speak briefly, Mr. Speaker, about the importance of community college and in particular their development to the state at which they are today. I think some of us in this room do remember when students went through high school, vocational schools had closed and there were very few options for the students after the end of Grade 12 to go on to post-secondary learning. Many of those students were encouraged to attend universities and many of them found it was not the type of post-secondary education that was meaningful for them.

So the community college did provide and continues to provide an alternative to university education but that doesn't mean that it doesn't include university education because many students go on to community college and then finish their studies with a degree or it's reversed, they go to a university and then, as somebody said, they go to community college to get a job. I think the combination of the two together has allowed students many more opportunities at the end of Grade 12.

I would like to congratulate Joan McArthur-Blair, all of the principals at the campuses, and all of the faculty for putting together programs that are meaningful and will allow our students to be gainfully employed at the end of that time.

The other comment I would like to make is the flexibility that the community college has demonstrated in their willingness to work with government when there is a particular need or a particular program that we believe has been identified in the labour market, and the community college has been very flexible in creating custom-designed programs that will allow our young people to get the training they need to go out and be employed.

I would use the Continuing Care Assistant Program as one where we recognized, with the increase in numbers of long-term care beds that we had, that there needed to be more staff trained to deliver health care in those facilities. The community college stepped up to the

[Page 2032]

plate and worked with the government in order to design a program that would provide the training those young people needed. That has allowed us to have a ready, well-trained workforce to take on those tasks.

To conclude my comments, I do want to congratulate the minister and the community college. I believe that the community college has grown to a point where it is a viable and attractive option, and it is providing students with the skills they need to be gainfully employed. Thank you very much. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 949

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is home to many exciting and rewarding career opportunities in many diverse sectors; and

Whereas government works with its partners in education and industry to develop resources and programs, including Nova Scotia Career Options, Parents as Career Coaches, and Bright Career Futures which help Nova Scotians, both young and old, develop career and education plans to build a prosperous future here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas from November 2nd to November 6th we will celebrate Canada Career Week, which was created to promote opportunities for career and educational planning and to facilitate connections between employers and job seekers;

Therefore be it resolved that during Canada Career Week 2009 the members of this House thank those workforce partners who help us develop and deliver support and programs to Nova Scotians, and also thank those Nova Scotians who use those resources as we continue to build a strong, safe, and prosperous workforce here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2033]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to introduce several people in the gallery today?

MR. SPEAKER: Absolutely.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I had the pleasure this morning to make the announcement that this is Adoption Awareness Month, and to let all the honourable members know that about 200 children a year come into our care that need a loving family and parents. I would like to introduce to you today Dee Meister who, with her husband, is one of our adoptive parents who has taken in children . We would like to say thank you very much for that, being selfless and caring.

Also, I would like to introduce Janet Nearing, who is one of our Community Services staff persons who helps with that process and finds loving homes for our children. Please join me in a warm welcome. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 950

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

Whereas adoption can mean love, support, and a nurturing home for children in permanent care and custody waiting to be adopted; and

Whereas the Department of Community Services has launched a new on-line video series that uses real families, social workers, and health professionals to encourage families to consider adoption; and

Whereas November is Adoption Awareness Month and during this month all Nova Scotians, families and individuals, are encouraged to consider adopting one of Nova Scotia's waiting children;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage Nova Scotians during Adoption Awareness Month and throughout the year to consider adopting a young person into their families and into their hearts.

[Page 2034]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 951

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

Whereas Canada has among the highest rates of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in the world, and Nova Scotia has among the highest rates of these diseases in Canada; and

Whereas 200,000 Canadian men, women, and children are living with these two debilitating diseases; and

Whereas there is no cure, no cause, and limited public understanding of the pain and chronic suffering that people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, commonly referred to as inflammatory bowel disease, cope with on a daily basis;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House join me in recognizing November as Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month, and commending individuals and organizations such as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada and communities in their effort to raise awareness and find a cure for these two diseases.

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 2035]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 952

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

Whereas the Environmental Systems Research Institute of Canada recently held its annual Regional User Conference in Halifax; and

Whereas ESRI Canada presented an award of excellence in geographic information system technology; and

Whereas the Mineral Resources Branch of the Department of Natural Resources won this award for its groundbreaking geographic information system applications, data, and policies which effectively manage natural resources;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House and all Nova Scotians recognize the efforts of the employees in the Mineral Resources Branch of the Department of Natural Resources for being chosen as the winner of the Environmental Systems Research Institute of Canada award of excellence in geographic information system technology.

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.

[3:30 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

[Page 2036]

Bill No. 58 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 120 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Day Care Act. (Hon. Manning MacDonald)

Bill No. 59 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Provision of Security Services and Investigative Services. (Hon. Ross Landry)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do an introduction, if I may, before doing the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. WHALEN: I would like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery where we're joined today by Mr. Ross Harrington. Ross is the owner of the Wine Kitz store in Clayton Park, in our area, and I would ask him if he would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

Bill No. 60 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 260 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Liquor Control Act, to Permit the Operation of Businesses that Assist Others in the Making of Beer, Wine or Cider. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

Bill No. 61 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Workers' Compensation Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 953

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have been flooded with information stressing the dire consequences that can result from the H1N1 virus; and

[Page 2037]

Whereas this government's constantly changing vaccination procedures are causing confusion among citizens and the medical community; and

Whereas members of the medical community are doing their very best to cope with extra paperwork, scheduling changes, procedural changes, and frustrated patients;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House express their support for the medical community, and commend their hard work and flexibility that they are showing as they work through this serious situation.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 954

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

Whereas the Business Development Bank of Canada is a Crown financial corporation wholly owned by the Government of Canada; and

Whereas the Business Development Bank of Canada plays a leadership role in delivering financial and consulting services to Canadian businesses, with a particular focus on technology and exporting; and

Whereas Inglis Jewellers - with businesses in Truro, New Glasgow, and Amherst - and co-owners Greg Johnston and Paul Clark, with their dedicated workers, are the recipients of the 2009 Business Development Bank of Canada's Business Achievement Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Inglis Jewellers of Truro, New Glasgow, and Amherst on their winning of the Business Development Bank of Canada's Business Achievement Award for 2009.

[Page 2038]

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. 955

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

Whereas initial public demand for the H1N1 vaccine at mass immunization clinics across the province has exceeded expectations, not only here in Nova Scotia but across the country; and

Whereas a well-thought-out delivery plan could have alleviated some of the challenges experienced by Nova Scotians waiting for the H1N1 vaccine over the last week; and

Whereas the reduction in supply of vaccines this week is providing additional challenges when it comes to the delivery of immunization at mass clinics;

Therefore be it resolved that this government respond to public concerns as to the poorly organized immunization clinics and explain how the mass immunization process will be improved as we move forward over the next few weeks.

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.

[Page 2039]

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 956

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 after asking the minister several times if Nova Scotia was dealing with a vaccine shortage; and

Whereas the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection repeatedly urged all Nova Scotians to become immunized and that all Nova Scotians would be able to access the H1N1 vaccine; and

Whereas the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is continuing to pass the buck and now to blame the federal government for not providing the province with enough vaccine after saying her department had been making preparations for weeks and that they were satisfied with how the vaccination program was being delivered;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House call on the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection to accept responsibility and show ministerial accountability in managing this H1N1 pandemic to ensure the resources are acceptable and that the concerns of health care officials are heeded instead of dismissed.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 957

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

[Page 2040]

Whereas economic development plays such a large role in the province and is so important in the expansion of all of our communities; and

Whereas Queens County's aim is to attract businesses, residents and visitors to the area as well as retaining existing businesses and help them sustain their business; and

Whereas the Region of Queens Municipality's Economic Development has two new faces in the department to move the development of Queens County ahead;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the new Director of Economic Development, Jill Cruickshank and the new Economic Development Officer, Phaedra Charlton-Huskins to their new roles and wish them luck in expanding development and tourism in Queens County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 958

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

Whereas volunteer firefighters are most often the first emergency responders on the scene to a medical call; and

Whereas while responding to medical calls, volunteer firefighters could be exposed to H1N1 while assisting people; and

Whereas many volunteer fire departments are short staffed because of the availability of volunteers and losing volunteer firefighters for any amount of time would hurt the various fire departments' ability to respond to emergencies;

[Page 2041]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House call on the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection to ensure that firefighters are included in the priority group for immunization so they can continue to provide a vital service to our local communities.

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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 959

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

Whereas the Olympic flame was lit in Olympia, Greece on October 22, 2009; and

Whereas the Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch relay began on October 30th in Victoria, British Columbia; and

Whereas Matthew Geddes of Canso, Nova Scotia was chosen to carry the Olympic torch on Day 19, Tuesday, November 17th in Tracadie, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature join me in congratulating Matthew Geddes on being chosen to carry the Olympic torch and send him very best wishes for his run on November 17th.

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 2042]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 960

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

Whereas Pat Hampsey has had a lifelong interest in Berwick and area history, and has contributed to the advancement and preservation of the community's heritage; and

Whereas Pat authored the Who We Are history columns in the Berwick Register, bringing to life Berwick and area's rich past, highlighting its people, its sporting life, the intrigue of the Bay of Fundy, and above all, another story; and

Whereas Pat has distinguished his writing career with the publishing of two books: Exit 15 - A History of Berwick and The Harbourville Connection: Exit 15...Heading North;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Pat Hampsey on his commitment to fostering a knowledge and appreciation of our past through his books, columns, and stories, and wish him the very best in retirement.

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. 961

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

[Page 2043]

Whereas pregnant women, children under five years of age, and health care workers for the district health authorities, long-term care facilities, and home care agencies are all considered to be priority groups in Nova Scotia regarding H1N1 vaccinations; and

Whereas the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection repeatedly urged all Nova Scotians to become immunized, regardless of priority groups; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians who are justifiably worried about their health and the health of a loved one are being turned away because of the vaccine shortage and being told they are not in the high-risk category;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House call upon the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection to ensure that people with compromised immune systems and Nova Scotians with other medical problems who would be compromised by H1N1 will receive the vaccine first, and to allow doctors to use their discretion in determining who is at high risk, as they know their patients best.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 962

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

Whereas Audrey Manzer has been a dedicated volunteer and Chair of the Dartmouth Lakes Advisory Board from 1972 until 2009, advising on 23 different lakes in the area; and

Whereas the success of the Dartmouth Lakes Advisory Board is very much due to Audrey's passionate commitment and leadership, advocating for the protection of freshwater ecosystems in the area by increasing communication with lakeside project developers and regional and community planners; and

[Page 2044]

Whereas Audrey is retiring from her position after 37 years of volunteer service with the Dartmouth Lakes Advisory Board;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in thanking Audrey Manzer for 37 years of contribution to the Dartmouth community and helping to protect the freshwater ecosystems of 23 lakes in the area, and join me in wishing her the utmost success in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 963

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

Whereas a clinic set up to vaccinate expecting mothers October 30th at the IWK could not meet demand and had to turn people away after just three hours; and

Whereas pregnant women were identified as a high-risk group and were said to be a top priority for the vaccine, yet not enough vaccine was provided to even meet half of the day's demand; and

Whereas this NDP Government, by their poor planning and lack of leadership on this issue, are threatening countless Nova Scotia and have created an unhealthy sense of panic among the population;

[Page 2045]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly urge the government to finally step up, take control, and give the vaccination program the structure and priority it deserves.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish. (Applause)

MR. MAURICE SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Prior to presenting this notice of motion, I beg leave to introduce a number of people in the gallery.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. SMITH: Thank you. I'd like to ask this House to give a warm welcome to a number of people who have come to be with me here today. My wife, Jane, is sitting there, and next to her is my good friend, Dale McCormick. Next to her is Dr. Ed Pencer, a teacher at the university, and Susan Eaton is next to Ed - Susan was my campaign manager in June. Next to Susan is Betsy MacIntyre - she was my official agent in both June and October elections and our manager in the office. My brother is sitting there, Frank, and next to Frank is my sister-in-law, Bernadette Lancaster, and with her is her husband Richard Lancaster. Richard and Bernie are just moving back from Ontario, the 10 per cent tax credit that was offered was enough to get them to come home and they're building a new home at Williams Point. (Laughter)

Next to Richard is Anne Peters. Anne was my campaign manager, obviously a very successful job for her this time. Also in the House, in the gallery, Olga Gladkikh, and Olga is with Coady at Antigonish and is a very dear friend and helped me a lot in this campaign with communications.

We have with us Sylvia Gunnery, Sylvia is a . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Is anybody back in Antigonish? (Laughter)

MR. SMITH: Sylvia is a well-known author from the South Shore. Next to Sylvia is Dr. Jack O'Donnell and Mrs. O'Donnell - Jack is renowned as the director of The Men of

[Page 2046]

the Deeps. We also have Dean Perry and his father Lorne Perry here - Lorne has been a long-standing supporter of our efforts.

I beg the indulgence of the House in welcoming these fine folks. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 964

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

Whereas libraries are a vital part of our province's infrastructure, and promote literacy and provide services for childhood and adult learning within communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in partnership with the Friends of Antigonish Library Society, the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association and the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, this project showcases the importance of working together for the common goals of a community; and

Whereas the People's Place Library, to be built in Antigonish, recently received $2.2 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and $1.5 million in funding from the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the People's Place Library building committee on achieving this important milestone and moving this vital project towards completion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

[Page 2047]

RESOLUTION NO. 965

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

Whereas Lesley Choyce is a Nova Scotian author and the publisher of Pottersfield Press; and

Whereas Mr. Choyce has gathered 44 essays about the future of our province from a variety of thoughtful Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this effort has resulted in the book Nova Scotia - Vision of the Future, in which many of the authors challenge conventional thinking and advance thought-provoking ideas for Nova Scotians to consider;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Lesley Choyce on publishing this book and wish him continued success in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 966

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 International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is administered all over the world and serves as a means to compare the performance of Nova Scotia's top students to their global counterparts; and

Whereas this year a record high of 312 students from across Nova Scotia were enrolled in the program; and

[Page 2048]

Whereas this year Nova Scotian students out-performed IB students from around the world in 22 of the 28 subject areas, in the average program pass rate, and in the average number of IB graduates per school, all proving that Nova Scotia students are well prepared to compete and succeed on the global stage;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate this year's graduates of the IB Diploma Programme and commend them on their exceptional performance on the global stage.

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. 967

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

Whereas petitions are a time honoured method of expressing a call for action from government and those in authority; and

Whereas I wrote the then Speaker of the House on October 23, 2006, pointing out that on-line petitions are not recognized at this Legislature and asking that the issue be addressed by the Special Committee on Assembly Matters; and

Whereas we still do not accept on-line petitions despite all our talk about democratic engagement and the need to be relevant to our citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature ask the Speaker, who is also Chair of the Special Committee on Assembly Matters, to address this issue and make Nova Scotia a leader in accepting on-line petitions which reflect the reality of today's democracy.

[Page 2049]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I heard a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 968

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Highland Village in Iona was created in 1959 during a time when history and culture were beginning to have major economic potential; and

Whereas the mission statement of the Nova Scotia Highland Village is to protect, interpret and further the collection of buildings and artifacts at the Nova Scotia Highland Village in Iona, and to preserve and promote the Scottish Highland and Island culture as found in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Highland Village will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on Tuesday, November 3rd;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Highland Village on celebrating its 50th Anniversary, thank them for continuing to preserve and promote the Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia, and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2050]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 969

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

Whereas in the quest to find the New7Wonders of Nature, the Bay of Fundy has made the final 14; and

Whereas the Bay of Fundy's tides are the highest in the world and it is a magnificent sight to compare the landscape at low tide to the water levels of high tide; and

Whereas the Harbourville Restoration Society has worked diligently to promote the Bay of Fundy as one of the New7Wonders of Nature;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Harbourville Restoration Society for their successful campaign and encourage all Nova Scotians to enjoy our natural wonder.

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. 970

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

[Page 2051]

Whereas the Ship's Company Theatre's annual golf tournament always serves to be a fun and productive day for all those involved; and

Whereas this year the Ship's Company Theatre donated all funds raised during the putting competition to the Parrsboro Schools Breakfast Program; and

Whereas students attending Parrsboro schools are invited to avail themselves of wholesome breakfast foods at the outset of the school day for the provision of nourishment and in support of growth in learning;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Ship's Company Theatre on their generous donation to this very worthy cause and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 971

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 International Association of Business Communicators was founded in 1973 as an international network for professionals engaged in strategic business communication management; and

Whereas the International Association of Business Communicators annually present 30 national awards, including the Silver Leaf Award, acknowledging communication professionals for their outstanding achievement on products recently completed; and

[Page 2052]

Whereas the Joggins Fossil Centre in Joggins, Nova Scotia was one of only two recipients from Atlantic Canada recently earning the Silver Leaf Award;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating the Joggins Fossil Centre for receiving the Silver Leaf Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 972

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

Whereas this November the Cape Breton Search and Rescue Association will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary, it marks the first existence of a Ground Search and Rescue in the Province of Nova Scotia as well as the first volunteer ground search and rescue team in the entire Atlantic Provinces; and

Whereas the association is the fourth oldest volunteer Ground Search and Rescue organization in Canada and the oldest east of Ontario, Cape Breton Search and Rescue was the first of its kind to do both day and night searches, this organization began in November 1969 and incorporated in 1972, their first meeting was held in December 1969 at St. Augustine's Church, Grand Lake Road, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas countless hours of training prepared volunteers for a multitude of search and rescue efforts, operational and emergency deployments;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the Cape Breton Search and Rescue Association for 40 years of dedication and service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2053]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, today in our House in the east gallery, we have the opportunity to visit a past colleague of ours who is here visiting and it's great to see you here. I always have to make sure when I introduce the previous MLA for Yarmouth that I mispronounce his name so I believe it's John "Devou" or is it John Deveau? Anyway, John, it's great to have you here. Could you stand and recognize the House? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: It's always great to welcome back former colleagues here to the House. Welcome.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish. (Applause)

[4:00 p.m.]

[Page 2054]

MR. MAURICE SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in Julius Caesar, Shakespeare had Caesar say, "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." That tide finally came in for Antigonish on October 20, 2009. (Applause)

The constituency of Antigonish saw the sea changes that had happened in June and more importantly saw how well the government had been conducting the people's affairs since that time. So, they voted decisively to join the new NDP Government. As I campaigned, many people told me how much they were impressed by the steady and competent leadership the Premier and caucus members were providing. They were happy to see the provincial portion of the HST come off home heating bills. They were happy to see the tax rebate for new house construction. They were happy to see the introduction of the manufacturers' tax rebate. Students were happy to see the reduction tax credit of $15,000 for university students and $7,500 for community college graduates.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Antigonish were happy to see their government doing what it said it was going to do. The blueprint that the Speech from the Throne laid out was being followed. That is what Antigonishers wanted to see happen and so they voted to support the government's program.

This win has been a long time in coming. Even in June, when we lost by only 275 votes, people were still saying to me that there would never be an NDP MLA for Antigonish. They were surprised by how close we had come to winning the seat then, but still wouldn't admit there was any possibility of an NDP win here. But the old order does pass.

On October 20th, the voters decided to join in the new venture of being a part of the first-ever NDP Government by electing the first-ever NDP MLA for Antigonish. (Applause)

And although Antigonish had just produced its first NDP MLA to represent it, there has been an NDP MLA from Antigonish County for quite some time. Our Minister of Health, Maureen MacDonald, proudly proclaims Linwood, in Antigonish County, as her home.

Mr. Speaker, this electoral success was achieved by the hard work of many people over many years and there are many people to thank. I have a long list. At the top of that list is Premier Darrell Dexter. I wish to thank him for giving me a third chance to run for this seat. I appreciate the confidence that he has placed in me.

Next I want to thank Mr. MacIsaac on behalf of the people of Antigonish for his nearly 10 years of dedicated and effective service to the constituency of Antigonish. He has earned his retirement and I hope that it is a long and enjoyable one for him and his family. I also want to give him my personal thanks. His early retirement made it a lot easier for us to run a successful campaign. Had he stayed on for a year or so, all the momentum which we had from the June election would have been lost. The team, which was still keen and united from the June election, would have been dispersed. The excitement and energy created by

[Page 2055]

the election of the new government would have been spent. He gave us a gift by retiring so soon after June 9th. I thank him for that.

Mr. Speaker, winning an election is certainly a team effort. I was blessed, both in June and again in October, with a very strong, hard-working and effective campaign team. Susan Eaton was the campaign manager in June and she led the team to within a few hundred votes of victory. Other work commitments meant that she could not manage the October election campaign but she left the team in such good shape that she was able to hand over a disciplined, dedicated and effective campaign organization to the new campaign manager, Anne Peters. Their collaboration throughout this campaign resulted in our victory. I wish to thank them both very much.

And everyone who was with us in June came out again in October. Betsy MacIntyre was our hard-working and long suffering office manager and, as well, my official agent for both campaigns. Thank you, Betsy. Paul and Louise Lorefice, two well-known Antigonishers who were invited to come here today but couldn't make it, had been working for this cause of seeing an NDP MLA in Antigonish for more than 30 years. Their support is and has been unlimited. It was in their home that I first met Father Bob Vogle and the greatest Canadian ever, Tommy Douglas.

Jamie Moeller is a young man recently graduated from St. Francis Xavier who has given tirelessly of his energy and time during both campaigns. His virtuosity with Facebooking and other unique means of contacting students is renowned. John David MacIsaac has been another perennial campaigner whose efforts have achieved prodigious results. Phil Milner has become an expert at sign placement, erection and upkeep and his team are to be greatly applauded.

Mr. Speaker, my family has stood by me and supported my efforts for many years. My now 94-year-old mother never left the house without her "I Support Moe" button on and my sister, Margo, wears orange to every public function - read bingo game - in the county. To my brother-in-law Richard, part of the sign team, and his wife Bernie, perhaps my most constant canvassing companion, I owe a great deal of thanks. They also helped get the household chores done while I was off on the campaign trail. Others who were significant in the campaign and certainly who have helped me through all of this time are Peter and Janet MacDonald, Peter McCormick, Ed Pencer and Dale MacCormick, John Dartt, John was here but I think he has left, Laureen, Lynda Murphy, Barbara DeMarche, Michael Murphy, Jeanette Fecteau, Megan MacIntyre, Ian Lancaster, Peggy Mahonare, Marion MacDonald, Wanda Doiron, Ted Wright and Olga Gladkikh.

Mr. Speaker, the movers of my nomination, Leonard Preyra in June and Louise Lorefice and Jean O'Connell in October, I thank for their wonderful and kind words.

[Page 2056]

One of those who has worked the longest to realize this goal of having an NDP MLA in Antigonish was the late John Arthur Murphy, and our success honours him. To everyone who worked on the campaign, who donated and lent their time and talent, I give thanks. I especially want to thank my wife, Jane, for her steadfast loyalty to me and support of me in this 11-year quest I have had to win this seat for the NDP in Antigonish. (Applause)

I was recently contacted by one of the most respected of Nova Scotia jurists, and I was told by him that Antigonish seems to have a knack of choosing candidates who will represent them well. He referred me to the nearly 30 years of the Honourable Bill Gillis' stewardship and the almost 10 years that the Honourable Angus MacIsaac has been at the helm. He complimented me by saying that Antigonish has done it again in choosing me as their MLA. I have to say that his words certainly gave me pause, because I know that I have big shoes to fill. I also know that I have shining examples of good leadership in these two men, so I feel that they are good role models to follow.

The constituency of Antigonish extends from Marshy Hope to Aulds Cove, with many wonderful communities in between. We are blessed with diversity. The Paq'tnkek First Nation community, the French Acadian communities, the Scots, Irish, English, and African-Canadian backgrounds all make our community a truly marvelous place in which to live. Whether we live in Havre Boucher, Heatherton, Pomquet, Monastery, Tracadie, Afton, St. Andrews, Antigonish, Arisaig, Lanark, Lakeville, Georgeville, or Malignant Cove, we all share the same goal of wanting to have a vibrant, healthy, and prosperous community.

We have achieved much in Antigonish. In our county we have one of the best community hospitals anywhere at St. Martha's. We have a stellar university at St. Francis Xavier. We have vibrant fishery, farming, and forestry industries. We have wonderful sporting facilities which continue to improve and develop.

I think the fact that this morning, when I was sworn in and given an MLA pin, the number was 99, will have some significance for the people of Antigonish. During my campaign, arenas and hockey were forever, it seemed, on the horizon. I think when I go back to Antigonish and tell them that I'm the 99 of the Legislature, they'll be pleased with that.

We have a very successful and professional summer repertory theatre in Antigonish; it has achieved many awards. We have to thank the recent celebration of the Coady International Institute's 50th Anniversary and the successful completion of the new expansion of the St. Francis Xavier campus.

In Antigonish the Lieutenant Governor's Community Spirit Award for 2009 was given to the Village of St. Andrews. The success of many people who worked so hard to bring the dream of a new library/community centre, The People's Place, to fruition, are some of our successes.

[Page 2057]

Our vibrant farmers' market and good food box project, with their aim to encouraging buying local, are other examples of how this community continues to move forward in a positive fashion.

Other projects that are being worked on in the community include wireless Internet for every area of the community, the enhancement of palliative care services, the goal of L'Arche to provide increased support for families who want to have their loved ones with special needs properly cared for, and sustainable funding for our recovery house and our Women's Resource Centre. The list is long, but all of these goals are achievable when the community works together.

Ongoing efforts by our mayor and warden and their councils to improve our overall community well-being are bringing success for all of us. Our community is truly blessed. But again, it comes with hard work by a lot of people.

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful that the people of Antigonish have chosen me to represent them as their MLA in this very exciting time, as the province enjoys the first-ever NDP Government. My commitment to them is that I will continue to work hard on their behalf. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Emergency Department Accountability Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Was it the honourable minister who was speaking on that?

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is going to close debate, I believe. Or is it the honourable Minister of Health?

[4:13 p.m. The House recessed.]

[Page 2058]

[4:15 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll call the House back to order.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for a moment of interruption there for a second to wait.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 52, the Emergency Department Accountability Act, I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about emergency rooms in my own area and how, since becoming the MLA for the last 12 years, it has been a huge issue for the local hospitals. It has been a huge issue, obviously, for local doctors, but in particular for the residents of the area.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to mention a former mayor of Parrsboro who passed away last week, Mayor Doug Robinson, who served as the mayor of the Town of Parrsboro for the last 12 years, who felt very strongly about the emergency room in Parrsboro and regarding doctors for that area. He spent a lot of time working with the local district health authority, with the local foundation at the hospital, and they raised a tremendous amount of money for additions and renovations and whatnot that the hospital needed. I know he felt very strongly for the ER department and I don't think it would be fair for me to stand today without mentioning the late mayor, Doug Robinson, who passed away last week - in this regard, again, such an issue was very close to him.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a couple of comments about some of the issues that I hear in my area about ERs. As we know, ERs are closed on a regular basis in Cumberland County, and particularly at this point in time, Parrsboro and Pugwash. A lot of the local residents seem to think that one of the main reasons obviously is the availability of doctors, but a lot of time doctors for these small rural hospitals are paid different amounts. For example, in Pugwash and Parrsboro they would be paid a certain amount, versus what they would be paid to work in the emergency department in Springhill, versus what they would be paid to work in the emergency department at the regional hospital in Cumberland County.

Mr. Speaker, there are some who would suggest that these larger facilities are busier, that the doctors see more patients in the run of a shift, but I can tell you that there's a volunteer group of people in my own area, who are working toward trying to help attract doctors to the area, who would take issue with that. They believe, for example, the ER in Springhill at All Saints Hospital is as busy, if not busier, than the regional hospital in Nappan, in Cumberland County. So that's one issue that people continually raise. The question is around the hourly amount that's paid to doctors for working those different sites and how it's justified by the department, and how it's so important to support these ERs in these smaller hospitals, for obvious reasons.

[Page 2059]

Mr. Speaker, another centre that's in Cumberland County is in Advocate. It, as well, has had its challenges over the years in regard to attracting doctors, but more than attracting them, retaining them. Doctors come to these small rural areas. They have spouses, who are usually professionals, who are looking for other things, and I understand that, but I believe that a doctor can come to a rural area like mine, whether it's Springhill, whether it's Advocate, whether it's Parrsboro, or whether it's River Hebert, for example, where there's a clinic, and I think they can have a very good lifestyle for themselves, for their family, for their children.

I think when it comes to the amount of monies they're paid, the hourly rates for these ER departments, I think they're treated very fairly and I hope that as we continue to talk about this issue - I know the present government has made a commitment in regard to ERs - I think that this would be one of the times where I'll say that sometimes things are easier said than done because I think there's a huge challenge in regard to maintaining emergency rooms in rural Nova Scotia.

The government has made a commitment that they're going to keep those emergency rooms open and I can tell you it's welcome news in my area. It's certainly welcome news to me, Mr. Speaker, because we believe that small communities, whether it's your hospital, your local Legion, your local school, or your local church, there's usually one in many of these small communities and it's very important that these services be maintained for the people of rural Nova Scotia, and I know it's no different in my own area.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the government has hired someone to take a look at this issue of emergency rooms over the next year at a cost I believe of $100,000. I just wonder if - in Opposition for 10 years, I think that the government of today, you know, certainly on many, many occasions pointed out what they believed were the problems in regard to ERs and doctors in small areas, and keeping these emergency rooms open, and how important it was. I would have thought that they would have had some good ideas by now to put forth that would have maintained these. However, in their wisdom they've decided to hire a gentleman to take a look at this. I certainly have a lot of respect in that regard, as I know the medical community does out there as well.

So I'm certainly looking forward to the work that will be done but, Mr. Speaker, again, there's a report that was before the previous government, I know it's before this government today, PHSOR, that talks about all kinds of issues in regard to health. I think that, as this government moves forward and it looks at the delivery of health care in rural Nova Scotia, I just hope they keep in mind that many people not only raise their families in rural Nova Scotia, but I think a lot of people as well, when they retire from other parts of the province, other parts of this country, will move back to our rural areas. Two things that people will ask me about, when they're moving home, one is about the local school and one is about the local hospital.

[Page 2060]

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: And what are the police officers like?

MR. SCOTT: And what are the police officers like, as the honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says. Well, they don't have to ask that any more about me, do they?

Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, they do. They ask about the hospital and they ask about the school. I'll give you a good example, not to get too far off the track here, but for example, the Town of Oxford, a new school is being built there. They tell me that over the last number of months their enrolment has increased, they've had a lot of contact from people outside the community and outside the province who want to move back to Nova Scotia and are looking at the school system in the community.

People do want to avail themselves of the information around schools and that helps young families who have children who will be going to school in the area to make up their minds whether they will move to a community such as Oxford or Springhill or Parrsboro or River Hebert or Advocate. They want to know the type of facility they have, about the professionals they have there - which I believe are second to none in this country.

The other thing they want to talk about are the hospitals because as people retire, and we see people retiring at a lot younger age, there are some retirees right in this room - I'm not going to point them out, but the Minister of Economic and Rural Development is indicating he's one himself, certainly a young man like that to be retired, that's wonderful. But I'm sure that if he were moving to a community with his family, he'd want to talk about the schools, but also, for himself, what type of health care services may be available in that community.

I think that we all recognize that here in the central region of HRM, there are people who move here to be able to take advantage of a wonderful health care system that's here in this province. I don't question that at all; in fact, my kids live here in this area. This is where the jobs were for them and they're certainly very pleased with the services here.

No disrespect to HRM, but there's a lot more to this province than just the central part of HRM. For example, there are a lot of parts (Interruptions) Sackville-Cobequid, for example, wonderful services out there. We've heard members here talk about the fishing community, the forestry community, agriculture. I think this is a wonderful place, Nova Scotia, something we're all very, very proud of. We love to live here, we love to see people come back home.

I do strongly believe that emergency rooms, the availability of emergency services, doctors being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week will play a large role with regard

[Page 2061]

to people moving back to Nova Scotia, in determining whether or not they'll live in these communities and whether, in fact, we'll be able to keep the residents of these communities there in their retirement years.

I see the members opposite nod their heads, I know they agree with that. I'm trying to say that in my 12 years as an MLA, one of the most difficult issues I've had to deal with in regard to health care was the emergency rooms and doctors that will come. Obviously, for the skills and skill sets, for doctors to be able to practise what they're trained to do, they want to be able to practise in areas where they have the opportunity to be the best they can and to provide the best service they can to their patients and residents.

I just wanted to go on the record and say that I truly believe it's a very important issue for this government. I believe for our rural communities, the very survival of many of these small communities will be dependent on what this government does and the Department of Health does under the direction of the minister, what you're able to do with regard to providing health care services in small communities, particularly emergency rooms and the ability to attract and retain doctors in these small areas.

I would encourage the minister and the government to work very hard and to guarantee people that wherever they live in Nova Scotia today, if they have a 24-hour emergency department today that the government, I would hope, would guarantee that service will continue in the future. Mr. Speaker, I know that's a big ask and a huge challenge for the minister, for the Premier, but I believe it's something Nova Scotians not only need, but expect.

I will take my place. I just wanted to get on the record to say that I support this bill moving forward and I look to great things coming from the study that's being done with regard to emergency rooms in Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place today to speak to Bill No. 52, the Emergency Department Accountability Act. It's an important piece of legislation. However, as I will point out as I go along, there are some ways and areas that this particular piece of legislation can be improved upon. That's why, of course, we have the Law Amendments Committee for this bill to eventually move toward.

This is an issue that's on the minds of many Nova Scotians. I live in an area where family doctors is a very difficult issue for about 12,000 residents of the Annapolis Valley. At the last count, there were between 10,000 and 12,000 residents without a family doctor.

I did a check last week, knowing that I would be speaking to this bill. I checked with two of the emergency room docs, two of the ERPs at Soldiers Memorial Hospital, and both

[Page 2062]

of them - on the given 12-hour shift that they had just completed, slightly over 50 per cent of the patients they saw had no family doctor. So this is what makes this issue so very challenging, so very, very difficult to deal with.

Now during the election and now to government, if there was any clarity coming from the NDP, it was that all ERs in Nova Scotia would remain open and secondly, there would be ministerial accountability when it came to dealing with ER closures. So those are the two things now that are starting to grow in the public domain - all ERs that currently exist in the province will remain open, and that the minister will take responsibility and be accountable when they close.

By definition, "accountability" means the obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform as expected. In many ways, we were expecting the minister and this government to introduce a bill that would enshrine true ministerial responsibility. A bill that would show Nova Scotians how this minister will bear the consequences when it comes to ER closures. Sadly, this bill does not do that very thing. This bill will not point out ministerial accountability.

The people of Nova Scotia are looking for a bill that would somehow enshrine the responsibility the minister would take; for example, over 4,000 hours of ER closure that have occurred since the government assumed power in June. Bill No. 52 fails to do that. Perhaps a better name for this bill would be The DHA Emergency Room Accountability Act. That just may be more appropriate here, and I think we'll see that bear out as time goes on.

According to this bill: "Where the emergency department of a district health authority has experienced an ongoing pattern of closure of the emergency department since the last public forum held by the district health authority pursuant to Section 18 of the Health Authorities Act, the district health authority shall consult with the community served by the emergency department as part of its next public forum pursuant to the Act."

Now, Mr. Speaker, there's no definition provided which would give the general public some sense of what exactly the minister means when it comes to "ongoing." For example, we've had some closures at Soldiers Memorial Hospital; the area where I live. Now there's no question, "ongoing" would be exactly what they experienced in Digby General Hospital, for example. In my area they have been more sporadic, but they have nevertheless occurred. So this "ongoing" is indeed an area that does need full explanation. Is it if an ER is closed 20 hours per month? 15 hours per week? A total of 500 hours per year? We do look forward to the minister clarifying this particular concern we have with this bill, because as the bill stands right now, it is possible that each DHA can interpret a definition of "ongoing" differently.

[4:30 p.m.]

[Page 2063]

So where, again, would be the ministerial accountability? Again, I reference Soldiers Memorial Hospital. We've been down to about somewhere between four and six closures a year for the past two years since we've had a designated doctor - an ER specialist - to not only do his rotation, but also taking control of the scheduling. So we have reduced the closures fairly significantly over the past couple of years. However, this is an area that serves an active air force base, and the residents that I talked to in the Kingston-Greenwood-Aylesford-Middleton area, their belief is that the ER in Middleton - where you have an active base - should never be closed and, of course, the general population obviously feels the same way.

It also bears mentioning that when you look at Section 18 of the Health Authorities Act, it requires the district health authority to conduct at least two public forums per year for the purpose of providing information on the operations and activities of the DHAs. Just how many months after a series of ongoing closures is the public expected to wait for this meeting and, more importantly, just how many months is the public supposed to wait before community solutions are presented as is required in this Act?

Clause 4(2) states "The consultation . . ." - conducted by the DHA - ". . . must include consideration of proposed community solutions to keep open or re-open the emergency department or to provide alternative health services." Perhaps the government can clarify this point - is this a clause that gives the minister an out to break her government's promise to keep emergency rooms open 24/7?

When you read Clause 4(2) carefully it says that the DHA consultation must consider community solutions to reopen an emergency department - one can take from this statement that an ER might actually be closed if you are considering solutions to reopen them. The clause also goes on to read ". . . or to provide alternative health services." - do these words give the minister an out to help accept alternative health services instead of honouring her government's promise to keep ERs 24/7? Our caucus is looking for clarification on that point.

Clause 4(2) also states that the DHA must consider proposed community solutions to keep ERs open, or reopen the emergency department. There is nothing in this bill that states that solutions to keep ERs open are actually implemented or accepted, just "considered." What if the budget of the DHA allows solutions to be considered, but never implemented? When does the minister and the government step in and say we will, as a government, be accountable to the community, that we will implement all community solutions, that we are committed to keeping ERs open 24/7, and that we will provide the funding to do just that - keep ERs open 24/7, not just consider solutions and then forget about them?

The bill, Clause 5(2), also requires "The district health authority shall report to the Minister within a reasonable period of time on all consultations pursuant to this Act and the

[Page 2064]

actions taken or to be taken by the district health authority as a result of the consultations." What is a reasonable period of time - three months, six months, a year? What if the action taken by the DHA is to close an ER and provide alternative services - where is the ministerial accountability to the public here? Is she just going to stand back and say she did all she can, it's the DHA's fault if your ER closes?

Bill No. 52 also requires the minister to table a report to the House of Assembly, a document that tells Nova Scotians when, where, and how often ERs are closed district by district. However, to the minister, this can easily be done now - simply take all of the media advisories, total them up, and you will have a report. Do you really think that people who have been experiencing ongoing persistent ER closures in their community will find great comfort in the fact that the minister will be tabling a report telling them how bad it is?

These statistics should be used as the basis to find solutions, and not find their way in a report that will enable the Minister of Health to say she is somehow being accountable. The reason for the persistent ER closures for the vast majority of the ERs is a lack of physicians, and people would much rather see the minister being accountable and finding a solution to ensuring more doctors are available to work in ERs, not filling a report to tell us that there is a problem - we already know that there's a problem and it's incumbent upon this Minister of Health to fix it.

Bill No. 52 also fails to provide for the general public a definite proclamation date - something this government was critical of in Opposition and are, obviously, fond of in government. When will the public start seeing meetings - this year, next year, the year after that?

To summarize, this is a bill with no ministerial accountability like this government promised during the election. It's a bill that enables the minister to potentially break her government's promise to keep ERs open 24/7. It's a bill with no commitment by government to implement community solutions. It's a bill that fails to define ongoing closures so DHAs could have different interpretations and hence we could see public meetings in some districts and not in others. It's a bill that enables the minister to table a report on information readily available. It's a bill that may never be proclaimed. It's weak and it fails to address the problems. The public will see through this bill for what it is - a feeble attempt by this government to say they are doing something about ER closures when nothing can be further from the truth.

I look forward to government's response on these points that I have made. We also look forward to seeing it move on to the Law Amendments Committee and to see a strengthening of this piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further speakers on Bill No. 52?

[Page 2065]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I did want to say a few words on Bill No. 52, which is called the Emergency Department Accountability Act. Again, a number of members of the Liberal caucus have spoken very well and raised many points about the accountability that this bill implies but, in fact, doesn't really deliver on, and I think they've said it very well. I defer to them on many of those points but I wanted to just reiterate some of our strongly held views about accountability and about the fact that this bill pretends to offer it but doesn't, in fact, address the question at hand.

I think it's very serious that you would present a bill, the title of which implies a great deal of accountability and, in fact, when you get into the nitty-gritty of it, it really is a bill about having a couple more meetings, about adding to the already mandated meetings under the Health Authorities Act, Section 18, which does mandate public meetings for district health authorities. We've now added the fact that if they are ongoing, or an ongoing pattern of closure, which is the term used in the bill, then that would have to also be addressed at those meetings.

Again, Mr. Speaker, what we see in the bill is an onus on the DHAs, the district health authorities, to hold those meetings, to listen to advice from the public, and as the previous member said, to consider that advice but with no responsibility to necessarily try the solutions that are proposed by the community. You know, I go back to the recent issue around Digby losing their nurse practitioner where the community has come up with their own solution where they would like to take more direct control of that position and help to ensure that the nurse practitioner is brought back into the community, and they would take control.

It's a workable solution, Mr. Speaker, but government is often adverse to change because it means changes in the way they do business, or it might set a precedent, which is always a fear with the bureaucracy. Sometimes I think we have to be flexible and we have to look at individual communities. Again, I'm a strong and a firm believer that within individual towns, villages and municipalities, the people who are most closely affected do have strong answers and they do see how you can martial resources to get the best results, but often that does not go in line with what the government, or what the bureaucracy, may have set out. So we would like to see a little more onus on the DHAs as well to try new solutions. Maybe they need to be given the authority to do that.

Mr. Speaker, primarily this is a bill that simply requires more paperwork, more reporting, another annual report to the House and to the people of Nova Scotia about where the emergency rooms are closed and for how long. Right now we know that there have been 4,000 hours of ER closures in the last four months, that is in the last four months since the New Democratic Government has been elected. The emergency room closures, and the pattern of ongoing closures, has continued . . .

[Page 2066]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There seems to be a little too much chatter in the Chamber amongst members of all three Parties, I see, and I would ask that the members would pay attention to the member for Halifax Clayton Park who is speaking.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. This bill is very important and it affects every community in Nova Scotia. I know that every member is interested in ensuring that the communities that they serve and represent are going to have access to emergency rooms that are open, which would follow the promise made by the NDP in the recent election. I was saying that since that election on June 9th, we've had 4,000 hours of emergency room closures in this province. We have obviously yet to deal properly with the issue of how to keep those emergency rooms open on a dependable schedule and how to deal with the human resource issues that are affecting them.

An accountability Act might be better if it actually included human resources as one of the things that would be reported back on. That seems to be the biggest problem in keeping our emergency rooms open and that's not one of the measures that seems to be in this bill. We've simply been asked in the bill to report back on closures, how many hours, when have they been, and if there is what is defined as an ongoing pattern of closure, then you hold your public meeting and you allow people to vent.

That's what it would be, a venting to the DHAs and not an accountability to the minister. That one report a year would really be reporting, as was said, on information that is readily available. We already know, it has not been difficult to track and to know that 4,000 hours of emergency room closures have already occurred, and we can continue to track. That's something the Opposition members have been doing; our caucus and our critics are continuing to do so. We feel that is not a necessary thing, really, to have another report to the Legislature that simply itemizes those closures.

What we'd like to see is that we start to track the resources that are available in those communities, how we're sharing resources between DHAs, how we might have some flexibility to reallocate resources or create a locum. If the nurses are the shortage, maybe we need to have a system similar to the one that the Liberal Party had suggested for doctors who could go on a temporary basis for a few days or a weekend, to different DHAs and fill in at emergency rooms where we know there will be closures.

In fact, why not have the nurses, as well, be on a system and a list of locums where they can travel because a lot of them have the flexibility. In fact, I've met people in travelling - this is in the United States where nurses routinely go to other cities and serve for a period of months on short-term contracts where the need is greatest.

[Page 2067]

I think Bill No. 52 is an attempt to mask real accountability. It means that at the end of the session, we will be able to announce a bill has passed and that it deals with emergency room accountability, and it will sound very good. Just on the surface, if nobody looks into what the content of the bill is, if nobody questions whether it's really meaningful in the scheme of things, the government will be able to pat itself on the back and say that we did actually introduce legislation and we're trying to do something.

[4:45 p.m.]

In actual fact, we need some concrete action on the ground. We need to see locums put into place so that our own doctors can fill those shortages. We need to see some action plans from the DHAs, which again, are closest to the issue, and we need to see the minister approving those plans and moving forward with some real solutions. I just don't feel that this bill will do anything more than be window dressing to a very serious problem in many communities.

Again, another point that was raised earlier in the discussion was the fact that it only talks about closures. That is a big issue in rural and smaller centres around the province, but here in the city our big issue is overcrowding. We are the regional health centre for the whole province, we have people who are coming in emergency situations, air lifted in and brought in by ambulance to metro. We also have 400,000 people who live right here in HRM and we are served by those central facilities and we share them with people from around Atlantic Canada.

Our biggest issue is long line-ups, sometimes being diverted to other hospitals because our local hospital can't handle it, as we've seen in the Code Census that had been called at the Dartmouth General. A week ago it had been called four days out of seven. We know that is an ongoing and serious problem and I'm not sure there's anything in this bill that would address those issues, in the public meetings, that would be held to account for emergency room operations.

I think that if you look at being diverted or being held for long waits at the emergency room - for the members here, remember those waits of six and twelve hours, whatever they may be, sometimes more than a day. Those are old people, they're ill people, they're children, they're people who are in an emergency room because they have a problem. It's very difficult, even if you're considered low priority, very difficult to sit when you're ill and have to wait all those long, long hours to be seen.

I would like to see this bill strengthened to at least include the issue of overcrowding and people being asked to be diverted to other places. That really is the emergency room issue in HRM. I know that in the NDP Government there are many members who represent metro ridings and who would have this as, I am sure, a major concern as well. I'm sure they

[Page 2068]

will echo that concern around their table and bring that up as well with the Minister of Health when the opportunity presents itself.

I guess that's a call to action for all members of the House to speak up on behalf of their community, because the issue of closures is not the paramount issue that my community of Clayton Park deals with, but as the Health Critic for the Liberal Party, Mr. Speaker, I take it very seriously. I have visited many communities around the province, in fact most recently was in Cape Breton on Friday, for an event that was being held by the Cape Breton District Health Authority. I am very well aware of the deep concern and confusion and anxiety that the rotating closures - and sometimes unscheduled closures - of the emergency rooms are having.

I go back to the issue of human resource planning because if we don't start having an accountability and a record of how we share our nurses and our health professionals within this province, we're going to see tremendous difficulties increasing in the future. An example right now with the H1N1 vaccination program that's underway shows us how we've tried to marshal all of the nurses, whether they've been retired, whether they're in public health and not in the hospital system - we've tried to take all of the people who have the qualifications and redirect them to this very large effort that is underway right across the province. That has taken a coordination among DHAs with leadership from Health Promotion and Protection.

I think there are times that we have to look at doing something more extraordinary, and certainly making the best use of the health professionals in our province is of paramount importance. That's what I would like to see in this bill, I would like to see that we're looking at how to marshal those resources, line them up, and help all DHAs to keep the emergency rooms open.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to see this bill go forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I look forward to hearing from any members of the public who may come out to speak, and we will see where it goes in the future. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank all of the honourable members who took part in the second reading debate on this bill. I would now move closure for second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 52. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 2069]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could ask the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 5 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.

Bill No. 47 - Dietitians Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

[Page 2070]

Bill No. 39 - Uranium Exploration and Mining Prohibition Act.

Bill No. 48 - Pension Benefits Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 50.

Bill No. 50 - Wilderness Areas Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to take this opportunity today to speak on the proposed amendments to the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. These proposed amendments will improve the Act by clarifying issues. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have in our gallery some interruptions. I would ask our Sergeant-at-Arms to attend to that, please.

We'll just break for a couple of minutes and we'll be right back.

[4:52 p.m. The House recessed.]

[4:57 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will resume proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Environment.

[Page 2071]

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to take this opportunity today to speak to the proposed amendments to the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. These proposed amendments will improve the bill by clarifying issues of access to wilderness areas.

Our protected wilderness areas are places for Nova Scotian families to enjoy outdoor recreation, research and the renewal offered by being close to nature. These areas protect our environment. They boost our green economy and they help attract visitors. They contribute to the economic growth of established businesses and can lead to new sustainable economic opportunities. So we're working to improve the Act to help us manage our wilderness areas.

Mr. Speaker, to begin, let me briefly describe what these amendments will do. First, they will address off-highway vehicle use in wilderness areas. Right now, off-highway vehicle access to protected wilderness areas is generally prohibited, except in a few specific circumstances, such as accessing private lands or for maintenance of an existing power utility corridor. The Off-Highway Vehicle Ministerial Advisory Committee has studied these issues. These amendments reflect their recommendations affecting vehicle access in wilderness areas.

The key change is a reduction in vehicle use for recreation purposes. This relates to Clause 1(4), Subsection 23(5) of the Act. It has been rarely used and is challenging to interpret and apply in a consistent way. These amendments will improve that clause.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, wilderness areas are places to protect the biodiversity of the environment. They protect plant life, watercourses, wetlands, rare species and other elements of nature. They give Nova Scotians places to enjoy wilderness recreation such as hiking, camping and canoeing, and traditional pursuits like sports fishing and hunting.

Many Nova Scotians enjoy motorized vehicles for wilderness recreation. There are many places for this activity outside provincially-designated wilderness areas. In provincial wilderness areas the recreational use of off-highway vehicles is prohibited.

To support connections between communities, the department has allowed, in a few places, the managed vehicle trails through wilderness areas. These amendments will allow for the designation and management of vehicle use on three regional important connector routes in three existing wilderness areas.

Mr. Speaker, vehicle access to campsite lease sites in the wilderness areas will be reduced. Authorization for use of vehicles will be granted only if a vehicle is required to repair or maintain structures or to remove material or structures. These terms of that access may be unique to each situation and will be outlined in a licence issued to campsite leaseholders.

[Page 2072]

We are also acting to maintain access to a safe and successful moose hunt in the Polletts Cove-Aspy Fault Wilderness Area in northern Cape Breton. We want to help hunters and guides in that area transition away from the use of off-highway vehicles by hunting and hauling harvest moose. Therefore, included in these amendments is a two-year extension to the current vehicle licences approach, to allow more time to establish a viable, non-motorized hunt for that particular wilderness area.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Nova Scotia Off-Highway Vehicle Ministerial Advisory Committee for their work that has helped us arrive at these changes. Through independent committee review and public consultation, we are addressing some long-standing concerns. A further proposed amendment relates to access to Hay Island, which is part of the Scatarie Island Protected Wilderness Area. This amendment is intended to strike a balance between economic and environmental interests related to seal harvesting on Hay Island.

This is a housekeeping amendment that is designed to make the process to allow the harvest more straightforward. Until the current legislation, the minister's authority to allow a seal harvest on Hay Island is linked to showing that a seal harvest benefits the island. Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, as you may know, the seal harvest has taken place on Hay Island in the past two years. These harvests were authorized under strict conditions. While studies to access the benefit of this harvest to the island biodiversity have been inconclusive and there is no evidence to suggest that there has been any harm done to the island because of these seal harvests, and since we have this information, our objective with this amendment is to make the process for allowing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans seal harvest on Hay Island more straightforward.

This amendment gives the minister the clear authority to allow the access. I want to stress that should a seal harvest take place on Hay Island, under the new amendment the minister still has the authority, and the responsibility, to set strict conditions to minimize potential effects on the licensed harvest on the environment. These conditions could include prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles, restricting the length of the access period and requiring that all waste and refuse from the harvest be removed from the island.

Mr. Speaker, this activity must be properly approved and managed to ensure that there is minimum harm to the island. This amendment provides the proper authority, as well as the right to impose strict conditions, to protect the environment during the harvest. This new authority will not apply to any other location, wilderness areas, or activity.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, we are tightening up the Wilderness Areas Protection Act to clarify key sections that relate to the way wilderness areas may be accessed and used. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 2073]

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to rise today in second reading to talk about Bill No. 50. Just before I start some of my other comments, the minister, in his remarks, suggested the ATV regulation changes are the most significant in this, I can't remember the exact words he used, but I think when he gets to the Law Amendments Committee he might find that there's another section of the bill which is somewhat more significant to a large number of people. I think he saw a few of those people today.

There are a couple of concerns here, Mr. Speaker. One of the things that we're happy to see is the minister's discretion regarding ATVs in protected areas removed. For the record, it was a loophole that was never used, but we certainly have supported it in the past and continue to support removing that.

We're happy to see the minister following generally on the recommendations, at least some of the recommendations, of the off-highway vehicle association, and how to manage some of these things, but we remain with some concerns about this bill. Specifically, a couple of areas we have concerns are, although it talks about the campsite leases, the bill provides no plan for what happens with those leases in the long term, whether there's a plan for wrapping them up and expiries of those so that eventually these protected areas are 100 per cent in the public domain and not under leases.

There also seems to be a loophole large enough to drive a very large ATV through, and that's in the clause which provides for repair of campsites and so forth. It seems to be at the departmental discretion what that can mean, and it would strike - you know, in reading it, it's very clear that you could be in and out pretty well constantly with as many of these vehicles as you wish for. You could suggest, for example, you were going to replace the roof on a camp, and take all summer to do that and be in and out. So if it is indeed the government's intention, which the minister stated it was, to reduce the amount of ATV impact in protected areas, then I'm not sure that that amendment covers that, because it's really a wide open area in terms of allowing repairs of a wide nature and of an unlimited nature to a large extent.

The minister, later in his remarks, also spoke to the issue of the transition extension from 2010 to 2012. I'm interested to hear what's said about that. Now, in principle, I have no problem with that, but the date of 2010 was meant to be a transition in and of itself. What we did not hear in the press briefing or in the minister's remarks at this time is why the move from 2010 to 2012 will actually provide a greater ability to transition in terms of the moose hunt. So if the original intent was to stop using ATVs for that particular moose hunt by 2010, and now we're extending that to 2012 because the first amount didn't provide the transition, what service is and what support is the department going to provide to ensure that this new date is met? That went unanswered in the press briefing despite being asked, and the minister's staff also didn't have a response to that.

[Page 2074]

Mr. Speaker, I think the main concerns that we have at this time with the bill - although I think we're prepared to let it move on to the Law Amendments Committee, I think there will be a lot of interest on a number of elements in the bill there - is really about the nuts and bolts of how this was done. On the one hand, there seems to be a lack of detail around campsites and other issues, but there also seems to be no provision, whether by regulation or otherwise, for support by the department to ensure that some of these transitional elements actually happen. Then finally we come down to the issue of enforcement and, you know, in questioning during the budget with the Department of Natural Resources, we understood from the Natural Resources Minister that there were not additional funds to provide additional enforcement of any new regulations. Yet here we have a whole wide range of new regulations, some of which will actually be fairly complicated to enforce.

For example, the whole issue of the permit process to move forward for repairs on campsites is actually going to be a fairly complicated issue to enforce, and I liken it to scuba divers with scallop licences in that, you know, they always have to carry them. You can see a diver getting out of the water with scallops and not know whether they have a licence or not, and somebody who's qualified actually has to review the licence to see whether it's appropriate. Well, the same sort of situation is being set up by the minister, in this case for ATVs, where conceivably you'll have a licence or some kind of permit that outlines exactly what you're allowed to do at your campsite, and if you say you're replacing a roof and you have a door on the back, you know, somebody has got to enforce that. I think that there's the potential that they've created a bit of an enforcement nightmare.

The Minister of Natural Resources, as I say, during budget estimates has indicated that there is no additional money for providing that kind of enforcement service. So I guess it remains a question as to whether this is a bit of a whitewash in terms of saying, you know, we're going to have all these regulations but in the end nobody is going to enforce them. So there's actually no improvement from them. It's another situation of seeing a bill brought forward without the plan brought forward at the same time.

I know that question was raised by a number of people after the press briefing the other day in the off-highway vehicle community. I'm hopeful that either in the minister's closing comments, or by the end of the debate as we work our way through to what I assume will ultimately be third reading, that we'll have some answers to those questions.

With that, I'll leave it as being the issues that we have concerns with at this time, but we're certainly prepared to see this go to the Law Amendments Committee and see what comes out of that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 2075]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and share some comments with regard to Bill No. 50. I want to begin by saying that I remember being a brand new member in this House in early 1998, and I know there are many new members here today who for the first time are sitting through legislation being brought forward by the government, bills. Maybe you're not quite sure how it's going to impact your own community, or maybe a community that you represent, in this particular case, the off-highway vehicle community.

It's very large in my area and I want to speak in a moment about that with regard to rural versus urban, opportunities in rural areas with regard to leisure time versus what may be available in HRM that's not available in the rural areas and how important this industry is to the economy, I know in my area and I'm sure all of Nova Scotia and particularly rural areas.

Mr. Speaker, back to 1998, the government of the day brought in legislation around 31 protected areas. I remember being a brand new member here sitting not far from where I'm standing today. (Interruption) The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is indicating it is back there a little farther. But, I remember going home and talking to some of my constituents, people in my own area, about this legislation and how it may impact them. At the time the government of the day made commitments that management plans would be developed over the coming months - I thought it was months. It turned out to be years and in most cases haven't materialized to this date, and here we are, almost 12 years later.

I can tell you that these 31 protected areas, in my own area - two are very close to me - had a huge impact with regard to the off-highway vehicle community, both four-wheelers and snowmobilers. In fact, it had a huge impact on people who have had camps in their families for decades.

[5:15 p.m.]

I want to mention that next week we're going to honour veterans in this province and in this country. That legislation was passed in 1998. It had a huge impact on many veterans in my area and many of them came to me over the years to tell me the results of this legislation that was passed and, in fact, how it had prevented them from enjoying some pastimes they had enjoyed for many, many years. Some of them, maybe not some of those veterans, but some older constituents who had enjoyed it with their own fathers - hunting, fishing and just recreational fun out in the environment.

I want to say that I certainly support protecting certain areas in our province. I have grandchildren and I'm hoping that they'll be able to take advantage of some of the opportunities here in Nova Scotia that I was able to take advantage of myself growing up and

[Page 2076]

with my son, in a hunting camp that we have, and I hope that my grandsons will be able to take advantage of that as well.

I do support protecting some areas, and I want to say "some" because I want to clarify exactly what I mean by that. I truly believe that off-highway vehicle users, for example, are environmentalists, I mean that. In my area, they respect the environment, they treat it with the most respect. I won't say no one - the majority of them do not take things into the forest, or into the woodlands, that they don't bring home with them. Most of them don't do damage to the woodlands. Most of them don't damage the environment. Most of them would not think about doing anything that would jeopardize the use of those lands.

Of course, there are going to be some who don't adhere to the rules. That's the same in all aspects of society where people have blatant disregard to the rules, blatant disregard for the environment, blatant disregard for what the majority of people want in our province. That's an issue that has to be addressed through enforcement, I believe, and strong enforcement. I've always supported that.

Mr. Speaker, I have a real concern when it comes to impacting on the enjoyment of many, many, law-abiding, respectful people, many of whom are seniors, many of whom are veterans, who have enjoyed for many, many years and as a result of those actions I believe in many cases prevents them from being able to enjoy the pastime they've been able to do for decades.

So, Mr. Speaker, in regards to these 31 protected areas, if I understand correctly, this legislation being brought forward today by the minister will actually allow for the possibility of expanding the boundaries of the Economy River Wilderness Area, something that borders between myself and between Cumberland and Colchester Counties. Certainly many people in my own area who have used the area trails, some of whom have camps in that area, some who have camps where their fathers had camps, I can tell you, over the last number of years they have encountered tremendous difficulty in regard to accessing these camps.

Mr. Speaker, I heard my honourable colleague mention a minute ago whether there would be an opportunity for people to go in and out on a regular basis to do work to the camps. I think it is probably the farthest thing from truth because what I've watched over the last number of years are people who have gone in and applied and possibly got a permit to go in and do their work. I think there are timelines around that and I think they are monitored quite well in regards to what work they can actually do. In fact, they are very restricted in regard to even doing anything to these trails, as far as cutting branches or trees or even cleaning up old culverts or what not.

I think, Mr. Speaker, it's actually the opposite of what my honourable colleague would suggest. I think it's very restrictive and I think the Department of Natural Resources, through the enforcement people, watch very closely as to what these woodlot owners actually do around their camps and trails.

[Page 2077]

Mr. Speaker, in the bill it talks about naming the River Philip Road - that's actually a road that's been in place for in excess of 100 years. People that were grandfathers were telling me how over the years they've used this road to access their camps, their woodlots, or even to get from A to B on one side of the mountain to the other.

I want to say that a previous Deputy Minister of Environment, I remember a few years back, we went up into the area and took in excess of 100 pictures, to be able to show the deputy at the time, Mr. L'Esperance, how in fact the users of that day in those areas were actually using the land and what kind of - and we didn't notify anybody we were going. We just went in and a couple of people that represented a couple of the organizations, we went in together and spent the day taking pictures all through that whole area.

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the deputy of the day, and I believe the minister of the day, were very impressed with the way that the land was being used. Again, we're talking about environmentalists who are very aware of the environment and want to protect that but maybe not extremists, so that they don't believe that the restrictions should be so tight that the community, the population of our province are not able to enjoy this great land of ours.

Mr. Speaker, when we're talking about protecting areas we're talking about protecting it the way it is today and the way that it has been used all these years. So what we're saying is the people who used it must have done a pretty good job if we want to protect it in the state it presently is. That shows they didn't abuse it, they didn't show disrespect in regard to the land. They didn't go in and just cut and slash trees for the sake of doing it. They actually respected the land and you know in the last number of years, I've had many of them come to me and ask me - I think of one gentleman, I don't have his permission to say his name in the House so I won't - he originally grew up in Springhill and now lives in Truro. I believe his father was involved in the camp he is in and now he wants his son, too. His health has deteriorated and he said to me, you know without having the availability of going into that camp, either on an off-highway vehicle of some sort, pretty well has ended his days in regard to visiting this camp. He wanted to be able to have his son and grandson enjoy that property like he did.

I've been in through that area and I can tell you that there's one gentleman who has used that land with the utmost respect. He may not own it personally in his name - it is owned by the Province of Nova Scotia - but he treats that just as if it was in his very own name.

You know, Mr. Speaker, people like this gentleman question how we as a government could look at someone like him - they understand the issues around protecting land but how we could look at someone - and say, you know something you enjoyed for years is to be no more. We're not going to allow you to do that anymore, we're taking that right

[Page 2078]

away from you. Fortunately, yes, you've done a good job, yes, you treated it with respect but you know what? You're not going to be able to enjoy that any more.

Mr. Speaker, that is hard to explain to someone who has put his time in this province, has worked for a number of years, now retired, his health is failing him. You know we've decided as a province that we're not going to allow that kind of practice to continue anymore.

As I said earlier, many of these people I talk to are seniors, quite a few are veterans. We're going to pay respect next week to our veterans, yet something that they enjoy in rural Nova Scotia is using the outdoors, fishing, hunting, just recreational driving. It's unfortunate those few who break the law, who may use the type of vehicle that does damage to the environment, those who go into an area where they shouldn't go - bogs, crossing rivers - I fully believe, and truly do believe, that they should pay the price for that.

It shouldn't be the whole populace that pays the price, it should be those individuals - if we're able to catch them, make them understand that what they're doing has a huge negative impact on the environment and they should pay the price for that.

I know, again if I understand correctly, these changes to Bill No. 50 will allow for the Economy River Wilderness Area to be expanded, with regard to the boundaries. I tried to ascertain before I started to speak today as to whether there was a map available, and I'm told there's not - it's in the concept stage. That scares me because that means that all the issues we dealt with over the last number of years in trying to appease outdoor folks that want to be able to continue to use this, what we're saying is we're going to pass legislation here - I know the government has the numbers and can do it - I just hope the minister will at least listen to the experience I've had over the last number of years with regard to ensuring there will be good, strong public consultation, that the people who will be impacted by this will have an opportunity, whether for or against it and, Mr. Speaker, I'm a strong believer that if the majority of people support that, then so be it. I have to accept that and I will.

But my worry is that the boundaries of this wilderness area will be expanded and it will do a couple of things. It'll incorporate other trails that have been used for many, many years within the boundaries of a new wilderness area - I did ask the minister to provide me with a name and number, and I called a few minutes ago to ask if it was a new wilderness area expanded, it will be treated under the new rules of today and not the rules when these 31 sites were designated in 1998. I appreciate that - that means there is an opportunity for the public to have input to ensure that hopefully some sort of continued access to these lands will be allowed.

So I appreciate that, but I'm really concerned that if we're talking about expanding boundaries of this wilderness area without showing today - members of the House are being asked to vote for this bill - what the department expects those boundaries to look like, it makes it very difficult to support that. In fact, I want you to know that I'm just speaking as

[Page 2079]

one MLA here representing an area that has been hugely impacted by wilderness areas over the last number of years and, because of that, I am going to vote against the bill on principle. The fact that I believe, from my experience in the last 12 years, around protected areas, people have to know what it is that will be forced upon them, because it will be once this becomes law.

I heard over the years, don't worry, support this, once this passes we're going to put resources in place that we'll be able to work with the local community, we'll develop management plans, we'll determine what trailways will remain, and we'll determine who can or can't access. After having gone through all of this, as the minister would know, these wilderness areas to this date do not have management plans in place. People were being threatened to be charged, people were being threatened if they cut one tree on any of these trails going to their camps - and it may be hard to appreciate it if you live in HRM and you don't own a snowmobile, you don't own an off-highway vehicle of any type, a four- wheeler, it's probably hard to appreciate what that means.

Where I come from there aren't a lot of theatres, there aren't a lot of indoor pools, there aren't a lot of malls, there aren't a lot of opportunities for recreation, for young and old alike. I can tell you, this is something that people in my area cherish - they're hunters, they're fishers, and they have camps. Again, I believe that the majority of them have treated the outdoors and the environment with respect. Unfortunately, as a result of legislation of a past government, it very negatively impacted it and I'm afraid that's going to happen here again.

I didn't get permission from some people in my area who have camps that I know will be tremendously impacted if these boundaries are expanded. I will say I want to thank the minister, the River Philip Road, as I mentioned earlier, has been a real bone of contention in that area for a number of years although the department has allowed use of it without actually charging anyone. Legally they weren't allowed to use it, but through the efforts of previous people in the department, the ministers - they've allowed that the River Philip Road would be used for access to these camps. I'm glad to see that now, hopefully, the minister, when this bill passes, will then put that into effect - that the River Philip Road will be allowed to be used as an access for camps and other outdoor use.

I know Clause 1(4) removes the minister's discretion, and I heard it earlier said that that has not been used very much over the last number of years, and there's no question. In fact, I don't know of an occasion that I can actually name when it was used, but I will say that the drafters of this bill felt at the time it was important, at least the discretion be included. There could be an event of a forest fire, there could be an event of some other disaster. There could be an event where the department may change its mind in regard to wilderness areas and actually want to take advantage of and use off-highway vehicles that are owned by people in the area.

[Page 2080]

So, Mr. Speaker, I have a real problem with that discretion being removed. I think it's good that there has been no abuse of that discretion over the last number of years. There has been no time, I don't think, where anyone in this House could actually pinpoint where the minister has used the discretion and allowed someone to use an off-highway vehicle against what the public would want, to have it raised either here or even locally. So I don't think there has ever been an opportunity where discretion has been abused. I know where it's coming from, I know the people who have approached this government and this department, much like ones over the previous years to a previous government, to ask that that discretion be removed.

I personally think it's wrong to do it and I think that down the road governments are going to look back and wonder why that was allowed to happen because, as we know, once it becomes law the only way that can be changed is to be brought back here before the House.

I just want to quickly mention about - because there are changes here to the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, as the minister knows - another huge issue in my area around protected areas is the Chignecto Game Sanctuary. Even though it may not be identified in here, the minister has actually publicly announced here, not too long ago, that he was going to start some public consultation around the Chignecto Game Sanctuary. It's 55,000 acres of land that's owned by the province and private dwellers who have land within the sanctuary. There are those who would like to go in there and just protect that whole area. It's a large area that's used by the off-highway vehicle community, particularly the Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia, and I'm sure we're going to hear from them in regard to any movement to close the sanctuary to off-highway vehicle use.

Again, miles and miles of trails and roads through there have been developed over the years. The Department of Natural Resources does a tremendous job in regard to the management of property in the sanctuary - again, 55,000 acres. Here, about a year or so ago, I worked for the local community, the stakeholders, private landowners, off-highway vehicle users, the forestry community, to bring forward a plan and a proposal to Natural Resources and Environment to actually protect 20,000 of those 55,000 acres.

[5:30 p.m.]

I think it's a good plan. It allows Natural Resources to continue management of the forestry in the sanctuary. It allows continued use of the trails that are through that sanctuary as well and, just as importantly, it allows for 20,000 acres of land to be protected within the sanctuary. When I started meeting with all the stakeholders, I said at the time that I doubted very much if we could come to an agreement on both sides of the issue, that we actually would have something that we could propose but, you know, the landowners, the foresters, the off-highway vehicle users, actually amongst themselves came up with a plan which would support our natural resources and did put forward a proposal that would see 20,000

[Page 2081]

acres protected. I've got to tell you that I really have a lot of respect for people on both sides of the table who were able to come to that compromise, to put that forward.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we were unable to put that plan in place before we reached the point we are today. The minister has announced that he will start public consultation around what may happen with the sanctuary, and I'm sure you're going to hear from a lot of people in my own area - I know he will, and I'm hoping that he'll consider the amount of work that was done previously, that he won't just listen to one side. I said earlier and I'll say again, whatever the majority of people want, it's the way it should be and I think the minister is going to be surprised with the amount of input.

In fact, that 20,000-acre proposal that we put forward was supported by the local county council. There was a lot of discussion in our own communities about what was happening in the sanctuary and what wasn't, you know, about all the clear-cutting that had taken place and the fact that there was really nothing left in the sanctuary to save and it should be wholly protected.

Mr. Speaker, with the support of a gentleman named Eric Leighton, who works with Natural Resources, who basically spends his whole life around that sanctuary, managing it, arranged for a tour of local folks, including the local elected municipality officials and I think that at the end of the day people were very impressed. The practices used today in that sanctuary are nothing like they were 20 or 30 years ago. Natural Resources does a tremendous job in that sanctuary and I think the minister, if he ever has the opportunity, I would love to show it to him. It's a big block of land, it's been burned over at least a couple of times and that's one of the fears, that if it is not managed properly there will eventually be another fire there, which could wipe out the whole sanctuary again. So it's important that be considered as well.

The other thing that I want to raise with the minister while I have an opportunity is that the minister would know, I think it was in the Tobeatic, when individuals down there were asked to give up their camps, because the area was being protected. Some individuals were offered to sell their camps, give up their lot lease and sell their camps back to the province for, I believe, $20,000 at the time.

So I guess I'm asking two things. If, in fact, this legislation passes and if, in fact, the department does consultation and if, in fact, the boundaries of the Economy Wilderness Area are expanded, maybe in his closing comments the minister might want to mention whether he is giving consideration, or he and his colleagues are, to possibly if there are displaced camp owners whether they may be given the opportunity to do one of two things: either sell their camp to the province as they were in the Tobeatic or, Mr. Speaker, whether there may be an opportunity for these people who have camps to trade their lot for another piece of

[Page 2082]

Crown land somewhere outside a protected area so they can continue to use and enjoy their camps as they have over the last number of years.

Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping the minister will give consideration to these. I would suggest to the minister that I understand these proposals that he is bringing forward. I also understand that if this bill passes and those changes are made without public consultation and an opportunity for the local people to have real input in regard to changes, he, like ministers before him, will continue to be contacted by individuals who want all kind of changes and have all kinds of questions and take exception to the fact that they have to give up something that they've become accustomed to over many, many years; in fact, in some cases, decades with their fathers before them and now with their families that they have today.

Mr. Speaker, again, some of the other parts of this legislation don't really impact my area. I know there are other members in my caucus who want to speak as well. I do appreciate the opportunity for the River Philip Road to be opened up, as I believe it should have been all along. I'm hoping if the Economy area becomes a part of the Wilderness Protection Area that it will expand the boundaries that the roads that are in there now will be given full consideration and I'm hoping the minister will consider what he hears from this side of the House because I can tell you from my own experience, it has caused a lot of grief for a lot of people over the years.

I think there is an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, now, to fix some of those problems before it reaches that point. Once the legislation is passed, and I know people in the departments who are responsible for protected areas, I know people who have had direct input in this legislation, have a difficult time making changes then. So now is the time to do it and I hope the minister will give consideration to those suggestions. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say a few words to Bill No. 50, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act before it goes on to the Law Amendments Committee.

We know that the basis of what the minister has come forward with here was contained in the recommendations made by Voluntary Planning back a number of years ago. In fact, in getting some of the reaction to Voluntary Planning and the 39 recommendations, it was interesting that other provinces saw this as a landmark document, a wonderful piece of work; in fact, it was a document that saw several thousand Nova Scotians have input through community meetings. There was a first draft that was done and then there was another round of consultations, so it received a tremendous amount of vetting.

It heard from a cross-section of Nova Scotians, from ATV clubs to environmentalists to the medical community, and it was unfortunate, in our view - in the Liberal caucus view -

[Page 2083]

that at the time only about six of the 39 recommendations were actually accepted. I feel that much of the turmoil, the misunderstandings advancing the off-highway vehicle as a part of tourism and giving it its proper place in the province with a balance, of course, obviously and always regarding safety, protection for the environment, recreation enjoyed by tens of thousands of Nova Scotians.

So I felt that a lot of where this particular bill is coming forward - although it is pertaining to the wilderness aspect, there are many surrounding dimensions, as the member opposite has pointed out, that again, both clarify the use of OHVs but at the same time now, once again, bring in some restrictions and, of course, ones that were outlined in the original document of Voluntary Planning. So essentially, we were very, very strong proponents of protecting the Tobeatic Wilderness and also of coming to some kind of a consensus around the wilderness camps.

I see this as perhaps the most contentious area in this legislation: how will the wilderness camps and the owners deal with restrictions that piece of legislation will bring forward? I think in the Tobeatic the solution that was offered by the government of the day generally worked out to be pretty favourable.

Now, the Tobeatic is put forward as one of the great natural, really, wilderness wonders of Nova Scotia. If the people here in the House have not been to the Tobeatic, it's one area that I would strongly recommend, because it is a true gem in our province and giving it protection was, in fact, the right thing to do, and reducing the amount of travel of OHVs was, indeed, a good measure.

So this piece of legislation will indeed, once again, cause the OHV community to take a look at where this government will be going with this piece of legislation once they hear from Nova Scotians in the Law Amendments Committee, and also what the future of the OHV business and recreation will have in our province. So we certainly look forward to once again hearing from Nova Scotians.

Having served on the Law Amendments Committee, when we heard from 84 different groups when the original legislation was being drafted, I know that this is an area that will require government to reach a compromise, because it is an activity that tens of thousands of Nova Scotians enjoy. I know that we've stated this a number of times, but again, we're on the record of promoting multi-use trails across Nova Scotia and advancing a trail - first of all, a central trail from Sydney to Yarmouth that will help to advance the ATVs or OHVs as a part of tourism in our province. It's amazing what has happened in our neighbour provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Québec, in terms of OHVs and, in fact, opening up in a very deliberate, in a very controlled way, access to wilderness areas.

Now we're not talking about very fragile environments. We already have a tremendous amount of logging roads and trails in the province. So I think we have to find

[Page 2084]

that balance as we make changes to legislation. We are for protecting our wilderness areas, while finding some grandfathering conditions for families that, in fact, have for generations had a camp in what is a wilderness area. So this is one of the areas of the legislation that in addition to the trails that have been outlined, the River Philip Road and the Economy River Wilderness Area, Queensport Road in the Bonnet Lake Barrens area and the Bypass Trail in Jim Campbells Barren.

There may, in fact, be other trails around Nova Scotia that will need similar designations and that's where I'm looking forward to the Law Amendments Committee to, in fact, hear from a cross-section of Nova Scotians, to make sure that there will continue to be either access to wilderness camps or a buyback program that we saw from the previous government. This may very well need to be some of the consideration that is brought forward.

One of the real concerns that does need to be pointed out is that historically these camps and cabins have been used by a wide range of people other than the owners themselves. So we are concerned that there is good management and that we do have, where permitted, that it isn't again open season for the OHV community.

[5:45 p.m.]

One of the areas that, in fact, I questioned the Minister of Natural Resources on during estimates on the budget was what kind of work were the wardens doing - the 12 designated wardens - to keep the people out of wilderness areas, to make sure they were obeying the OHV legislation and regulations. I asked about the number of charges that have been laid in the province, is there any kind of geographic concentration where these are occurring to, in fact, see if some of them are in our wilderness areas.

I don't have that information back yet but with just 12 in Nova Scotia, you know setting down greater amounts of requirements, of restrictions, does pose, I think, that very legitimate question, can we, in fact, monitor, can we, in fact, have enough wardens in the province to do the job that the legislation actually requires? So that is a huge piece, I think, that we need to consider.

In regard to closing the loophole which gave the minister that discretion to allow access, again I think it's really just academic in the sense that it hadn't been used since 1990, so there don't seem to be pressing and real reasons as to why that ministerial discretion, in fact, would be allowed there. So, in fact, that is something we supported when during the government's decisions about the kind of legislation that we thought or amendments that needed to be brought forward, that we felt the minister shouldn't have that kind of power and that it should be closed once and for all.

This legislation does make that now one of the legislation requirements in this amendment to Bill No. 50. That, Mr. Speaker, is essentially the areas of concern that we do

[Page 2085]

have. We hope to see a good cross-section of Nova Scotians come forward during the Law Amendments Committee. We look forward to participating at that stage as well. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to stand for a few moments and speak to Bill No. 50.

As far as any MLA in this House, it's probably the constituency of Argyle that has been impacted the most by the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, especially when it comes to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and sort of the aspects that flow in and around that; not only from in the community, the ones I represent, whether it's East Kempt, the Carleton area - which is for the member for Yarmouth - or whether it is the broader community. I know there are a number of people from the constituency of Shelburne and Digby-Annapolis, from all around those areas that come and utilize these wilderness areas, specifically, the experience from the Tobeatic Wilderness Area.

What I see in this bill today is a little bit of - it reminds me of a song in Mary Poppins. I promise I'm not going to sing it, but it goes, a little bit of sugar, let's the medicine go down.

We have two very different pieces within this bill before us tonight; one, which is the piece that this caucus would support and I think many members of this House would support, the utilization of Hay Island, for instance, for sealing, to be able to start to get at the seal population in the Atlantic, off Nova Scotia, to try to save what fishery the eastern seaboard has.

At the same time, we have a number of clauses in here that cause me a bit of distress, a bit of angst when it comes to really taking away a ministerial discretion. A ministerial discretion, even though I know has not been used over the last couple of years that the Wilderness Areas Protection Act has allowed it, especially when it comes to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area. Who knows what will happen in the future? Maybe this discretion for the minister should be retained. Maybe there will be a time when some kind of hunt can go on within the Tobeatic, maybe there's something, whether a coyote problem, another problem, you might be able to give that discretion, allow people into a wilderness area like the Tobeatic and be able to take those animals.

Who knows? But by taking away that discretion is a broader piece from what maybe comes further down which is the access to camp leases within wilderness areas. The experience we had in the Tobeatic, I probably stood and spoke once during that whole process, even though I have the biggest chunk of the Tobeatic in my riding, I think. The process was one that was so long, I think it was 1998, or something like that, when the first

[Page 2086]

process, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act would have come in and the whole process of the management plan started.

Then, for a long time after you had different groups presenting, you had municipalities presenting, paddlers groups - it just went on and on and on. Towards the end of it when I became a member six years ago, that would have come to my attention at that time. There were two very diametrically opposed groups. You had the stewardship association and the stewardship association at the time was, of course, wanting to keep the wilderness camps in the Tobeatic and keep that access because of it being a way of life for the residents of my constituency, and those constituencies surrounding it, to travel into the Tobeatic area in order to do some hunting, to do some fishing, and enjoy the land.

What happened or ensued afterwards was the closing in of the Tobeatic. Of course, there was a time when the Tobeatic wilderness, or sanctuary, was one size of it and then there was a whole bunch of land taken in over time. So not only was it that piece but it took over a whole bunch of land in that area. So effectively what happened was, when that management plan finally came to fruition, there were a number of residents, you could call them - they had been there for generations - who could no longer access their camp leases. Their camp leases were for any effect cancelled. They were bought out, or what have you, at that time.

Mr. Speaker, I think today - I forget the number, I know the minister probably said it during his opening remarks - there were a handful of camps within the Tobeatic today and none of them can be accessed by ATV. Even though some of those roads are bulldozer roads that have been there for 50, 60, 70 years, it was felt at the time, by the management committee, that they should be turned over again, let to grow over and become a part of the wilderness once again.

So on one side we're saying the seal issue, Hay Island, is one that we can thoroughly support. Any further tightening, or taking away people's access to land, is one that we don't necessarily support. I know the Minister of Environment knows Paul d'Entremont - we know him affectionately as Ti Paul - who runs Paul d'Entremont Marine, who is a sportsman, who for years and years has gone deer hunting, of course does moose hunting, I believe up in the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault Wilderness Area, and he's got I think a good collection of antlers sitting around from it. He had a friend there and went and spent lots of time there, but I know he's very concerned. He gave me a call, probably Thursday or Wednesday of last week, when I believe the minister introduced this bill into the House. He said, here we go again. I said, well, what do you mean? He said, well, I'm afraid that if we keep restricting access to some of these areas, my grandkids are not going to be able to live life that I believe they should lead, having access to land, having access to hunting, and access to fishing.

I know that these are just words on a piece of paper but they do continue to close the window of access to a lot of these properties across Nova Scotia and, again, I can only go by the experience that we've had with Tobeatic where there would have been hundreds of

[Page 2087]

people being able to access the land there to now a very select few who are able to do that today.

Mr. Speaker, Ti Paul is one who I'm sure will come to the Legislature, who will come and present at the Law Amendments Committee, to try to find a balance here, try to access certain areas and talk about his experience in a number of different places across this province, but he wants to see access for his grandkids and, of course, their children. I know Ti Paul tried to get hold of the minister and I hope that the minister does take the opportunity to talk to Ti Paul - whether he's on his way through the Pubnicos and stops in to see him.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the minister can take an earful because I know every time that I go to talk to Ti Paul I end up getting an earful as well, but I know it's always well intentioned. It always takes a bit of time, but it's worth the time to talk to individuals like him. I know there are a number of individuals like him as well, but we've got to find the balance, I think, the balance of our wilderness areas.

Again, I wouldn't call myself silent, but I can say I was very quiet when it came to all the discussion in this House on the wilderness protected areas. On one side of my brain, I'm saying we need to protect some of these areas, we need to have land set aside for generations, but we also have to have access. Those two thoughts are very different in what access means to different groups. Only from what we lived during the whole plan was, you had one group setting themselves up against another group. You had, let's say, a hikers group against an ATV group; you had a paddlers group against a hunting group. As much as that makes great discussion and, Mr. Speaker, you know we viewed this one before but, rags the puck for a process, because those groups will never come to a consensus on something. So it takes a minister, or a department, to stand in and say listen, here's what I've heard, here's what I'm going to line up.

We really have to be careful now. We've done a lot in protecting land in this province, but who is going to be able to use it, and do we want someone to use it? By setting aside thousands and thousands of kilometres, square kilometres of land, is great in theory, but if no one is going to be able to use it or access it, why have we done it? Is it going to be there when we take pictures from space? Why are we protecting such large pieces and then restricting the complete access to those areas?

The member for Cumberland South talked about his area and the access, especially when it comes to wheelers. The ATV issue is always a challenging one because at one side you have people who no longer can walk in. From one point you can say we'll walk in, we'll hike in, we'll take a canoe in or whatever it is, but I know individuals and I know the minister knows individuals, that that's just not an option any more. So they're not going to get into their traditional hunting areas, they're not going to get into their traditional fishing areas because they just can't get there any more. So that's where, in my mind, a special exemption from the minister would be a good one, for a veteran, for an individual who

[Page 2088]

deserves to utilize the land the way his grandfathers and fathers did it before him. There should be an exception for that. The minister should have the discretion to allow access.

A lot of these areas (microphone was not on) there we go, somebody pressed a button on me there. Mr. Speaker, allowing for that kind of access, I think, would be a smart one and that's by leaving that clause in there. I'm sure we'll talk about that when third reading comes around and I'm sure there will be a large discussion about this when we do get to the Law Amendments Committee on this bill.

[6:00 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to end my comments there. There are some good things in here, there are some less good things in here, but ones that need further discussion and further input, I believe, from the broader community when it comes to access. So I thank you for the opportunity to speak today on Bill No. 50.

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to stand in my place and address a few of the concerns that I have with respect to Bill No. 50 and also some comments about the strength of Bill No. 50.

As has been noted, there are some concerns and there are some undefined areas, some bits of information that seem to be missing here. I think what we would be asking for, what I would be asking for, is a bit more clarification on some of that.

If I could speak specifically to four areas in the bill. Of course one of the areas that has been identified - the River Philip area - is certainly within my constituency. It's an area that is close to where I grew up so I am very familiar with the extensive use of that area by recreational fishermen, hunters, those who enjoy hiking, those who just enjoy the wilderness. I'm pleased to see that it's one of the areas where there has been some consideration for vehicle use.

Over the years, many families have established campsites in that particular River Philip area and they have been probably the most respectful of the environment as you could imagine. I know this is found in all other parts of the province as well, but I can speak specifically from personal experience. When folks had a campsite and they used, passed it down over generations and generations, they took great pride in the fact that they were able to go to these areas and they did respect the environment, they did treat it with respect and they did not abuse it. The fact that there will be some vehicle access into that area, I think is a plus for this particular bill.

[Page 2089]

One of my concerns, however, is that the area that is identified in the River Philip area, the expansion or the new addition to that, information that we have at this point is that that is not clearly defined. I would be anxious to know how broad that expansion might be and what other areas might be impacted by that. So I guess that is additional information that we would be looking at.

With respect to the vehicle use, I think we have had the debate about protecting the environment and providing access through all-terrain vehicles. All of us understand that in many cases the operators of the all-terrain vehicles are perhaps some of the best stewards we have of our environment. They work very closely and very hard to develop trails in appropriate areas, they maintain those trails and they police those trails in their own way. I think to include those operators and those ATV clubs in any kind of decisions that are made, is absolutely critical. We don't have the human resources to go out and police that, we have to rely on those people who care for and use that, to be the best policemen, I guess, of those particular trails.

I'm concerned about how broad the addition to that particular area will be. I'm pleased with the fact that there will be vehicle access, but I want to speak again to the ministerial discretion, that's one of the third areas that would be of concern to me. We know that that exists. We know it has not been used often - in the last few years it has not been used and I can tell this House it is not because we didn't ask for that to be used, but it was not. I think having that removed takes away any possible chance of any special circumstance to be considered. I'm not suggesting that ministerial discretion is used freely, but I think allowing it to stay there does provide the opportunity should that unique, unusual circumstance present itself. To have that removed simply closes the door on any of those special circumstances.

We know that all of the wilderness areas are designed for the enjoyment of Nova Scotians. I believe most Nova Scotians do respect that and I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that these lands, if we purchase them and we protect them, then we do that for one particular reason and that's for the enjoyment of those folks who live here and who do - if it's a campsite or it's a trail ride, or a trail walk, whatever it is, that's the intent. I think we need to be careful that we don't close the door on some of those opportunities that exist for those to be recognized.

I'm looking forward to where this goes to see what additional information becomes available and to hear from some of the people who are the users, I would maintain, as I said initially, who are the best stewards of our environment and who can provide valuable information and valuable direction before this proceeds further. I would close my comments and I will share my time with my colleague here, but I do want us to be clear on what the expansion will include, what taking away the ministerial discretion will prevent, and that we do make sure that Nova Scotians have an opportunity with respect to use our protected wilderness. Thank you.

[Page 2090]

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

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place this evening to discuss briefly Bill No. 50. I think many of us have a concern that the bill includes changes in regulations that we can support and some that we can't. I'd like to talk for a few moments on the ATVs. I think one of the important things, as the member for Cumberland South mentioned in his speech this afternoon, is that the ATV riders are really environmentalists. I think he was true in that statement, because the majority of those who use ATVs take pride in the trails. I know in my particular area you see many of the ATV operators improving the trails. I think you can go throughout any region in this province and you'll see the same thing happening.

The majority of those operators also feel they're being penalized for the actions of a few. We've seen that so many times, and I know that's the biggest thing - that the calls I get are those operators that do work on trails and have respect, they're the ones who are suffering.

I will speak though, Mr. Speaker, in favour of the opening of Hay Island for the seal hunt, and I'm sure the minister expected me to get up to say something about that because fishers in my area have been greatly affected by the seal population in Hay Island, and it's gone beyond Hay Island. I just remember taking some of my campaign team on a boat ride around the Bird Islands in August, and we counted over 200 seals just in that small area right there. So the seal population is certainly taking over.

Although there is no scientific proof, can we say, that a seal hunt will improve the fisheries, I think all we have to do is speak to any fisher and we'll probably find out much different.

If we go back to the ATV issues - and the minister mentioned in his introduction about the moose hunt in the Cape Breton Highlands - ATVs are used a great deal during the moose hunt, because I'd like to see anybody in this Chamber this evening trying to carry out an 800-pound moose. I think if there are stiff regulations put on something with the moose hunt, what we're going to find is a lot of carcasses left within the highlands. There will be moose carcasses left there that people just will not be able to get out. It's a waste of meat and everything else. So I think at least the extension and looking at the possibility of alternate ways of getting those moose carcasses out will certainly be a great help.

So having said those few words, Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have had the opportunity. Thank you very much.

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

[Page 2091]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise at this time to have some comments with regard to Bill No. 50. I think as has been reflected, as part of a common theme from the Progressive Conservative caucus, we've got a deviation between two aspects of wilderness management: one that Progressive Conservatives support and the other that Progressive Conservatives are concerned about.

First, just with regards to the on-land aspects - and I know when we talk, and especially when you consider that I think the number is still something like 40,000 ATV owners and operators in the Province of Nova Scotia, and as was indicated, a few people can cause a lot of harm for the many, but we know that just as much on our roadways, just as much as we know in our neighbourhoods, and just as much as any environment which we choose to manage. No one can take away from the intent and principle behind protecting wilderness areas, for the obvious reasons that would be there, but we also have Nova Scotians with a long-standing history and involvement with enjoying those wilderness areas and using them responsibly. There is a concern that any measures that will prohibit responsible use, and I think what we need to talk about is responsible use of wilderness areas, and stewardship of the environment is going to be a factor.

We are concerned that if there are further restrictions, as was indicated by my colleagues, that if there are basically people prohibited who are otherwise stewards of the environment, who are responsible users, recreational in those protected areas, we lose the capacity to also manage and to enforce.

I do know from the ATV users in my own area, ATV users who would go up to Victoria County, Inverness County or Richmond County to look over in other areas of Cape Breton County, as an ATV club, that they view their responsibilities to the environment and also to enjoying a support, in their minds, to be important. They will self-police those who abuse it because they're offended and, more importantly, they have been impacted by those who have abused the use of an ATV, have abused a privilege, and it's only a privilege to do that. I know in the past where you've had ATV clubs that have worked effectively, I know in dealing with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, when they wanted to go in Victoria County and Inverness County and cross over roadways, to make sure that they were doing it responsibly, to make sure they got their permits in place, to do that as good stewards and users of our environment and also be able to enjoy it and enforce the protection. I know of individuals who have reported other abusers because they don't tolerate that, so it's something that from our caucus' perspective is without the greater clarity that we would want, or would prefer, with regard to this.

There is another aspect that really resonates and we shouldn't lose sight of, and that is the ministerial discretion. The fact that it hasn't been used for a long time suggests that no minister - and there have been several ministers - would do that lightly. It also means that from time to time you may have a need or occasion where that authority may have to be exercised temporarily as opposed to on a long-term basis. So when you remove that, you may

[Page 2092]

believe that it will make certain people happy, and I know there are people who feel that has to be - it's an all or nothing protection - but they may find that issues may arise. Some of my colleagues have pointed out examples in their previous time here in the House today and so that is a major concern.

I do believe it's incumbent to maintain that ministerial authority and discretion and, again, the fact that it hasn't been used for those who don't like it, they should know that it hasn't been exercised for prudent and responsible reasons and if there was an occasion where it would have been used, it would have had, obviously, some extraordinary measure where the minister would have felt a need to do something. So the government may find themselves, as was indicated - they have the numbers to see this bill through, but they may find themselves, on another day and another occasion, with a pressing public matter that their own actions, which they thought were of good intent, may tie their own hands from being responsible and put themselves in a compromised position.

[6:15 p.m.]

Now, on the other side of this, as my colleague, the member for Argyle said - I mean this is two pronged, one we disagree and one we agree with - I think he said, a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down, well, the problem is this could come back another day and it could be something that may be bittersweet in the sense of two objectives.

Now, as far as dealing with Hay Island - and both with Hay Island as well as with the wilderness areas on land, whenever, Mr. Speaker, you go to manage an environment, you always have to take in the many facets of that. For those interests that would suggest that some of the pressures that have been experienced around Hay Island, they look at it from a singular point of view and forget that we've been managing our oceans now for centuries. Once you start moving in one direction, you always have to look at the counterbalance to that.

We have been very concerned in our caucus with regard to the impact of the seal population in more than just one aspect or area. We need to be mindful of the fact that if we truly want to have a long-term viability of our ocean species for fish, and having food that is available in our own waters and not just being imported from China or other areas of the world, that we have to be cognizant of the fact of our need to manage our environment.

The seal population has been a major factor in that, as my honourable colleague, the member for Victoria-The Lakes, has indicated, we've all witnessed that with regard to the Bird Islands. From my constituency at the Point Aconi lighthouse, you can clearly look out and see and, not only that, you can hear from the fishermen, in any of those coastal communities we hear clearly of concerns.

[Page 2093]

The other aspect, as the honourable Minister of Fisheries would know, I've also seen it, where people do take measures into their own hands. I would know from being down in Big Bras d'Or at the wharf there where you see carcasses of seals wash ashore. It wasn't just accidental, it was people who are frustrated and have taken any individual action, they didn't end up there from natural reasons or causes.

Yet, you can appreciate the frustration when we're not managing that population. With Hay Island, I do want to commend the minister in recognizing the importance and significance and at the same time acknowledge the commitment to maintaining strict criteria with regard to the other aspects of any cull that would be there.

This is something that has occurred in many other aspects and for whatever reason, if it's an ocean resource, that there is sometimes some other negative light put on it or a malicious or very derogatory means of what the fishing industry's about. Well, we often say, farmers feed us all, but our fishers are farmers of the sea and they have to manage that environment and they need government to help them in that management. We recognize that. Again, I do commend the minister for dealing with this, for acknowledging that this is not just carte blanche, go out and cull, it has to be in a responsible manner.

Just as much as we've advocated and acknowledged those that use ATVs and interact with the environment in a responsible manner, we know that our fishing industry is fully capable and competent of doing the same. We also know that in any industry, someone will push the limits and when they do, they should be penalized for that - whether onshore or on the water.

As we further consider this particular bill, it's with sort of mixed feelings that we address this. I'm sure as it moves forward we will hear further comments, but I do recognize the government's intent, the impact on land may be one that they may regret another day, but we do recognize as well, the positive measures that can be resulted in such things as Hay Island where we do have consensus, I believe, and support for the minister.

The government may want to give consideration, as this bill goes through, to the fact of taking away ministerial discretion, because if another day it may be in the benefit of the environment, they may have removed a very needed tool. Again, a measure that has not been invoked for obvious responsible measures by ministers of the past, they will take that away from ministers in the future who may need it in exercising their duties in office. With that, I thank the members of the House for their indulgence.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Environment.

[Page 2094]

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members opposite for their comments tonight and I move second reading of Bill No. 50.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 50. A recorded vote is being called for.

Are the Whips satisfied?

[6:21 p.m.]

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[6:24 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Landry Mr. Scott

Mr. Estabrooks Ms. Casey

Ms. Peterson-Rafuse Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. Corbett

Mr. Steele

Ms. Jennex

Mr. Belliveau

Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Zinck

Mr. MacKinnon

Ms. Kent

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Preyra

Ms. Raymond

Mr. Smith

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Ramey

Mr. Whynott

Mr. Morton

Ms. Birdsall

Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Burrill

Mr. Glavine

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Bain

[Page 2095]

Mr. Theriault

THE CLERK: For, 26. Against, 3.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 14.

Bill No. 14 - Judicature Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to share with the House why we would like to amend the Judicature Act. We believe this amendment will improve the operations of the justice system. Most of us would not tie up the courts with lawsuits that are simply malicious, but there are people who do.

The recommendations for the changes originated with the Law Reform Commission, that identified this to our Justice Department as an issue affecting the justice system. After extensive consultation with judges and lawyers in our system, they conclude this does pose a serious threat. Vexatious litigations persistently start or continue court proceedings without reasonable grounds. Despite the fact that judges have already ruled on matters, they continue to take the same people to court over and over again on the same issue that was ruled on.

By making a frivolous or false claim, they continue to tie up the court's time. Allegations by these litigants can be voluminous, inconsistent and incoherent. We're told individuals who want to harass or financially punish someone can do so by taking them through the court process time and time again. The defendants must respond each time, even though the claim has no merit, and that can cost money.

Although judges have some power to restrict these matters now, the law is not clear. The judiciary has indicated their support for the legislation. Mr. Speaker, the amendments provide guidelines on how the process will work. With this legislation judges will be able to make a restraining order against a person who starts or continues a vexatious proceeding. If the person persists with more vexatious litigation, the court could order the party to compensate the other parties for loss resulting from the abuse. The judges will use a balanced approach that would allow them to deal effectively with these litigants.

[Page 2096]

There will also be an appeal process where a vexatious litigant will be given the opportunity to satisfy the proper authorities that the proposed legal proceedings are not an abusive process. This will allow the Nova Scotia civil justice system to become even more cost-effective, accessible and open to those who need it. Seven other provinces in Canada have identified this as a problem and have legislation to restrain it, and there is also similar legislation for the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Canada. It is time Nova Scotians addressed this. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Just a few points regarding Bill No. 14. It is a piece of legislation that, from reports that have been done, is in need to be legislated. It will empower the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to prevent a vexatious litigant from starting new proceedings or continuing existing proceedings. It targets people who consistently start or continue court proceedings without reasonable grounds.

This bill was originally introduced in November 2008 as Bill No. 236 by the member for Cape Breton North. Legislation comes after consultation, going back as far as 2006, and investigation by the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia. It concluded that vexatious litigants pose a threat to the Nova Scotia civil justice system. Other provinces, such as Ontario, and the federal government, have similar legislation. So it is a valuable piece of legislation that we're prepared to move on to Law Amendments Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to rise and speak to this bill today. As my colleague indicated, it is something we had been working on while in government and recognize it as a very important matter to address because, as we know, those who would wish to not only tie up the court times in Nova Scotia when there are so many pressing matters to be heard before the courts is something that, quite frankly, is just not acceptable. It is not fair to the judicial process and those who work within it, trying to see that the exercise of justice is done effectively.

[6:30 p.m.]

One of the things when you first come into a portfolio, especially if you're not a lawyer and people talk about vexatious litigants, it really puts one in mind of - well, what

[Page 2097]

does it mean? Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, and I will read because I think it is important: "Vexatious litigation is a legal action which is brought, regardless of its merits, solely to harass or subdue an adversary. It may take the form of a primary frivolous lawsuit or may be the repetitive, burdensome, and unwarranted filing of meritless motions ... Filing vexatious litigation is considered an abuse of the judicial process and may result in sanctions against the offender." And against the lawyer, such as some jurisdictions consider this matter to be even a matter for disbarment.

Mr. Speaker, what we have had is people who literally have been harassed for no other reason than someone who just will not let an issue go, has an axe to grind and will use the courts as a means of trying to create grief for individuals and/or public embarrassment for those individuals. At a time when our court system - and we hear about court processing times - we have to recognize that that time is precious and the ability to reduce any nuisance in court procedures is very effective. That's what this legislation is intended to do.

I know when I served in the capacity as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, I heard from the Bar Society and I heard from others who have looked at this, the Law Reform Commission, in wanting to make sure that we could streamline processes. That's something that this particular legislation does.

With that, the Progressive Conservative caucus, obviously, overwhelmingly supports this legislation moving forward. I thank the House for their indulgence.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the comments from my colleagues. I move second reading of Bill No. 14.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 14. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 17.

[Page 2098]

Bill No. 17 - Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to bring forward amendments to the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

Just for some background, the first dikes in the province were constructed by the Acadians near Annapolis Royal in the 1630s. Today, 150 miles of dike exists protecting 43,000 acres of land along with approximately 600 residential and commercial buildings as well as roads and railroads. The early settlers found it easier to build dikes than to clear the upland of trees, also this land would immediately provide them with a hay crop.

The first Act relating to dike land was made by the Nova Scotia Government in 1760. The Act provided for a group of owners to appoint commissions that would decide what work was required, to arrange for labour, and the raising of all costs associated with keeping the dikes in repair.

In the late 1940s, the federal government put a big emphasis on rebuilding the dikes with the passing of the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Act. This Act provided for the building, replacement and repair of dikes where it was deemed economically feasible. At the same time, the provincial government and landowners were responsible for improving internal drainage of the dike lands.

In 1967, the responsibility for maintenance of these dikes was turned over to the province by the federal government. The tidal ranges along the Bay of Fundy are very large and these high tides determine the height to which dikes have to be constructed. The key to the dike system is a structure called an aboiteau, unless my colleagues from Acadian communities will tell me I pronounced that wrong. The aboiteau is a structure that lets fresh water flow out from behind the dikes when the water is higher on the land side and prevents salt from entering the diked land when the tides are higher on the tidal side.

Dike land soils have been formed by the deposition of marine sediments by high tides and these soils have high levels of natural fertility, a good water holding capacity, level topography and are stone free. Dike land soils are potentially some of the most productive agricultural soils in the province. In 2000 the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act was passed to protect these soils for agricultural purposes for future generations.

The Act enables management of dikes and marshlands in the province for agricultural purposes and under the legislation, marshland owners may form groups to collectively manage the marshland. The minister has the authority to construct, repair and maintain works for the protection, drainage and improvement of marshlands.

[Page 2099]

The requested amendments to the Act are primarily administrative in nature, the marshland administrator identified these items while working with the Act on a daily basis. Amendments include correcting the department name to read Department of Agriculture, including a requirement for marsh bodies to meet annually and submit an activity report to the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Commission and this is to address inactive marsh bodies and tracking of membership.

Extending the time allowed for the administrator to make a decision on a request for a permit for variance and to make change to the dike or marsh because of the technical nature of the review required.

Mr. Speaker, the reason for setting a time limit is quite often a variance or a permit might have been allowed and then the person wouldn't act on it, and sometimes they would kind of exist there in limbo for a number of years, environmental regulations would change, et cetera, et cetera. So this way, at least somebody was forced - if they made a request, they actually would have to act on it within a reasonable period. Allowing the administrator to put conditions on permits for a variance, this allows the administrator to make specific recommendations and decisions that may reduce appeals to the commission.

Introducing a time limit for the applicant to appeal the administrator's decision in order to reduce operational uncertainty for the administrator and the commission, and allowing the commission to vary the decision of the administrator on appeal which will eliminate the need for the applicant to reapply to the administrator with an amended request for a permit or variance, and limiting the validity period for a permit or for a variance which will ensure a permit is acted on in a timely manner which I've already stated, Mr. Speaker. So with those comments, I look forward to hearing from members of the Opposition and I move second reading of Bill No. 17.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it is primarily an administrative change that is taking place. I did appreciate that the minister had informed me of the bill briefing, so we've had an opportunity to take a look at this. It really needed the update, as the minister had pointed out, because in 1967 the federal government passed over management of marshlands to the province. Of course, since that time, not very much updating has taken place. The Act currently allows for the management of dykes and marshlands in the province for agriculture purposes, as the minister pointed out. The amendments were really identified by the marshland administrator.

I live in a part of Nova Scotia, the Annapolis Valley, which has had the dykelands for in excess of 300 years and it's still an area of very productive agricultural land that generously renews itself, year after year, by the control of saltwater and the aboiteau system

[Page 2100]

that exists. So this allows the administrator changes that are in line with environmental considerations, the need to have possible permits in the future around the construction of wind turbines, for example. This will now give the administrator the ability to act on permits and also to have them exist for no longer than 12 months. I thought that in subsection 4(3)(d) was really one of the key changes that was brought forward by the amendments to the Act.

So also it allows marshland owners to form groups to collectively manage the marshland and allows for construction, repair and maintenance to protect terrain and improve marshlands. There also is a clause and a provision to be able to have an appeal process. If you feel that you have an environmentally sound reason to repair, construct, to make changes, then the ability to do so is provided within the amendment as well. There may be some comments when this goes on to the Law Amendments Committee that could be valuable to any changes that would be in the best interests of agriculture and maintaining our system of marshlands in the province. With that, Mr. Speaker, I take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to rise just for a moment in regard to Bill No. 17, the Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act.

The minister mentioned the importance of the marshlands, the dike lands of Nova Scotia and I just want to - I know the minister has heard it from me before and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has heard it in regard to Advocate Harbour. Last December, although there's a dike land and the marshland is protected with this dike, there's also what's called a seawall, known locally. It's under the jurisdiction of the federal government, actually under the Coast Guard.

The Minister of Fisheries, the Honourable Gail Shea, was down there a couple of weeks ago with me and had an opportunity to view that. She made a commitment to restore that seawall because it is under her jurisdiction.

Mr. Speaker, if we have the types of floods, or tides I should say, this winter as we saw down there last December, we could lose that whole community. In fact there's a concern that if the sea were to come into the marshland, in behind the dike, it will ruin many homes, farmlands, septic systems and wells.

I do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that last year we were able to get some money through the department. It was actually put through the local RDA - CREDA - the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association. Some monies were provided to create an additional sluiceway or aboiteau, and that, as much as I didn't agree with the local community that it would help the problem, in fact it did. A lot of the water that comes in has a hard time to escape and that additional sluiceway actually enabled the water to escape a lot faster than it gathered.

[Page 2101]

Now, I do want to mention to the minister that all that money has not been used, my understanding is there is $30,000 or $35,000 left. There's actually a waterway, a river, a small river that actually enters into the marshland and then exits out through the sluiceway.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I know the minister's department and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, through EMO, have met to try to see what more work could be done in regard to helping that community. I believe at the time there was originally an agreement to do some excavation in that river way, but I think the permit has expired. In my discussions with the minister's department over the last week, I believe they've come up with another way to put another canal in beside the existing river. The money is there in place to do that, so the community is not asking for any more money.

It has been determined through the department that that needs to happen. I'm hoping that the minister, along with his colleague, the Minister of Emergency Management and his staff, will ensure that will happen very soon because this community is very concerned as to what may happen to their community if we see the high tides this winter that we saw last winter.

[6:45 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of emphasis on Advocate Harbour, it's been well publicized across this country. It is a community under threat and although the federal government is responsible through the Coast Guard in regard to the seawall, the marshlands, as the minister indicated, and that dike land, is actually under the minister's direction. The money is in place to help in regard to that additional canal so I'm hoping the minister will talk to his staff in the coming days to ensure that will happen so the community can sleep at night knowing that they won't be flooded out this winter.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank the minister for bringing forward what he said were mainly administrative amendments but certainly this bill means a lot to coastal communities, particularly in my area, Advocate Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, thank you for the time and I support moving this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

[Page 2102]

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the members across the floor for their comments. I want members to be aware that the constituency that I represent, Hants East, also has dikes. We tend to think they are primarily in the Annapolis Valley.

My constituency, part of which borders the Cobequid Bay and Minas Basin - I want members to be aware that the highest tides in the world were measured at Burntcoat Head, in the constituency of Hants East, Mr. Speaker. So when people talk about the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy, they should remember Burntcoat Head is where they were measured. (Interruptions) Yes, right.

Mr. Speaker, there is quite an interesting history of Acadians in my constituency. The member for Cumberland South who indicated about Advocate Harbour, well, I can see he is doing his job to be advocating for those people there. I will kind of look into that a little bit more to ensure that that work can get done or as soon as possible that work can be done. If the money is there, it would be a shame if we couldn't try to complete that. I think my department has actually been involved with that seawall in terms of, I think they are the people who could appropriately price it and look at the cost of that repair. But the member is right that the federal government is the lead on that and we would really hope that they actually do something for that.

Anyway, with those comments, I thank my colleagues opposite and I move second reading of Bill No. 17, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 17. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 30.

Bill No. 30 - Public Trustee Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be here today on second reading of an amendment to clarify language in the Public Trustee Act. These amendments are a clarification on the role of the Public Trustee. The amendment is necessary in order to allow the Public Trustee to step in and make the best possible financial decisions on behalf of an

[Page 2103]

incapable person who has a personal directive but does not have a power of attorney or a legal guardian.

Mr. Speaker, those of us who have had loved ones reach a vulnerable state know how important it is to be prepared. The Department of Justice and Department of Health have been working with the Public Trustee Office to prepare the proclamation of the Personal Directives Act passed in 2008. That Act will enable Nova Scotians to prepare for a time when they may no longer be capable of making personal care decisions.

Mr. Speaker, the Personal Directives Act will make a difference in the lives of many Nova Scotians. This amendment to the Public Trustee Act will also allow the implementation of the Personal Directives Act. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say a few words on this bill and its importance insofar as it clarifies the role of the Public Trustee under the Personal Directives Act. Again, it was introduced by a very busy Minister of Justice from Cape Breton North in May 2008. It was developed by the Departments of Health, Justice, and Community Services after doing consultations with stakeholders and the public.

What's important about this is that if we think about our parents or our grandparents and to be able to specifically name someone who would be responsible for making decisions for them medically, should they become incapacitated. Without specific directives, it is often very difficult for medical professionals because lots of times there can be mixed opinions from different family members about the direction or treatment for an incapacitated person. Some individuals have to be very specific, also due to religious or personal beliefs about how they would like care to proceed.

A lawyer is not needed for this specific element, however, in debates around the bill in 2008 it was very clear about the dangers of legal will kits, that may cost less money up front but hardly would stand up well in court if ever challenged. So in order for this to be successful, they shouldn't leave the impression that Nova Scotians do not need professional advice when taking care of their affairs and their estates and their wishes. The Act needs to be preceded by clear information packages and a public education program when forms are made available on the Internet. It needs to be user-friendly in order to be useful at all. So hopefully those comments will be valuable, and we look forward to hearing again, especially from the legal profession, as this goes to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak very briefly on Bill No. 30, the Public Trustee Act. I want to thank the minister for bringing it forward. I think we all

[Page 2104]

agree in this House that there couldn't be anything any worse in our lifetime but to have a family faced with making decisions that they're unsure of, that may be in conflict with other family members. I think we've seen that over the years. My honourable colleague mentioned about whether you, in fact, have to engage the services of a lawyer. Well, whereas maybe legally you may not have to and it may not be necessary, I would say that I would hope that anyone who would be involved in this type of process would ensure they find the proper legal advice and opinion, because down the road, if they find out that maybe they didn't seek that proper opinion or advice, it probably will be too late; in fact, it would be too late after the fact.

I agree as well that an education component around this is very important, and I would hope that the minister and his staff would ensure that the public will be educated in regard to this so that they understand both the legalities of this and, as well, the importance of it. So I think that we would all agree that this is a very important piece of legislation being brought forward by the Minister of Justice, and look forward to it going to the Law Amendments Committee. I'm sure it will be a piece of legislation that we will hear from the legal community on, and I'm sure others as well. We certainly support moving Bill No. 30 to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their comments and I move second reading of Bill No. 30.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 30. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable member for Queens on an introduction.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, if members would look to the east gallery, I would like to introduce Al White, who is here from Queens County, the lovely community of Greenfield, and I will assume that with him is his lovely wife, Mrs. White. (Interruptions) I guess I won't get out of that if I'm not correct. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Welcome, as we welcome all visitors to our gallery.

[Page 2105]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 54.

Bill No. 54 - Executive Council Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Public Service Commission.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this bill is what we would call in this House a housekeeping bill. The proposed amendments as they relate to the Executive Council are allowing for a department name change. The change is "a reference to the Chair of Treasury and Policy Board to the Minister of Policy and Priorities, and the Chair of Treasury Board; (c) to revise the provisions providing for the appointment of honorary members of the Executive Council; and (d) give Governor in Council the authority to appoint members of the House of Assembly to be ministerial assistants."

Proposed amendments to the Public Service Act include " (a) make necessary name changes; (b) provide for the establishment of and the duties of Treasury Board, the Policy and Priorities Committee, the Treasury Board Office, the Office of Policy and Priorities and the Chief Information Office; and (c) revise the provisions respecting the appointment of deputy ministers and assistant deputies."

Most of these proposed changes are fairly obvious in nature, so with these few points, I am pleased to move Bill No. 54 for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) It wouldn't hurt that backbencher to pay attention to what I'm about to say, as a matter of fact.

What this bill does, the hidden detail in this bill which the honourable member forgot to mention is that it legitimizes what are now known as ministerial assistants in this government. What happens here, these baby ministers, if I may say so, these mini-ministers that it has created, or theseMini-me's - the danger here and what my experience has been so far with the ministerial assistants is that what we've created, and I've actually had a couple of complaints from constituents of mine that they've tried to get in touch with various ministers, but instead they've been deflected to the ministerial assistants.

My fear here is that it would be much like Captain James Kirk on Star Trek who would say to Mr. Sulu, we're heading warp speed, put up the deflective shield, Mr. Sulu. And that's what the Premier has done in this case - put up a deflective shield, a defensive shield that would keep the real issues away from the ministers of the day. The danger here, the real danger in all of this is that the real ministers - not the baby ministers, but the real

[Page 2106]

ministers - will never get to know the real issues of the day because they've been deflected by the mini-ministers of the day.

[7:00 p.m.]

Now, these mini-ministers, as we know, really do not have the powers of Cabinet Ministers. They can't go to a Cabinet meeting, they may get to talk to their minister, they'll never get to talk in this House because they're all backbenchers. The problem is, I know we have 12 Cabinet Ministers, including the Premier, but we only have eight baby ministers, these mini-ministers. For instance, the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour is supposedly the baby minister for Fisheries and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is the mini-minister for the Government House Leader. The member for Queens is the baby minister for the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister and the member for Halifax Chebucto is the baby minister for housing and the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island - the horse guy over there - he's the mini-minister for immigration. The member for Lunenburg West, the mini-minister for Health and we've never heard him say anything about health since I've been here this session.

The member for Cumberland North is the mini minister for Aboriginal Affairs, but also the mini-minister for the Premier as well and we've never heard anything from him. The member for Truro-Bible Hill is the baby minister for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage and we've never heard anything from her about the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage either because these are all backbenchers in a majority government. They'll never be heard of, they'll never be heard from in this session of the Legislature and probably the next one either because they're probably not even going to make it into Cabinet. As they all know, they've been named ministerial assistants, which means you weren't good enough in the first place to become a minister.

I don't mean that in a demeaning way. (Interruptions) Just in a matter-of-fact way. You really didn't have it to take it to become a Cabinet Minister, but someday you may learn, but you'll never learn being a baby minister because the baby ministers aren't being used to their potential - just as a deflective shield that's up there in times of trouble.

We saw some protestors here today in the gallery and they were ushered out. You are not supposed to protest in our gallery, but I've never seen so many Cabinet Ministers scurrying for a door in all my life as when those Cabinet Ministers were here today. You know their footprints - you could hear the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - it is the fastest I've ever seen him move, when those protesters were in the gallery today.

Again, back to the issue and back to this bill. It legitimizes the creation of ministerial assistants, something that the Premier already did anyway. The real danger here is, do the ministers get to hear the real issues? Are they just hearing what they want to hear?

[Page 2107]

We heard the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal wax eloquently about the fact that the member for Queens is now the member for gravel roads in this province and so on. It could be very important work, but only if the ministers take it seriously. So that's the devil in the detail in this bill, Mr. Speaker, that we've created a bunch of mini-ministers, baby ministers, and are they going to be of any use whatsoever to this Legislature in terms of bringing the issues to the ministers and making sure that concerns of the people of this province are brought to the ministers who should, in turn, take them before the Executive Council or the Cabinet and deal with those issues?

Again, the real issue here - and I know it's tough to hear the truth sometimes. I understand that as a backbencher over there you agree with me, but you really can't say anything out loud because, again, you may be a backbencher who didn't even make it to mini-minister status. So I don't know what you would be called then. Just a backbencher, I guess, would be the only thing they could call you, but you might want to take your concerns to the baby ministers who, in turn, should take it to the real ministers who, in turn, will take it to the Premier, who is calling all the shots anyway, as we all know. The Premier will finally make the details and perhaps lean on his political deputy from Cape Breton, and he might make the decision or the Finance Minister might make the decision for him, because everything seems to be revolving around financial issues in this province now and that's why people are only getting 1 per cent, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, I digress from the bill. My main goal here was just to point out that we only have - really, if you're going to be fair, you have - only eight mini-ministers and you have 12 Cabinet Ministers, and I think it is only fair that each minister have a mini-minister. That's very, very important, but that hasn't been done. I'd like to call on the Premier to get back to the appointments of the baby ministers, the Mini-Me's, to make sure that every minister in this session has one. So you need - I'll check with the Finance Minister, but I think that's four more, Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure. He's good with numbers and I'm not.

Again, on a serious note, I want to make sure that people know, - and that's why I've named them - who those mini-ministers are because when they call their Cabinet Minister and they don't get a call back, well, who are you going to call? You've got to call the mini-ministers, that's who you've got to call. If you can't get through to your Cabinet Minister, look up the list, and you're going to call your mini-minister and make sure that that mini-minister takes that message to your Cabinet Minister who, in turn, will take it to Cabinet, and then the Premier will say no. I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in terms of Bill No. 54, there are some matters where we see the government taking a bill and taking aspects that we can deem to be very important and serious and, at the same time, trying to find a way to back-door some other provisions so that people are not being aware or cognizant of what is occurring.

[Page 2108]

There are a couple of things, Mr. Speaker. I know the honourable member for Glace Bay, in talking about his Star Trek experience there, and was going at his own warp speed, and whether it was Star Trek or maybe more in line with The Jetsons, I don't know. What I do know is what we have is a government that, in wanting to try to appease dealing with some of the matters that couldn't be dealt with, for people who couldn't fill the front benches because the Premier decided he wanted a Cabinet of 12, including himself, tried to adhere to that. Then when the push-back came, figuring out how do I go about this and where do we look elsewhere?

The other aspect, as was indicated, we now find ourselves with a Cabinet of 20, but what's interesting in providing a provision into law for ministerial assistants - I'm just assuming, by virtue of this, and if they're going to make this part of the Executive Council Act, that they will also be having these ministerial assistants subject to other standards that ministers are held to, and government's ability to do that. If they're putting it into law and suggesting it's part of this, then also I'm sure the Conflict of Interest Commissioner will have an interest in trying to interpret what this provision of establishing ministerial assistants is about. I'm sure we'll be wondering what the actual extent of the financial impact of ministerial assistants will be, the accountability with regard to Code of Conduct of ministerial assistants, the financial reporting that would come from anyone taking on duties that are associated with policy.

As it was indicated by the Premier in the release that was there stating the establishment of junior ministers, there was the fact that they would take on a direct role in policy development and implementation, and would be consulting. Then when asked the cost aspects of this - the other thing is that the ministerial assistants and/or junior ministers of the Executive Council, the government is using a back door to try to establish this, but has not clearly put parameters in place that should be there. If they want to establish ministerial assistants, as they've undertaken to do, then they should also be cognizant of the standard upon which they have to operate and the accountability that they have through the House of Assembly and to the people of Nova Scotia.

We know that ministers are held to a standard and at the same time we have assistants who have been established to somehow provide some cover, to give some work, to take some pressure off the desk, I guess, because the Premier didn't see fit to have a truly functioning Cabinet and was more interested in the optics than effective administration and management of the Province of Nova Scotia through the Executive Council, and now has to try to defer that. I recognize that someone suggested that cost savings would be achieved, but we're not seeing it, we haven't seen a reduction in the number of staff around Province House. In fact, many would argue that it's hard to get through for all the staff who have been brought in and are hanging around.

[Page 2109]

The fact is that we're now not sure of what expenditures, yet there have been duties assigned that will entail expenditures. What I do know, in the past, as was the case with a government, you may have a government member, a private member, who may undertake an event on behalf of a minister, but before those expenses would not be covered for someone to go as an MLA to do that. It's assumed now that those costs would be covered. Where they're coming from, the budgetary authority to do those things, that accountability measure has not been brought in and, in fact, I would have thought that the Minister of Finance would want it to have very clear parameters and understanding and budget allocations. Is there a line item that's going to be within each ministerial portfolio to explain fully and to disclose the undertakings of junior ministers on their behalf? We haven't heard that.

So there are a number of items and, again, it may be politically expedient for the government, and a way to engage people. On that front, it's very important. I'm sure those who have been assigned a duty are happy to have other responsibilities that can allow them to be engaged and I don't discount that for those individuals as MLAs. I do take exception to the fact that they have been assigned tasks, and are expected to undertake duties, without the appropriate accountability and governance measures we would expect to be in place. That is not there. The government has not been able to explain that once.

I know, when we were in government, if we were to undertake that, we would have had much push back from the now government. They would have sat on a policy pedestal and decried any measure by another government that didn't have an accountability and reporting mechanism put in place for such a matter.

So again, Mr. Speaker, we see something that's brought forward, but the fact that they're actually trying to put it into the piece of legislation also suggests that they recognized that they needed to do something, somewhere, in law, to try and legitimate that these positions actually have the effect and they're somehow legitimate.

But when accountability is not there, when reporting mechanisms are not there, when clear parameters are not there, when a code of conduct is not clearly provided, when confidentiality - that's the other thing. We have MLAs, under the legislation, as ministerial assistants that are not taking an oath that associates, that's tied to that. We have MLAs who are potentially going to be dealing with matters that are confidential, of which a minister takes an oath in the administration of their duties with regard to confidentiality.

We have no clear direction from the government with regard to making sure that this is an open and transparent process. It has been policy on the fly, it's been a government trying to find a place for people to fit when, in fact, what we had is now Nova Scotians who aren't even getting the benefit of ministers who are focused on a specific portfolio. Nova Scotians have said, how can you have, for instance, a Minister of Education and a Minister of Labour and Workforce Development undertaking issues - and we saw that with the

[Page 2110]

community college - or when we have a Minister of the Environment and a Minister of Fisheries that potentially are in conflict with himself, but they wanted to somehow condense the size of a Cabinet because it was deemed to be too big.

There will always be a debate about Cabinets and relevance, but what we have is a Premier who has compressed his Cabinet to the point of lacking the ability to properly function and bringing people in to provide supporting roles to the front bench without the appropriate structures in place, without the adequate parameters.

All I can say, I know for the ministerial assistants who have been appointed, they need be mindful of confidentiality, they need be mindful of the code of conduct that's expected of someone working from an Executive Council point of view on the files that are affecting the work of Cabinet.

For instance, there is no understanding by Nova Scotians about what the role and function of a ministerial - or the level of authority, to speak on behalf of the government, to commit the government. As we know, ministers have that ability, so if they're in a meeting, what do they commit? What are the parameters of their authority and undertaking? That has not been detailed, but we have but a line, one single sentence trying to cover off, and provide cover, in a wider bill to try to quickly just put it in place. But the government has failed to do that.

The other aspect of this, and I'm sure if the Attorney General were to seek advice from his learned staff who deal with these matters, he would find if he did a full assessment of this, he may want to consult back with government on the fact that there probably are measures and there has been shortcomings with establishing these ministerial assistants and not providing the appropriate and proper framework.

[7:15 p.m.]

If it were the choice of the government - and with a majority it's their prerogative to do that - you would think and expect that they would give the benefit to those people they have appointed to make sure that not only do they have the parametres, but they're respected and they understand fully their ability and the scope of work that they can undertake.

But we do know, by virtue of the Premier's own press release, he has intended that they will take on a role of policy. Policy, as you know, is a matter that very much is a function of the Executive Council - implementing, working with front line staff and departments on initiatives, all of those things. I actually would, for a ministerial assistant, be mindful of what the potential land mines might be another day and I do know that the

[Page 2111]

Premier said he would now have monthly reporting of expenses. We're going down a road and the more we questioned it, the more we've seen the government try to find a way to provide some cover.

Mr. Speaker, I know, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, we do not support this measure. We do not support this being added in the manner in which it is. We believe that Nova Scotians deserve more accountability and disclosure from the government. They talked in Opposition about openness and transparency. They talked in Opposition about principle and doing things in an open and transparent manner, yet, in government they've abandoned all of those principles. They've abandoned any policy that would be open and transparent. Yes, they now find themselves there but what we do know is the fact that they're watering down accountability, they're watering down - when they think they're building people up, they're actually providing more confusion. When the real issues come forward another day, if a statement is made by a ministerial assistant, if a policy statement is made or an action or a commitment or a promise, is the minister going to hold up that? There is no framework that has been provided and Nova Scotians - in fact, the ministerial assistants who have been appointed deserve more than one sentence other than establishing the title. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, while there might be something derogatory being said near me, I do know the minister emeritus doesn't have that accommodated in here. (Interruption) I will close by saying there are aspects of this that are - whether some things have been made light of, there are some serious matters within this that have not been properly or appropriately seen to by the government. As a result of that, the Progressive Conservative caucus has great difficulty with this bill and will not be voting in favour of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad you didn't share the groan of baby minister from Halifax Citadel-Sable Island. (Laughter) The thing is, and I just want to follow up on some of the things that the member for Glace Bay and the member for Cape Breton North said and I largely agree with what they both said. I think this bill raises a lot of questions.

To start with, you have four ministers on the front benches who do not have any ministerial assistants - the Minister of both Education and Labour and Workforce Development, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice. I am not sure whether the Premier is saying that their departments aren't important enough that they don't need one or whether they're hard enough working and the rest of them aren't, and they don't need somebody to assist them. So, I know, depending on whether you have one or not, it would depend on your view on that, I guess. So it really raises a lot of questions.

[Page 2112]

The member for Cape Breton North pointed out that it is one line in the bill. It doesn't say anything about what the role is. It doesn't say, in fact, it actually opens the door that they could be paid in the future. It doesn't say that they can't. As much as the Deputy Premier might like to pretend that it says that, I would challenge him to point to the place in the bill where it says that ministerial assistants can't be paid, because, by the very fact of appointing them they can.

Then, you have to ask the question, if you made it to Cabinet and you made it to become a baby minister, but you didn't get either one of those positions, what does that say and what's your role? Because the fact of the matter is, that the ministers speak for the government and could be questioned in the House and what they say is the official position of their Party. We're not quite sure about the ministerial assistants but one and I would assume that if you're a resident Nova Scotian and you get a call from one of the ministerial assistants that you would assume that person is speaking on behalf of the minister but then, in all honesty, what does that say if you get a call from a backbencher, you're really not sure. So the Premier has created this really strange tiered system that even as the member for Glace Bay pointed out, that members of the public who have received calls have questions.

Mr. Speaker, the government has included one line on ministerial assistants in this bill, yet still has not provided the provision that members on this side of the House can question those ministerial assistants despite the fact that they're going out and saying things and a couple have made announcements on behalf of the minister, put out press releases, all kinds of things and yet, we can't ask those ministerial assistants questions. So is that accountability? It doesn't seem to be too accountable. So I would hope that maybe the Government House Leader is going to consider changing that and we can ask questions of the ministerial assistants, starting, why not start tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, the biggest question for me in this bill is if it is needed in the bill to add a line saying that the Governor in Council can appoint the ministerial assistants, and yet they've already done that. Are the jobs legal? If they are legal, and they're able to do all this work in the ministry and work with staff and everything, then what's the point in putting it in the Act? Either none of these people - either the government has suddenly realized that none of these positions were valid when they appointed them, and should stand up and just admit that and not have to go through the whole process again after this passes, or they have to explain why it is necessary to put this in the Act in the first place, because that certainly creates quite a bit of confusion.

We saw in Ottawa where they moved to Parliamentary Assistants and so forth, which very much has a structure around it and is very much explained in terms of what the role is. What those jobs are is covered in regulations and in Acts. Here all we'll know is that the Governor in Council may appoint members of the House of Assembly to be a ministerial assistant, and no definition of that. What does it mean? What is the role? Unless those questions can be answered, it doesn't make any sense to support this Act.

[Page 2113]

Furthermore, it should raise a lot of questions for people in the public who want to know whether the ministerial assistants do speak with any authority or not, or whether they are just some plum post to make people feel better, so that they have something to put on the resumé come the next election. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of the Public Service Commission.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 54.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 54.

A recorded vote has been called for.

Are the Whips satisfied? I will now ask the Clerk to call the roll.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[7:24 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Landry Mr. Gaudet

Ms. More Mr. Samson

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Glavine

Ms. Peterson-Rafuse Ms. Whalen

Mr. Corbett Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Steele Mr. Scott

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Ms. Casey

Mr. Paris Mr. Clarke

Ms. Jennex Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. MacDonell Mr. Bain

Mr. Belliveau Mr. Younger

Ms. Zann Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Mr. Zinck Mr. Theriault

Ms. Conrad

Mr. MacKinnon

Ms. Kent

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Preyra

Ms. Raymond

[Page 2114]

Mr. Smith

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Prest

Mr. Ramey

Mr. Whynott

Mr. Morton

Ms. Birdsall

Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Burrill

THE CLERK: For, 28. Against, 13.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before you leave the Chair, would you ask the House for concurrence to include the bills that we tabled today that came over from the Law Amendments Committee?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion before the House is to include the bills that carried earlier today. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[7:28 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[Page 2115]

[7:44 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 7 - Trade Union Act.

Bill No. 24 - Pipeline Act.

Bill No. 28 - Education Act.

Bill No. 29 - Financial Measures (2009) Act.

Bill No. 38 - Condominium Act.

Bill No. 5 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.

Bill No. 47 - Dietitians Act.

Bill No. 48 - Pension Benefits Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House so we can move these bills directly to third reading.

[7:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that these bills be read for a third time today.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2116]

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Trade Union Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

Bill No. 24 - Pipeline Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 28.

Bill No. 28 - Education Act.

[Page 2117]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 28. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 29.

Bill No. 29 - Financial Measures (2009) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: A recorded vote is being called for.

Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[7:48 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Landry Mr. Samson

Ms. More Mr. Glavine

Mr. Estabrooks Ms. Whalen

Ms. Peterson-Rafuse Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Corbett Mr. Scott

Mr. Steele Ms. Casey

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Clarke

Ms. Jennex Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. MacDonell Mr. Bain

Mr. Belliveau Mr. Younger

Ms. Zann Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Mr. Zinck Mr. Theriault

Ms. Conrad

Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Gosse

Ms. Kent

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Preyra

Ms. Raymond

[Page 2118]

Mr. Smith

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Prest

Mr. Ramey

Mr. Whynott

Mr. Morton

Ms. Birdsall

Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Burrill

THE CLERK: For, 28. Against, 12.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 38.

Bill No. 38 - Condominium Act.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I know we're here at third reading on this bill and it has fairly wide support among the condominium owners because they do believe that it does address governance issues that we talked about here on second reading at some length.

I just wanted to reiterate some of the shortcomings of the bill, and I will be brief. I know the ministers have heard at length some of my other concerns but, in brief, the bill does not go into the issues that are of greatest concern to the owners of condominiums and that had been the consumer protection side to ensure that when you buy a new condominium, you can be assured that there are warranties in place and that there are protections and provisions in place to ensure that the building was properly built, that it will not be suffering any major structural problems in the first short while that you're living there and, therefore, the owners will not be called upon to make some significant costly repairs that we have seen in metro and, in fact, in other places, as well, in the province.

I mentioned the other day that we're up over 300 condominiums now in this province. A lot of them have been registered just in the last few years and for that reason we've begun to see more problems with either the speed of the construction, the lack of inspections, perhaps the shortage of skilled labour that's causing it. Mr. Speaker, we're concerned about

[Page 2119]

that and we're looking for the government to bring forth some other amendments to Acts or new Acts that might address that.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, there is the issue - and I didn't mention this in my first speaking at second reading - around dispute resolution, which is covered in the bill as it is, but I just wanted to signal that there is a demand to see an ombudsman position that both the condominium owners and the condominium boards could turn to in times when there are disputes.

Mr. Speaker, I realize we're at third reading and that the other provisions in this bill are welcome. I said they address some irritations and some more pronounced difficulties that boards have in their governance. It allows them to now charge some fines if they have owners who do not comply. But there has been a request from condominium owners that we look more seriously at creating an ombudsman position where disputes could, perhaps, be resolved very quickly with one person being able to act as a hearing, or a clearing house, for those issues.

So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I do realize we're here at third reading and I'm happy to see the bill come forward, but I'm hoping that we can see some amendments in the future. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 38. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5.

Bill No. 5 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.

Bill No. 47 - Dietitians Act.

Bill No. 48 - Pension Benefits Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

[Page 2120]

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. Tomorrow we will be looking at Public Bills for Second Reading, in particular Bill No. 20 and bills that may be in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to rise and meet again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[The motion is carried.]

The House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]

[Page 2121]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 973

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Bear River Fire Department received a new rescue truck in August that has plenty of storage space, a snub nose to fit easily into the fire hall, 100 feet of hose reels used with the Jaws of Life, as well as a four-bottle cascade system and a command module; and

Whereas the Bear River Cherry Carnival each year raises money that goes to the department, and this year's event raised about $4,000 that will help pay for the new rescue truck; and

Whereas the last time the fire department purchased a new truck was in 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Bear River Fire Department on their new rescue truck and thank the Bear River Cherry Carnival sponsors and volunteers for their fundraising efforts toward its purchase.

RESOLUTION NO. 974

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Digby Tigers Under-14 girls soccer team started the summer off well by winning the Valley Kick-off; and

Whereas the Valley Soccer League has wrapped up and the Tigers placed first in their division and third place overall for under-14 girls; and

Whereas at regionals the Tigers just missed out on going to provincials with a 2-1 sudden death shootout loss;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Digby Tigers Under-14 girls soccer team on their accomplishments this year and wish them continued success.

[Page 2122]

RESOLUTION NO. 975

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Gary Whittier contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Gary Whittier of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 976

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Al Hale contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Al Hale of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

[Page 2123]

RESOLUTION NO. 977

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Murray Aalders contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Murray Aalders of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 978

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Dale Lloyd contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Dale Lloyd of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

[Page 2124]

RESOLUTION NO. 979

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Mike Baxter contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mike Baxter of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 980

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Gerry Carty contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Gerry Carty of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

[Page 2125]

RESOLUTION NO. 981

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas John Margeson contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate John Margeson of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 982

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Mike Kinsman contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mike Kinsman of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

[Page 2126]

RESOLUTION NO. 983

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Bruce Redden contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Bruce Redden of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 984

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Paul Bethune contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Paul Bethune of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

[Page 2127]

RESOLUTION NO. 985

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place June 6, 2009, celebrating local accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Eddie Nichols contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Eddie Nichols of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 986

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 federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has made appointments of two new judges to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court; and

Whereas the Honourable Peter Bryson, Q.C., a partner with McInnis Cooper in Halifax, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to replace Mr. Justice D.R. Beveridge who was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Honourable David Farrar, Q.C., a partner with Stewart McKelvey Scales in Halifax, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Digby to replace Mr. Justice J. Duncun who was transferred to Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the appointments of Mr. Justice Bryson and Mr. Justice Farrar and wish them well in their new roles in administering justice within Nova Scotia.