Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

La Chambre s'est ajournée le
26 octobre 2017

HANSARD 03/04-39

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
ARRIVAL OF THE VETERANS 3151
D-Day/Battle of Normandy: Commemoration - Anniv. (60th), The Speaker 3151
Res. 1389, D-Day/Battle of Normandy: Participants - Honour,
The Premier 3152
Vote - Affirmative 3153
Mr. D. Dexter 3153
Mr. W. Gaudet 3154
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW: Interchange - Support, Mr. L. Glavine 3157
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1390, Mainland North Drug Awareness Comm. - Poster Contest,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3157
Vote - Affirmative 3158
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 70, Municipal Law Amendment (2004) Act, Hon. B. Barnet 3158
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1391, Sports - Kings-Edgehill: Boys Rugby - CAIS Championship,
Mr. D. Dexter 3158
Vote - Affirmative 3159
Res. 1392, Mainland North Anti-Smoking Poster Campaign - Winners,
Ms. D. Whalen 3159
Vote - Affirmative 3160
Res. 1393, Transport Min.: Air Travellers Security Charge - Eliminate,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3160
Vote - Affirmative 3161
Res. 1394, Health: Home Care - Assessments, Ms. J. Massey 3161
Res. 1395, Preston/Westphal Army Cadets - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 3161
Vote - Affirmative 3162
Res. 1396, Fin. - Fed. Transfer Cuts: TD Economists - Opinions,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 3162
Res. 1397, Rushton, Roy: Service (Can.) - Thank, Mr. C. Parker 3163
Vote - Affirmative 3163
Res. 1398, Comeau, Anne-Marie: Univ. Ste.-Anne - Hon. Deg.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 3164
Vote - Affirmative 3165
Res. 1399, First United Church (Sydney) - Anniv. (77th), Mr. G. Gosse 3165
Vote - Affirmative 3165
Res. 1400, Educ./Com. Serv.: Child Hunger - Address,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3166
Res. 1401, Maher, Allison: Regis & Kelly Letter - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 3166
Vote - Affirmative 3167
Res. 1402, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Petley-Jones, Emily -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3167
Vote - Affirmative 3168
Res. 1403, Gun Registry: S. Shore Wildlife Assoc. -
White Elephant Banner, Mr. B. Taylor 3168
Res. 1404, Sports - Bridgeport Sch.: Basketball - Championship,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3169
Vote - Affirmative 3169
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 385, Nat. Res.: Beetle Quarantine Zone - Mill Designate,
Mr. J. MacDonell 3170
No. 386, Prem.: VLTs - Action, Mr. D. Graham 3171
No. 387, Environ. & Lbr.: Pension Plan Changes - Notification,
Mr. D. Dexter 3173
No. 388, Prem. - VLT Addiction: Reduction - Action Plan,
Mr. D. Graham 3174
No. 389, Health: Care - Privatization, Mr. D. Dexter 3176
No. 390, Health: VON Kings Hospice Fdn. - Funding,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3177
No. 391, Com. Serv. - Circassion Dr. (20): Elevator - Install,
Mr. D. Dexter 3179
No. 392, Health: Self-Managed Attendant Care Prog. - Funding,
Mr. S. McNeil 3180
No. 393, TPW: Collective Agreement - Negotiations, Mr. C. Parker 3182
No. 394, Hum. Res.: Bonuses - Info Release, Mr. G. Gosse 3183
No. 395, Hum. Res.: Perf. Eval. Payment/Bonus - Differentiate,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3184
No. 396, Ins.: RCL - Assist, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3185
No. 397, Econ. Dev. - InNOVAcorp: Write-Offs -Explain,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3187
No. 398, NSBI: Christmas Party - Door Prizes, Mr. K. Deveaux 3188
No. 399, Econ. Dev. - Rural Economy: Decline - Admit, Mr. W. Gaudet 3189
No. 400, Environ. & Lbr. - Orangedale: Safe Water Supply - Ensure,
Ms. J. Massey 3191
No. 401, Agric. & Fish.: Licence Sales - Details, Mr. H. Theriault 3192
No. 402, Ins. - Facility Assoc. Plan: Failure - Admit, Mr. G. Steele 3193
No. 403, Ins. - Tourism Operators Coalition: Gov't. (N.S.) -
Response, Mr. G. Steele 3195
No. 404, Environ. & Lbr. - Nat'l. Gas/Crude Oil: Burning -
Cleanliness, Mr. K. Colwell 3196
No. 405, Com. Serv. - Income Assist. Regs.: Educ. Progs. -
Correlation, Ms. M. More 3197
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 63, Executive Council Act/Public Service Act 3198
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3198
Hon. E. Fage 3202
Mr. M. Parent 3204
Mr. J. MacDonell 3206
Mr. H. Epstein 3208
Mr. Gerald Sampson 3210
No. 65, Gasoline Tax Accountability Act 3214
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3214
Hon. R. Russell 3217
Mr. C. Parker 3220
Mr. L. Glavine 3224
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TPW: Off-Road Vehicles - Econ. Spin-Offs:
Mr. G. Hines 3227
Mr. Gerald Sampson 3230
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3233
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 6th at 12:00 noon 3236
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1405, RCL Br. 162 - Anniv. (25th), Hon. B. Barnet 3237
Res. 1406, Pictou East Cdn. Cancer Soc. -
Ecumenical Church Service (13th), Mr. J. DeWolfe 3237
Res. 1407, Col. Reg. Dev. Agency: Work - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 3238
Res. 1408, Yarmouth KIA/Hatt, Stephen: Recognition - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 3238
Res. 1409, Health - S. Shore Health: Women's & Children's Ctr. -
Efforts, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3239
Res. 1410, Mattinson, Kendra: Stardom - Congrats., The Speaker 3239
Res. 1411, Parrsboro FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend, The Speaker 3240
Res. 1412, Leicester FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend, The Speaker 3240
Res. 1413, Joggins FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend, The Speaker 3241
Res. 1414, Advocate & Dist. Fire Brigade: Exec./Firefighters -
Commend, The Speaker 3241
Res. 1415, Wentworth FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend, The Speaker 3242
Res. 1416, Original Meats & Video: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3242
Res. 1417, Walter's Garage & Muffler Shop: Contributions -
Recognize,^Mr. W. Dooks 3243
Res. 1418, Eastern Shore Auto & RV: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3243
Res. 1419, Webbers Store & Motel: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3244
Res. 1420, Bluenose Well Drilling Ltd.: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3244
Res. 1421, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Fry, Mike - Volleyball Championship,
Mr. S. McNeil 3245
Res. 1422, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Langpap, Sue -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3245
Res. 1423, Sports: Anna. Garrison/LeBlanc, Alie -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3246
Res. 1424, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Berry, Amy -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3246
Res. 1425, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Carriere, Danielle -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3247
Res. 1426, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Dowling, Amy -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3247
Res. 1427, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Hudson, Beth -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3248
Res. 1428, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Todd, Amanda -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3248
Res. 1429, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Janes, Courtney -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3249
Res. 1430, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Garner, Erin -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3249
Res. 1431, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Halliday, Morissa -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3250
Res. 1432, Sports: Anna. Garrison/Isles, Kristy -
Volleyball Championship, Mr. S. McNeil 3250
Res. 1433, Cobequid Educ. Ctr.: Reach for the Top Team - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 3251

[Page 3151]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Russell MacKinnon

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Today we have a very special group of veterans to whom the House has accorded the high honour of inviting to sit on the floor of the House of Assembly. I would now ask the Sergeant-at-Arms to admit these veterans to their chairs.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Would the members please rise.

[The veterans, escorted by the Sergeant-at-Arms and three Province House Pages, enter the Legislative Chamber and take their seats on the floor of the House.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the historic D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy, which led to the end of the Second World War. Canada, as a nation, owes an overwhelming debt of gratitude to the men and women who served and continue to serve their country in times of war, military conflict and peace. Commemorative events honouring our D-Day and Normandy veterans will be held across Canada and in France leading up to and on June 6, 2004.

3151

[Page 3152]

It is indeed a privilege for the members of the Legislature to welcome some of Nova Scotia's D-Day and Battle of Normandy veterans here today. We have extended to our veterans the rare honour of having them seated on the floor of the House during a session of the Legislature as a measure of our highest respect and deepest gratitude for their bravery and sacrifice. No one, in the history of this House, has been allowed the privilege of sitting on the floor of the Legislature during a session. This is indeed a momentous occasion.

I am now very pleased to recognize the veterans seated with us on the floor: Mr. George Borgal, Mr. Stanley Dudka, Mr. Jack Armitage, Mr. John Lipton, Mr. Roy Rushton, Mr. Roderick Russell and Mr. Vernon Westhaver. We are also very pleased to be part of the June 6th D-Day Veterans Parade and the ceremony at the Halifax Forum. I would like to extend a personal invitation to the veterans to attend a special veterans reception which Premier Hamm will be hosting on June 6th at the Halifax Forum banquet facility, following the ecumenical ceremony.

I would also like to advise the members, our visitors and guests, that a signature book commemorating the 60th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy is presently set up in the Hollis Street foyer, and it will remain in the foyer for public signature until June 4th. The Protocol Office will also send electronic pages of the book to the members for distribution in their constituencies.

I would now call upon the Premier to introduce a resolution in recognition of the 60th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1389

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, honoured veterans, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on June 6, 1944, 14,000 Canadians landed on the beaches of Normandy to assist in the Allied Invasion; and

Whereas after months of intense fighting, the Allied victory in Normandy resulted in the liberation of France, which ultimately brought about the liberation of Europe; and

Whereas by the end of the Normandy Campaign, Canadian casualties totalled more than 18,000, including more than 5,000 dead;

[Page 3153]

Therefore be it resolved that today, as we near the 60th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, we honour all those who fought in this campaign - a worthy cause won at a great price - and we promise to ensure that the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom are never forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Standing Ovation)

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like welcome the honoured guests who have joined us on the floor of the House today for this very important commemoration and, of course, welcome to all of those who have joined us in the gallery.

[2:15 p.m.]

At 6:00 a.m., June 6, 1944, Canadian, British, and American Forces stormed the Normandy coast. Nova Scotia soldiers were in the middle of the D-Day Invasion at Juno Beach. By 8:00 a.m. that morning, the German defenses at Juno Beach were broken and a Canadian beachhead was established.

From Juno, Canadians advanced, painfully, to the City of Caen. Mr. Speaker, I've been to Caen and what struck me was the markers that show, day-by-day, the advance of the Canadian Forces. What was amazing to me was how close those markers were together and how hard Canadians fought for such small amounts of distance.

The Canadian contribution to the war effort, and the losses we suffered, were so significant that there is a monument to Canadians, the Juno Beach Centre, in Courseulles-sur-Mer. My father's name is there at that centre at Juno Beach.

D-Day is remembered as the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. It is also remembered for the large number of casualties and for the high price of this first foothold in Occupied France. Today, we remember and pay tribute to the many Canadian soldiers who

[Page 3154]

made the ultimate sacrifice in the Battle of Normandy in order to secure peace and freedom for us all.

As they headed into battle on that June morning in 1944, American soldiers were told, the eyes of the world are upon you. Reports are, Mr. Speaker, that the Canadian troops were told, off you go to do your stuff. They did, and a grateful nation thanks them. May they never be forgotten. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, honoured veterans, special guests joining us this afternoon, it's hard to believe that almost 60 years has passed since these veterans were landing on a beach under fire or behind enemy lines to meet a fate they feared to imagine but knew would be dangerous. How very young they were, and how magnificently they performed.

These veterans are the elder statesmen of our nation, and my colleagues and I are honoured to stand among them in this Legislature today. Through their service, we are fortunate to uphold the same values these veterans fought to defend so many years ago. On June 6, 1944, and during the issuing of the Normandy campaign, you made history, for, truly, D-Day was the beginning of the end for the enemy in Europe.

To the veterans with us today, we say thank you. The cost of victory was very high, too many good people perished in the cause of freedom. It was a worthy cause, won at a steep price. Come this June, we will once again salute their sacrifice. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you, may I request that the members of the House rise for two minutes of silence in memory of those who did not return from battle.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask all members to rise for two minutes of silence, please.

[Two minutes of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

On behalf of all the members, I would like to thank the veterans and their guests for attending this session this afternoon. I'm sure it's something we'll always remember for many years.

The House will resume its session following the departure of our veterans.

[Page 3155]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Would the members please rise.

[The Sergeant-at-Arms escorted the veterans from the Chamber.]

[Standing Ovation]

[The Sergeant-at-Arms re-entered the Chamber.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank:

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly understand the significant economic spinoffs offered by the use of off-road vehicles across Nova Scotia.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

The honourable member for Glace Bay on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON(Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's a great pleasure to welcome in our west gallery today a couple of visitors whom I'm sure really need no introduction. With us today is Dr. Jim Perkin, a long-time resident of Wolfville, former President and Vice Chancellor of Acadia University and also a former chairman of the district health authority in that region. With Dr. Perkin today is a world-renowned artist, who in addition to his well-known body of work and as I'm sure all in this House and gallery today are aware, served in the Canadian Army in World War II as a war artist. He's also a recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia and served as Chancellor of Acadia University, Dr. Alex Colville. I would ask both gentlemen to rise, please and the members to give them a warm welcome today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the members' attention to the west gallery. I'm pleased to introduce seven students from Bridgetown Regional High School who are part of the debating club and are accompanied by their teacher, Mary Anne McNeil who happens to be my sister-in-law. So I would ask all members to be on their best behaviour today during Question Period and I would ask them to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I welcome our guests to the gallery today.

[Page 3156]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members for allowing me the opportunity to have this introduction. There's a person from the Dartmouth East constituency in the west gallery today. That person is from Dartmouth East and is here watching the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and certainly has special interest around home care delivery, self-managed attendant care and so on. So he will certainly be watching the proceedings and taking in the debating discussions around community services as he has done with the Department of Health. His name is Mr. Robert Venus and I would hope that we would give him the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome Mr. Venus to the gallery today. We hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to a guest we have today in our west gallery from my constituency who will be well known to people here. He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame this year. He has a very distinguished career in boxing and has recently written a book, I think it's called the Win in the Arena of Life, which is a very inspiring book and I've provided a copy for our Legislative Library. I would like to introduce Ricky Anderson to members of the House and ask him to stand. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: I would like to introduce, in the west gallery again, members who are here from the Mainland North Drug Awareness Committee. They have sponsored an anti-smoking poster contest for Grade 6 students. So we have the Grade 6 students who are winners, their parents, teachers and principals from the eight schools that were involved in Mainland North and the students come from the ridings of Clayton Park, Fairview, and also Timberlea-Prospect. I would like them to rise and we will give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We do welcome our guests to the gallery today. I think they watched something symbolic here that happened on the floor of the House that will be with them for many years hopefully.

[Page 3157]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to enter a petition in support of a full interchange at the Ben Jackson Road and the old No. 1 Highway connector. This is a new petition, 600 names, which the Mayor of Hantsport and the Warden of Kings County have signed in support of this petition and I affix my name as well to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1390

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

Whereas tobacco is the number one cause of preventable illness and death in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Office of Health Promotion's comprehensive tobacco control strategy has seen the overall smoking rate in Nova Scotia drop by 5 per cent and youth smoking has dropped by 13 per cent; and

Whereas youth are the key to this province's future and stopping youth from smoking, and preventing them from taking up the habit, will help to create a healthy Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the volunteers of the Mainland North Local Committee on Drug Awareness for organizing an anti-smoking poster contest and congratulate the participants who are all winners in light of their increased awareness of the dangers of tobacco.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3158]

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 Tourism, Culture and Heritage on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Might I also just mention, Mr. Speaker, that a member of our Legislature, the member for Halifax Clayton Park, is also a member of that committee, and perhaps others here, but I did want to point that out to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 70 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act; Chapter 300 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Municipal Elections Act; and Chapter 302 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Municipal Grants Act. (Hon. Barry Barnet)

[2:30 p.m.]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1391

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

Whereas on April 25th, the Windsor-based King's-Edgehill boys rugby team won the prestigious Canadian Association of Independent Schools Championship in Oakville, Ontario, beating out two-time defending champion, St. Andrew College of Aurora, Ontario; and

[Page 3159]

Whereas the team was undefeated throughout the tournament, blocking out powerful perennial Ontario power teams with scores of 4 to 0, 16 to 6 and 19 to 0; and

Whereas hailing from tiny Mooseland, Eastern Shore, Dale Prest is co-captain of the team and has also been elected Head Boy by students and staff and will give the valedictory address in June;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate the King's-Edgehill boys rugby team, co-captains Dale Prest, Jordan Wiens, Brandon Bolivar and coach Rod MacDonald, on winning the Canadian Association of Independent Schools Rugby Championship in April and wish them success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 1392

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

Whereas the Mainland North Committee on Drug Awareness recently sponsored its annual Anti-Smoking Poster Contest, intended to encourage students to think about reasons not to smoke; and

Whereas students from Burton Ettinger, Brookside Jr. High, Duc d'Anville, Fairview Heights Elementary, Grosvenor-Wentworth Park, Park West, Rockingham and Springvale schools participated in this smoking awareness contest; and

Whereas the first place winners for each school were Andrew Williamson, Spencer Scott, Luke Hacquebard, Kaylin Dean, Kelsea Black, Emma Delory, Christopher Photopoulis and Jennifer Fitzpatrick;

[Page 3160]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House join me in congratulating all winners of the Mainland North Anti-Smoking Poster Contest and all students who participated in this worthy competition to spread the message against smoking.

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 Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1393

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

Whereas security charges for air travellers in Canada are still three times higher than in the United States; and

Whereas these security charges are one of the primary issues of concern for the Provincial and Territorial Tourism Ministers Forum; and

Whereas these security charges place Nova Scotia, and indeed all of Canada, in a competitive disadvantage as a tourism destination;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House call on the federal Minister of Transport to eliminate the air travellers security charge.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3161]

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. 1394

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

Whereas the process used in Nova Scotia for home care assessment is unfair and it degrades and humiliates people requiring home care; and

Whereas the process treats home care applicants as though they are not capable of discussing their own home care needs; and

Whereas, in fact, the test allows little input from potential clients as to what supports would be most meaningful to them;

Therefore be it resolved that this government discontinue the way they currently do home care assessments and instead carry out assessments in a way that respects the human dignity of our home care clients in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1395

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

Whereas on May 29, 2004, the 117 Preston/Westphal Royal Canadian Army Cadets will hold their 8th annual Ceremonial Review; and

[Page 3162]

Whereas the 117 Preston/Westphal Royal Canadian Army Cadets have a rich heritage as members continue the proud history as Princess Louise Fusiliers in the Canadian Army; and

Whereas the Cadet Corps provide excellent training for young men and women all over Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Captain Mark Johnson, Commanding Officer, and all the officers and members of the 117 Preston/Westphal Royal Canadian Army Cadets for the dedicated work the cadet movement provides in our area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1396

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

Whereas economists with the country's third largest bank said in a report last month that Canada's least wealthy provinces, including Nova Scotia, were indeed hit hard by an unexpected drop in federal transfers; and

Whereas economists Derek Burleton and Mimi Curtis-Irving described February's 32 per cent drop in equalization as "stunning" and "unexpected"; and

Whereas these independent opinions echo what the Premier and the Minister of Finance have been saying for months;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House agree with TD Bank economists that Nova Scotia was blindsided by an unanticipated $148 million cut in federal transfers.

[Page 3163]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1397

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

Whereas Roy Rushton of Tanner Hill, Pictou County proudly served his country during the Second World War with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and later served in the Korean War; and

Whereas since 1991, Mr. Rushton has been President of the Canadian Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association and played an active role in the Canadian Mint's Commemorative Coin launch at Pier 21 in March of this year; and

Whereas Mr. Rushton recently spearheaded fundraising for the Last Post Fund so that Veterans in unmarked graves could have a headstone;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature thank Roy Rushton for his long and dedicated service to his country, and wish him continued good health and happiness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3164]

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1398

M. WAYNE GAUDET: M. le Président, par la présente, j'avise que le proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que l'Université Sainte-Anne vient de décerner un doctorat honorifique à madam Anne-Marie Comeau; et

Attendu que madame Comeau est reconnue à la Baie Sainte-Marie et à l'étranger pour son talent et son dévouement dans le domaine artistique auprès de la jeunesse; et

Attendu que madame Comeau est la fondatrice de la troupe de dense bien connue, La Baie en Joie;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée exprime ses félicitations et meilleurs voeux à madame Anne-Marie Comeau.

M. le Président, je propose l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débats.

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

Whereas Université Saint-Anne has awarded an honourary doctorate degree to Anne-Marie Comeau from Saulnierville; and

Whereas Anne-Marie Comeau is known for her artistic talents and her dedication to the young people in her community; and

Whereas Anne-Marie Comeau is the founder of the dance group La Baie en Joie and continues, as she has done for many years, as artistic director and dance instructor;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly offer congratulations and best wishes to Anne-Marie Comeau.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3165]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1399

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

Whereas on September 11, 1927, First United Church was established by the union of George Street United and Falmouth Street United Churches on Whitney Avenue in Sydney; and

Whereas First United held it's 77th Anniversary service on May 2, 2004, with the Reverend Willis Henderson as the Anniversary preacher at the morning service; and

Whereas the guest speaker at the evening service was Keith Burton, music director and creator of Godsent Teen Choir, who had performed at the service along with the junior and senior choirs and the junior and senior orchestras;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia congratulate the Reverend Doug Pilsworth and the First United Church for their 77 years of dedicated ministerial services to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 3166]

RESOLUTION NO. 1400

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

Whereas in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board it is estimated that more than 2,200 students attend class without having breakfast; and

Whereas yesterday the Halifax Regional School Board officials confirmed that more than 3,000 students per day attend classes in their district board without having breakfast; and

Whereas these figures signal an increase in the number of hungry children attending Nova Scotia's schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and the Minister of Community Services take proactive measures to address the issue of hungry children attending school in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1401

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

Whereas it is not too often that you go to answer the telephone and find producers from the "Live with Regis and Kelly" show on the other end of the line; and

Whereas such was the case for Auburn resident Allison Maher, who was one of 10,000 letter writers to the show, in February, expressing her appreciation and love for her adopted mother, Mary Norman; and

[Page 3167]

Whereas the call to Allison was to inform her that Mary would be on the show this Friday at 10:00 a.m. from Auburn, but that she had also won a $50,000 renovation of her kitchen which includes new flooring, appliances and windows;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs congratulate Allison Maher for putting pen to paper and expressing her true feelings about her adopted mother.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1402

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

Whereas on April 17th and 18th, 2004, the Tier II, 18 and under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team was victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Emily Petley-Jones and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3168]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1403

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

Whereas the South Shore Wildlife Association invested $300 late last Fall in creating a white elephant in hopes of putting another white elephant out of its misery; and

Whereas the white elephant banner was being sent to gun clubs across Nova Scotia to bring attention to the $2 billion white elephant, better known as the federal gun registry; and

Whereas the South Shore Wildlife Association toyed with many ideas before deciding upon an outdoor vinyl banner depicting a white elephant, as the long gun registry, munching on tax dollars, with political fertilizer streaming from the other end;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the efforts of the South Shore Wildlife Association in their persistence to have the Martin Government understand what a colossal waste of tax dollars the federal gun registry truly is.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 3169]

RESOLUTION NO. 1404

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas for many of our youth, school athletic programs are a source of friendship and pride; and

Whereas Bridgeport School, in Glace Bay, recently won the Cape Breton Junior High "C" Basketball Championships; and

Whereas to meet this goal, both athletics and coach, Murdock MacLean, worked tremendously hard and brought a great deal of pride to their community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Bridgeport School in Glace Bay for their first-place finish at the Cape Breton Junior High "C" Basketball Championships.

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 South-Portland Valley on an introduction.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce, in the west gallery, a resident and volunteer from Dartmouth South-Portland Valley, Helen Fleet. Please welcome her. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Ms. Fleet to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Glace Bay on an introduction.

[Page 3170]

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's a great deal of pleasure to introduce a resident of Glace Bay, who is also a university student at Acadia University, Mr. Kirk O'Connell, who is also a very hard campaign worker in the Glace Bay area. I would ask everyone to welcome Mr. O'Connell to the House today, please. (Applause)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:46 p.m. and end at 4:16 p.m. (Interruptions) Sorry, there was no one standing on resolutions, and I can only wait so long. (Interruptions) I called for any more resolutions and no one stood, sorry.

The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES.: BEETLE QUARANTINE ZONE - MILL DESIGNATE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, woodlot owners in the brown spruce longhorn beetle quarantine zone are wondering how they're going to salvage their wood, after their area was first hit by the beetle and then by Hurricane Juan. Woodlot owners in this area need a designated mill to handle their wood. The deadline for moving the unprocessed quarantined wood outside this zone has now passed, so this mill must be in the zone, so I'm told. I'm aware that work has been ongoing for months to designate a mill, but these efforts don't appear to be getting anywhere. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is, why is it taking so long to designate a mill in the quarantine zone?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. That is a good question. We have been trying to deal with the federal government and the CFIA on this issue. It just goes around and around, but we are working. There is a working group that's working on this situation. The honourable member opposite has asked for a meeting with myself and the federal agency and the Mayor of HRM, and I've agreed to that meeting. We are trying to orchestrate having that meeting. Maybe it will shed some new light on the situation.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister is knocking off my questions before I get to them. The minister would be aware, or at least I hope he's aware, that downed wood, after the hurricane, is not going to last forever. We have a limited window, not only to get this wood processed, just because it's been uprooted by the hurricane, but also, in the particular case of this wood, it's because it's been infested with the longhorn beetle. I want to ask the minister - he's already indicated my request for a meeting and I would like a timeline - can the minister tell me if that meeting could occur next week?

[Page 3171]

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, this member would have the meeting today if he could have the meeting. It's the other members who have to come on side. I cannot dictate what the Mayor of HRM will do or the member from CFIA. I will tell him that I will do everything in my power to have the meeting next week.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that. I think the minister is aware, or I thought I tried to indicate to him some time ago, I received a response from Mayor Kelly months ago on this issue. He was glad to meet. CFIA contacted me after my request, and they said they would be glad to meet. The only person who initially said they weren't interested in meeting was the minister, which he retracted and said, yes, he would be glad to meet. So I think as far as the other stakeholders are concerned, they're more than happy to meet. Considering that, can the minister assure me of a meeting next week?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, again, I will do everything in my power to have that meeting next week. I will have it this week, if I possibly can have it. I will take the lead to having the meeting, and we will have it at my office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

PREM.: VLTs - ACTION

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, from time to time questions come from the cheap seats. (Interruptions) It's a great view. My question is for the Premier. Yesterday the Minister of Health made an announcement in a scrum as I understand it that the provincial government would study the relationship between VLT gambling and suicides. Five years ago, the Premier had the insight to implement a bill, Bill No. 17, that put a moratorium on the number of VLTs in use in Nova Scotia. However, five years later this continues to be a serious problem. Thousands of individuals and thousands of families are still having their lives ruined here and now in Nova Scotia. Five years later, Nova Scotians are looking for action, they're looking for leadership. My question for the Premier is, isn't the time for talk over and isn't it time for action?

THE PREMIER: Yes, it is a serious problem. It is a time for action. I remember very clearly introducing it into the House and watching it pass through the House, the moratorium on the number of VLTs in the province which limits the number outside of the reserves to 3,234. That number is being adhered to by this government as it was by the past government.

There were some commitments made to the Aboriginal communities in Nova Scotia relative to VLTs on their lands. As a result of those commitments, the legislation that we passed at that time did not include those communities. The talks are ongoing with those communities relative to VLTs on their lands and the roles those VLTs play in the revenue stream.

[Page 3172]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question about VLTs relates to VLTs more generally, not just on reserves. The comments yesterday from the Minister of Health clearly stated this would be a matter to be studied and it would be a study on the relationship between suicide and VLT use. Well, the second part of Bill No. 17 that the Premier introduced five years ago contained a requirement that this issue actually be studied and it was studied. It was studied by the Community Services Committee of this House. This government asked for the social effects of VLT use to be studied and they received answers in a comprehensive report that spoke about wider issues than just suicide. They spoke about non-problem versus problem players, impacts on individuals, impacts on families, on communities, economic impacts. My question for the Premier is, would he agree, in the circumstances, that action would involve ensuring that a plebiscite is put before the people of Nova Scotia to ensure that once and for all we look at phasing out the use of VLTs in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: The question would seem to imply that somehow the government's action has created the gambling situation in Nova Scotia. What originally happened is that the Government of Nova Scotia - not our government - made the decision that rather than have grey machines in the province, that we would have government-regulated gambling. I support that decision of the previous government.

Now, the question does have significant relevance because it is imperative that, as the regulator of gambling, the government must do it in a responsible way and do the things that the member opposite has suggested and, yes, the government is going forward with that kind of approach.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the time for action is now. The Premier's own report from five years ago clearly signalled that 1 per cent of the adult population in the Province of Nova Scotia pours over - in today's dollars - $60 million a year into these machines. That's 1 per cent over $60 million instead of food, clothing and shelter. The straightforward question is whether or not this government will agree to put before Nova Scotians, as they did on Sunday shopping, a plebiscite on phasing out the use of VLTs?

THE PREMIER: I'm glad that the member opposite sees the value of the plebiscite on Sunday shopping. (Applause) Thank you for acknowledging that. What I can say to the member is that the government is taking all of this extremely seriously. We all know first-hand some of the tragedies that are being created in our province with gambling. However, we will have gambling in the province. What my view is, and the view of many Nova Scotians is, that we must regulate gambling. Government has a responsibility. Gambling will not go away if, in fact, government decides to get out of the business. Government will remain in the business of being the regulator but it will be a responsible regulator.

[Page 3173]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: PENSION PLAN CHANGES - NOTIFICATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The minister has recently learned that this province's pension benefit rules include the grow-in benefit for workers whose pension plan is wound down, usually because of a significant workplace shutdown. The rule applies to 1,400 pension plans, almost all of them in the private sector. The minister also knows that his government recently made a significant change in the pension benefit policy without issuing a news release, without mentioning it to the House. Last night the government said that this policy changed at the request of two of the 1,400 pension plans in question. So my question for the Minister of Environment and Labour is, will the minister tell Nova Scotians what steps he took to inform and consult the roughly 1,398 other pension plans and their participants about the government's new policy?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a good question. We would like to say that the amendment that has come forward has been part of the model law package and it moves us forward in that direction. There have certainly been ongoing discussions with the Superintendent of Pensions over the last number of years. It hasn't been something that has accumulated in the short term. It is something that has been going on for a long time now with a lot of consultation, with a lot of different individuals and groups, and that is the reason that the amendment was brought forward.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the importance of the grow-in benefit should be very well known to this government. Two of the biggest corporations in Canada unsuccessfully attempted to keep that retirement benefit for themselves although our law provides for workers whose jobs are wiped out. Imperial Oil and Hawker-Siddeley both took their cases to the Court of Appeal and both lost. The documents filed in the Imperial Oil case show that a worker with 25 years of service who was 47 years old when Ultramar was shut down, had his RRSP increased from $22,000 to $68,000 thanks to the grow-in benefit. My question is, why didn't the minister explain the government's decision to target a benefit that comes into play only when people lose their jobs and why didn't they explain the significance of this change?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, there have been a number of individuals and groups who have commented and requested this change. They have requested this through a number of different Ministers of Environment and Labour and there have been ongoing discussions with the Superintendent of Pensions. In the construction industry, it was 2003 that this top-up was removed and consultation was done at that point in time with the construction industry and it was agreed that that should take place. This is a follow-up as we move forward.

[Page 3174]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, right now, every private pension plan in Nova Scotia has the funds on hand to meet the actuarial liability created by the grow-in benefit. That has been true for decades. If any particular pension plan feels that they need the relief due to its specific circumstances, it can plead for special treatment from the trustees, from the superintendent, from the minister, as the cases he just mentioned. The issue here is the rules that determine the kind of retirement a person can enjoy when they are laid off after years of faithful service. My question is this, why won't the minister assure Nova Scotians that he will not introduce or proceed with significant pension benefit changes unless he is first given clear and early notice of those proposed changes?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it may be worthwhile to go over some of the correspondence that has taken place with the department. We certainly have something from the HRM that was looking to have this amendment brought forward, and that was dated February 7, 2003. I certainly would make these available for tabling.

[3:00 p.m.]

As we go through, we also have something from the Municipal Association of Police Personnel, endorsing that request. There is also something here from the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, ". . . the inclusion of costs that are unnecessary only exacerbates the funding problems pension plans are facing, and places financial obligations on members that in our view are neither justified nor reasonable. The elimination of the 'grow-in' in the calculation of liabilities on a 'solvency' basis would decrease the total 'solvency' liabilities and bring them closer to the 'going concern' liabilities." That one is signed by Rick Clarke, and there is also one from . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will ask the honourable member to table those documents that he read from, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

PREM. - VLT ADDICTION: REDUCTION - ACTION PLAN

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Last week the Premier attended an announcement with respect to Health Promotion, and he will recall that a great deal of emphasis was placed in that announcement on addictions counselling and prevention for tobacco use, alcohol use and gambling. Five years ago the Premier was a person of action. He introduced a bill that addressed some of the problems of VLTs but obviously five years later we continue to have a devastating problem in Nova Scotia; 6,400 people, all with families, are suffering the devastating effects of VLT gambling.

[Page 3175]

We received today in the first line of questioning only a vague promise. My question for the Premier is whether or not he will table before this House an action plan to reduce VLT addictions for problem gamblers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government can look back at some of the initiatives that it has undertaken already. We made changes in the machines, we have put forward various programs and initiatives that deal with the issue of problem gambling. The member opposite brings something that is very, very important to the floor of the House, and the government will be in a position to deal with his request for an action plan in the not too distant future. We are working on the issue, as we have been for the last number of years.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, if I could suggest anything for a first step it would be to take the bill exchangers out of those VLT machines. I would like to refer you to the Public Accounts, Volume II, Page 286. This is a copy of the audited statements from the Auditor General for the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation. I would like to give the Premier an opportunity to view what's on Page 286. On Page 286 it indicates what the current assets and liabilities are for the Gaming Foundation, which is the organization responsible for ensuring that we address the problem of gambling. In that, it is recognized that there is cash of $4.5 million sitting with this organization, a fund balance of $3.8 million that is not being used for associations like the Cape Breton Wellness Centre, that deals with issues like addictions and various other related issues. My question to the Premier is whether or not he will agree to direct the Gaming Foundation to begin to use the excess cash that they have toward gambling addictions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question deals directly with the activities of the Gaming Foundation and the budget, and monies within that foundation, and I refer the question to the minister responsible.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for bringing that question forward. Currently at this time, the Office of Health Promotion and the Gaming Foundation are in the process of signing an MOU. I certainly do have the same concerns with respect to that amount of money sitting there and not being used as much as it should be, for a variety of initiatives. So we are working on that MOU and we expect to have that signed within the next few weeks.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister responsible for the Office of Health Promotion. In the estimates debates last week I received an undertaking from the Minister of Health with respect to Health Promotion and, in particular, the Cape Breton Wellness Centre which I referenced in my second question. The Minister of Health agreed to enter into discussions with the Minister of Health Promotion and the local district health authority to examine whether or not the $150,000 of funding that was cut two years ago to the Cape Breton Wellness Centre could, in fact, be restored. I'm asking whether or not the Minister of Health Promotion is prepared to live up to his part of that undertaking?

[Page 3176]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

HEALTH: CARE - PRIVATIZATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Many Canadians have been angered by the comments of federal Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew last week endorsing the further privatization of our health care system. In this province the government has allowed the opening of a private MRI clinic and of other private health care services like Mobile Care, whose flyer is now circulating, and I will table that for the members of the House. Despite allowing the private clinic to operate, nowhere does the Hamm Government make an unequivocal public commitment to stop further privatizing of health care. So I would like to ask the Premier, is your government actively considering further privatization of government services, including the health care system?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we do not have at this time any specific plans with respect to further, to use the words of the honourable member, privatization of health care other than to try to get more private practitioners to come to this province and practise medicine.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on October 28, 2003, the government held what they called an alternative service delivery workshop at the World Trade and Convention Centre. Notes from that meeting obtained through the freedom of information revealed that staff from across government are considering how far to go in privatizing government services. Let me read you a rather disturbing quote, "We should be identifying and sticking to the core business of government, i.e. if we can find one of our particular services or sets of expertise in the yellow pages, should we be doing it?"

Mr. Speaker, I want to table an ad from the Yellow Pages for the Canadian Diagnostic services, the private MRI in Halifax. My question is, will the Premier tell this House why he is allowing staff to meet and plan how to privatize the needed government services?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what government encourages is for staff to have meetings to make the health care delivery system in Nova Scotia better. I see nothing wrong with having those kinds of meetings. The member opposite did bring up the issue of MRIs and the government has been very proactive. As you know, we have put new MRIs, since we became government, here in the city. We have put a new MRI up at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and we are monitoring the effect of these new services on the wait times for MRIs. If circumstances dictate, we will increase the capacity in the province to do MRIs.

[Page 3177]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Premier knows what his staff is up to. I would like to read you another quote from this. It says, "Avoid negative stigma associated with alternative service delivery terminology." It says, "Perhaps it could be changed to citizen-centred service delivery or something like that."

Mr. Speaker, they even go so far as to give advice about dealing with their own departments. They say, "Be cautious when going back to our respective departments and talking about alternative service delivery so as not to raise the alarm." I think Nova Scotia deserves straight answers on this. Will the Premier explain to the House how far his government is prepared to go in privatizing government services and why they're keeping it hidden?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that he need not be concerned with what the very valuable public sector people are saying as they try to produce good advice for government. What the member opposite has to be concerned about is what this government does, and I can assure the member opposite that the government is doing a good job.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: VON KINGS HOSPICE FDN. - FUNDING

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Almost three and a half years ago, this government was approached by a volunteer-based organization called the VON Kings Hospice Foundation. This community-driven organization came to government with a plan based on a 300-page needs assessment, a plan to build, to furnish, to equip a 10-bed free-standing hospice and turn it over to the province on condition that operating costs would largely be met with public funds. Government asked this group for more information. They asked for a report on the administrative structure. It was provided. They asked for a report on the financial structure, it was provided. In total, four different reports were completed by this community-based organization. My question to the minister is, why hasn't this government recognized the hard work and commitment of the VON Kings Hospice Foundation by committing to fund the operation of a hospice in the Valley?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Indeed, since I became Health Minister, we have met with some of the individuals involved in this proposal. People certainly recognize the great deal of work that has gone on within the community with respect to the proposal. The honourable member put his finger on the key question relative to the operation of the facility, and that is the ongoing funding. That is a service that would be an integral part of the services provided by the district health authority. We, therefore, have asked that the district health authority consider this within their total spectrum of services as to whether or not it is something that fits with their long-term

[Page 3178]

planning relative to services, and something that they would be prepared to include within their budget or their business plan for the operation of the DHA.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the minister and the guests in our gallery today, that response is simply not good enough. At any one time, there are 10 to 12 terminally ill patients at Valley Regional, occupying hospital beds, who would receive more appropriate care in a hospice. If this government was serious about addressing issues such as wait times in hospitals, this project would make sense and would have been adopted by the government. While the Valley DHA supports this hospice 100 per cent, the reality is they don't have the resources to manage acute care let alone hospice care; furthermore, the continuum of care is the responsibility of that government. Given that it's going to receive $45 million in a Health Reform Fund from the federal government this year and some $400 million between 2005 and 2007, my question for the minister is, will the minister please use some of the Health Reform Fund to support a hospice in the Valley?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, if the generosity of the federal government to which the honourable member infers comes to a reality, then, certainly, we would be in a much better capacity to provide for the needs of the district health authorities in this province. If that project should be part of the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority's business plan, we would certainly want to look upon it very favourably, relative to their total business plan, and see that it fits with the needs of the district health authority.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, let me make another plea. This minister has access to money and the plans to implement this project thanks to the VON Kings Hospice Foundation. The minister has all of the key ingredients to pilot the hospice as a new way to deliver palliative care programs in Atlantic Canada, and reduce the burden on the acute care sector in the Valley. This is a chance for that minister to be a leader and not a follower. My question is, why won't the minister take a lead Atlantic Canadian role by funding the hospice in the Valley, which will reduce the burden on acute care services and provide a better quality of health care for patients and their families in the Valley?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has indicated a desire to assist me in the response to this question.

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure you, the Minister of Health does not need my assistance. The member brings a very interesting approach to how we're doing in health care delivery. The member opposite knows we have a good plan called Your Health Matters. The member also knows, as all Nova Scotians know, as all Canadians are beginning to know, that we have only been receiving 16 per cent of health care funding from the federal government. We have been asking for the Romanow formula to be put in place. I'm very, very familiar with that hospice initiative, I think it's a good one, but we are waiting for the

[Page 3179]

federal government to respond with Romanow funding so that we can go forward with some of the innovative ideas that are very much a part of Your Health Matters.

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

COM. SERV. - CIRCASSION DR. (20): ELEVATOR - INSTALL

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, residents at 20 Circassion Drive have been fighting to get an elevator installed in their seniors' housing building - so far, without success. I want to table a story from The Daily News which outlines the plight of Ruth Owen who lives on the second floor and uses a walker to get around. In order to take out her garbage, she must roll a cart down the stairs of the apartment building. My question for the Minister of Community Services is, when is your department going to address the ongoing threat to residents' safety and install an elevator at 20 Circassion Drive?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, this is a question that has been brought up many times before in the House. The important point here is that when seniors apply to come into public housing, we attempt to match them up with facilities that are appropriate to them. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, sometimes their ability to use the stairs diminishes and at that time we try to move them to ground floor apartments or to buildings that have elevators. Eighty-five per cent of the seniors' facilities in this province are accessible. Thank you.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, recently a resident of the second floor fell and injured her foot; she was afraid to call an ambulance because of the high fees. Four elderly residents and the woman's daughter had to slide her down the stairs in order to get her out of the building to get medical help. Even if an ambulance had been called, they can't always get a stretcher up the stairs anyway and they have to take the residents down in a chair - and this has happened on previous occasions. I point out to the minister that an elevator, or a lift, would cost about $125,000 and I would like to ask him if that wouldn't be a good investment if it prevents serious injury from happening to residents?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. It allows me to point out that we are making strategic investments in the province and, as the member opposite would be aware, a matter that was brought up by the former member for Halifax Atlantic and followed up by the current member was to have an elevator installed at the Captain William Spry Centre. In fact, in this case, it was done. But, we have to set our priorities and we do it based on the demand for accessible seniors' complexes in the various parts of the province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I've been raising this matter in this House since 1998. In 2001 this province participated in a federal/provincial/territorial fall-prevention strategy which cited falls among the elderly as a significant cost to the health care system. One of the

[Page 3180]

key concerns related to seniors' physical environments is dangerous stairs. I want to ask the Minister of Health, given his department's concern over preventing falls among the elderly, when will he meet with his counterpart to address this serious hazard to residents of two-storey seniors' buildings?

MR. SPEAKER: That was for the honourable Minister of Health, was it?

MR. DEXTER: I'm sorry. To the Minister of Health, yes.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I apologize. The first questions were directed to the Minister of Community Services and I was preoccupied.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the Leader of the Official Opposition repeat the question? The last part only, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I know it's difficult for the minister to keep track of everything that's going on in the House.

Given his department's concern over preventing falls among the elderly, when will he meet with his counterpart in Community Services to address this serious hazard to residents of two-storey seniors' buildings?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the Senior Citizens' Secretariat indeed is leading an initiative with respect to prevention of falls and that initiative does involve all of the relevant departments and certainly the Department of Housing with respect to Community Services would be involved in that as would the Office of Health Promotion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH: SELF-MANAGED ATTENDANT CARE PROG. - FUNDING

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last session I questioned the minister on why he has not yet implemented the Self -managed Attendant Care Program that his government promised in 1999. Last evening I brought to the floor of this House for a second time, the story of a constituent of mine named Rick Laird, who would benefit from a self-managed care program, especially since his home care has been cut off.

After being cut off from home care Mr. Laird spent 116 days in an acute care bed at Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, costing this government in excess of $81,000. That $81,000 would have provided home care in the self-managed care program for Mr. Laird for three years. My question to the minister is, why does the minister fail to see that the self-managed

[Page 3181]

care program would give a better quality of care for Mr. Laird and save his government money?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member in posing the question bases his logic on the assumption that all individuals involved in a program such as this would fall into the same category as the person to which he refers. That would not be the case. There are many problems that we, within the department, look at and see if there were additional funds that we in the long term could become more effective with respect to the delivery of health care. We're not in a position to be able to find the funding for all of those programs, and we need to prioritize and place emphasis on delivery of services that are in effect.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, not everyone would fall under that program, but a good number of people with disabilities would. The Self-managed Attendant Care Program would be a program that would save this government money, while at the same time improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. If the minister doesn't believe in the program then say so. My question is, why are you not implementing a self-managed care program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, there are many programs, many proposals that come before us that we indeed believe in and would like to implement. We do not have the resources to do everything that we are asked to do, nor do we have the resources to do everything that we would like to do. That's the reality, and if the honourable member wants to influence his federal cousins to get busy with the Romanow report recommendations then we can move much more quickly.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. In 1999, this program was a good idea when you were looking for votes. Today you are spending some $600 million more on health care. The Self-managed Attendant Care Program would be a program that would save your government money, improve the quality of care for individuals with disabilities and honour the commitment you made to Nova Scotians in 1999. My question is, why are you not implementing a self-managed care program?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the Minister of Health just answered the question. I'll give him an opportunity to answer it again.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in answer to the previous supplementary, there are many programs that we would like to be in a position to fund, and I can say that the honourable member opposite does have an opportunity to influence his federal cousins. The Romanow report if fully implemented would provide many opportunities for this Department of Health to implement programs that would benefit many more Nova Scotians than we are currently able to do.

[Page 3182]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW: COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT - NEGOTIATIONS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. In February the minister issued a news release thanking the highway workers in which he said, "On behalf of Nova Scotians, thank you to everyone involved in clearing our roads and making them safe. You show your dedication to your jobs year-round." I'll table that.

Mr. Speaker, those highway workers have been forced to work without a collective agreement since October 2002. Five months ago, they applied for binding arbitration. Because of government delays and objections, the arbitration board won't even be able to set a date for its hearing until sometime after August. So my question, Mr. Minister, why is the government so determined to delay and frustrate a settlement with these dedicated, public-spirited highway workers?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, we do have highly motivated workers in the Department of Transportation, they do an excellent job for all Nova Scotians. With regard to their collective agreement and their agreement with the province, there is a process and the process is being followed.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, when a Liberal Government brought in the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act, they said it was about establishing free and fair collective bargaining for these workers, treating them with respect rather than treating them like patronage pals, who get fired after every election. The highway workers are making very modest wage proposals, yet it looks like they will go more than two years without a collective agreement. That is a disgrace. Why isn't the government facilitating an early arbitration to settle the matters in dispute with these highway workers?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I've already said that there is a process, the process is being followed. The highway workers are primarily CUPE workers and CUPE and the province are proceeding through the arbitration process.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, two years is far too long. This government, you know, they talk the talk about eliminating needless boards and agencies, yet the government has held a stand-alone Highway Workers Employee Relations Board that deals with only that one union instead of bringing highway workers under the Labour Relations Board. The government is actually its own needlessly complicated system instead of treating these workers with the same respect as others who do the same kind of work.

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So my question, Mr. Speaker, is, why doesn't the minister reduce duplication by repealing the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act, thereby letting the Trade Union Act and the Labour Relations Board guide future negotiations with our highway workers?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to venture into a minefield, but I can tell the honourable member that there are many, many workers in unions who would prefer to have the arbitration process vis-à-vis any other process.

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

HUM. RES.: BONUSES - INFO RELEASE

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Human Resources. Nova Scotians are still angry that this government sees fit to award bonuses to senior staff while some of the most needed programs undergo cutbacks. The more than $208,000 in bonuses handed out to senior government staff in 2002-03 is an expense for which the government refuses to be accountable. The government is still refusing to provide a breakdown of which staff got what amounts, based on so-called privacy concerns. Yesterday, during debate on Supply, the Minister of Finance released information about the bonuses received by Finance Department staff.

Will the Minister of Human Resources tell this House, why is she allowing such a double standard when it comes to the information about bonuses?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, the information that was tabled yesterday from the Department of Finance was information on bonuses for financial advisers, it was not part of the MCP or the senior officials pay for performance.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, this minister should know that no amount of stonewalling is going to make this issue go away. In fact, if anything, Nova Scotians are getting more frustrated with this new double standard. The reality is that whether you're in the investment division of Finance, the administration of health care or education or any other senior position in government, you must be accountable. So, to the Minister of Human Resources, when will your department come clean with Nova Scotians and release the list of which staff gets what bonuses each year?

[3:30 p.m.]

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I think it's important for the House to realize that civil servants are rewarded based on their performance appraisals, and that all Nova Scotians are looking for a certain level of services and programs to be provided. Having said that, we are looking at the FOIPOP decision that was put forward through Community Services, the Public Service Commission (Interruptions)

[Page 3184]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister has the floor.

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: The Public Service Commission and the Department of Community Services is reviewing the FOIPOP decision, and we will come forward after that 30 days or within that 30 days with a decision as to what we will do.

MR. GOSSE: I look forward to seeing that, Mr. Speaker. We raised the question with the Minister of Community Services last week, about a report by the freedom of information review officer. The report recommended that the minister reveal which staff got what bonuses. Last week, the minister didn't answer our question. Will the Minister of Community Services tell the House whether he intends to comply with the review officer's recommendation, or will he continue to keep this information from the public?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it's a good thing that the member opposite asked me the question, because he's forgotten my answer. The answer was that I look forward to being advised by our freedom of information officer within the Department of Community Services, and when that officer provides me with an opinion, then I will be happy to act on that opinion.

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

HUM. RES.: PERF. EVAL. PAYMENT/BONUS - DIFFERENTIATE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The government has a policy of rewarding public servants, as indicated by the Minister of Community Services, for doing well. So my question to the Premier is, will the Premier explain to Nova Scotians the difference between a payment made on performance evaluation and a bonus paid to an official for meeting a performance target?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, within the Finance Department, there are individuals who have projected targets to reach in their financial portfolios. If they reach this, it is for the betterment of Nova Scotia, to see to it that our investments are seen through to the end. Performance appraisals based on pay for performance is a different level. The MCP level, the average pay level is between $400 and $1,500. This is based on individuals who exceeded or did beyond that within their pay scales. They are rewarded based on that. If they are at the top of their pay scale, then it's an earnable benefit that they have to do next year, again. It's not automatically there.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, well, that's as clear as mud. I direct my second question to the Premier. First of all, with reference to what the minister has just indicated, it's incorrect and misleading to the House. Only two of the eight individuals who were referred

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to are dealing with the pension fund that she tried to associate with, the rest are dealing in a different division within the Department of Finance, which was confirmed by the Minister of Finance. Some of these public servants received bonuses: Roy Spence received a bonus of $26,253; Doug Stratton, $41,170; Kalyan Sunderam, $28,688; and it goes on and on. My question to the Premier is, why the double standard? Why are you releasing the names and the bonus amounts of some public servants but not others?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member and I did have the opportunity to talk about this question in estimates in the last two days. We have to be clear, the honourable member knows that the structures for these performance appraisals and bonuses were set up in 1996 when he was in government. He knows they were set up in that point of time and he is aware of why they were set up. The honourable member has mentioned a couple of people and their bonus structures, what our data shows is that bonuses were paid for two different years in one year. I'm happy to table this which shows what those people were paid for bonuses, what division they're in and that they all work in investment and treasury policy.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we, like any responsible government, would reward public servants, but we don't hide the taxpayers' money, as what's being done by this government; over $200,000 being paid in rewards, and this government is suppressing that public information.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, if he has the intestinal fortitude to answer, given the fact that in his blue book he claims that his government will be open and provide the public with effective opportunities for input, will the Premier not admit that he has reversed his role on an open and accountable government now, to a government that suppresses public information?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, if he was paying attention, would realize that the information that he required and asked for is now on the Clerk's Table in the House of Assembly. That's hardly hiding the information.

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

INS.: RCL - ASSIST

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, climbing liability insurance costs are hitting many of our non-profit groups in the province the hardest. Over the last number of months the Royal Canadian Legions across the province have told us that

[Page 3186]

high insurance rates are making it nearly impossible to stay open. Our Legions are being hit by high rates, and hikes as much as 200 per cent.

Nova Scotia Legions first came forward with this issue about four months ago. They have been working hard towards a solution on their own, and I understand there are some offers on the table, Mr. Speaker, but all this is in the early stage. My question to the minister responsible for insurance is, what steps have you taken to help non-profit groups like the Royal Canadian Legion stay open?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I met with the Royal Canadian Legion about three or four months ago.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Yesterday our caucus was contacted by Brenda Tuffs, the Secretary/Treasurer of the Shubenacadie Legion, Mr. Speaker. In the last two years the cost of insurance for this Legion alone has increased by 141 per cent in spite of the fact that this Legion has never made a claim. Ms. Tuffs says that her Legion has managed to cover the cost this year, but says that with increased costs they won't be able to keep the doors open much longer. My question to the minister responsible for insurance is, why is it taking so long for your government to address the liability insurance crisis non-profit groups are experiencing, like our Legions, in this province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, we do not have the tools to control the cost of liability insurance. However, having said that, if a Legion or any other non-profit organization is having difficulty getting insurance they can call me or they can call the Superintendent of Insurance, and we can outline to them what options are available and, in most cases, we can find a suitable insurer for them.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, today we recognize a tremendous contribution of Canadian veterans. Non-profit groups like the Royal Canadian Legions are the cornerstones of many communities in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, when can we expect your government to present a strategy to tackle this problem in our province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we already have a strategy for looking after that problem, and it's the best strategy that we have available at the present time with the tools that we have, and that is, if they will contact me, or the Superintendent of Insurance, I welcome those calls. As I say, we can probably point them in the right direction to obtain insurance at reasonable rates.

[Page 3187]

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

ECON. DEV. - INNOVACORP: WRITE-OFFS - EXPLAIN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the minister responsible for InNOVAcorp. It's important not to let Nova Scotia fall behind in the new economy, also InNOVAcorp is supposed to be an important part of building new business ideas and also InNOVAcorp is supposed to support new ideas and technologies in health sciences.

Mr. Speaker, they seem to be on a losing streak. Since 2001, the Nova Scotia First Fund administered by InNOVAcorp has lost $3.8 million. Since 2001, InNOVAcorp has overspent on its operating budget by nearly $2 million. The management of InNOVAcorp attributes these losses to higher than usual write-offs. My question to the minister is, can you tell us what's going on in InNOVAcorp that will require $3.8 million in write-offs?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly the honourable member asks a good question. Certainly when you're dealing in innovation, IT, new industries, there is a significant failure rate when you're trying to bring them to commercialization. That being said, there is also tremendous opportunity for Nova Scotians, and particularly rural Nova Scotian communities. I only need to point to Ocean Nutrition, a company that was sponsored with InNOVAcorp in research and development. Last week they opened their new production facilities in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, employing 160 young, highly-educated Nova Scotians.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that Ocean Nutrition was a number of jobs brought to Nova Scotia by the previous government and not his particular government. Also, what he talks about is not having an impact on rural Nova Scotia. The Auditor General reported in his annual report that the investment review committee of InNOVAcorp had no terms of reference. There were no set limits on how much the committee could invest. There were no formal guidelines specifying the number of votes needed for a quorum in order to approve an investment. These types of lax internal controls could well lead to some bad investments and later to some very large write-offs.

My supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, could the minister indicate if the absence of well-detailed terms of reference for the investment committee led to these enormous write-offs InNOVAcorp has had to make?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises an important question. First of all, do we want growth in Nova Scotia, do we want to be on the leading edge of IT, do we want to be promoting biotech and pharmaceutical companies? We've had a number of successes in Nova Scotia. Certainly evaluating those projects at the research and development, at the conceptual stage is no easy task, but I think the honourable member

[Page 3188]

would agree, as he just did with Ocean Nutrition, those are key to growing our rural economy, but not all of them are going to be successes.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the sum total of job creation projects in this province can be summed up in two words - call centres. Those call centres are being brought to Nova Scotia by a payroll tax rebate system that was put in place by the previous government. InNOVAcorp is another example of the lack of accountability to this Legislature. I would ask the minister in my final supplementary, what has the minister done towards implementing the Auditor General's recommendation that the investment committee have more formalized terms of reference?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to point out to the member opposite, who seems to be under a misconception, the economy is growing in Nova Scotia, but it's growing in rural Nova Scotia. Statistics Canada says that the employment growth for Nova Scotia since this government took over, in rural Nova Scotia we've moved forward by over 7,000 new full-time jobs. It's accomplished by supporting IT. It's accomplished by supporting communities in rural Nova Scotia and it's not accomplished by sitting on your hands.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

NSBI: CHRISTMAS PARTY - DOOR PRIZES

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Business Inc. There's a situation I would like to bring to the minister's attention with regard to the spending habits of the Nova Scotia Business Inc. In December 2003, after the mid-year cutbacks by the Minister of Finance, Nova Scotia Business Inc. spent $1,000 for door prizes at a staff holiday party and these weren't just any door prizes. I will table the freedom of information request and the receipt that shows that Nova Scotia Business Inc. bought 13 Swarovski crystal figurines as door prizes for staff, at a cost of $60 a pop. A store clerk at the Charm Diamond Centre, where they were purchased, calls Swarovski, "The Cadillac of crystal." And, in case you haven't guessed it, it's not from Nova Scotia. So I want to ask the minister to explain to this House, how can he justify spending $900 on crystal for government staff?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, yes, I was aware of NSBI hosting a Christmas party in conjunction with their quarterly meeting when all staff were in Halifax for their quarterly meeting.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, yesterday we heard in this House about job losses in the Annapolis Valley, with Britex in Pictou County, which his government is not doing a thing to deal with. Nova Scotia Business Inc. doesn't seem to be focusing on rural economic

[Page 3189]

development; in fact, their tastes are even further removed. Nova Scotia Business Inc.'s tastes seem to be even further removed (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the tastes of Nova Scotia Business Inc. are quite far away considering that Swarovski Crystal is made in Austria. Whether you agree or not with the purchase, the product must and should come from Nova Scotia, and it raises real questions as to why this crystal was purchased. So, my question to the minister is, why, when Nova Scotia Business Inc.'s mission is to promote Nova Scotian businesses, do they spend taxpayers' money on products from other countries?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows full well the economy in Nova Scotia is moving forward. The member opposite knows full well that the number of businesses in this province continues to grow and prosper. I want to quote one statistic for the honourable member and for the House. In 1993, in rural Nova Scotia there were 18,947 businesses in existence. In the year 2003, there are 30,758. The business climate in this province has never been better.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, maybe it's time to bring out the crayons for the minister, for him to clearly understand. Nova Scotia Business Inc. is to promote Nova Scotia business. Why would they be dealing with a business in Austria to buy crystal when we have businesses here that produce similar, if not the same, products? Now that he's informed of this situation, what concrete action is this minister going to take to ensure that Nova Scotia Business Inc. is not wasting funds like this again?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I just recently learned of this situaton. I've asked for a review of this situation from NSBI with regard to expenditures at their quarterly meeting in which a portion was spent on a Christmas celebration. I think it's important to reiterate to the House, and Nova Scotians understand that the economy is growing in this province. We have never experienced higher growth rates, higher employment numbers, and for the first time in two decades we're below 9 per cent unemployment in this province. NSBI, this government is focused on business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

ECON. DEV. - RURAL ECONOMY: DECLINE - ADMIT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Last week Statistics Canada indicated that the growth in our economy last year was at 0.9 per cent - the lowest in Canada; the lowest since 1996. Unemployment is up in every region outside of Halifax, since 1999. Since the beginning of this year, Britex has closed - 80 jobs; the Trenton forge is closing - 42 jobs; Transcontinental Media is moving jobs out of Yarmouth and New

[Page 3190]

Minas - over 90 jobs; Avon Foods is closing in Berwick - 150 jobs. So, my first question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier admit that the rural economy is faltering and that government must make rural economic development a priority?

THE PREMIER: It is for the very reasons that the member enunciated in his question. That's why in Opportunities for Prosperity, there is a focus on rural Nova Scotia. We've been very successful in creating opportunities in Yarmouth, in Sydney and all communities in between. As of the last Statistics Canada report, there are 442,700 Nova Scotians working, the most in the history of our province. So there are more Nova Scotians working today than at any other time in the province's history, and the government will continue to work with its balanced approach of economic growth and putting the revenues towards health care services and education services, because we believe that is the direction in which this province should move, and it's a direction that is proving to work.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia economy did poorly last year, and Statistics Canada proves that. Rural Nova Scotia, in particular, is hurting. The Liberal Party's plan for rural economic development includes a venture capital fund worth $30 million for rural investment, a stay home in Nova Scotia incentive program for recent graduates, increased support for our primary industries, and a minister of rural economic development. Now is the time to create a department of rural economic development with a dedicated minister. Again to the Premier, will the Premier commit to creating a ministry of rural economic development with a full department instead of the Office of Economic Development, which we have today?

THE PREMIER: I've been very pleased with the results that the Office of Economic Development has produced. I'm very pleased at the results of NSBI. For example, since we became government in 1999, there are now 33,000 more persons working in the province - I think that's a reasonable improvement - 90 per cent of those new jobs are full-time. Last year, for example, wages and salaries in our province increased 4.2 per cent, in comparison to the national average of 3.3 per cent. Our economy is doing better, and I believe much of the credit, not all of the credit but much of the credit, can go to the Office of Economic Development and NSBI.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, believing the Premier or believing Stats Canada, I think Nova Scotians will probably look at Stats Canada any day of the week. When the Premier says that we're doing better than the others, Stats Canada is saying that the economy in Nova Scotia was the lowest in Canada, the lowest since 1996. Rural Nova Scotia is losing population, there is little or no activity in the offshore, jobs are being lost, and this Premier just doesn't care. Again, why won't the Premier finally take an active interest in rural economic development, instead of continuing to ignore the problem?

[Page 3191]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe one of the ways in which we can effectively address rural employment is providing good training opportunities right across our province, which is one of the reasons why every single campus, the 13 campuses, of the Nova Scotia Community College are receiving an investment that will result in increased capacity and a better capacity to deliver good, solid training opportunities right across rural Nova Scotia. We believe that the government is addressing the issues in rural Nova Scotia, through the activities of NSBI, through the activities of the Office of Economic Development, and through our tremendous investment in the Nova Scotia Community College.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - ORANGEDALE:

SAFE WATER SUPPLY - ENSURE

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, the residents of Orangedale have been without an adequate water supply for years. There has been a boil order in place since January. Residents now regularly travel up to six kilometres to access a clean water source. Last Fall the Orangedale water supply study was released. It suggested a number of improvement options. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, what are you doing now to ensure safe drinking water for the residents of Orangedale?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, certainly, the department is working with all levels of government, the municipality, to ensure that we can come up with a safe drinking supply for that community.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, water quality issues are a concern across this province. Last month we learned that pregnant women who drink or bathe in water with high levels of THMs, are twice as likely to have stillbirths. Eight Nova Scotian communities have recently exceeded the Canadian drinking water guidelines for THM levels. Tatamagouche is one of those communities. Residents there complain of skin irritation, rashes, discoloured water and smell. My question to the Minister of the Environment and Labour is, what's your governments long-term plan to address the THM problem in this province?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to pass that question to my colleague from Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, our government participates with municipalities to study water quality in Nova Scotia. We have provided grants to every single municipal unit in this province to help them study the water quality. In addition to that, we are committed to the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Program to which we've contributed $167 million towards these types of projects and we will continue to do that.

[Page 3192]

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, however, after hearing those comments, there were 149 boil orders in Nova Scotia in the year 2001. There were 222 last year, that is a 49 per cent increase. There are some serious water quality issues in this province that need to be addressed. The municipalities are now submitting their water system self-assessments. Minister, will you make these evaluations public, so that we can all have a better idea of how much work is still to be done?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to point out the number of boil orders just impresses upon everybody that we do have a system in place that is testing water. Ensuring that people know if there are problems with water so that they can take the appropriate actions to repair the problem and work with the municipalities to ensure that we have a safe drinking supply.

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

AGRIC. & FISH.: LICENCE SALES - DETAILS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Nova Scotia inshore fishery is worth more today than it was worth at any other time in history, but it is benefitting only half the fishermen it used to and hurting coastal communities.

In the mid 1990s, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in their commercial licensing policy set out to provide for orderly harvesting of resources. It was also the intent of the owner/operator fleet separation policies to protect the independence of the inshore fleet from control by interest such as processing companies and other outside interests. At the same time these processing companies and other interests realized that the ownership or control of these licences would guarantee a continuous supply of product and at a cheaper price, and so the trust agreement was born. My question to the minister is, how can a government that claims to want to protect the inshore fisheries let independent owner/operators be bought out by large processing companies and other outside interests who may not have any interest in our rural coastal communities of Nova Scotia whatsoever?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I have to thank the member opposite for getting me off my seat during this session, it's nice to get up. (Applause) The member opposite knows full well that licensing and licensing policy is that of the federal government. We just recently had the fishery policy review released a month or so ago from the government in which - it's about a 40-page document - about a page and a half is dedicated to this very issue.

This issue goes back to sometime in the 1970s and 1980s, when fish plants were not able to buy licences yet licence holders and fishermen were allowed to build fish plants. There are a number of inequities within that policy and I'm sure that the federal government is

[Page 3193]

working hard towards it. We as a province have been supporting the idea of owner/operator to try to keep the vessels in our communities.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. THERIAULT: There's an overall limit to the number of licences available in the inshore sector, an individual limit is supposed to be one licence per holder, such a limit will spread the wealth around and promote greater involvement of people in the coastal fisheries. Owner/operators cannot compete with large companies and their financial resources, which can accumulate the licences creating less jobs in coastal communities and hurting this province financially. Mr. Speaker, what assurance will the minister give me today in writing that for the independent owner/operator this government will continue to support the inshore fishery and their owner-operator policy?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I brought up this fishery policy review and there are a number of issues held within it, but unfortunately it is very short on actual substance of what the federal government really wants to do on this issue, because there are so many things sort of wrong with the way that it had been going. We, as a department, have been working to get this recognized by the federal government and we will continue to do so. As for the member opposite's request, I will happy to speak with him after this session.

MR. THERIAULT: The federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and inshore fishermen are saying that P.E.I., New Brunswick, Quebec and Newfoundland have come out with written documents supporting their inshore fishermen and owner/operator fleet separation policy. Mr. Speaker, I'm being told by inshore fishermen of Nova Scotia that this government has not submitted anything in writing to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in support of this policy. My question is, if the minister has submitted this support document in writing, could I receive a copy and if he hasn't, can he please submit one today?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I'm glad the member opposite thinks that I can produce documents on a whim. As I said to the member opposite on a number of occasions, that I do support the idea of owner/operator and keeping those within our communities. I've said this to the federal minister on a number of occasions, I've said it to the previous minister on a number of occasions and I've stood up and I've said it to a number of people and the member opposite knows this full well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INS. - FACILITY ASSOC. PLAN: FAILURE - ADMIT

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, when this government released its auto insurance plan last June, the Minister responsible for Insurance Act estimated that 10,000 people would leave the Facility Association, the high-risk insurance pool, as a result. Well,

[Page 3194]

the latest Facility Association numbers are in. There are now 36,530 drivers insured by the Facility Association in Nova Scotia and that is 10,000 more than there were at this time last year and 26,000 more than there were two years ago.

Mr. Speaker, when will the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act admit that the Liberal-Tory plan to get people out of the Facility Association is a complete and unmitigated disaster?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, at this time last year, we were in the House and I made a commitment at that time that we would reduce the insurance premiums paid by Nova Scotia motorists by 20 per cent. Unlike other governments around this country, we have delivered.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, Jeff Lutz is a constituent of mine and one of the 10,000 people forced into Facility last year. He is a courier. When he renewed his insurance in February he found out that he was being pushed, for the first time in 35 years, into Facility. He also found out that his insurance rates were going up by 58 per cent. His rates were not rolled back by 20 per cent, he has never received a rebate cheque and in 35 years he is claims free.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act is, when can Nova Scotians expect that the disastrous Liberal-Tory plan to get people out of Facility will be fixed?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable member has got it all wrong. The Liberals were never part of this plan. This was our plan.(Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am very proud that it's our plan because we've now put back $55 million in rebates into the pockets of Nova Scotian motorists. (Applause)

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I want that minister to imagine that Jeff Lutz is sitting here, 35 years in the business, claims free, no rebate, in Facility, rate's up 58 per cent, what would that minister say to Mr. Lutz to convince him that the plan that was supposed to get people out of Facility is actually going to work for him and not against him?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would suggest that Mr. Lutz should probably contact the Superintendent of Insurance and determine exactly what the circumstances are with regard to the premium that he's paying and as to why he is in Facility. I would point out though that nowadays, compared to where we were one year ago, if you are in Facility, at least you can find out why you are there.

[Page 3195]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that will make Mr. Lutz feel a whole lot better.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INS. - TOURISM OPERATORS COALITION:

GOV'T. (N.S.) - RESPONSE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, last fall a coalition of tourism operators, recreation and small business groups got together to voice their concerns about liability insurance. They presented a report to government that calls on the government to review the problems, set up an interdepartmental task force, and come up with solutions. The coalition predicted that without the government's help, this year would be a very difficult year for small business and volunteers. So my question to the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act is, what is this government's plan to address the liability insurance problems raised by the coalition six months ago?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member is probably aware, we have established an Insurance Review Board. We have tasked that Insurance Review Board to come forward with a report by November of this year.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, John Furzeland is a small business operator. He owns and operates Molega Tours of Atlantic Canada and has a staff of 125 part-time employees. One month ago the Halifax Port Authority told this successful small businessman that he would need an extra $1 million in liability insurance to operate on their property. No less than three brokers have been unable to help Mr. Furzeland. The one offer he had was at a premium of $50,000. My question to the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act is, what is this government going to do to help tourism operators like Mr. Furzeland before this tourism season is over?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member who's addressing a problem of a Mr. Furzeland, I believe it was, that we will indeed solve that problem, as we have solved the auto insurance problem but, however, it will not be before we have adequate information which will be achieved by the Insurance Review Board before November 1st of this year.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, November 1st is too late for Mr. Furzeland and the other tourism operators in this province that can't get liability insurance. So we know that the insurance problems in Nova Scotia haven't stopped with auto insurance, 10,000 more people in Facility. Last week we pointed out home insurance has increased by 17 per cent in the last year and I spoke to a broker last week who said we haven't seen anything yet. Today we're pointing to a small business operator whose very existence is threatened by liability insurance. So my question to the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act is, when is the minister going to take responsibility for insurance and act?

[Page 3196]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are acting and this is a problem that's not confined to Nova Scotia, it's a problem facing every province across this country. We're going to do this in partnership not only with the other provinces, but with the federal government as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - NAT'L. GAS/CRUDE OIL:

BURNING - CLEANLINESS

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. On May 3rd, the Department of Environment and Labour okayed a 47 megawatt natural gas turbine for Tufts Cove. It appears to me that burning natural gas is a lot more efficient and a lot cleaner than burning high-sulphur bunker sea oil. My question to the minister is, isn't it cleaner to operate natural gas turbines than operating the present high-sulphur bunker sea oil with the brown cloud that hangs over this city and has been expanding outward in all directions from the centre of the city in a large brown cloud creating smog? I will note, on the eastern part of the area out to as far as Lake Echo, which is about a 10 kilometre move in the smog in the last 8 to 10 years.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to confirm that it certainly is cleaner to burn natural gas than it is crude oil.

MR. COLWELL: Yes. Well, I'm very pleased that you've confirmed that, that natural gas is cleaner. So why would the department have the audacity to say that you can only burn natural gas at peak times when they're burning high-sulphur bunker sea on a regular basis in Tufts Cove, creating all kinds of health problems and other problems. My question to the minister is, did the minister and the department do an overall review of the effects of the smog on the regional municipality and Nova Scotia by allowing only peak times burning of natural gas, instead of the high-sulphur bunker sea oil that you allow every day?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think we have to differentiate between short term and long term. In the short term, certainly the turbine that's been approved to operate to ensure that there's electricity for the houses at peak times in the province is an important thing and it is clean. In the long term, we certainly are looking at improvements in the way that we can reduce the pollution that is expended in this province.

MR. COLWELL: It's hard to believe I just got that answer. Natural gas is cleaner, it's a short-term solution but at least it's a better solution than what we have today. My final question is going to be to the Minister of Health. I ask the minister, what steps is the Minister of Health taking to ensure the Department of Environment forces this serious problem with pollution, generated by the power corporation in this province, is corrected so that people in Nova Scotia can live longer and healthier and not have to live with problems such as cancer,

[Page 3197]

asthma and lung diseases that we are seeing that are caused by this serious problem burning bunker sea and dirty fuel.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would know that the Department of Environment and Labour deals with regulations with respect to air quality. Those regulations flow from standards that are established nationally and applied, and as information becomes available those regulations are adjusted to reflect those realities on a national and international basis. Obviously, the honourable member should realize, as has been indicated by the Minister of Environment and Labour, that we are indeed responding to a short-term situation with respect to the supply of electricity within this province and that short-term solution was one which needs to address the needs of Nova Scotians. In the longer term, we, of course, will make sure that our regulations reflect the health of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

COM. SERV. - INCOME ASSIST. REGS,:

EDUC. PROGS. - CORRELATION

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Sunday is Mother's Day, when we honour the sacrifices mothers make in order to nurture their children, and offer them the best life possible. In this province, many mothers are forced to sacrifice their education and almost all hope of earning a living wage due to the draconian policies of the Department of Community Services. Under the Employment Support and Income Assistance Regulations, clients are not permitted to collect benefits while attending university or any educational or training program over two years. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why is your government continuing to legislate poverty for so many Nova Scotians?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I take exception to the premise of the question - that is not so. Thank you.

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

We have two introductions.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South on an introduction.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to bring to your attention and to members of the House the presence in the west gallery today of three distinguished gentlemen from Sydney who are here in Halifax on a bowling tournament this week. I'd like

[Page 3198]

to introduce them. First of all, in a little preamble, I'm very proud to be a life member of the Ashby Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Sydney, and we have the President of that branch, Mr. Mel Crowe, who is with us. Also, another distinguished gentleman, Mr. Joel McNeil who is the Vice-President of the branch. In between those two gentlemen, we have Mr. Cliff Surette who is the Chairman of the Sports Committee for the Ashby Legion Branch, and also I might add a member of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame. I'd like to welcome those gentlemen here today and have them rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly we welcome these special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on an introduction.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to you and to all members of the House today, in our east gallery we have visiting with us Councillor Richie Cotton from Richmond County. He's here today in Halifax meeting with the Minister of Environment and Labour on solid waste issues. If we could ask Richie Cotton to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome this special guest to the gallery today.

Order, please.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader of the Liberal Party on Opposition Members' Business.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 63.

Bill No. 63 - Executive Council Act/Public Service Act.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on Bill No. 63 to discuss what I consider to be a very important topic that's been current lately in the

[Page 3199]

House and also as a result of the introduction by our Party of a Bill to provide for the Department of Rural Economic Development in this province. I heard earlier today, the Premier talking about the economy and I can only say that the Premier must be living in a dream world when . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber, I'd ask the members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . when the Premier talks, Mr. Speaker, about the economy growing in Nova Scotia, and about the effects of the balanced budget on that economy and the effects of initiatives of the Department of Economic Development. It was also mentioned during Question Period that the Department of Vital Statistics in this country have stated that the growth in the economy of Nova Scotia is the worst in the country. I didn't say that. No one else in Nova Scotia said that. This is a national body, a well-respected body, Statistics Canada who have said the economy of Nova Scotia is not growing. It's growing at less than 1 per cent.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, this government has in its budget estimates this year, revenue projections of 3 per cent growth, which means that if you put the two together, there is a tremendous contradiction here between what this government is projecting in terms of growth this year, and in fact what is happening in this province. This means essentially, that this budget is not balanced. This budget is not balanced if you believe Statistics Canada which state that the growth is going to be less than 1 per cent. (Interruption) Do you know what? If the Premier wants to join the debate, he can certainly get up when I sit down and join this debate.

What I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, is by the time Nova Scotians find out that this budget is not really balanced, the House will have risen, the Premier will probably be thinking about doing something else down the road and in fact, I can't wait for the quarterly reports, the next quarter and the quarter after that, from the Auditor General of Nova Scotia.

But let's deal with something here that we know for sure. Since January we have learned the following: Britex, 80 jobs lost; Avon Foods in Berwick, 150 jobs lost; Trenton Works, 42 jobs lost; Transcontinental Media in Yarmouth, 71 jobs lost; Transcontinental Media in New Minas, 22 jobs lost; a 20 per cent unemployment rate in Cape Breton that this Premier has the nerve in this House during Question Period to say that the economy is thriving in Cape Breton when there's a 20 per cent unemployment rate down there, as we speak. Tell the people of Cape Breton what a wonderful economy is going on down there.

[Page 3200]

Mr. Speaker, there are further storm clouds coming in jobs to be lost in Cape Breton. We know that, the Premier knows that, and Cape Bretoners certainly know it. This is the tip of the iceberg. What we have in areas outside of Halifax is a structural economic crisis. Rural regions, even our largest towns, are losing population. As a matter of fact, a key word, a buzz word in Nova Scotia is becoming depopulation, in all sectors of Nova Scotia, except Halifax Regional Municipality.

Throughout Nova Scotia the word depopulation is becoming heard and spoken more often than not. The shame of that, Mr. Speaker, is that the government, the Premier, the Minister of the Office of Economic Development, which the Premier earlier today touted as the main engine for driving the economy, that department has gone from a budget of over $90 million two years ago, down to less than $50 million today, and it's been reduced from a full ministry, down to the Office of Economic Development in Nova Scotia. Is that the kind of plan that's driving the economy of Nova Scotia?

NSBI has been set up as an arm's-length agency to the Department of Economic Development, and that agency has done very little except position a few call centres around the province on the basis of a previously-designed formula by the MacLellan Government that called for a payroll tax rebate to encourage people to relocate in Nova Scotia. There's been no innovation on behalf of this government, none whatsoever. The Premier and his government even said that they would not get involved in creating business opportunities at all in Nova Scotia. They said, at the time when they were elected, that the private sector should be taking care of that and not government. Government shouldn't be involved.

Well, what you have now is an arm's-length agency of government, called Nova Scotia Business Inc. that is not responsible directly to this Legislature, but is putting money into the economy in call centres. Where is the innovation there? All we need to put call centres in place in this province is a clerk somewhere in an office to sign the agreements. The structure has been put there. Maybe we need another clerk to find office space for them, and maybe we need a third clerk to tell them where they can buy housing when they come here, for their executives, but there's certainly nothing innovative about what's been happening in the province in terms of job creation.

What's happening is the fact that this government has abandoned ship when it comes to rural Nova Scotia, and - I might add, Mr. Speaker - Cape Breton Island. The only thing that's going on in Cape Breton Island is federally driven, the only thing. The growth fund has, I believe, $12 million from this province over six years, that's the sum total of their investment in Cape Breton. They have an Economic Development office down there with one person waiting to retire, with no ability to talk to small business entrepreneurs and, worse than that, no ability to sign off on loans for those entrepreneurs.

[Page 3201]

What we have is an economy in demise in Cape Breton. If it wasn't for the federal initiatives down there, the situation would be much worse than it is now, much worse. The province probably has taken advantage of every single announcement that's been made down there with photo ops from its resident Minister of Energy, the MLA for Cape Breton North, who was actually the minister of politics for Cape Breton. He's taken that role over from the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. He's the spin doctor, the MLA for Cape Breton North, he's the spin doctor, or quite more correctly the chief apologist for the government, industrial Cape Breton. He continues to tell Cape Bretoners that the economy is fine, yet there's 20 per cent unemployment. He holds a press conference in a high school to talk about what wonderful things are happening in the energy sector when in fact nothing is happening in the energy sector. There is no activity at all in Cape Breton regarding energy alternative sources. The Laurentian Group, a number of private entrepreneurs, some of them very friendly to this government, have invested money in Point Edward and they're sitting there waiting for something to happen. Nothing is happening, yet the minister keeps telling the world that we're just on the cusp, we are just right there with energy initiatives. There's going to be all kinds of prosperity in the future because of energy initiatives that he as a minister is putting forward.

That's maybe a good theory. The reality is, nothing is happening. Absolutely nothing. People are leaving rural Nova Scotia in droves, from Sydney to Yarmouth and everywhere in between. The Premier's own county of Pictou, they're starting to the feel the problem of lack of economic development in their part of Nova Scotia as well. This can't continue. This cannot continue and I believe this government has a responsibility to pay attention to the needs of the economy outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

I've said it time and time again, that the economy in Halifax is buoyant. It's buoyant enough to survive on its own, and it does so very nicely. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, most people in Halifax want to get government out of the way when they're doing things here, and Roger Taylor says that in the Chronicle-Herald. He says there's a philosophy among certain people that government should not be involved. There's another philosophy that government should be involved. There's one philosophy for rural Nova Scotia, which I believe there's a role for government to play and another philosophy for Halifax Regional Municipality that states that the private economy can do it very nicely on their own and don't need the assistance or the handouts from NSBI or the Office of Economic Development which has no money anyway, if you take the salaries out of there, and if you take the salaries out of NSBI, they don't have much money. As a matter of fact I believe NSBI's budget was cut $5 million the past year. Now they're starting to whittle back on that one too. The government must get involved, Mr. Speaker, and government must provide the leadership.

The government, Mr. Speaker, doesn't get it. The government is trying to convince Nova Scotians on a daily basis that the economy is fine in this province when in fact the performances suggest that is just not the case. Nova Scotians know that. Nova Scotians have been subject to, I believe, a confusing set of principles when it comes to this government

[Page 3202]

dealing with their daily lives. For example, the Premier stated when he was elected there would be no increases in taxes in this province, except increases in gas tax. Well, what came along after that was a litany of increases in user fees, and they said, well they're not taxes, they're user fees. Now suddenly they're all taxes. They're all taxes now, 506 new taxes inflicted upon Nova Scotians, and the $155 that was given to some Nova Scotians, not all, the poor didn't get it, students didn't get it, senior citizens didn't get it. It should have gone into the start of a rural economic development in this province. I'll bet you, Mr. Speaker, that crowd wishes they had that day over again when they sent them $155 cheques out. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill No. 63. This bill offers an opportunity to talk about the leadership of this government and the climate this government has been able to establish over the last five years in dealing with the economy of Nova Scotia and particularly rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous speaker, I'm going to stick to the facts. The facts in this province since this government came to power, elected by the people of Nova Scotia, on the economic front is one of progress and increased numbers.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to quote a few facts to you and these facts do come from Statistics Canada. In rural Nova Scotia, in 1993, there were 18,947 existing or registered businesses. In the year 2003 there are 30,758 businesses registered in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to break that down into regions in rural Nova Scotia and these are Statistics Canada numbers. If I look at Cape Breton Island, in 1993 there were 5,144 businesses. In 1999 there were 6,804; in 2003, Statistics Canada, 6,783 businesses in Nova Scotia; a significant increase over that time period of people registering a business, starting businesses, growing businesses in rural Nova Scotia. I also want to talk about a few other counties or regions in Nova Scotia. If we pick the County of Yarmouth, we see it going from 1,109 to 2,040. If we picked the wonderful County of Cumberland, it goes from 1,192 businesses to 1,813, to give you an idea. Every county in Nova Scotia has seen a significant increase in the number of businesses operating in Nova Scotia.

They're not decreasing, Mr. Speaker, they're increasing. The Liberals would like Nova Scotians to believe that they have a plan and that the economy is in decline. Well, the facts speak clearly for themselves. The economy of this province is moving forward and when we look at issues dealing with employment, I think it's very important to look at the number of people employed. In March 1999, Statistics Canada, the employment numbers were 388,000. In March 2004 they're at 421,500 - a significant increase in employment - over 33,000 new jobs in Nova Scotia in the last five years. Those are not decreases, they're

[Page 3203]

increases. Certainly for Cape Breton, when you look at the numbers, in March 1999, 49,100 was the number of people employed in Cape Breton; in March 2002, an increase to 51,200. When you look at the North Shore of Nova Scotia - Pictou, Cumberland, Colchester and several other counties included in that - in 1999, 61,300; in the year 2004, March, 71,500.

Mr. Speaker, I can go through every region in Nova Scotia and there is a net increase in the number of jobs which is hugely significant for the economy of this province and it shows that opportunities for prosperity are setting the climate and this government is showing the leadership that is causing the economy to grow in Nova Scotia so we can provide those roads with the extra dollars we have. The previous government had cut the capital budget until there was virtually nothing done on roads. It was down to around $30 million.

Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to say that our administration knows that roads are the infrastructure for tourism, the infrastructure for health, welfare and the economic welfare of Nova Scotians and we've more than doubled that budget. As a matter of fact, we have pretty near tripled that budget.

I want to look at some unemployment statistics, again Statistics Canada. In 1999 the number for Cape Breton as a region, the unemployment rate, Mr. Speaker, in 1999, was 17.4 per cent. In 2003, the last year for facts, it was 16.2 per cent, a significant decrease. As well, if you look at the North Shore, in 1999,10.5 is decreased to 9.9; when you look at Annapolis Valley, practically even; southern Nova Scotia, 10.4, 10.6; and when you look at metro, 6.8, 6.7. All those numbers indicate growth in Nova Scotia. Net new jobs. If you look at that number - Cape Breton, a net increase from 2000-03 of 300 new jobs; North Shore, 2,300 new jobs; Annapolis Valley, 4,100 new jobs; southern Nova Scotia, 48; and, in Halifax, 45 - some of those increases in the region even outstripping the growth that we see in HRM here.

The reality is, unemployment has decreased over the last four years in most areas of Nova Scotia, and certainly when you go to a regional basis they have. Employment numbers in rural Nova Scotia have increased year over year in virtually every one of those areas and these particular statistics fly in the face of the remarks made by the member opposite. They're facts. They're from Statistics Canada, they're from the business registry. We see opportunities in the IT sector coming about. When we look at some examples of the IT sector we see Ocean Nutrition's new operation in Mulgrave, we see a number of greenfield manufacturing such as Tesma located in North Sydney, we also see Acadian Seaplants, and the numbers and names of companies moving in that realm move forward and forward.

Also, Nova Scotia Business Inc. in partnership with the Cape Breton Growth Fund, which we are partners and contributors to work strongly and are ever vigilant not only in Nova Scotia for opportunities to grow and maintain operations, but also looking outward across North America and the globe so that new business partners, new opportunities that can provide good paying jobs for rural locations across Nova Scotia are integrated into our economy.

[Page 3204]

This growth that we've seen in the last five years is growth that is not centred around so much greenfield manufacturing or expansion of traditional industries that have incorporated technology, it's growth of new companies, new ideas, new innovation and new technology. As a province we're supporting that with infrastructure dollars for hospitals, schools, community colleges, training and new programs and a concentration on our workforce for upgrades and retraining to prepare for even more prosperity into the future.

With those few remarks and dealing with facts only, I'd like to pass the remainder of my time to my colleague, the member for Kings North.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: I'm very happy to rise to speak to this resolution. I'll be addressing myself to the assembled hordes of Liberals in the House this afternoon because they brought forth this resolution. I hope that they'll listen very intently and that their ears will perk up as I speak, because I want to speak directly to them as a caucus since they've brought this resolution forward.

I speak as an MLA who represents a rural riding, the riding of Kings North, a riding I'm very, very proud of. A riding, as the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley reminded me, that is the centre of agriculture. We mustn't lose sight of these traditional industries when we talk about economic development and I'm glad our government isn't.

The issue I want to speak about is the issue of transportation. I've been heavily involved. Back in 1999, when I was asked to run and I met with the then Leader of the Third Party, the Premier of the province now, the honourable John Hamm, he asked me what were the issues that I saw that were important to my riding and to Kings County as a whole. One of the key issues that I stated back then in 1999, I remember, in a motel room and we were chatting and I said the twinning of Highway No. 101. The twinning of Highway No. 101 is essential not only for safety reasons, but it's essential for economic reasons. With the loss of the railway down through the Valley, we have to have a good twinned highway in order to deliver goods back and forth and to the centre of Halifax.

So I want to challenge the Liberal members who bring forward these motions all the time, I want to challenge them to do something to help make this twinning of Highway No. 101 a reality. To date, I've seen very little movement on the part of the Liberal caucus. I want to challenge them because they have a favoured position with their federal counterparts. I want them to use this leverage that they have with their federal counterparts to do something to continue on with the twinning.

[Page 3205]

Right now, the provincial government has been working very hard. The Honourable Ronald Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I know this has been a project that's he pushed, and he's had to do all the pushing it seems, all the heavy lifting. We now have it twinned to Avonport but, after that, we have no agreement with the federal government. The federal government is missing. They need to be there, because a twinned highway, going down to Coldbrook and then beyond, upgrades and passing and interchanges on the way through, will do more for rural development in that stretch of Nova Scotia than any motion they want to bring forward to the House.

I want to challenge the Liberal members sitting opposite to put action to their words, not just talk the talk but walk the walk and work with their Liberal counterparts, work with the MPs for the area, Scott Bryson and Robert Thibault, both members of the Liberal Government. I want to urge them to use the leverage they have as provincial Liberals with their federal Liberals to do something to get this Highway No. 101 twinning beyond Avonport. We're willing, as a government. We've stated previously that this is our number-one twinning project. We have shown our commitment time and time again, but it's a cost-shared highway. We need the federal government, the federal Liberals there. They're not there, are they, honourable members? At least I haven't seen them there.

The honourable Tony Valeri came, we're very happy to have him come. We welcomed him with open arms, and it was a delight for him to come to open the first stretch, but let's have him come back, or let's have the MPs who are there make an announcement that the federal government is coming in on this cost sharing on the next section, besides vain promises.

I want to challenge the members of the Third Party who are here to use their position with their Liberal counterparts federally to get them to come and make some concrete promises about furthering the twinning of Highway No. 101. We know that the twinning of Highway No. 101 will further economic development of a vast sector of rural Nova Scotia, extending all the way down to Yarmouth on that side. Many different ridings will benefit from the twinning of Highway No. 101, some of the ridings represented by members in that caucus.

I encourage you to use the position you have, the clout you have. If you want to truly help rural Nova Scotia and the part of rural Nova Scotia that I represent, get after your federal counterparts, get them to come to the table, get them to actually deliver - besides vague promises - in terms of coming and signing an agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia to finish the next part of the twinning. That would help, Mr. Speaker.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member . . .

MR. SPEAKER: There's only four seconds left.

[Page 3206]

MR. MACKINNON: Forty seconds?

MR. SPEAKER: Four seconds.

MR. MACKINNON: I'll pass.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, well, this is an interesting notion that the Liberals have, it might even possibly be a worthwhile notion. I want to say that if this department of rural economic development had their way, no more effective than the Department of Economic Development was when they were in government, then I'm not sure why they would want to go this route. They are a Party that, all too late, has recognized the value of rural Nova Scotia, to my way of thinking.

Why do I say that? Well, I think you can tell - certainly by the members who have seats in the House and how many Liberal seats are in rural Nova Scotia, compared to 1993, with the very large John Savage majority that the Liberals had in this House, and rural Nova Scotia has sent a message to the Liberal caucus and the Liberal Party and, perhaps, this Bill No. 63 is their response. Well, so be it for them. I would say that one question that that Party, the government opposite and our Party as well, has to ask itself is, does it see any value in a plan for rural economic development, is this something that would resonate with an agenda that any government would have and is there value in pursuing an agenda of trying to stabilize rural communities in this province?

[4:45 p.m.]

Certainly, for me, I say yes. I see this as a valuable thing to do and that it would, I think, be in the best interest when it comes to crunching numbers if you move people into urban areas that has a cost. So the question is, is it worth your while to have policy and strategy in place that keeps people in rural Nova Scotia but does it in a meaningful way that's not purely a make-work project that's somehow artificially supported by taxpayers' dollars?

Now, when I attack the Liberal caucus saying that finally they've discovered rural Nova Scotia, then I have to say that one of the most telling examples that comes to me is that in 1998 when I first got elected to this House, Mr. Speaker, was around the attack on the Middleton Grain Centre, it was the development of East Coast Commodities by the Liberal Government and how that action alone very clearly indicated to the agricultural community, which certainly makes up a big part of the rural economy, that the Liberal Party was not particularly interested in supporting rural Nova Scotia. I think they bore the brunt of that at the ballot box.

[Page 3207]

Other things come to mind and that's why I raise the issue of whether or not a department of rural economic development would have any greater significance under this Party, if they were government, than the Department of Economic Development had under that Party. The things that come to mind right off the bat are Dynatek and Techlink and Orenda Recip, in which the failings of Orenda just only so recently in our time in this House, $9 million from the provincial government, $9 million from the federal government, with what appears to be absolutely no way to ever recoup any amount of that. I want to say, $9 million invested in the rural economy would be a good thing, but by putting it all into an area where you have absolutely no chance to recoup any benefit certainly smacks to me of cronyism or patronage or whatever you want to call it, but somebody knew somebody who was a good friend, I think, in terms of getting a benefit like that.

We have seen in rural Nova Scotia a great demise in the population. The minister talks about Statistics Canada numbers. I know you can look at Statistics Canada numbers and you can read them in many ways. If Statistics Canada was to give the number of farmers in Nova Scotia, it would certainly be a much more significant number of farmers in rural Nova Scotia than what we would think about in terms of those farmers who make their full-time living and income from farming.

I know that they would find me in those statistics, Mr. Speaker. I would be someone who definitely does not make more than 51 per cent of my income off the little farming operation that I have, although I definitely feel that what I spend on my operation I would be in those statistics. So when the Minister of Economic Development for the province stands up and speaks about Statistics Canada numbers, he should more clearly indicate that, sure, there may be a lot of new businesses that have been created, there may be a lot of businesses that are making between $0 and $5,000 a year, there may be people who actually have had no other option and are trying to make it on their own and took this route, but whether or not these businesses are actually ones that are large enough to employ more than one employee is not clear, or the fact that those people are actually making a good living from those businesses. So these are people who, in part, are probably forced into starting their own business just because of downsizing, or whatever.

Actually, the numbers may go up if we look at Britex and Avon Foods. You know, next year, the minister may be talking about statistics that would indicate that there are more businesses created because some of these employees may have to turn to creating their own little business in order to support their families. I would say that if this is the basis of economic development that the minister is going on, then I think he is missing the mark.

I would like to talk a bit about what I would deem to be the resource sector in this province that actually has been getting the short-shrift from this province. The fact that roughly $80 million worth of beef a year comes into this province and Nova Scotia beef farmers are getting close to nothing for their beef presently. This is an area that not only the

[Page 3208]

value of the value-added product winds up in display cases in this province, but also the spin-off industries, the increased value for machinery dealers and for abattoirs.

There is the potential for job creation above and beyond the farm in that one commodity sector. Nova Scotians are buying about the equivalent of 9,000 animals a month into this province to supply their needs, when we finish less than 9,000 animals a year. So this is certainly an area that the government has not looked at, or the previous government didn't turn their hand to, supporting the beef industry in this province. That is only one example.

The fishery is the same, although I have to give credit to the present government, when it came to trying to stop the outflow of crab and trying to get it processed in this province, that was action that the present government undertook and I have to applaud them for doing that. But there are small, coastal communities that the government has to turn its attention to whether or not it deems these communities to be important, whether or not keeping those communities sustainable and keeping people in them is in the best interests of not only the government but of the people of Nova Scotia. Certainly, I believe that it is and that it can be done in a concrete way.

If the government is willing to write off $40 million or so a year as it did in the last year on bad investment, then I think it could turn some of those dollars into good investment for the people of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I am going to be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto and relinquish the floor to him presently.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, with about four minutes remaining.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and my thanks to my colleague, the member for Hants East, for allowing me a little time to comment.

Although we are focused this afternoon on a particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 63, that has a specific focus - that is, the proposal to create a new department of rural economic development - this debate has to be seen as a continuation of the discussion we held on the floor of the Legislature on the afternoon of April 21st. So not so long ago, we actually discussed this whole issue of rural economic development and the necessity of some serious attention being paid to it.

I would like my remarks to be seen as a continuation of the remarks I made at that time. We had reached the point or I had reached the point in my remarks of observing that there are serious problems in the rural economy and that there have been a huge number of failings on both the parts of the present government and the predecessor government under the leadership of the Liberals in their time.

[Page 3209]

I am not going to go through that again in any detail. The point I had reached was actually the point of trying to make some suggestions of what it is that should probably be done by way of alternatives. I want to say, immediately, what it is that are the two top items on my list.

One is education and the other is sustainability. Now, I am going to turn to other items that I think we should think about, but education and sustainability are the two main factors, the two main principles, the two main areas of effort that have to be kept in mind when any economic development ideas are being discussed in Nova Scotia.

First, before I get back to those let me just list a few others, immigration. Immigration as a way of increasing our population here is a very important thing to look at. We have entirely too small a domestic population, both in our province and all over Canada, and immigration has to be looked at seriously. When we think about what it is that an entity like Nova Scotia Business Inc. does, we have to make sure that they put smaller amounts of money at risk when they make their investments or loans. They should be favouring indigenous Nova Scotians rather than come-from-away entities, because then those come-from-away entities or the businesses won't just be here because of the subsidies, they will be investing in businesses through people who really want to be in Nova Scotia. That's important.

As to the topics they ought to invest in, they ought to invest in areas of enterprise for which we have a natural competitive advantage, things that are linked, for example, to our marine heritage and knowledge. The things that are tied to the ocean and the land that we have here. That would make sense. We have another area they should think about which is making linkages to our universities. That's another important thing that we have to see as a real potential driver of our economy here, both in the open and rural areas, and it's overlooked and indeed we heard earlier, in Question Period, some questioning of whether InNOVAcorp is really doing its job in that area.

Next I want to say that linkages have to be made with the federal government, particularly through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, because that department has not been really doing its job.

I have a longer list but let me say then that I should turn to my two main points about education and sustainability. Education is clearly the way forward and this government has failed to recognize that there is a linkage between high levels of education and the high fees that they set up as barriers to entry to post-secondary education and economic development. Enough said on that. Let me just turn briefly to sustainability. Sustainability absolutely has to be the key philosophy of approach to all sectors of the economy, particularly the rural areas. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this debate.

[Page 3210]

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to spend my time on a positive note. I'm not going to be pointing fingers at anybody in the House. I believe that we can't deal in the past, we can only deal in the present and plan for the future. Taking a positive approach, I'd like to say that down in Cape Breton we believe in developing what we have, and down there we have it all. It's just that it's not recognized throughout the whole province.

Take Route 223 that goes down through the centre of the island, that goes down through my riding of Victoria-The Lakes. That's an area that could be maintained as a quiet respite for tourists. Pave that road, keep it quiet for the community that lives there and make it an enjoyable drive. A quiet Sunday-type drive, rather than the bustle and hustle that we face on a daily basis on our main roads.

Let's move over to the Highlands of Cape Breton. There's 730 kilometres of roads in the Highlands alone. They are as big as Trans-Canada Highways, they're dirt roads, but they're extremely well maintained, Mr. Speaker. I suggested for years to people, why can't we have cruise ships come in, shuttle their passengers ashore in Ingonish and they can re-join their ship. If the ship is small enough to go under the Seal Island Bridge they can rejoin their ship in Baddeck. If the ship is too large it can sail into Sydney and we can take the passengers back aboard in Sydney. I've done this in other countries, why can't we do that here? That's developing what we have.

We have the ski hill, Mr. Speaker, that struggled for two years by being closed and it is now under a new operation agreement and management, and they seem to be doing reasonably well, wanting to keep it open in the summertime also. That's another area not only for the view of the Highlands, but also could be a drawing card to get people to enter the Highlands through Wreck Cove and do the tourist thing what I say, take them from the lap of artificial luxury, aboard a cruise liner to the lap of nature, and get them away from the hustle and bustle there.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have a marine museum that's planned for the Barra Strait. Local initiative, local entrepreneurs, doing studies and trying to develop again what we have, that will coincide exactly with international interests simply because there's an area in the Bras d'Or Lakes that's over 1,000-feet deep, that there's life in the bottom of that 1,000-foot vault that is only available out off of the continental shelf. We have something there that's not available anywhere else, and that's going to be eventually put on display. Of course, in the area where that's being developed we have the Highland Village, which is rich in Scottish heritage and a good tourist promoter for our area.

[Page 3211]

Mr. Speaker, what I find that is wrong, I believe that Cape Breton has become a threat to the province. If we develop something down there it's going to be at the expense of some other area of the province. We have the Cabot Trail, that is an international icon that draws people from all over the world to the province. The whole province benefits from the Cabot Trail, not just that one area. I don't know what the fear is there or what, but I would like to see people involved in economic development be true people persons and reach out and take somebody by the hand and walk them through the steps, when they come with a good idea and a good business plan and good promotion, rather than say, here, go see this person and go see that and put them off to somebody else. Somewhere along the line, nobody is willing to do the actual work to take these people by the hand and help them develop what we have.

Mr. Speaker, we're talking about putting the gas taxes into roads. People in rural areas spend more per capita in gas tax than anywhere else in the province. To go from the bottom end of my riding, just to get up to Baddeck is a two and a half hour drive. You use a lot more gas to and from home in that drive. That same amount of gas would do the average person a week or more in an urban area.

Mr. Speaker, I hear a lot of complaining about the federal government. I know if I invited somebody with a gift, and before they even received it I was told it's not enough, what else are you going to give me, how much more is coming, I'm dissatisfied with what I'm getting, I don't think I would even give the gift. So, personally, I would like to take what is offered to me.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question. I guess what I wanted to ask him is if he considers the transfer payments and equalization payments gifts to this province? This province is not taking charity. This province is receiving from the government what we give.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: . . . trying to debate the $155 cheques, I think I got misconstrued there somewhere. A 10 per cent tax break that was cancelled, if that's what he's getting at, I don't know, but I said I was going to keep it in a positive vein, Mr. Speaker, and that's what I intend to do. Keeping it in a positive vein and more money coming from the federal government. Mr. Mark Eyking announced $200,000 last Saturday for a very small area in Ross Ferry, a small rural area, to repair and replace the wharf there so that it coincides with the development of the Bras d'Or Lakes, to turn to work and help ships to pump out. Maybe some of the honourable members, if they sail down in their yachts, if they're that fortunate, then we'll accept giving them water and pump out their tanks for them. Of course, there will be a charge, by the way; that may deter some of you from coming.

[Page 3212]

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to circumnavigate my riding: Meat Cove; Bay St. Lawrence and Cape St. Lawrence, phenomenal areas, knock the socks off anybody, with a view of the sea from the higher points that you would never get; Dingwall, Ingonish and Cape Smokey; the North Shore and Englishtown, Mr. Speaker, then you're going to bump into the

Gaelic College, go off to Baddeck and you're going to see the Bell Museum. Guess what? In Baddeck, we can accommodate a convention that would require more than 400 rooms, if that were required. That's probably information that the honourable members are not aware of.

As I mentioned, the Highland Village in Iona, we have Washabuck and Little Narrows, phenomenal rural areas that are well worth the drive and well worth the visit. Grand Narrows and Christmas Island, people come from all over just to have their Christmas cards mailed from there. Boisdale and Ironville - Christmas Island, Boisdale and Ironville, these are exceptionally culturally-strong places that really promote their culture, and they're extremely active although they're very rural.

We get into Georges River and Scotch Lake, there again, active fire departments, active ladies' auxiliaries and Scotch Lake itself, a beautiful area where you can fish and relax along the lake. Beautiful Groves Point where you can fish right off the shore and enjoy the drive along the Bras d'Or Lakes scenic drive. Then you come to my area, the Island of Boularderie, beautiful beyond compare, a real jewel. Of course, Ross Ferry, where the wharf is being developed is at the top end of that island.

Mr. Speaker, we have all this. I could go on and go into the Minister of Tourism's riding, places like Foot Cape, Cape Mabou, Glenora Falls, they'll knock the socks off anybody, the view is just extraordinary. Why do we have to fight all the time to try and develop what we have? Are we that much of a threat to the rest of the province that we don't deserve to get - we're not even asking for a half a loaf, we're not even asking for a slice off the loaf, just once in a while give us a little bit of the crust, that's all. We're very resilient and, as I said before, in Cape Breton you either have to get tough or die, so I guess we're all tough down there because a lot of time we're hanging on by the bootstraps. As I said, regardless of what the statistics say, there is 20 per cent unemployment and, yet, those of us who choose to live there are not leaving. It's just the students who owe phenomenal debts when they graduate who are forced to leave, they have to leave.

Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering, when it comes to rural economic development, why the outcry to not have a minister of rural economic development. I have only described Cape Breton. I could have been describing the South Shore, further down toward Yarmouth or any rural area in Cape Breton and the province itself. We all share a commonality in rural areas with our own water supplies and sewage supplies, so we have that in common. We're used to repairing our own and looking after ourselves. We don't pick up the phone and call a plumber anytime it's needed, we all do our own work, and that's where the resilience comes from.

[Page 3213]

Mr. Speaker, I fail to see where the challenge is with regard to economic development for the area that I represent and for Cape Breton as a whole. Why is it that every little thing that we get we have to fight for and, at the same time, there's that fear that, oh gee, when you cross that Causeway something happens. Well, come across the Causeway and we'll look after you. That's what Cape Bretoners do. We're known for our hospitality, yet, there's this innate fear that if you do that, we will lose favour with the larger areas of Nova Scotia if you come to Cape Breton or you speak in favour of us.

I don't know what it's going to take to overcome that. When I was the warden in Victoria County for three years, it was extremely evident. I was the warden for 2000, 2001, 2002 and I experienced it first-hand, a continual fight between the province and the rural areas, you had to scrounge and scrape and scratch for every little bit that you got.

It appears to be no different here on the provincial level. I feel for my municipal colleagues who I shared 12 years with because I have first-hand experience of what it takes to try and get something accomplished. A lot of times when you're almost ready to make both ends meet somebody from the province will come along and move the ends and you're back to square one again. Or, if you're dealing with a minister and you seem to be moving forward and accomplishing something, guess what? Somebody tosses the dice and they change Cabinet and you're back to a new member all over again.

So it makes it extremely hard. I've referred to it recently as the lords and the serfs. It's just a way of keeping you down and keeping you down all the time. Why is that? I guess the old saying is that history repeats itself, and this is no different example of it repeating itself, fighting for the little bit that we have, fighting to keep the little bit that we have, and not being able to stand up and brag about what we did receive this year or any year other than just trying to maintain the status quo, just to keep ourselves on an even keel.

With that, as I said, we can't keep our students there, because they can't afford to pay their bills. They have to come to the big areas. Mr. Speaker, I will ask this government to see what we have in Cape Breton, to see what we have in Victoria-The Lakes, to see what there is there to develop, and allow us to bring our ideas forward and look at them in a positive light. Welcome us on board and say, yes, you do have something to offer to the province, yes, you do have something that we can develop, and, yes, we will move forward and we'll start a plan, a vision. In five years, you see where you want to go, and in 10 years where you intend to be. And say we will do so much a year over a period of time, not just for Cape Breton but for all rural Nova Scotia, and complete the plan in that way.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Speaker for the time to speak on rural economic development, and that concludes my remarks. (Applause)

[Page 3214]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 65.

Bill No. 65 - Gasoline Tax Accountability Act.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, welcome back to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: I was waiting with bated breath. Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 65 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You or I?

MR. MACKINNON: . . . referred to as the Gas Tax Accountability Act. Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation is very short in form yet very long and detailed in substance. It has six clauses and the operative clauses, in principle, refer to several important issues. Number one, the major components of the bill would require government to spend all gas tax revenue on capital and road maintenance. Secondly, it would require that any federal money transferred from Ottawa for transportation systems designated for municipalities would be required to go directly to those municipalities and not to the province.

Further, Mr. Speaker, as it stands now, the federal government can't provide direct assistance to municipalities without going through the province. This particular piece of legislation would ensure money from the federal government will go to its intended purpose if the federal government moves forward with the plan to provide gas tax for municipal transportation infrastructure, which all indications are it is. We also know about the comments from the Prime Minister with regard to assisting municipalities on the HST rebate, at least the GST portion of the HST.

Mr. Speaker, further, the Department of Transportation and Public Works would be required, under this Act, to file a report with the Legislature that lists each road expenditure by project. That's pretty much similar to the Supplement to the Public Accounts. This is a very important feature, because it puts the onus on government, not just this government but any government, to prove that all gasoline taxes, indeed, go to roads. Further, it allows all Nova Scotians the ability to have the checks and balances or to ensure, on an individual project-by-project basis, if the priorities of the government are achieved and that the money that was intended for gasoline tax, is in fact going towards road maintenance and capital construction.

[Page 3215]

That's essentially the generally framework of the legislation. Some of the rationale to that, Mr. Speaker, comes from points that were raised by the government back in 1999, when it ran for election, when it made a commitment in, we all know, this very famous blue book referred to a strong leadership and a clear course.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, who is now Premier, made a pledge that by year two of the Progressive Conservative mandate, which would approximately put it in the year 2001, 100 per cent of all road taxes and licensing fees and so on would go towards road maintenance and capital construction. As well, the government indicated in its blue book of policy platform that it would prepare a 10-year roads plan. Well, on numerous occasions the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and his predecessor have indicated that they do, in fact, have a 10-year roads plan, but they've never ever made it available to anyone and so I would ask the opportunity for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works today to table that for all members of the Legislature as well as for the people of Nova Scotia.

In much the same vein, Mr. Speaker, that's why the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is suppressing the issue with regard to the state of the bridges in the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe there was a request through a freedom of information request to have that information provided and the comeback from the department was, if you provide us with $15,000, we will give you that report. Well, I think that's patently unfair. How does the minister and how does the government expect the people of Nova Scotia to have confidence that it is, in fact, achieving its goal of effective use of its resources on a priority-by-priority basis when it refuses to provide that information.

Further, Mr. Speaker, just to give you some examples, and I will table this letter, it was a letter that was put out by, and I believe I made reference to it on a previous day, one of the opponents that I was challenged with in the last provincial election, and he submitted a letter to all the constituents indicating that he had prepared, with some friends and an engineer, a four-year roads plan for the constituency of Cape Breton West. Subsequent to that, I wrote and I asked for a copy of that and I received back from the department confirmation that despite the fact that the claim in the letter - and I will provide it to the minister, that he had presented that to the previous Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Honourable Michael Baker, on or about July 16, 2003, and he sent out the letter on July 20th to all the people in Cape Breton West - the department sent back and said we have no such plan; there's no such plan that exists.

So what I'm saying is that's just one anomaly that happens to be in Cape Breton West, but I'm sure that type of politics that goes on during elections, and you can appreciate that, but what happens is people lose confidence, people lose confidence in the process. There was a time back during the Donald Cameron Administration, that short-lived administration, 85

[Page 3216]

per cent of all dollars from the department went in government-held ridings. In some cases they were repaving roads that were in considerably good shape relative to some of the unpaved roads, or some fo the roads that were in a far more deplorable state in some of the non-government held ridings. So politics was a factor.

Now, I do believe it's fair, as I've always said, it's important to give credit where credit is due and I do believe that there has been some levelling out of that patronage factor within the department compared to what it was 10, 20, even 40, 50 years ago when you go back to the days of the Harrington Government, it was pretty bad and that's about all I can say about it at this point. Mr. Speaker, part of that has been addressed through the RIM Program and that's good, but that's only piecemeal. We have the RIM Program. We have now the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works saying that 100 per cent of all these taxes are now going towards roads and maybe some. Well, maybe it's because we're in a minority situation, maybe it is because there is a pending election within the next several months, year, who knows when (Interruption). It could be next week, as the Minister of Transportation says. But the fact of the matter is, that type of ad hoc and somewhat political approach to the governance on road issues in the province is just not acceptable any more. All three Parties have been guilty of it.

Now, I know the Socialists have never formed government in this province but all you have to do is see the actions of some of those members in the House, what they say and what they do aren't always consistent. Maybe that is the nature of the process. They have to put their arguments - and, you know, be altruistic about being all things to all people. But the practicality of the situation is, they would like some of the roads in their constituencies fixed too because they have obligations to their stakeholders. Mr. Speaker, that's fair.

I believe this particular piece of legislation will further that levelling of the playing field. It is an open and accountable forum that requires an annual report to be tabled before the Legislature so all members of the Legislature will know in greater detail which areas of the province are being sacrificed.

For example, the Minister of Transportation says, the roads are in much better shape today than they were when this government came to office, so let's go with that argument. But if that's the case, then why have the number of claims against the Department of Transportation doubled for damages to vehicles, cars and trucks, and personal injury against the department since this government came to power? They are not my figures, Mr. Speaker, they are the figures out of the minister's department.

Yet, the payout of the claims has been reduced significantly so the government can ignore the problem. It is now putting the onus, more and more, on individual Nova Scotians. They said, during the days of Napoleon, that the French decree during his era was that you were guilty until you were proven innocent. Well, that is almost pretty much the same as what

[Page 3217]

is happening with this government. It is your fault until you can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt it is because of the poor road conditions that you have a claim against the department.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am sure you know, yourself, we have read in the newspapers a number of times, concerns about that guard rail in a certain part of your constituency where there was a very unfortunate accident where, I believe, someone died as a result of that. I am not even sure if that guard rail has even been replaced or installed. Don't know.

They are the types of issues that I think could all be taken out and put in a proper form so that people - even if things aren't going to change in the way the department functions - let's presume that they are doing the very best that they can and there is not that type of partisan, political approach to road issues that once existed. Let's assume that. We have to give the benefit of the doubt, then there would be no problem in tabling all this information and making it readily available.

There is no problem with an annual report. There is no problem, Mr. Speaker, with ensuring that if what the government says is putting more into roads through the taxes that are raised, then, in fact, they would be doing themselves a favour by allowing this information to come forth. Just to say it without any basis in fact is not simply good enough.

Mr. Speaker, I see the minister is getting a little anxious on the time factor. I guess maybe that is why you got in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, because I knew you would be captivated by this very important issue. Anything that I could do to plea for you and all other MLAs, for their constituents, I will do it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We appreciate that. Thank you.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and I thank you for your assistance there, sir.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is, indeed, a pleasure to address this Bill No. 65.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is a well intentioned member, I know that and I respect his views on most things, and sometimes I worry about the advice that he must get from his caucus or perhaps from the staff they employ down at the Liberal caucus office. The main thrust of this bill is that monies that are collected from motive fuel taxes should go under the highways. Nothing could be a stronger motive, for us as government, particularly rural members, than to achieve that. When we came into power in 1999 one of the commitments that we made was that over the first term, we would indeed move to invest in the highway system, the taxes that we bring in from motive fuels.

[Page 3218]

Mr. Speaker, surprise, surprise. This honourable member has arrived at the station after the train has left. We actually got there last year. We invested more money in the highways last year than we took in in motive fuel taxes. Sorry about that. Insofar as the commitment that we made with regard to the 10-year plan that the honourable member was talking about, we said there was already a 10-year plan in place that the previous government - I think it was Richie Mann that came forward with a 10-year plan back 1995 or 1996, somewhere in that area. What we said was, we are not going to reinvent the wheel, we took that 10-year plan in this House and we updated it. I think I tabled that 10-year plan in 2001. Once again, I don't know where the member was, maybe he was out at the airport waiting for an airplane or something.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like the minister to be aware of the fact that that's not the commitment that's made in the Tory blue book. The Tory blue book simply states, a non-partisan road plan. It says 10-year highway road plan, that's what they would prepare within the first year. We are still looking for it. Where is it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Not a point of order, but certainly a question that was put by the honourable member of Cape Breton West.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. RUSSELL: Maybe he should check the bottom of his desk. I can remember clearly handing out the 10-year plan. It wasn't called anything different. It was the same type of plan, but it was updated for this government. Mr. Speaker, I believe it was tabled in 2001. However, I will try to find it back in the archives somewhere, a copy of that 10-year plan, and make sure the honourable member gets it. In fact, I'll send it by FedEx just to be absolutely sure.

Mr. Speaker, as I said last year we spent more money on roads and bridges and other highway structures than we took in in taxes. This year we will spend about $261 million in capital.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In the minister's own budgetary documents here, clearly contradict what the minister is saying. According to the revenues generated, $255,872,000 to be collected, and yet in their own departmental estimates, $241 million. So clearly there is a deficiency and that's the issue to which we speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Not a point of order again, but it's a disagreement of facts between two members.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 3219]

MR. RUSSELL: Yes there is indeed a gap between the two members. Mr. Speaker, what I just said was that we will spend about $261 million this year in capital and operating dollars on our roads, bridges and transportation systems, and we will collect about $255 million. Let me stress that's $5 million or $6 million more on roads and bridges than we take in in provincial taxes. Of the $261 million that we are spending this year. There'll be about $113 million in capital spending; $132 million in operational spending; and about $16 million in general maintenance on our highway system.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the honourable members will recall that the province increased its share of gasoline taxes by two cents per litre in 2002. That measure is creating $25 million in capital funds for highway improvements and it came into effect last year. That's money that's going directly into our roads.

Mr. Speaker, as an example, our project completions on the provincial transport system in our last year included the twinning of 21 kilometres of Highway No.101. We went from Mount Uniacke to Ellershouse, the second step on our way down to Coldbrook. We opened the Margaree Bridge, $10 million; we completed the Seal Island Bridge, renovations over three years, $15 million. This was a bridge design project that was recently, I think just last week, presented with the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Engineering Excellence. They did a fantastic job.

Mr. Speaker, major projects underway in 2004-05, that's this fiscal year, we'll be working on the next phase of Highway No. 101, from St. Croix or Ellershouse, down to Avonport. We'll be doing substantial upgrades on Highway No. 103, including $19 million of capital work on that highway this year, which represents about 17 per cent of our total capital expenditures, 17 per cent going on Highway No. 103 - a very high volume highway, one that is not part of our National Highway System, it's one that we have to spend 100 per cent of provincial funding on.

As part of that project, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I should explain. We're twinning the section from Tantallon up to the present twin sections - that's $16 million. Down near Barrington, we're spending $3 million worth of work down there including a new bridge across the Willis Branch of the Barrington River, and we're putting an interchange there and new road beds. We're spending money up in Cape Breton, twinning Highway No. 125, as the honourable member knows, a very important part of the highway system between North Sydney and Sydney. We're going to do a complete new design for the interchange at the end of Coxheath.

Mr. Speaker, we're investing $9 million this year in steel bridge replacement. We're going to spend $50 million over the next five years to replace 66 of those steel Truss bridges that are famed in song and story; they go back, some of them 100, 110, or 120 years. These

[Page 3220]

are good bridges, but they're not good bridges for the environment that we have at the present time and the type of traffic that we have. We have to replace those bridges and that's $150 million. On top of that we're spending another $34 million on the general bridge system across this country. That includes a number of reinforced concrete structures that we will be building.

We're putting this year, Mr. Speaker, into RIM, we're putting in another $2.5 million for a total of $12.5 million. This is a program that not only assists the rural areas of our province, but it also assists our budget because under the RIM Program where we have small contractors doing relatively small jobs, we're getting excellent prices and we're doing a tremendous amount of work under the RIM Program, I think, as every rural member is aware.

Mr. Speaker, the capital budget for the transportation system has increased by $68.7 million since the year 2000. That was the first budget deal of this government. That represents a 250 per cent increase. I'm very pleased that we have $112-odd million this year, but that's not enough. That is not enough. We can't fix all our bridges, we can't fix all our roads. That's why we have a 10-year, $3.5 billion road and bridge infrastructure deficit at the present time and it's one that we're going to have to address and I tell you, Mr. Speaker, we're not going to solve it overnight. To bring the highway system of Nova Scotia up to scratch, we need something in the order of about $200 million per annum for capital spending. So we're a little bit over halfway there but we still have a long way to go.

However, I can assure you that this government is committed to increasing the capital funding every year, and we will get there. We have to get there because the highway system now is the carrier of the majority of our exports, imports into this province with the disappearance of the rail system. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I also welcome this opportunity to have a few minutes to speak on Bill No. 65, which is An Act to Provide Accountability for the Expenditure of Taxes on Gasoline and Diesel Oil. I heard the minister give a long list of road improvements and projects in Cape Breton and the Valley. I didn't hear anything from Pictou West, so just for the minister's attention I will bring a couple of those roads to his attention so he'll not forget our beautiful North Shore area of the province as well.

One road in particular comes to my mind, the White Hill Road. It's located just back of Westville and it's about 6 kilometres long and it probably could win the prize as the worst road in Nova Scotia. It's deplorable, it's atrocious, and I just hope the minister is listening. It's a road that the residents of that area are spending a lot of their hard-earned dollars on repairing their vehicles, everything from wheels and rims to wheel alignments, front end parts, shocks and mufflers and on and on it goes. So, just for the minister's attention, I want to make sure that he was aware of at least one road in Pictou West that needs attention.

[Page 3221]

I want to take a minute and come to the actual bill. I think the bill is probably a good one. It's probably supported by all three Parties in this House. It seems to make sense that we dedicate all of our gasoline and diesel fuel revenue. I don't see specifically in the bill that that would include registering of motor vehicle fees or driver's licenses. Perhaps that should be included as well, because that's revenue that's related to our roads and probably that revenue should go back into fixing and repairing and maintaining our rural infrastructure.

The bill itself is pretty simple. I don't think anybody in this House would disagree with it. The difficulty, of course, is that governments change, governments get different priorities and, in time, they decide there's different priorities other than roads or highways or bridges and there's no guarantee in this province that this is going to happen. The minister says that he reached that objective last year, but I know last year that every department was told to cut back and slash, and I think something like $4.4 million was cut out of the Department of Transportation and Public Works last November, I think it was. It was certainly a step in the wrong direction, we were going backwards. I think it happened once earlier last year; the fiscal year last year.

So, even though you set a budget and say we're going to have this amount for highways and bridges and roads, there's no guarantee that's going to stay that way.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I suppose it's more a point of clarification. The honourable member said that we cut back $2 million. Actually, what we did was we transferred money from Summer operations to Winter operations because of the fact that the previous year had been a fairly disastrous year insofar as snow removal was concerned, and our salt domes had not been filled up before the end of the fiscal year so, as a result, we needed extra money for the Winter season.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. A clarification of facts for the House. The honourable member for Pictou West has the floor.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I do believe every government department except Health and Education I believe were told that they had to pare back their budget and reduce it I know of a couple of occasions, and I'm sure that maintenance to the department was pared back but, anyway, that's maybe a point that we can argue about later.

But the point I was really trying to make, Mr. Speaker, was that there's no guarantee, just because a government sets their budget, that they will follow that through in the 12 months of the fiscal year. It has been known to happen in various departments that money runs short, or there's a greater need somewhere else for dollars, and that budget is no longer what it's scheduled to be. So I think the only way to protect that, to protect and make sure that the dollars that are allocated from the gasoline and diesel fuel would remain at least equal to the amount of maintenance it has budgeted for, is to enact it in legislation and make sure that no government at its whim may change it.

[Page 3222]

The Government of Saskatchewan recently brought in a bill to that effect. They legislated that all revenue from gas and diesel sales in the province would have to go towards road maintenance and road repair in that province. So it's legislated forever that that will be there in that province and that's really what this bill is all about, that it would guarantee that it would stay and the whim of a government wouldn't change it part way through a fiscal year. Premier Calvert has enacted that in legislation in Saskatchewan and I sincerely believe it is the right way to go.

The minister mentioned earlier that we have perhaps gotten there, that there's a fairly equal balance in the amount of revenue that's coming in from gas and diesel oil as compared to the maintenance that's on our highways, but one thing that we perhaps overlook a little bit is that every time the price of gas goes up, and that certainly has been happening recently, then there's extra revenue coming to the government from the increased HST that's on the higher price of the fuel. Perhaps that's something that should be considered as well because that is a direct cost to the driver when they gas up at the tanks. That extra revenue is going into government coffers, but it's not guaranteed that it would go into road maintenance and I think that's something that should also be considered.

I understand last year the HST income in the province, in total, was around $1 billion. I don't know what portion of that was collected from gasoline and diesel fuel, but certainly it would be a fair portion that would come from that source. It seems logical, to me, that if you're spending all your dedicated motive fuel tax on road maintenance, then HST is part of that, you pay at the pumps, and probably that should be included, especially when the price of gas is continuing to go up.

I want to mention, Mr. Speaker, the government in their blue book in 1998 had indicated that they would dedicate all taxes raised through motor vehicle licensing and fuel sales to highway construction and maintenance to provide a solid base for highway spending which may be increased depending on the public need and the available revenue. So they at that time had committed to this principle. The Liberal Party here, today, by introducing this bill has committed to this principle and we in the Official Opposition certainly are committed to the idea of all fuel and gas tax going towards the maintenance and repair of our secondary roads.

So why do we need to ensure that? It is because our roads in this province are in very, very poor shape and if you go to any MLA in this House, they'll tell you pretty well they've got roads galore that are in need of repair. I can tell you about a few in Pictou West. I had mentioned earlier, when you were talking to the Speaker, Mr. Minister, was the White Hill Road. That's deplorable and in really poor shape and it needs repair. It's probably the worst road in this province, in my opinion.

[Page 3223]

[5:45 p.m.]

I will give you a few more just in case you have extra dollars you want to allocate to the North Shore. The Green Hill Road, Sylvester Road, the Alma Road which runs between Alma and Lyons Brook, and the Trunk 4 highway at Salt Springs and Mount Thom. There is a group there who worked hard this Winter and Spring trying to create some economic development opportunities in that area. Perhaps you are familiar with them, Mr. Minister. They have identified the Trunk 4 highway as a very important priority for economic development opportunities in that area of our county.

The Sunrise Trail that runs through River John and Toney River needs improvement as well. It is very important for tourism. The West Branch Road - the previous member for Pictou West lived on that road and it was partly done last year but the section from the MacKay Road to the West Branch Corner, well it has grass growing in between the cracks about yay high at times and it has to be mowed by midsummer.

The West Branch Road, I mentioned, the Scotsburn Road is very poor through the village of Scotsburn towards West Branch. One of the main routes through my riding, Mr. Speaker, is Route 376 and it is well-travelled by ferry traffic coming off the rotary, and it is in very poor shape at the present time. It needs, at a minimum, patching; it could use replacement, for sure. The Scotch Hill Road, again a road a former MLA from Pictou West presently lives on - Donald McInnes. So there are lots of roads in my riding and my area of the province - as there is in all the ridings throughout the province - that really need improvement.

By dedicating this gas tax, we would ensure that we would have more money - considering the Registry of Motor Vehicle licences and permits would ensure extra dollars for well-needed maintenance in this province, and perhaps the consideration of HST on gasoline, dedicating that portion towards the crumbling infrastructure would then allow enough money to get all the work done that is required. I know you have a ten-year plan, although I haven't personally seen it, but there is no question there are many roads out there that need repair.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, I think, is good. If we were to enact it in this province it would ensure, like Saskatchewan, that we have enough money dedicated towards roads to improve the infrastructure in this province. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kings West for giving me a chance to do a brief introduction. In the west gallery is my brother, Robert Deveaux, who was also my official agent in the last three elections, and the head of finance

[Page 3224]

for Corporate Express here in Halifax. I was hoping we could give him a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome the younger brother of the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure today to rise on this bill. Certainly this was one of the areas that we were very strong on in our platform during the last election. This bill would require government to spend all tax revenue, capital, on road maintenance. We have had, of course, issue taken by the minister today in that regard.

As a neophyte politician to the House, I am wondering if the Minister of Transportation and Public Works would be willing to entertain a question. No? Okay. I thought perhaps (Interruptions) Okay, Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the minister would at least clarify for me what is included with Transportation and Public Works, because I guess my knowledge of that and the reality are two different things. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I guess we are going to revert to Question Period, reverse Question Period. Anyway, the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, if you want to take some of the honourable member's time, he has offered to give it to you.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if he checks the estimates, I think he will see what the Department of Transportation and Public Works encompasses, it runs the gamut from buildings to communications systems to some financial systems. It's a very, very broad mandate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GLAVINE: That certainly gives me great wonder about the fact of the collection of all gasoline taxes going into the roads of the province. We do collect $255 million from gasoline taxes and we're spending a total of $241 million on Transportation and Public Works. So if Public Works is including some capital construction around the province, we certainly don't have all of our dollars going into the roads of the province. I would say that certainly is an area that is in great dispute, not only in this House but I'm sure with the population of Nova Scotia.

This bill would also ensure that money from the federal government would go to its intended purpose if the federal government moves forward with plans to provide gas tax for municipal transportation infrastructure. That again, we would be able to see the transparency of that money going directly to the 18 counties of the province. The Transportation and

[Page 3225]

Public Works Department would have to file a report with the Legislature that lists each road expenditure by project. Of course, again, Nova Scotians would see the exact dollars for projects and know that the work was being carried out. This is most important because it puts the onus on the government to prove that all gas taxes go into the roads and would allow Nova Scotians to check by individual project which then we would see in fact the monies being spent.

That being said, certainly as I travelled Kings West during the last election, this was an issue that was on the minds of many of my rural constituents, that the roads they rely upon every day for basic transportation but also requiring that they would indeed be safe throughout the year. We know that in rural Nova Scotia in particular our highway systems are so key and are the underpinnings of good rural economic development which is becoming, I think, the issue of the day.

First when I came to the House, one of the roads that I made known to all representatives here was a road called the Ward Road which will take people to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo. This is a road that's basically a sand-sealed piece of pavement over sand and now it has about at least 100,000 visitors alone - this year they're anticipating 100,000, last year there were about 90,000 and with the Congrès Mondial Acadien this Summer, they're anticipating at least 100,000 people. This is a piece of road that requires some work and which I think is very important to tourist development in our area.

This is the kind of area that I think we absolutely need to be addressing, in fact, we did make that commitment to rural residents this Summer during the election. When I take a look at other industries and businesses in the Valley that rely upon the secondary roads in particular, there's one that has come to light just in recent months - and we're hoping that maybe a hardening project for this road will be an economic benefit to the area and a saving to all concerned - and that is Valley Waste. Currently during the months in which there are weight restrictions on the road now require four trips to their natural one trip, during the remaining months of the year. This is the kind of work that if we get in rural Nova Scotia, is of great benefit from a business perspective. In our area we also have the Michelin plant which has again a very significant number of tractor-trailer units that are moving through that area, and now we know the Route 1 has simply become too busy for these, and, of course, if we could get an interchange a little further west of the Coldbrook interchange around the Waterville area, it would certainly be a much safer proposition for this area.

I go on for a moment to agriculture. One of the things that's happening in the Valley now, which does affect our roads in a very significant way, is this summer we will be losing another of the grain mills. With Shur-Grain moving to Moncton, what will happen, of course, is that bigger, larger units will be coming down and having to use the secondary roads. Again, many of those, especially when we look at the 12-month period, we will have a great deal of difficulty keeping those roads in a sustainable fashion for that kind of need that the agricultural community is starting to point out to us.

[Page 3226]

Interestingly enough when we talk about that $255 million figure that's going into the roads of the province, it's an interesting look back in time. Just before the election of 1999, the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley pointed out that the Progressive Conservative policy on highway improvements calls for all monies generated, either through provincial gasoline taxes and Registry of Motor Vehicle revenues to be spent on our highway system. This proposal would result in approximately $255 million being spent on our highway system across Nova Scotia annually, and that was in 1999. If we look at the inflationary factors, we know that this amount was an absolute basic at that time. We know of course that that amount is not going into our roads today, and if that was the requirement five years ago, we know that there are in fact a number of deficiencies when it comes to the dollars that are going in. Mr. Speaker, with just a minute and a half to wrap up . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable House Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the Liberal Party's business for today and I would turn it over to the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and following the daily routine and Question Period, we will do four hours in Supply and then we will carry on with Public Bills for Second Reading, starting with the Financial Measures (2004) Act.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We've now reached the moment of interruption.

[Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly understand the significant economic spinoffs by the use of off-road vehicles across Nova Scotia.]

[Page 3227]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

TPW: OFF-ROAD VEHICLES - ECON. SPINOFFS

MR. GARY HINES: It gives me great pleasure this evening to rise in this House and speak about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Mr. Speaker, I know as well it's near and dear to your heart because you have been dealing with this issue in your district as many of our members have. It's the off-road vehicle that I'd like to talk about, in particular, the all-terrain vehicles that many of us as members have and many of our constituents have.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to address in this House as a legislator and also, as an avid ATVer and a club president - The Fundy Adventurers in Kennetcook.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address some of the dynamics of ATVs and the economic contribution to our province. In starting to speak on this issue I would like to pay tribute to a lady who I have a great deal of respect for, Mrs. Vera Stone. Vera Stone was the chairperson for the Trans-Canada Trail when it initially started in the Province of Nova Scotia. Vera Stone is a lady, 72 years young. I attended a founding meeting of the Trans Canada Trail Committee and I attended for one reason. I attended because of my interest in ATVs. I went, concerned that the Trans Canada Trail in the Province of Nova Scotia would be non-motorized use. I chased down the committee that Mrs. Stone was sitting in on for one particular reason, to ask this question. The question that I would ask Mrs. Stone on that day was, do you approve of motorized vehicle use for the TransCanada Trail? She said, yes, they are a renewable resource, they are the people who build the trails, they are the people who maintain the trails. They are the people who protect those who are using the trails. So she said, yes, I believe in multi-use trails.

Mr. Speaker, first let me point out the numbers. There are 40,000 ATVs in the Province of Nova Scotia presently registered, probably another 30,000 that are not registered; one of the problems with the industry. There are 18,000 to 20,000 snowmobiles in the province, and there are several thousand full-sized four-wheel drives that fall under the umbrella of off-road vehicles.

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian ATV Association has compiled some facts and figures regarding the economic impact on the province. There are 5,000 units presently, in the Province of Nova Scotia, a year being sold, an average of $8,000 for the new vehicles, the four-wheel drives in particular. That's $40 million the economy generated with the sale of

[Page 3228]

ATVs. Taxes, $6 million. Registrations, if you register 40,000 machines that are presently in the province every year, it's $1.2 million to the Province of Nova Scotia.

The economic contribution of ATVs is rising in importance. Adventure tourism is another resource that we haven't even visited yet in the Province of Nova Scotia with ATVs. Fishing and hunting lodges we haven't visited yet except for privately-owned fishing and hunting villages. There are opportunities there for business. Overnight tourism, service centres, et cetera, that are presently in other provinces in this country that are benefiting.

Mr. Speaker, there are many opportunities to expand on the economic impacts. In 1984 - and this is just some background that was also compiled by the Canadian ATV Association - sales reached 80,000 new ATVs a year in Canada. Sales declined in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. In fact, in Nova Scotia, they declined to the point we were selling 1,000 units per year. Since 1996, there's been a great increase yearly. In 2003 model year over 94,000 new units were sold in Canada and in Nova Scotia there were 5,000 new units sold. Approximately 50 per cent of these ATVs sold, contrary to popular belief, are used for utility purposes. Therefore they're enhancing the companies and corporations that they're working for by doing the load that used to be done by bigger and more cumbersome vehicles.

The sales of ATVs in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, are much greater than snowmobiles and motorcycles. There are approximately 40 dealers in Nova Scotia making a good living out of the sale of these vehicles as well as servicing them. The economic contribution is rising in importance in many other areas as well. It's estimated that 50,000 to 60,000 off-road vehicles are used in Nova Scotia. It's estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 users and riders of off-road vehicles are also in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, there are also other markets that go hand-in-hand with the economic opportunities. There are pick-up trucks and trailers and other mobility devices that ATVs must use. Gas, oil, parts contribute greatly to the economic impact.

Mr. Speaker, I think not to be left out of the equation are the wonderful things that ATVers do in terms of fundraising. Each year for an example the Children's Wish Foundation has an ATV fundraiser in your area, Mr. Speaker, that brings in the vicinity of $15,000 to $20,000 to the Children's Wish Foundation. My club in Kennetcook supports the school bursary funds and it supports the local ball team. We run a rally in conjunction with the local United Church. We support the Heritage Credit Union in their fundraiser. So the estimated annual contribution to the Nova Scotian economy would be in the vicinity of $150 million to $200 million.

Mr. Speaker, this having been said, there are many other areas of discussion regarding ATVs. One those areas is one that all of the members of our caucus and I'm sure the caucuses opposite are familiar with, and that's the task force on off-road vehicles, because we have a problem with ATVs. We have a problem that responsible ATVers have recognized. We have

[Page 3229]

a problem that responsible ATVers have been working with for a number of years. This task force has brought to us a presentation from studies they have taken around the province and holding workshops and so on, and they have outlined changes that must be made to the ATV Association.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West is wondering if the honourable member would entertain a question.

MR. HINES: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a question.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I seem to be getting the sense that the honourable member is quite in favour of a non-regulated activity with regard to the ATV industry, if I could use that for the lack of a better word or phrase. Is that the case, or is he advocating laissez-faire, or what's the situation?

MR. HINES: I suggest, Mr. Speaker, and I tell the member opposite, there are many aspects of ATVing. One is the economic impact that it has. That's the topic I'm speaking on today and now I'm going on to the Off-highway Vehicles Act and the concern that I have regarding the Off-highway Vehicles Act being presented and not being thoroughly researched, thoroughly developed.

So, Mr. Speaker, I might say that the members presently for the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the Eastern Shore, Shelburne, have all been holding contact meetings with the ATVers, and those who don't run ATVs also attended these meetings. So it is a series of hearings that are going on and I invite Nova Scotians everywhere to respond to the off-road vehicle task force report as we formulate that draft that will come forward and become a piece of legislation that we will all have to live with. I hope that I have convinced the member opposite that I don't have a problem with ATV regulation. In fact, I stated that we are addressing that and I have been, as a club president, for a number of years.

I think it's important to note that the ATV task force - I attended a couple of the meetings and I have also attended some meetings with my club and other clubs in relation to the presentation. I think that one of the problems that we have with the ATV task force that we will have to face as we go forward is that there are three distinct groups dealing with the Off-highway Vehicles Act. There's the group who are totally opposed to any kind of motorized activity in our forests. There is also the group that is irresponsible and the group that is causing us all the consternation and all the problems who tend to want to abuse people's properties and abuse the people themselves in some instances. Those are our problems.

[Page 3230]

However, those people who will fix this and bring forward the task force report and bring forward the final piece of legislation that we all recognize as helping Nova Scotians of all walks of life are the responsible citizens who run ATVs and the responsible citizens who want to share the ATV industry with the Province of Nova Scotia, that being the property owners who presently let us use their properties for trails. There are many things we have to fix for those property owners. In fact, the key issues we have to recognize in the Off-highway Vehicles Act is safety, we have to recognize the environment, we have to recognize policing and we have to recognize land use. In the land use, one of the problems is that the property owners presently will not give permission to use their properties for the simple reason that they're liable should anything happen on their property. So this is just one of the issues that we have to address.

Mr. Speaker, as I go forward, I want the people of Nova Scotia to know that their members are working hard in understanding the problems and understanding the solutions and working towards a motorized vehicle Act that we can all use and treat Nova Scotians and their properties with respect.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I have a very thick file here in front of me which I will read some portions from and hopefully give a balanced approach to the problem that we are facing here today.

From The Vanguard on March 19th it says that, "The president of the province's largest all terrain vehicle association says his group is very concerned about changes proposed by the Off-Highway Vehicle task force. Mr. David Yorke said that, "The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is urging public support for one of the task force's recommendations - to prohibit the use of ATVs in the province's protected areas."

You have somebody advocating for it, you have somebody advocating against it and what the gentleman is saying is all they're asking for is to go from area A to B, not to be going in and damaging protected areas. Each individual trail is different and has to be treated as such. With that, you can see just from the very beginning of my talk, the fact that you have two opposing forces.

I go now to Bridgewater and I quote from Mr. Ernie Bolivar; Ernie was under the belief that the situation was under control. But, one of his councillors, Beverlee Brown, said that she thinks, ". . . it's totally out of control in light of the damage that they're doing to our environment, never mind to our senses . . .".

[Page 3231]

Councillor David Walker said he didn't agree with Ms. Brown's comments. He says it's ". . . not everybody . . . there are very responsible ATVs, snowmobile operators out there.", which I agree with, ". . . because there are currently no rules or regulations, one group will ruin the trails for everyone.", and I agree with that. I operated a Ski-Doo years ago and had a problem with a gentleman farmer in my area. I took it upon myself to make some signs and post the signs in the gentleman's field, at his request, asking that people Ski-Doo around the very edge of the field. For feeding his cattle, he planted alfalfa which he said was very sensitive to the fact that when the machine went over the snow, it would make an icy track. Then in the Spring when everything was melting, that icy track would draw the frost and kill the alfalfa. So if you drove over the field numerous times, it ruined over half of the field.

Another quote that's there, the gentleman says he thinks that, ". . . what we need is a set of rules that protect us from the renegades . . ." I agree with that simply because if we had voluntary rules on the highway and when it came to speeding, who would follow them? So, there need to be rules and regulations and I heard the honourable member previously stating the same thing, him being a president of a club and being involved in that club. There's always somebody. You do a thousand things good and somebody does one thing bad and the whole world is up in arms about it. I've probably already said what the gentleman said, you can have all the rules in the world, unless you have proper policing, they're no good. He's not sure they're going to get the police involved in that. I know that's going to be an added expense, but at the same time, if you look at the economic benefits to the province, there has to be control and there has to be a balance that both can operate. I don't think the industry is going to go away. It's as simple as that.

I'm under the understanding there's around - maybe the honourable member will give me a nod - that there's in the vicinity of 100,000 vehicles in the province? Yes, he's nodding yes, so that's the amount. That's a tremendous amount of purchasing power of usage and gas and parts and pieces, equipment and whatnot. But at the same time, used wrongly, 100,000 vehicles could do an awful amount of damage to the rural areas.

I have in front of me 16 names from Wagmatcook First Nations down my way and I spoke to a gentleman by the name of Guy Googoo who called me and told me that they were against the regulations. I have since contacted them and said, I just can't bring the petition forward saying you're against the regulations. Tell me what you're specifically against. So that's what he's checking with his members. But what he noted to me was the fact that instead of having their sons on a Friday night going out like a lot of people are doing and having a few drinks and getting in trouble, they pack up on the weekends and they go on a little expedition. He said by the time they get home Sunday afternoon and they've had their teenaged sons with them and they've spent Friday night in the woods, Saturday night in the woods fishing and travelling through and discovering areas, he said, by the time we get home on Sunday afternoon, they're pretty well tired. They're tired and happy and they haven't been involved in drugs, or booze, or fights, or problems.

[Page 3232]

[6:15 p.m.]

So you can see the benefit there and that's coming from the First Nations and I know, when I go down the list of names, I come across one, Norman Bernard, who is a councillor down there, whom I know fairly personally, who is a big strapping fellow who's involved in a lot of physical education and teaches a lot of the children. So when I see his name on there, I respect that petition and I will have further information and, hopefully, I will be able to table that before the end of the sitting.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I have to give recognition, this is from The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, and I'm looking at a gentleman by the name of Greg Webster of Webster Farms in Cambridge, Kings County, and he's holding a sign driven over by all-terrain vehicles. The boards look brand new and quite thick, yet they flattened them. He had stop signs and crossing ahead. His statement is that the government had better act swiftly and harshly and he would like to see all the rules and regulations that were brought forth put into place. You can see the frustration that the gentleman would have and there's no need of it.

Continuing on a negative note again, from Centerville in New Brunswick, New Brunswick potato growers are again up in arms over damage caused to their fields by all-terrain vehicles. The grower agency, Potatoes New Brunswick, is calling for people to stay off farmland. Experts also note the risk of spreading plant disease on muddy tires and vehicles. So you can see people who are making their living, people who have farmlands in quiet rural areas, this is equating, the problem I have in my area with the jake brakes and the trucks rumbling along and you've got 100 good responsible truck operators and you've got a couple of young fellows who are even taking the baffles out of the mufflers and, of course, they got this new rig now that if you shift the gears while the engine break is on, she cracks twice as bad.

It's making it bad for everybody so we're having public meetings trying to get the speed limit lowered and whatnot. It's the same frustration that these people are experiencing, but my approach to that is the same with this, you have to have both. There has to be a balance. There have to be rules and regulations followed. I, personally, don't agree that you have to be 16 years of age because my grandchildren have a small, little, tiny machine, a little toy of a thing, but they've been driving. I think the grandson was driving that since he has been about 10, just around our own property, and now the young girl is of the same age and she is driving it very slowly around the property and learning how to operate it and whatnot, but it's just a small, little, wee machine, I suppose you would call it, nothing like some of these big monster machines that are out there. It gives them hours upon hours of fun, relaxation and enjoyment and it sure keeps them out of trouble. So there has to be a balance and I think by the time they're 16, if you would expect them to get on a machine and start then, it's too late.

[Page 3233]

The Nova Scotia Trails Newsletter, NS Trails, said it disagreed with requiring enlarged plates. They say they agree with most of the task force report and prohibiting children under 14 from operating them, adding demerit points to driver's licences, exempting certain operators, for mandatory training. Well, I believe that their recommendations, the key recommendations that they expressed in agreement, included requiring registration, operator licensing and insurance, mandatory, and I think that everybody should be trained the same as what you have to be.

So, Mr. Speaker, what you're seeing is the Voluntary Planning Board, the public now has, they've extended the deadline which is great, but you can see there's so much involved that even the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has put out an advisory about operating around railroad tracks. You've got young people racing along the edge of tracks where trains are no longer basically scheduled, but can appear at any given time. You have the Canadian All-Terrain Vehicle Distributors Council, they have a lot of recommendations, but they're saying that they would like to see a balanced approach. Out of Control, which is the name of the task force submission and recommendations, they figure that it's too harsh and they need a balanced approach.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, one gentleman here, Lawrence Kurpiel said that "We taxpayers who fund our health care system would be best served without the responsibility for those who risk themselves and inflict injuries to others on 'off highway vehicles.'"

You have two dichotomies coming together. It has to be a balanced approach. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: A controversial issue, a complicated issue, a complex issue - and we're talking about it in late debate? If this government is going to take leadership on this issue, in the Voluntary Planning process, why haven't we been able to move ahead? But the backbench member stands in his place, has the opportunity to express his points of view - it'll be very interesting, when Voluntary Planning completes its report, what this government does with it.

Let me tell you, I have seen Voluntary Planning in action before. As a new member at the time, I was so pleased when the government of the day announced that it was going to have Voluntary Planning look at an even more controversial topic - one near and dear to the hearts of coastal communities and to this member - that was the issue of non-resident ownership.

The member opposite should learn perhaps from my experience. At the time I said Voluntary Planning is going around the province, they're going to hear from Nova Scotians, they're going to collect the evidence, they're going to bring it back in a public report, they

[Page 3234]

will bring the report to the government and this very important, complicated, complex and controversial issue of non-resident ownership will be brought forward by the government in a form of legislation. I've said this before and we are allowed no props in this House, if I had the Voluntary Planning report here on non-resident ownership, the very first thing I would do would be to blow the dust off it - because that's all it's done, collected dust.

But here we are and Voluntary Planning with the extension of the time that was needed because of wanting to hear from all Nova Scotians, that important process is being continued. I am not a betting man and this is no place to lay a wager, but I will wager a friendly one with the member opposite, to encourage Voluntary Planning not only to come forward with the report, but for this government to bring forward the regulations. Now, the proof is in the pudding.

But I want, in particular, for those people who are watching this or when we read this in Hansard, the "be it resolved" - and I'm quoting from the late debate topic here, Adjournment Motion under Rule 5(5) "Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly understand the significant economic spinoffs offered by the use of off-road vehicles across Nova Scotia." I heard the member stand in his place and he said, haven't done anything about tourism yet - and the connection? We haven't done anything with some of the trails - and the connection? So, I mean, if we're looking at economic spinoffs, I'm waiting to see them.

Furthermore, I can point to the example in Newfoundland, which is a valuable one. I can report also how I've seen the promotion - and perhaps you've seen them, and members present have seen the promotion of New Brunswick, particularly in the wintertime as they are highly promoting their trail system and the multiple use of it by motorized vehicles - snowmobiles in this case. Here we're talking about the use of off-road vehicles and the spin-offs economically.

Well, that's yet to be proven, in my opinion. However, I am going to speak mainly based upon the comments of Ralph Surette. Mr. Surette, of course, is the recognized journalist who is currently - I hope he is still employed by the ChronicleHerald - and he has put together an interesting "think piece" on Saturday, April 10th, entitled ATVs - the search for enlightened regulations. When the Pages have a moment I would ask them to table this document for the interest of the members, and because of the fact that I want to quote from it, mine's photo-enlarged, and I'd like to thank the staff for doing this for me.

I'd like to point out that the comment that strikes home with me is when Mr. Surette writes in the article that certain distinctions must be made so that problems at hand are attacked in a focused manner, avoiding general blasts of bureaucratic buckshot. That says to me, that when we look at these regulations and we look at how we will move eventually, hopefully, to address this issue we have to make sure that we don't have another one of these boondoggles that I hear my friend, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, bring

[Page 3235]

forward on occasion and I will table that with the Page now, this article for the member opposite if he is interested in watching it.

The last thing we need is more bureaucracy. The last thing we need is to have regulations upon regulations. Because I know that that member opposite, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley can turn it on and off when it comes to the gun registry. The comparison at times alarms me. Because if we are going to allow this regulation to have a whole other set of circumstances bureaucratically, we are going to create a nightmare.

There are some issues that must be addressed. I personally would like to thank Lorne Johnston, Mike Marriott, very respected members of the community that I am fortunate to represent who have taken the time to sit and talk to me at length. We talk about ATV clubs. I want you to know that each and every Christmas the St. Margaret's Bay ATV club goes out of its way to be involved with raising money, assisting our Lions Club, helping out young men and women in the community at that important time of the year. There are without doubt, responsible ATVers. They are there. We can't take the brush and paint them all with the same brush. But I am interested in what the member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank would suggest, as we look at the fact that there are without doubt, and excuse my language if it is unparliamentary, but there are a number of yahoos - can I go with it?

There are a number of yahoos, and I know in your previous profession, Mr. Speaker, you've dealt with many of these people who have little or no respect for private land, they have little or no respect for some of the major concerns that we have across this province when it comes to preserved areas, when it comes to protected areas and that's a concern for Nova Scotians. It's a concern for the real reason that many of us want recreational opportunities of whatever choice. I am very fortunate, I can tell you that the BLT, the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Rails to Trails Association goes from the Lakeside Coca-Cola plant, it goes out past Lewis Lake, all the way through to Hubbards. Actually it's the St. Margaret's Bay Rails to Trails there. It is, for our community, a sidewalk where you can go on to those trails and you can see young mothers with strollers, I guess you can see young grandmothers and grandfathers with strollers too as they take their grandchildren out. You can see cross-country skiers in the winter time and it's a multi-purpose trail.

And you can see responsible ATVers. But if you go out there, and I take my dog, and I want you to know my dog is a member of the club, but I want you to know I can run into ATVers and it can be a confrontation. I can tell you I have had some of those confrontations. With sunglasses on and a Boston Bruins hat, sometimes they wonder, oops, that might be the MLA, and they slow down. We have an issue here with how this process is going to unfold. Everyone must be involved. The worst example I have when it comes to recreational ATVs, comes from the beach on P.E.I. Let me tell you, if you want to destroy beaches, you put ATVs on them. Regulations are important, I look forward to Voluntary Planning and I look forward to discussing this matter at a future time. Thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3236]

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for late debate has expired. The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 3237]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1405

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas the Calais Branch 162 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Lower Sackville celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the branch will host a variety of events at the end of this month to celebrate this milestone and the branch's many accomplishments; and

Whereas the membership of the Calais Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, known as the branch with a heart, has supported many worthwhile causes in Lower Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Calais Branch of the Canadian Legion on their 25th Anniversary, extend to the membership our thanks for their continuing support of many community endeavours and wish them all the best in the next 25 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 1406

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the Pictou East Unit of the Canadian Cancer Society held their 13th consecutive ecumenical church service on the last weekend in April; and

Whereas the Pictou East Unit of the Canadian Cancer Society, in addition to their faith, work tirelessly year-round toward enriching the lives of people inflicted with this disease; and

Whereas guest speaker for the church service was Ross Sewell who spoke at the Little Harbour Presbyterian Church;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of the Cancer Society's Pictou East Unit President Theresa MacDonnell and all those involved in making this 13th church service an overwhelming success one more time.

[Page 3238]

RESOLUTION NO. 1407

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas the headlines screamed in provincial newspapers last week about the loss of population in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas let's face it, the days of eight to 10 to 12 and even 16 members of a single family are long gone; and

Whereas despite the many ways government is looking at addressing the decline in birth rates, it is nice to see members of the Colchester Regional Development Agency understanding the issue and doing such things as meet-and-greets to inform young people about local job opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that since 12 per cent of the 15 to 29 year-old age bracket has left Colchester County between 1991 and 1996, MLAs congratulate people such as Margot Begin and Rosalie Prest of the Colchester Regional Development Agency for their diligent work in keeping rural Nova Scotia alive and attractive to potential investors.

RESOLUTION NO. 1408

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the Yarmouth KIA dealership has recently scored number one in customer satisfaction for all of Canada; and

Whereas top performing KIA Service Manager Stephen Hatt is now a Gold Award winner; and

Whereas the business has been so successful that they are planning to expand the operation and improve their service even more;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Yarmouth KIA and Service Manager Stephen Hatt on the recognition they have received for their delivery of exceptional customer service and wish them much success in their planned expansion.

[Page 3239]

RESOLUTION NO. 1409

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas health care needs differ for various groups of patients; and

Whereas women and children require special attention; and

Whereas South Shore Health, in partnership with the Department of Health, will open a new Women's and Children's Centre at the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater in May 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of South Shore Health and the Department of Health which have worked so hard to make the new Women's and Children's Centre at the South Shore Regional Hospital a reality.

RESOLUTION NO. 1410

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas 7-year-old Kendra Mattinson from Oxford started to sing as soon as she could talk and started making public appearances three years ago at the tender age of four; and

Whereas the public appearances she volunteers at include weddings, exhibitions, sports competitions, festivals and even released a CD that has sold over 200 copies; and

Whereas with the few extra dollars she has made with her CD, she and her mother are going to see - and maybe even meet - her inspiration, Shania Twain, in Quebec City this weekend;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express our congratulations and pride to Kendra Mattinson for being such a small but big star in our community and hope that all her dreams come true.

[Page 3240]

RESOLUTION NO. 1411

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Parrsboro Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing who they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Parrsboro Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1412

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Leicester Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing who they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Leicester Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

[Page 3241]

RESOLUTION NO. 1413

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas firefighters are summoned in times of need, regardless of the time of day or night; and

Whereas the Joggins Fire Department answers a number of alarms annually; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community at great risk because of the uncertainty of when an emergency can arise;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Joggins Fire Department for their excellent responses in times of need while wishing them continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1414

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Advocate and District Fire Brigade answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing who they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Advocate and District Fire Brigade for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

[Page 3242]

RESOLUTION NO. 1415

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Wentworth Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing who they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Wentworth Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1416

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas The Original Meats and Video in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing The Original Meats and Video in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

[Page 3243]

RESOLUTION NO. 1417

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Walter's Garage and Muffler Shop in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Walter's Garage and Muffler Shop in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1418

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Eastern Shore Auto and RV in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Eastern Shore Auto and RV in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

[Page 3244]

RESOLUTION NO. 1419

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Webbers Store and Motel, The Log Store, in Lake Charlotte is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Webbers Store and Motel, The Log Store, in Lake Charlotte for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1420

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Bluenose Well Drilling Ltd. in Mineville is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Bluenose Well Drilling Ltd. in Mineville for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

[Page 3245]

RESOLUTION NO. 1421

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Coach Mike Fry and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

RESOLUTION NO. 1422

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sue Langpap and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

[Page 3246]

RESOLUTION NO. 1423

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Alie LeBlanc and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

RESOLUTION NO. 1424

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amy Berry and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

[Page 3247]

RESOLUTION NO. 1425

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Danielle Carriere and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

RESOLUTION NO. 1426

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amy Dowling and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1427

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Beth Hudson and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

RESOLUTION NO. 1428

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amanda Todd and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1429

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Courtney Janes and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

RESOLUTION NO. 1430

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Erin Garner and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1431

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Morissa Halliday and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

RESOLUTION NO. 1432

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas on April 17 and 18, 2004, the Tier II, 18-and-under, Women's Volleyball Provincial Championships were held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team represented their town with great team spirit, determination and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team were victorious in their quest for the title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Kristy Isles and all members of the Annapolis Garrison volleyball team on their provincial championship victory.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1433

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas the Cobequid Educational Centre Reach for the Top team consisting of James Mallov, Ryan Andrews, Kelsey MacKenzie, Joey Fielding, Ross Mallov and Charles Eyrich and Coaches Marion Retson, Nicole Hart and Jay Foster, is the 2004 provincial champion; and

Whereas the CEC team was undefeated in the round robin and championship rounds defeating Horton in the semifinal and Three Oaks in the final; and

Whereas CEC will represent Nova Scotia in the National Reach for the Top Championship to be held in Toronto;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the CEC Reach for the Top team for winning the provincial championship and wish it well in the national championship.