Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-67

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

THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
SPEAKER'S RULING: Timely proclamation of legislation.
(Pt. Of Privilege by Mr. Manning MacDonald [Hansard p. 5929, 04/19/05]) 6151
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Post-secondary Funding - Restore, Ms. M. More 6152
Health: East Hants - Long-term Care Licence, Mr. J. MacDonell 6153
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Ms. D. Whalen 6153
Educ.: Post-secondary Funding - Invest, Mr. D. Dexter 6154
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. H. Theriault 6154
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Surette, Stefan: Death of - Tribute, The Premier 6154
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3242, Surette, Stefan: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 6156
Vote - Affirmative 6157
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Educ.: CBVRSB/CUPE - Bargaining Agreement, Hon. J. Muir 6158
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3243, Estimates: CWH on Supply - Referred, Hon. P. Christie 6160
Res. 3244, First Nat'l. Commun. Planning Proj. - Dubai Award,
Hon. M. Baker 6161
Vote - Affirmative 6161
Res. 3245, Fox, Terry: Legacy - Recognize, The Premier 6162
Vote - Affirmative 6162
Res. 3246, Energy - HRM: MetroLink - Congrats, Hon. C. Clarke 6163
Vote - Affirmative 6163
Res, 3247, Cent. Nova Tourist Assoc. - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6163
Vote - Affirmative 6164
Res. 3248, Marblehead to Hfx. Ocean Race - Anniv. (100th),
The Premier 6164
Vote - Affirmative 6165
Res. 3249, Surette, Stefan: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 6165
Vote - Affirmative 6166
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 161, Special Places Protection Act, Hon. K. Morash 6166
No. 162, Public Utilities Act, Hon. C. Clarke 6166
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3250, Penny, Victor - Birthday (90th), Mr. K. Deveaux 6166
Vote - Affirmative 6167
Res. 3251, Fin. - Offshore Funding: Fed. Budget - Support,
Mr. Michel Samson 6167
Res. 3252, Scott, Jeremy/Coombs, Richelle: Wedding - Congrats,
(by Mr. B. Taylor) The Speaker 6168
Vote - Affirmative 6168
Res. 3253, Laffin, Ellen: Commun. Commitment - Congrats,
Mr. J. MacDonell 6168
Vote - Affirmative 6169
Res. 3254, Surette, Stefan: Death of - Tribute, Mr. W. Gaudet 6169
Vote - Affirmative 6170
Res. 3255, Agric. & Fish. - East. Shore Lobster Fishermen:
Safe Season Wish, Mr. W. Dooks 6170
Vote - Affirmative 6170
Res. 3256, King, Greg - Educ. Wk. Award, Ms. J. Massey 6171
Vote - Affirmative 6171
Res. 3257, P.C. Gov't.: Job Losses/Rural Depopulation - Address,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 6171
Res. 3258, Men of Faith: CD Release - Congrats, Mr. R. MacKinnon 6172
Vote - Affirmative 6173
Res. 3259, Sir Charles Tupper Sch. - Anniv. (75th), Mr. H. Epstein 6173
Vote - Affirmative 6173
Res. 3260, TPW: Digby-Annapolis Rds. - Tour, Mr. H. Theriault 6174
Res. 3261, Health - Hep. C Compensation: Gov't. (Can.) - Applaud,
Mr. B. Taylor 6174
Vote - Affirmative 6175
Res. 3262, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Northwest Arm - Protect,
Ms. M. Raymond 6175
Res. 3263, TPW: Highway 256 - Repair, Mr. Gerald Sampson 6176
Vote - Affirmative 6176
Res. 3264, Churchville Women's Inst.: Commun. Work - Commend,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6176
Vote - Affirmative 6177
Res. 3265, MacKenzie, Chief Stephen/Pictou FD - Commun. Commitment,
Mr. C. Parker 6177
Vote - Affirmative 6178
Res. 3266, Blandford Wildlife Sanctuary: Gov't. - Maintain,
Mr. L. Glavine 6178
Res. 3267, Cdn. Armed Forces - HRM: Role - Recognize, Mr. G. Hines 6179
Vote - Affirmative 6179
Res. 3268, Boston Marathon - Dart. South-Portland Valley Participants,
Ms. M. More 6180
Vote - Affirmative 6180
Res. 3269, Home Heating Oil - HST Elimination: Low Income Families -
Effects, Mr. D. Graham 6180
Res. 3270, Mountain Lake Resources Inc.: Diamond Exploration -
Congrats, Mr. M. Parent 6181
Vote - Affirmative 6182
Res. 3271, Firth-Tessier, Karla - Parent'n'Tots: Serv. - Thank,
Mr. G. Steele 6182
Vote - Affirmative 6182
Res. 3272, Comeau, Cecil - Commun. Contributions, Mr. W. Gaudet 6183
Vote - Affirmative 6183
Res. 3273, N.S. Forestry Hall of Fame: Inductees - Congrats, Hon. J. Muir 6183
Vote - Affirmative 6184
Res. 3274, N.S.-LEO: Anniv. (25th), Mr. J. Pye 6184
Vote - Affirmative 6185
Res. 3275, Macdonald, Terri Lynn - Commun. Commitment,
Mr. G. Gosse 6185
Vote - Affirmative 6186
Res. 3276, Sackville Blazers Jr. B Men's Hockey Team - Congrats,
Hon. B. Barnet 6186
Vote - Affirmative 6186
Res. 3277, Thorn, Carol: TIANS Pres. - Election,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6187
Vote - Affirmative 6187
Res. 3278, Boutilier, Burke - Nat'l. Cadet Biathlon Championships,
Hon. M. Baker 6187
Vote - Affirmative 6188
Res. 3279, TPW - Kings Road, Sydney River: Min. - Investigate,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6188
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 720, Health - IWK Strike: Avoidance - Plans, Mr. D. Dexter 6189
No. 721, Offshore Agreement: Status - Details, Mr. Michel Samson 6190
No. 722, Commun. Serv. - Social Assistance: Student Loans - Penalties,
Mr. D. Dexter 6192
No. 723, TPW: Marine Atlantic Future - Advisory Study,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 6193
No. 724, Gaming - Problem Gambling Specialists: Number - Increase,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6194
No. 725, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - N. Greenwood: Water - Supply,
Ms. J. Massey 6195
No. 726, TCH: Atl. Fed. Of Musicians - VLTs, Mr. D. Graham 6197
No. 727, TPW: C.B. Cdn. Tire Outlet - Expedite, Mr. G. Gosse 6198
No. 728, TPW - Northwest Arm Dr.: Safety Improvement - Plan,
Mr. G. Steele 6200
No. 729, Environ. & Lbr. - PERC Contamination: Bowlby Park - Resolve,
Mr. L. Glavine 6201
No. 730, Health - Cobequid Commun. Health Ctr.: Opening - Time Frame,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6202
No. 731, Immigration - Int'l Students: Tuition Increase - Effect,
D. Whalen 6203
No. 732, Environ. & Lbr. - N.S. Waterways: Protection - Legislate,
Ms. M. More 6205
No. 733, TPW - Digby-Annapolis Rds.: Paving Schedule - Details,
Mr. H. Theriault 6206
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 147, Youth Justice Act 6209
Mr. K. Deveaux 6209
Mr. Michel Samson 6218
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6223
Mr. D. Graham 6228
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6234
Adjourned debate 6238
ADJOURNMENT
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
NSLC - Main St. Liquor Stores: Closure - Halt:
Mr. G. Gosse 6239
Hon. E. Fage 6242
Hon. R. Hurlburt 6244
Mr. K. Colwell 6245
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 22nd at 9:00 a.m. 6248
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3280, East. Passage Cow Bay Lions Club - Speak Out Contest:
Winners - Congrats, Mr. W. Dooks 6249
Res. 3281, Hebb, Ralph: Vol. Serv. - Congrats,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6249
Res. 3282, MacLean, John: Recreation N.S. - Life Membership,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6250
Res. 3283, Bridgewater Curling Club: Little Rocks Team Championship,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6250
Res. 3284, Van Vulpen, Nick and Elaine - Cumb. Co.
Farmer of the Yr. Award, Hon. E. Fage 6250
Res. 3285, Collicut, Gil - Paul Harris Fellowship, Hon. E. Fage 6251
Res. 3286 Pearcey, Andrew/Morehouse, Chris/Coles, Alex -
Commun. Serv. Award, Hon. E. Fage 6252
Res. 3287, Coulson, Ray - Maritimer of the Wk., Hon. E. Fage 6252
Res. 3288, Carl's Variety - Hometown Christmas Centennial Award,
The Speaker 6253
Res. 3289, Carter, Stacey - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6253
Res. 3290, Casey, Jon - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6254
Res. 3291, Mattinson, Cecelia - Centennial Award, The Speaker 6254
Res. 3292, MacDiarmid, Andrew and Lita - Hometown Christmas
Centennial Award, The Speaker 6255
Res. 3293, Justice: Conditional Sentences - Enforce,
Mr. Michel Samson 6255
Res. 3294, Gaming: VLTs - Ban, Mr. D. Graham 6256

[Page 6151]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Daniel Graham

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the honourable member for Cape Breton South rose on a point of privilege and I would like to respond to his concern. On Tuesday, April 19th the member for Cape Breton South rose on a point of privilege. I took the matter under advisement and I would like to deal with the matter now.

The member for Cape Breton South drew my attention to a number of Statutes that were passed by this House during the last several sittings which were subject to proclamation but had not yet been proclaimed. The thrust of the honourable member's complaint was that members should be able to expect legislation that is enacted subject to proclamation to be proclaimed into force in a reasonable period of time, and the fact that legislation remains unproclaimed violates the rights and privileges of all members. While there are some Statutes, or parts of Statutes, from recent sittings that have not yet been proclaimed, this is not unusual and occurs quite regularly. It often takes time to put mechanisms of regulations into place to support the legislation.

6151

[Page 6152]

The honourable member suggested that the Executive Council was taking too long to proclaim the legislation and was flouting the rights and privileges of members. However, the members themselves choose to pass the legislation subject to proclamation at the discretion of the Executive Council, thereby delegating that authority directly to the Executive Council. In making that choice, the members are aware that some legislation may remain unproclaimed for some period of time, sometimes for several years. In fact, some Statutes remain unproclaimed for many years, such as the Personal Property Lien Registry Act that was enacted in 1986 but remained unproclaimed until it was repealed in 1996 when a superior piece of legislation was passed.

As I said, the members of this House are well aware that legislation, once passed by this House, may not be proclaimed for some time. There are numerous examples of this going back many years in time and it is nothing new or surprising, so members know full well when they pass a bill subject to proclamation, they have passed the power to bring the law into effect to the Executive Council.

Accordingly I find there's not a prima facie case for a breach of privilege. The decision is here for anyone who would like to have a copy of it.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I just want to say that I do respect your ruling, but it points out very clearly, though, who's running the show here and it's certainly not the elected representatives of the people in this House, it's the Executive Council.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we being the daily routine, the subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government should halt the closure of main street liquor stores, such as the ones in Yarmouth and Liverpool."

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 120 signatures, the operative clause being:

[Page 6153]

"Therefore your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to:

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from area residents of Hants East and surrounding area.

The operative clause: "I am signing this petition in support of East Hants Seniors Advocacy Group's recommendation that the Dept of Health take immediate steps to license Long Term Care facility in East Hants and until such time a facility or facilities can be open that Serenity Lodge be given a temporary license for up to seven seniors. We believe this could act as a pilot project to test the findings of your government's Discussion Paper, on "Positive Aging in Nova Scotia."

Mr. Speaker, I affix my signature in support.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I also beg leave to introduce a petition of 120 post-secondary students in this province. The petition is entitled Reduce Tuition Fees and I have affixed my name to this as well. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 6154]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause which reads:

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to:

There are 120 signatures and I have affixed mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[2:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition of 120 post-secondary students in this province who are concerned and want a reduction in tuition fees. I have affixed my signature to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, news from Iraq that a native of a close-knit, Nova Scotia community was killed yesterday by insurgents during a car ambush,

has brought home the uncertainty of those doing their part to assist with the effort to introduce democracy to that nation. Stefan Surette, who hailed from Ste. Anne du Ruisseau, was working in Iraq with a private security firm escorting election officials and government officials.

[Page 6155]

Stefan showed at an early age his interest in serving and protecting. He joined a Yarmouth militia unit while in high school. He later served with our Canadian Armed Forces, serving overseas, subsequently joining the British forces, where he worked his way to master corporal. His move to private security companies took him to Afghanistan and Iraq, two very high-risk posts. A family friend said of this young man, he lived a full life and a life on the edge. It is so unfortunate that his chosen path to protect the lives of others ended all too soon his own life.

I know I join with all in this House in extending to his proud parents, his sister, extended family and close friends our sincerest sympathies at their loss. May this terrible casualty from the valiant efforts to bring democracy and peace to Iraq serve as a reminder to all of our good fortune to live in a country where being a part of the democratic process does not include living in fear for your life or the lives around you.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my fellow Leaders to allow the MLA for Argyle to say a few words, as he knew Mr. Surette and his family personally. Following all comments, may I also ask for a moment of silence.

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it was quite a shock last night when I did get a phone call that Stefan had passed on due to an insurgency during an attack in Iraq. I knew Stefan for a very short period of time. He's a few years younger than I am, the same age as my brother-in-law, so when I first started going, visiting Ste.-Anne du Ruisseau and Lower Eel Brook, I got to know a lot of the folks from around there, especially in that age group.

Stefan, at that time, belonged to the local militia, was interested in cars, hung out with his friends and, to me, always seemed a guy with a smile and really good joie de vivre, as any, I would have guessed he was probably 17 or 16 at that time, when I really first got to know him. His parents, of course, I know quite well. They live in my constituency, and I do keep track of them quite often and do have good conversations with them.

Mom Elaine was always excited about where her son was. You could always see she was concerned for his safety, but always knew that he was doing what he wanted to do and that was to protect others, which I think is why you saw him participate in the militia, participate in the Canadian Armed Forces, the British forces and moving on to private security. Knowing that he was doing what he wanted to do and doing the valiant thing that he was doing, trying to protect democracy in Iraq, I think, makes all of Argyle proud, makes all of us sad, of course, to lose a constituent like that.

With those few words, I want to offer my sincere sympathy to Elaine and Ray and of course to Stefan's sister, Jennifer. I know they will be missing him dearly and will be going

[Page 6156]

through quite a period over the next weeks and years and in time to come. So, with those very few words, I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, certainly members of our caucus extend condolences to the family and we'd like to associate ourselves with the remarks that have already been made. With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I have a notice of motion that I'd like to read at this time if I may.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[NOTICES OF MOTION]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3242

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

Whereas Stefan Surette of Ste. Anne-du-Ruisseau, was killed in Baghdad yesterday, April 20, 2005, while working for a private security firm; and

Whereas his death brings closer to home the grim reality of a war that has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqi citizens and more than 1,500 American soldiers and an uncounted number of those hired privately as part of the occupation; and

Whereas the needless death of Stefan Surette at a young age is a tragedy for his family, his friends and his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its deepest condolences to the immediate family and friends of Stefan Surette, a young man who served his country well and who deserved a long and happy life.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6157]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our Leader, Francis MacKenzie, and my entire caucus, I also wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Stefan Surette. This is a sad reminder of how quickly it can be brought home the difficulties that take place in countries that seem so far away and we only seem to learn of some of the difficulties on the news. This is a reminder that we have native Nova Scotians working in Iraq and in other countries trying to protect the peace and democracy and trying to establish it in those countries. Having had the opportunity myself and I know my colleague, the member for Clare, and I know some members of the NDP caucus have had the opportunity to work as election observers in countries, myself and my colleague in Africa. Here we lament the fact that in Nova Scotia voter turnouts are low and then we visit those countries and see how oftentimes they have to fight for the right to cast their vote. Certainly, that was something that Stefan had been employed to work towards, establishing people's rights and we certainly want to express our deepest sympathies. I know my colleague the member for Clare, will be reading a resolution on this matter.

M. le President je veut prendre cet occasion, notre chefs Francis MacKenzie et tout mes collègues de le caucus liberal pour expresser mes sympathies les plus sincères a Elaine et Ray Surette, les parents de Stéfane et a sa soeur Jennifer pour leur pertes aujourd'hui. Sa nous rapèle le fait qu'on a des citoyens de la Nouvelle Ecosse, de chez nous, qui so tretorié dans les pays a l'Europe et a l'Afrique et l'Asie et qui sont en trains de travaillé en vers la paix et le democracie. Trop souvent on voit que c'est un chemain qui n'est pas facile et malheuresement on voit qu'il y a des vies qui sont perdu en resultas. Alors, je suis sure que la famille et la communauté D'Argyle, comme tous les communauté Acadienne sera très troublé par c'est nouvelle, avec tous les gens dans la Nouvelle Ecosse. Alors, encore de notre chef et de le caucus nos sympathy a la famille de Stéfane Surette. J'espère que ses efforts dans le pays d'Iraq à la fin de la journée ont été fructueux et qu'on vera le jour qu'on aura la paix et la démocracie a çe pays.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I would ask that all members observe a moment of silence in the memory of Stefan Surette.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask all members to rise please for a moment of silence in memory of the late Stefan Surette.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

[Page 6158]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated. The honourable Minister of Education.

[STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to announce today that we have agreed on a process with CUPE that is intended to achieve province-wide bargaining for all CUPE school board employees by April 1, 2007. (Applause) With respect to the separate discussions CUPE is having with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, it's our understanding that the union intends to return to its membership for a new vote tomorrow. Mr. Speaker, we trust that differences between CUPE and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will be resolved. We want to see the students get back to class and we want to see all school board staff back to work. I understand that CUPE will continue to work with the school boards in the Strait, Tri-County, and South Shore to negotiate agreements for those workers.

Mr. Speaker, what we have agreed to is this: We have agreed to a process that will see CUPE and the province standardize classifications, job descriptions, and workloads, and it is only after these decisions are made can the discussion advance to appropriate province-wide rates; it will ensure that everyone is paid the same rate for doing the same work; it means that workers will be acknowledged for the work that they do; and it means taxpayers' dollars will be spent responsibly and appropriately.

Mr. Speaker, is this wage parity? Not if you mean automatically paying all workers whatever is currently the highest rate in the province; however it does mean that CUPE employees across the province will be acknowledged for the work that they do and will receive a wage appropriate for that work. There have been many calls for me, as Minister of Education, to get involved. Mr. Speaker, it was critical to respect the collective bargaining process between CUPE employees and their employer school boards. We have every expectation that the process will continue to reach a fair agreement for all. We will then embark on the new process we are announcing today, and that is preparation for effective collective bargaining at the provincial level and for a new agreement to come into effect as of April 1, 2007.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that this has been a difficult time for all involved. We all want to see the students back in school and I would like to acknowledge Minister Cecil Clarke who joined me yesterday at a meeting with some of the employees from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Mr. Clarke has worked very hard to help ensure his young constituents resume their studies. (Applause)

In this House I have repeatedly called on all members to come together to encourage both the board and CUPE to continue to work to reach an agreement. The honourable member opposite, Frank Corbett MLA, rose to the challenge and I would like to thank him for his efforts. (Applause) I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the work of the board

[Page 6159]

in trying to keep the schools open. I know they've worked hard and long hours. It has been a difficult time.

Mr. Speaker, we have removed the issue of province-wide standardization of job descriptions, workloads, classifications, and wages from the regional level. It is our hope that CUPE locals and the remaining school boards can now go forward productively and secure fair resolution with no further impact on student learning. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the minister and I wonder if it wouldn't be more appropriate to have the member for Cape Breton Centre respond. (Applause)

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

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I really appreciate the support of the House in what little I did. What I want to say is whatever I had a hand in whether it was major or minor it's of little concern, the big concern is the children and their education. (Applause)

As someone who comes out of the trade union movement, I'm glad that all those nights spent in lonely rooms drinking coffee didn't go to waste. I was glad that we could see and make a compromise, and that's what collective bargaining is all about. I think I can say this clearly about the minister and about the workers we had met with yesterday that the resolve was to get those kids back in those schools. I appreciate the minister's kind words. I appreciate the support of this House for what little I may have done, but we got the children back to school and that's a victory for everyone. (Applause)

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place today to respond to the ministerial statement brought forward by the honourable Minister of Education. I am pleased to see that the government has finally taken action on this very important issue. If this will see the children in Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board get back to school then we are indeed pleased and support it. (Applause)

We can never lose sight of the fact that 18,500 students have been denied a quality education because the minister failed to act up to this point. It is unfortunate that this issue (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 6160]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: It is unfortunate that this issue had to escalate to a point where workers had to travel to Halifax to get this government to listen. We were pleased, as a caucus, to bring forward this issue in an emergency debate earlier this week and to debate again yesterday this most important topic. The union was clear from the beginning that they wanted to look at a province-wide mechanism for achieving parity and fairness. Now that that's in place, I think that there's been significant improvement to the system and we look forward to the outcome of those debates and discussions.

I and other members of the Liberal caucus have met personally with the school board chairman and superintendent as well as CUPE representatives in Sydney and here in Halifax. We've been involved and remain committed to the resolution of the strike. The statement confirms the premise of equal pay for equal work and that is laudable. This strike has certainly taken a toll on the students in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and we will be watching closely as means are put in place to remediate their lost time and the students' learning. The concerns of the 18,500 students and indeed all children have always been and will be the primary focus of the Liberal caucus. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 3243

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

(1) read and table the message from His Honour the Lieutenant Governor transmitting the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, for the consideration of the House;

(2) table the Estimate Books;

(3) table the Crown Corporation business plans;

(4) table the Estimate and Crown Corporation business plan resolutions;

(5) deliver my Budget Speech; and

(6) move that the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, being Supply to be granted to Her Majesty, and the Crown Corporation business plans be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

[Page 6161]

Mr. Speaker, for the information of the House, the budget will be presented on Tuesday, April 26th, next week.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3244

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

Whereas the First National Community Planning Project has won the prestigious Dubai International Award for Best Practices in Improving the Living Environment; and

Whereas several Nova Scotian First Nations are involved and Pictou Landing First Nation was one of three pilot communities in the Maritime Provinces; and

Whereas Pictou Landing has a new community garden, gas bar, water system and housing and is currently building a health and wellness centre and Chief Ann Francis-Muise of Pictou Landing went to the United Arab Emirates to receive the award on behalf of all the participants;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those involved in making this project a success and bringing this prestigious award to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

[Page 6162]

RESOLUTION NO. 3245

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

Whereas a quarter of a century ago this May, a Canadian hero travelled our highways as part of his Marathon of Hope; and

Whereas 21-year-old Terry Fox began his run in Newfoundland and then crossed our province, running 26 miles a day to meet his goal of raising a dollar for every Canadian to support cancer research; and

Whereas after passing through Dartmouth, Terry logged the following comment in a journal: "I ran to the vocational school here with fifty students. I ran about a mile. They had raised about $3,000. What a great group of kids! . . .", a wonderful example of the positive human spirit that welcomed Terry along his trek;

Therefore be it resolved that all members recognize the phenomenal legacy of this understated individual who, while unable to personally finish his marathon, he continues to offer countless others hope through his courage and through the work of the Terry Fox Foundation - a true hero to all, who will forever be in our hearts.

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 Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to do an introduction before my resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today I have a resident of the Northside of Cape Breton, he has been here, Mr. Tom Vickers, he works for Canada Post but he's

[Page 6163]

actually the Chairman for District 1 for the Nova Scotia Credit Union. He has been observing the proceedings the last couple of afternoons and I think enjoying them. Tom if you would stand and receive the warm welcome of the House today. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 3246

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality recently unveiled the prototype for its new MetroLink Bus Rapid Transit vehicle; and

Whereas once MetroLink begins its limited-stop service between the urban core and Sackville and Cole Harbour, it's expected that there will be a 750,000 kg reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2007; and

Whereas the Department of Energy is pleased to support this project, which includes the addition of bike racks on the new buses, the extension of existing bike paths and the development of new paths to MetroLink terminals;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Halifax Regional Municipality for their MetroLink project and the positive effect it will have on lessening Nova Scotia's greenhouse gas emissions.

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 and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3247

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

[Page 6164]

Whereas on Friday, April 22nd, the Central Nova Tourist Association's annual banquet will be held with awards presented to outstanding tourism operators in this region; and

Whereas these awards provide extra motivation as tourism operators prepare for another season of visitors to our province and it is important to pay tribute to the hard work of the province's tourism operators; and

Whereas government values the partnership it has with the Central Nova Tourist Association and the other six regional associations for working with local stakeholders on tourism development, visitor information and marketing initiatives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the Central Nova Tourist Association as it celebrates 25 years of promoting tourism in central Nova Scotia and to wish them a successful year in 2005.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3248

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

Whereas on Sunday, July 10, 2005, over 100 sailboats will depart from the Boston Yacht Club for the historic Marblehead to Halifax ocean race; and

Whereas this year's biennial ocean race marks the 100th Anniversary of the Marblehead to Halifax race; and

Whereas the race will be a tremendous tourism boon to Halifax and Nova Scotia as North America's oldest yacht club, the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, as well Halifax's historic waterfront will host the over 800 sailors involved;

[Page 6165]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the efforts of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and the Boston Yacht Club, another outstanding example of our relationship with our neighbours in New England, and wish all those participating in the 100th Anniversary Marblehead to Halifax ocean race good wind and safe seas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3249

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

Whereas on Wednesday, April 20th, Stefan Surette, a native of Ste. Anne du Ruisseau, was the victim of an insurgent ambush in Iraq; and

Whereas Stefan was working in Iraq with a private security firm, making his contribution to restoring democracy in the region; and

Whereas Stefan has served, first with the Canadian Armed Forces, then with the British, in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, and had achieved the rank of master corporal;

Therefore be it resolved that the House join me in sending its condolences to Stefan's mother, Elaine; father, Ray; sister, Jennifer; grandparents and many aunts, uncles and relatives, many of whom who are still in the Yarmouth County area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6166]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 161 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 438 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Special Places Protection Act. (Hon. Kerry Morash)

Bill No. 162 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 380 of the Acts of 1989. The Public Utilities Act. (Hon. Cecil Clarke)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3250

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

Whereas Victor Penny, a long-time resident of Eastern Passage, was born on April 28, 1915, in Bridgewater; and

Whereas Victor and his wife raised five children and were the foster parents to well over 200 foster children over a number of decades; and

Whereas Victor and his family and friends will be celebrating his 90th birthday on April 23, 2005, at the Lions Club in Eastern Passage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Victor Penny on his 90th birthday, recognize his valuable service to his community and the province throughout his life, and wish him many more years of good health and happiness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6167]

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3251

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

Whereas the federal budget contains provisions to honour and implement the recently signed $830 million Atlantic Accord that will give Nova Scotians the full benefits from our offshore; and

Whereas the federal budget also includes $600 million in gas taxes for Canadian municipalities, which would bring the Halifax Regional Municipality alone $8 million; and

Whereas the federal budget also includes major investments in child care that will bring much-needed relief and support to Nova Scotia families and day care centres;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly call upon all federal Parties to support the federal budget so that Nova Scotians can enjoy the full benefits of our offshore, money for our municipalities and money for Nova Scotia families.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 6168]

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3252

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our colleague, our friend, the proud MLA for Cumberland South, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas today, April 21, 2005, Jeremy Scott, the son of Linda and Murray Scott, will marry Richelle Coombs, daughter of Colleen and Wayne Clancy; and

Whereas the happy couple are to be wed in Cancun, Mexico; and

Whereas the entire family is delighted that this event is taking place today, especially Richelle and Jeremy's son, two-year-old Tucker, and of course, the proud grandparents' grandson;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Richelle and Jeremy as they continue on life's journey together and wish them many years of health and happiness.

I would like to advise all members that this weekend there's a big bash taking place in Cape Breton to celebrate the occasion.

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. Thank you. (Applause)

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3253

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

[Page 6169]

Whereas volunteerism is a calling that is answered by the finest in the land; and

Whereas volunteer fire departments require a dedicated support system to be able to function well; and

Whereas Mrs. Ellen Laffin has helped provide that support for 20 years with the Noel and District Ladies Auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mrs. Ellen Laffin for her commitment to her 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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 3254

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

Whereas yesterday the community of Ste. Anne du Ruisseau lost one of their finest, Stefan Surette; and

Whereas Mr. Surette was described as a warm and adventurous individual and spent his days protecting election and government officials in Iraq; and

Whereas his death has touched people from across the province and has reminded us of the violence that continues in other parts of the world and the amazing individuals who put their lives at risk every day to help others;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of Stefan Surette.

[Page 6170]

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 3255

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore lobster fishery started on April 20th and will run until June 20th; and

Whereas the hard-working people of the Eastern Shore lobster fishery are very important to our local economy and the labour force; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore involves provincial areas 31 and 32, from Three Fathom Harbour to Canso;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in wishing the men and women who work in the Eastern Shore lobster fishery a safe and bountiful season.

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 6171]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3256

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

Whereas Education Week 2005 began with an awards ceremony at Pier 21 recognizing the accomplishments of many of our history teachers and four educational partners; and

Whereas one of those history teachers was Greg King from Prince Andrew High School who has immersed his students in many outstanding enrichment experiences, including his own version of the famous TV show the Antiques Roadshow; and

Whereas in Greg's 33 years as a teacher, he has provided his students with fun learning experiences while still managing to include all the necessary basics;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature thank Greg King for doing an exceptional job as a history teacher and congratulate him on receiving an award at the 2005 Education Week awards ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3257

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

Whereas Avon Foods in Berwick will be closing its doors in August, once again demonstrating the neglect of rural Nova Scotia by this government; and

[Page 6172]

Whereas Avon Foods is among a number of failures by this government, including Snair's Bakery in Chester and Britex in the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas this government seems content to allow rural Nova Scotia to wither;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature urge the Tory Government to finally address job losses and rural depopulation instead of the continued pattern of half measures and neglect.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3258

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

Whereas the Christian band, Men of Faith, released its first CD at a concert in Sydney River on April 3, 2005, before an audience of 800 people; and

Whereas Men of Faith is a group of local talents, namely John Fukala , Dennis Miller, Dan Lahey, Gary Vassallo and Arthur MacDonald; and

Whereas the tenor of this CD is ecumenical in nature;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Men of Faith on the successful release of their CD.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6173]

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3259

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

Whereas the Sir Charles Tupper School has operated since 1929, first as a Grade 1 to 8 school and now as a Primary to Grade 6 school; and

Whereas Sir Charles Tupper, for whom the school was named, was a champion of public education; and

Whereas Sir Charles Tupper School is a shining example of a successful, small, neighbourhood school, which should be celebrated for this achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the students, former students, staff, and former staff of Sir Charles Tupper School on the 75th Anniversary of its operation in Halifax, and recognize the important role the school has played in so many lives since 1929.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 6174]

RESOLUTION NO. 3260

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

Whereas roads in rural communities serve as a necessary lifeline ensuring the safe and efficient transport of people, product and visitors; and

Whereas the Weymouth Mills Road in the constituency of Digby-Annapolis has deteriorated to the point where there are so many pieces of broken pavement that it's becoming a driving hazard, and many other roads in that constituency are not far behind this one; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works resorts to groundhogs, polls, and geological shifts as excuses for his neglect;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works stop making excuses and commit to a day-long tour of the Weymouth Mills Road and other roads in the constituency of Digby-Annapolis to experience, himself, the challenges residents experience on a daily basis.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3261

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 House of Commons unanimously passed a resolution yesterday, introduced by Manitoba MP and Conservative Health Critic Stephen Fletcher, that would see immediate compensation paid out to the forgotten victims of the tainted blood fiasco; and

[Page 6175]

Whereas the motion calls for compensation for people infected with Hepatitis C before 1986 or after 1990; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians have been victimized by the time period now in place which prevented payment of any kind to them;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the desire and action put forward yesterday in Parliament that should see an end to the injustice which has been inflicted upon so many Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3262

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

Whereas the Northwest Arm has played a major role in the development of Halifax and its shores have seen some of the events which shaped North America; and

Whereas the Northwest Arm is a narrow body of water which adds greatly to the charm of Halifax and to controlling traffic flow on the peninsula; and

Whereas the Arm, like other bodies of salt water all along the coast of Nova Scotia, is now threatened by landowners dumping fill in its waters to extend their properties;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Minister of Service Nova Scotia to take a leadership role in bringing together federal, provincial, and municipal jurisdictions towards a coordinated effort in the protection of the Northwest Arm and its traditional points of public access.

[Page 6176]

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3263

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

Whereas the residents of Pictou County must ride the roller coaster known as Highway 256 between Scotsburn and Lyons Brook; and

Whereas the Liberal caucus is drawing attention to their plight by featuring their highway as Neglected Road of the Week on the caucus Web site; and

Whereas the Premier, in this House, on Monday confirmed he has recently driven that road and stated that the road needs some work;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Premier to look to his left and inform his Minister of Transportation and Public Works to work on it.

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 Pictou East.

[Page 6177]

RESOLUTION NO. 3264

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

Whereas the Churchville Women's Institute in Pictou County is a community group with many talented individuals who have a wealth of information on how to better serve their community; and

Whereas the Churchville Women's Institute recently completed a quilt in memory of the late Jean MacDonald who had made a variety of quilt patches prior to her death; and

Whereas upon completion of this quilt, the Churchville Women's Institute donated the finished product to Tearmann House;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend the exceptional work by community organizations such as the Churchville Women's Institute, and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3265

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

Whereas volunteer firefighters have to be prepared for anything, anywhere at any time; and

[Page 6178]

Whereas the Pictou Fire Department has been putting a strong emphasis on good training including simulation in dark buildings and water drafting from the harbour in case of a port or ship fire; and

Whereas several members are in the process of becoming Level I certified, and the department works closely with the Pictou County Firefighters Association;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulates Chief Stephen MacKenzie and all firefighters in the Pictou Fire Department for their commitment of time to training and dedication to their community, and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3266

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's old growth forest now represents only 0.0008 of the forest cover, and there is a small portion in the Blandford Wildlife Sanctuary; and

Whereas wilderness areas like the Blandford Wildlife Sanctuary have an important role to play in the province's ecological balance; and

Whereas residents are speaking loud and clear that the Tory Government were wrong to place Blandford on the de-designation list;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature urge the Tory Government to maintain the Blandford Wildlife Sanctuary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 6179]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3267

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has always played a predominant role in the military operations of Canada; and

Whereas plans are now underway for Halifax to become the staging area for the military's challenging new plan, to dispatch on 10 days notice 800 troops anywhere in the world; and

Whereas the Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic believes HRM can expect to see more people and more activity as the military prepares to hire 5,000 additional full-time soldiers, purchase new heavy-lift helicopters and a new amphibious ship which will be able to carry a battalion and equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the valuable role played by Canada's Armed Forces in Nova Scotia's capital city.

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.

[Page 6180]

RESOLUTION NO. 3268

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

Whereas 1,552 Canadians finished the 2005 Boston Marathon April 18th; and

Whereas the 17 participants from Dartmouth included four from Dartmouth South-Portland Valley; and

Whereas these four runners all finished the full 42 kilometres with very respectable times;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Joe Murphy, Dena Murphy, Emily MacDonald and Gordon Kiley for their remarkable feat in running the 2005 Boston Marathon.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 3269

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

Whereas the NDP claims that its plan to eliminate the HST on home heating oil will benefit low-income families, but the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says that the big winners here would be landlords and owners of large homes; and

[Page 6181]

Whereas the CCPA study asserts that the NDP plan will also harm the environment by acting as a disincentive to conserve fuel; and

Whereas the NDP position is anti-Kyoto, anti-tenant, pro-landlord and pro large homeowner;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House renew their commitment to helping low-income families and effectively supporting clean air incentives.

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. 3270

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

Whereas Mountain Lake Resources Inc., situated in the Village of Port Williams, has undertaken exploratory diamond drilling in Northern Ontario; and

Whereas Mountain Lake Resources Inc. in an earlier drilling program in Hong Kong tested seven sites identified as favourable for nickel and platinum-palladium mineralization; and

Whereas Mountain Lake Resources Inc. is using air and ground exploration methods in their test drilling exploration;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mountain Lake Resources Inc. and President and CEO Allen Shieto for their exploration quests and wish them every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 6182]

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 3271

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

Whereas the Parent 'n' Tot Meeting Place provides a valuable resource for Fairview families, particularly single parents and those with low or modest incomes; and

Whereas Karla Firth-Tessier has for several years served capably and effectively as Parent 'n' Tot's Executive Director; and

Whereas all associated with the centre were sad to learn this week that Karla will be leaving the centre, but glad she's staying close by as the new Director of the Bayers-Westwood Family Resource Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature thank Karla Firth-Tessier for her service to the Parent 'n' Tot Meeting Place in the Fairview community and wish her every success in her new position at Bayers-Westwood.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

[Page 6183]

RESOLUTION NO. 3272

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

Whereas the community of Clare is very proud of its dedicated volunteers; and

Whereas this year, the Clare community has selected one of its outstanding citizens as Volunteer of the Year, and this individual has given much in the way of time and energy to various organizations; and

Whereas through this individual's genuine warmth and care towards others he has become a valuable asset to the organization that he is involved in;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend its best wishes and congratulations to Cecil Comeau of St. Alphonse for his outstanding contributions to his 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3273

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

Whereas four Truro area men, Gary Saunders, Bob Burgess, Ed Bailey and Russell McNally, have been inducted into the Nova Scotia Forestry Hall of Fame for their profound contributions to research, development and knowledge of the forests of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Gary Saunders was a writer, educator and artist for the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, who continues to write to instill a respect for nature; Bob Burgess is a former chief forester and former deputy minister of that department; Ed Bailey

[Page 6184]

is a former director of forest research and planning for that department; and Russell McNally is a former supervisor of forest research and development for the same department; and

Whereas all were honoured by their colleagues during a joint meeting of the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians' Association, the Canadian Institute of Forestry in Nova Scotia and the Registered Professional Foresters' Association of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these four Nova Scotians for the honour which they received and extend our appreciation for their dedication, knowledge and support of forestry practices in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3274

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities is a non-profit organization with a responsibility to achieve recognition of the abilities of people with disabilities so that they may function as equals in our society; and

Whereas NS-LEO is constantly in the forefront of issues of the disabled, often promoting values and recommending ways of enhancing the quality of life for disabled persons; and

Whereas NS-LEO is celebrating its 25th year of advocating for the disabled community;

[Page 6185]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities for the great work it does on behalf of disabled Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, with the House's indulgence I'd like to make an introduction. In the east gallery is a famous musician from the Halifax area who is also the President of the Atlantic Federation of Musicians, Local 571, Mr. John Alphonse of the John Alphonse Band. I urge the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3275

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

Whereas April 17th to April 23rd is a time to reflect on the countless hours and contributions put forward by our volunteers; and

Whereas Terri Lynn Macdonald, a resident of Whitney Pier, who is legally blind, has volunteered at the community police office in Glace Bay for the past six years; and

Whereas Terri Lynn, aside from her general office duties, assists with projects such as bicycle rodeos, fingerprinting and Block Parenting, among many others;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislative Assembly acknowledge the dedication and commitment of Terri Lynn Macdonald to her community, an outstanding volunteer in the true sense of the word.

[Page 6186]

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 3276

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

Whereas for the third year in a row the Sackville Blazers Junior B Men's Hockey team has captured the Don Johnson Cup; and

Whereas the Sackville Blazers defeated the home team, the Strait Pirates, 1-0 in front of a crowd of 1,450 fans at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre; and

Whereas this team won the Don Johnson Cup with new Head Coach Dwight Dempster, former manager of the Sackville Blazers, during their last two victories;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending along congratulations to the Sackville Blazers Junior B Men's Hockey team and Coach Dwight Dempster for their continued success and wish them luck during next year's season.

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 6187]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3277

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia is the advocate for the tourism industry in this province; and

Whereas TIANS is working with its partners to help enhance and grow tourism in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in January 2005, Carol Thorn took over the position of President of TIANS;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly welcome Ms. Thorn to her new position, and wish her and TIANS every success in reaching its goal of 100 per cent revenue growth in the industry by 2012.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3278

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

Whereas the National Cadet Biathlon Championships were recently held in British Columbia; and

Whereas Burke Boutilier is a member of Lunenburg's 39th Neptune Sea Cadets and has attended the national championships two years in a row; and

[Page 6188]

Whereas Burke finished in the top 25 in the individual and sprint competition and 10th in the patrol competition at this year's event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Burke Boutilier on his excellent performance at the National Cadet Biathlon Championships and wish him continued success in future competitions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3279

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

Whereas Kings Road, Sydney River, is a vital component of the National Highway System; and

Whereas 30,000 vehicles per day use this section of the 100-Series Highway; and

Whereas the circumferential section of this highway adjoining the west side of Highway 125 is in a deplorable state;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works investigate and direct departmental staff to undertake the appropriate corrective action.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

[Page 6189]

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:11 p.m. and end at 4:11 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - IWK STRIKE: AVOIDANCE - PLANS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week NSGEU Local 22 voted 94 per cent in favour of rejecting the employer's contract offer. On Tuesday of this week, the provincial conciliator filed his report. Now, this puts over 500 staff at the IWK in a legal strike position in less than two weeks. These employees work in positions such as diagnostic imaging, residential counselling, physiotherapy, and youth mental health. The contract expired on November 2003 and now, 17 months later, negotiations are paralyzed and the march toward a strike in the health care sector has started.

So my question for the Premier is this, Mr. Speaker, what concrete steps is his government taking to avoid a strike at the IWK?

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, certainly we respect the process which is ongoing with respect to negotiations and that is where it should be taken. In addition to that, the usual preparations will be made in case, through the district health authority, and we have every confidence that the appropriate steps will be taken.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in case the Premier isn't aware, I'm going to table a memo to IWK staff dated April 20th from Vice-President Brian McDougall. Now, what this says is what the minister is talking about, the preparations for the strike, because beginning next Wednesday the IWK will start cancelling elective procedures and services in anticipation of a possible strike. So in less than a week families could start getting the news that long-awaited treatment for their children will be cancelled.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier, how can your government sit on the sidelines when vital services of the only children's hospital in Atlantic Canada are at stake?

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

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, we have every confidence in the IWK and the staff there through the district health authority, that they will be able to deal with whatever situation arises. They are prepared if need be with respect to dealing with this issue, but we're all hopeful that negotiations will continue and this issue will be able to be resolved.

[Page 6190]

MR. DEXTER: The fact is, Mr. Speaker, this government tried to avoid addressing issues in the support workers strike for far too long. As recently as yesterday we saw the implications. Services at the IWK could be affected now in less than a week. So my final question to the Premier is, if he will answer it, will he commit today that his government will work with the IWK and the union to find a fair resolution and avoid a strike?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, a strike at the only children's hospital in Nova Scotia is indeed a serious issue, but the collective bargaining process is in place and we expect that the collective bargaining process will be adhered to and honoured. I believe those involved will come to a responsible resolution of the impasse.

[3:15 p.m.]

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

OFFSHORE AGREEMENT: STATUS - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, four years have passed since the Premier's Campaign for Fairness began. Just a few months ago the Premier was patting himself on the back for a job well done. The Premier and his Party celebrated after a deal was signed for $830 million. It looks as though all that money may disappear because the Opposition may pull the plug on the federal budget and force an election. If the federal government falls before the accord is passed, all bets are off. Nova Scotians know the Premier is preparing a budget that will include the benefits of the $830 million. So, my question to the Premier is, what guarantees or assurances can he give Nova Scotians that we will be receiving our $830 million from Ottawa?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question. We have commitments from the Prime Minister of Canada, we have commitments from the Leader of the Conservative Party, Stephen Harper, we have commitments from the New Democratic Party Leader, Jack Layton. Regardless of who forms the next government, if the agreement is not already in place, the agreement will be honoured by the subsequent government.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the federal Progressive Conservative Party took Peter MacKay at his word as well. Stephen Harper is the Leader of the Conservative Party who accused Atlantic Canadians as having a culture of defeat. In the last election he said he would support the Atlantic Accord and he heaped praise on our Premier for signing a deal with Ottawa, yet today it seems as if Mr. Harper has dumped our Premier along with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to establish a new friendship with the Premier of Ontario, agreeing that Ontario needs a new deal along with all other Canadian provinces. Many have read this to mean that Stephen Harper would now scrap the Atlantic Accord that was signed, in favour of new deals for all provinces. So, my question to the Premier is, what IOU has the Premier received either verbally or in writing from Stephen Harper showing his

[Page 6191]

commitment that the Atlantic Accord and Nova Scotia's $830 million will be passed on to us before forcing any federal election?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question because it allows me to assure the members of the House - indeed, all Nova Scotians - that the deal is secure. I have here a letter that I am prepared to table once I have read it. It's dated April 11, 2005 and it's from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Stephen Harper to the Premier of Nova Scotia. It says:

"Dear Premier:

Further to my telephone discussion with you last week, I give you my assurance that the current offshore agreement will be honoured by the next federal Conservative government should an election intervene before it is enacted in law."

and it is signed by Stephen Harper. (Applause)

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, a lot has changed in this country from April 11th to today, April 21st. Stephen Harper's meeting with Dalton McGinty seems to have really changed his mind. Had the Premier tabled the letter dated today or yesterday, I might put a bit more faith in it. But seeing the changes that have taken place by Mr. Harper on that causes some concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know that an IOU from Stephen Harper and the Conservative Harper is worthless when it comes to ensuring that money will get to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member on the question, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this Premier negotiated a deal that didn't even have a clause in it that would bind any future governments to honour the deal which leaves us in the position that we're in today. Again, I ask the Premier, will the Premier call up Peter MacKay, call his Leader Stephen Harper and demand they support the Atlantic Accord so that Nova Scotians can get the money due to them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I fully believe that Nova Scotians understood the text of the letter that I read to members of the House a moment ago, but I want to also reaffirm that while I don't have a letter from the Leader of the New Democratic Party in Ottawa, I have had conversations with him within the last 10 days. He, as well, supports the Atlantic Accord. He, as well, will make sure if he is the next Prime Minister of Canada that he will

[Page 6192]

give us the deal. We have confirmation from the current Prime Minister, the Leader of the Conservative Party, and the Leader of the New Democratic Party in Ottawa - the deal will be delivered. (Applause)

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSISTANCE: STUDENT LOANS - PENALTIES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Now back to the serious part of this endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, in 2001, this Progressive Conservative Government made draconian changes to social assistance. These changes created a punitive system that continues to leave families in poverty. One of the most perplexing changes prohibits single parents from continuing to receive benefits if they qualify to take a loan and attend university to upgrade their education. My question to the Minister of Community Services is this, why did his government create policies to ensure that single parents stay uneducated and living in poverty?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it always gives me great pleasure to speak of the success of the Employment Support and Income Assistance Program. Since we came to office, there are about 20,000 fewer cases on income assistance. With the focus on employment support services, we are investing in clients of income assistance and, through that, they will be able to follow a career, they're getting the self-esteem that they get by having a job, they're moving into the workforce, and we are very pleased with the success of the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is completely out of touch with reality. Once a student loan pays for tuition, books, student fees, there is little money left to cover housing and food for a single parent and his or her children. Child Tax Benefits and HST cheques and part-time work are not enough. I ask the minister, why isn't his government willing to invest in helping single parents break the cycle of poverty?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, we live in Canada where we have a very generous social safety net; perhaps paramount in that social safety net is taking care of our children. Indeed, as the member opposite has just referenced, there are several programs in place to help single parents with children, regardless of whether they want to follow employment or go back to school. Indeed, yes, the National Child Benefit, which in Nova Scotia is particularly focused on low-income families, today it's $263.65 per child. In addition to that we are investing in new public housing to assist low-income families. The member opposite did mention the federal HST rebate, and of course there's subsidized child care, which is worth thousands of dollars to every family on social assistance or low income. All these supports help them achieve their career goals.

[Page 6193]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's another conversation, the inadequacy of the Housing Program and the other programs that he's enumerated. Many of the single parents whom I was referencing aspire to become nurses, teachers, and other professionals that are already in short supply in this province. And it's a win-win situation for the government - the province would save some $40,000 in unpaid benefits in the first four years following graduation and employment, but this government, for some reason, just doesn't seem to see that. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, when will he fix this policy so that single parents are not prevented from attending university and achieving their potential?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing up this subject. It's something that he and his Party have been working hard on for the last few months. I welcome the debate. What I've pointed out is that we try to level the playing field for single parents who want to go to university. I mentioned the National Child Benefit, I mentioned public housing, I mentioned subsidized child care, and I mentioned the HST rebate.

In addition to that, they can then apply, like anybody else who wants to go to university, for an interest-free student loan, $10,800 per student, which is meant to cover not only tuition and books but also their living expenses. So we feel we've covered the cost of children. Mr. Speaker, if you would indulge me one moment before I table this, using a single parent who is taking advantage of those supports that are available in HRM, the after-tax value of those programs is approximately $13,000 for a single parent with one child, approximately $24,000 (Interruptions) Ask me the question so I can finish it.

MR. SPEAKER: Please table the document you read from.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

TPW: MARINE ATLANTIC FUTURE - ADVISORY STUDY

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the federal Minister of Transportation and Public Works now has in his possession the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Future of Marine Atlantic. People in North Sydney fear for their jobs. Could this Minister of Transportation and Public Works indicate to the House what, if any, representations have been made regarding this advisory report by his department?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there have been, to my knowledge, about three phone calls, I believe, plus two letters.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, this government has to lobby the federal government, continually, to ensure that Marine Atlantic jobs are not privatized. Will the minister commit today to opposing the privatization of Marine Atlantic or any part of its service?

[Page 6194]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't think it's part of the mandate of the Province of Nova Scotia to advise the federal government whether or not privatization of any federal activity is in order.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that pointing fingers at the federal government when they do something wrong is the norm for this government. All I'm asking him to do is to ensure that part of the TransCanada Highway that leads to Newfoundland is kept where it is now - and the jobs. All I'm asking this government to do is strongly oppose any privatization. Will the minister use every means at his disposal to ensure the ferry service remains in North Sydney and is not privatized?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted that the honourable member is willing to admit that the federal government is frequently wrong. I will assure him that the continuation of the service between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is maintained and is adequate.

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

GAMING - PROBLEM GAMBLING SPECIALISTS: NUMBER - INCREASE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, today I want to bring a very serious matter to the floor of the House, and I would like to ask this question through you to our Premier. VLT addiction has unfortunately touched many Nova Scotians, some with tragic results. Today I want to assist Sherry Rhyno, a young mother, a widow, and members of the Rhyno family who are in our gallery with the matter of closure as I share with this House the tragic circumstances that led to the suicide of Garnet Rhyno. Garnet, a student of mine from earlier days at Sir John A. Macdonald High School, wrote to Sherry explaining his actions, a copy of which was mailed to the Premier on March 25th.

This family tried to get help to deal with Garnet's addiction, but the immediate help was not available when it was needed. My question to the Premier is, Mr. Premier, there are only five problem gambling specialists in this province, and your government just released its gaming strategy, why didn't you make sure there were more people, right now, immediately, to help problem gamblers such as Garnet Rhyno?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member bringing this very serious issue to the attention of the House. The government is very aware of the significant trials and tribulations of families who are involved in the curse of problem gambling. We are aware that the support mechanisms that have been in place are not adequate. It is one of the reasons that in the upcoming budget, as already has been announced, we'll have significant new funds for the prevention and treatment of addicted gamblers.

[Page 6195]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, Garnet in his letter to Sherry admits his weakness and his sickness and a terrible tragedy resulted. Yet when Sherry was informed of Garnet's death, no officials inquired of a possible connection between his unfortunate passing and a gambling problem. So my question again is to the Premier and to a medical doctor, is it not time for you to insist that statistics from gambling-related suicides be compiled?

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

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Again I appreciate the honourable member's question. The honourable member would be aware, I believe, of the fact that the Chief Medical Examiner of Nova Scotia has indicated that he does not believe that he can scientifically predict the cause of death in those matters and so he had indicated in a letter to me that he was going to discontinue collecting those statistics. That was a decision of the Chief Medical Examiner and not of the government.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, Sherry Rhyno has shown great courage by coming here today. She, her young family of three, the Rhyno family and friends, want assurances that no one else should have to endure this pain. So my question for the Premier is, just this week we learned about cuts to frontline services, what are you going to do to reverse these cuts to help young people such as Sherry Rhyno?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again a question of substance. I'm unsure by the nature of the question exactly what services to which the honourable member is referring. I had made reference in my previous answer to the additional funding that will be announced in the budget for the prevention of gambling addiction and, as well, significant increased funding to provide more treatment for addicted gamblers. I'm unsure from the question asked if those are the support services to which the honourable is making reference or other services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - N. GREENWOOD: WATER - SUPPLY

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the plan to extend safe drinking water to North Greenwood residents was shelved as the local council looked for other options. The province has advanced some money, but not enough to get the project started. The residents of North Greenwood are being held hostage to pay for a problem that they did not cause. The solution here is for the province to advance the funds and then pursue the federal government for cost-sharing and those responsible for the contamination.

[Page 6196]

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, why won't your government take the needed steps to get this project started?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, she's correct, the province has contributed towards this project. In fact, we offered Kings County $290,000 towards the resolution. It was our understanding at the time they were going to receive an additional $290,000 from the federal government and that would enable them to move forward with their own resources to resolve this matter. It's unfortunate the federal government has not fulfilled the commitment that they made to the folks in Greenwood, but we remain at the table with our $290,000 and have it there for them to use.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the municipality needs 60 residents to sign up before they can actually start in on that project and the cost to those residents would be around $3,500 each. I know a lot of people don't have that kind of money in their back pocket. Meanwhile the local Medical Officer of Health, Richard Gould, has warned that drinking water with high levels of perc may increase the risk of liver and kidney damage. In September he did recommend that residents be hooked up to the municipal system as soon as possible. So, my question to the minister is, what is it going to take for your government to make the health and the safety of these residents a priority for you?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would know that the provision of sewer and water is a primary responsibility of the municipalities. However, this government has invested millions of dollars in providing assistance to municipalities for sewer and water, including this particular project. We committed our money very quickly because we understood and recognized the need and we encouraged the federal government and the municipality to work out their differences and provide that service to the constituents that needed it badly.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the contamination of this water has a very long history and part of it is due to your government dropping the ball on these people since 1995 and 2001. It is a serious matter and it's not just the responsibility of the municipality - it's your responsibility. You should not allow the water extension project to be delayed for any reason. So my question again is, when is your government going to step forward and ensure that these people will have access to safe water and that's a simple enough question.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would know that we weren't the government in 1995. However, we understand the need of those folks - that's why we acted, that's why we provided our commitment of $290,000. We understood at the time that the federal government had also committed $290,000. Somehow, that commitment has disappeared and what we would like to see is the federal government fulfill their commitment to that project so the folks in Greenwood would have clean water, what they deserve.

[Page 6197]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

TCH: ATL. FED. OF MUSICIANS - VLTs

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Federation of Musicians has been around for 67 years. In the gallery is John Alphonse who is the President of the Atlantic Federation of Musicians, Local 571. This organization represents approximately 1,000 musicians. I have a letter which I will table for the House written by Mr. Alphonse and I quote in part from it where he says, "As a musician who made his living playing in bars and clubs throughout Nova Scotia from the age of 19 - 35 at least 50 weeks a year every year, I realize that gone are the days when a musician can earn a decent living in these establishments. VLTs changed all that.". My question for the Premier is, why do our musicians have to pull the plug on their instruments because this government won't pull the plug on VLTs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Citadel has come to a conclusion after looking at the evidence that is not in agreement with the conclusion of the government. For example, the government was very interested in the experiences of jurisdictions that attempted to pull the plug on legal VLTs. For example, in the Province of British Columbia, despite the fact that they have a well developed casino network - the source of our information is Sergeant Don Smith of the Vancouver Police. The information he gave to us is the current estimate in British Columbia is 10,000 illegal VLTs. That figure has been used in numerous newspaper articles in the Province of British Columbia.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure that answers any questions that Mr. Alphonse may have put before this House. I can indicate that we have been in touch with the integrated task force in British Columbia since the Premier decides to stray to those other locations and the estimate we have received from law enforcement people in British Columbia suggests that the problem is specifically 200 - 300 illegal VLTs in the Province of British Columbia, if he wants to play that game.

But we're talking here about the musicians in Nova Scotia and VLTs are taking work from our musicians. I suspect, as a musician, the Minister of Tourism and Culture is, or has been himself, a member of the Atlantic Federation of Musicians. It's a sad irony, I would suggest that the minister responsible for helping our problem gamblers is also the minister responsible for supporting and promoting our musicians. It's difficult to reconcile how the minister has also failed problem gambling families, it's inconceivable that he would let musicians down. My question is for the Minister responsible for the Office of Health Promotion - how much longer will you continue to let down both groups?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the government's commitment to the music sector in this strategy has gone well beyond other previous governments. Nova Scotia's first ever music strategy was announced a few years ago, we're in the third year. We have

[Page 6198]

the Juno's coming up later this year. We had the East Coast Music Awards earlier this year in Cape Breton. We are doing many, many things to help the music industry in fact I believe the strategy is a $3 million strategy toward music and it's done with musicians, for musicians. I realize that in the last 10 to15 years there have been challenges in the music industry with respect to live entertainment. Having played in many of those establishments, I know that there have been challenges, but I feel with the changes that we have made with respect to moving forward in our strategy we will be able to meet those challenges head on.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the step that the minister wasn't prepared to take, is that it was VLTs that have contributed substantially to the problems in the music industry here in Nova Scotia. When we think of ourselves as Nova Scotians, when we are thought of proudly by others, we are thought of in terms of how we take care of ourselves, and we're thought of in terms of our great music. The scourge of VLTs is breaking both of those things apart. My question for the Premier is, in light of what has been said by Mr. Alphonse on behalf of the musicians, in light of the problems that VLTs are causing musicians' families in Nova Scotia, how much more of the Nova Scotia fabric will have to be torn apart before he pulls the plug on VLTs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would have you believe that outlawing VLTs gets rid of them, and no evidence supports that. For example, if members of the House were to browse the Web site of the Province of British Columbia, the Minister of the Attorney General in British Columbia, they would get the following information. For example, it says, in the 2004 budget the province highlighted the establishment of an integrated illegal gambling enforcement team in order to investigate all allegations of illegal gambling. This was in response to an earlier recognition and this is a direct quote, "a recognition of the growing availability of illegal Video Lottery Terminals around the province and this will form part of the fight against organized crime." Illegal VLTs introduce organized crime to a province. We are not going to allow that to happen in Nova Scotia.

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

TPW: C.B. CDN. TIRE OUTLET - EXPEDITE

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. It's no secret to this minister and any member of this government that there are serious economic challenges in Cape Breton. In my home community of Cape Breton there are hundreds of former steelworkers and others searching for employment to provide for their families. An opportunity that comes along promising more jobs and economic development opportunities should be embraced by all levels of government. Unfortunately, this minister's department is putting in serious jeopardy, 20 new jobs and over $5 million in construction for a new Canadian Tire Outlet. I'm told that if it weren't for the province's delays a shovel would be dropped in the ground tomorrow. Will this minister step in today and stop the stalling tactics and delays of his departmental staff?

[Page 6199]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the impediments that are (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Have I got the floor, Mr. Speaker? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I know of no impediments that have been placed with regard to the positioning of the Canadian Tire Store that cannot be accommodated.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I seem to know a little bit different. I know 20 jobs may not seem like a big deal to this minister, or to the people of Metro Halifax, but in my home community opportunities like this are few and far between. The tenders have been called. Contracts have been awarded. Cape Breton tradespeople are ready and willing to start the construction. If the shovels don't go in the ground the next few weeks, this project's future is in doubt. The province is stalling over a land assessment matter which seems very odd to me, when other well-known big companies receive millions of dollars in tax breaks, and all the project needs to do to go ahead is a fair land deal assessment. I'm scratching my head. My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, why do we put the value of jobs in Cape Breton behind that of jobs anywhere else in this province?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that jobs in Cape Breton are as important as they are in any other part of the province. I can also assure the honourable member that that project will go forward. There are certain matters that have to be settled, however, they'll be settled in the very near future.

MR. GOSSE: Thank you, Mr. Minister, I'm glad to hear that. I know that you will get involved, hopefully. When it comes to delivering jobs to former steelworkers this government promised - they brought in workers from Quebec. When it comes to new opportunities for construction and full-time jobs for my community, I won't stand by and watch this government fiddle. Mr. Speaker, I'm asking the minister to get involved here today and bring this project on ahead. What guarantees will you give the people of Cape Breton Nova today that this project will go ahead?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite offered an untruth. We did not bring in workers from Quebec to work on the Sydney Steel site.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 6200]

TPW - NORTHWEST ARM DR.: SAFETY IMPROVEMENT - PLAN

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Northwest Arm Drive is a short provincial highway in my constituency which starts at Main Avenue in Fairview and ends at the Old Sambro Road in Spryfield. Over the years this development has grown along the top of Kline Heights, and now with the new Stoneridge Subdivision, more intersections have been added, more vehicles are turning on or off the highway, more people are walking or jogging along the shoulder of the road. This highway is becoming a neighbourhood collector, but it is designed and used as a high-speed highway. To put it bluntly, that road is dangerous. My question to the minister is, what is the minister prepared to do to improve the safety of the people using Northwest Arm Drive?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish I could answer that question, but I can't, quite frankly. However, I can assure the honourable member that if he would give me that particular complaint or the particular concern in writing, I will answer it. I'm not too sure what he's referring to when he's saying high-speed traffic because, in my memory, I think the speed on that particular piece of road is 50 kilometres per hour.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister's recollection, of course, is incorrect. We corresponded on this and the minister might want to refresh his memory from our correspondence. The residents of the new Stoneridge Subdivision have no choice - they have one way to enter or exit their neighbourhood and that is through the intersection of Walter Havill Drive and Northwest Arm Drive. The minister's own staff have informed me that that is the most dangerous intersection in the entire central region. Their accident statistics show that the accident rate at that intersection is double the provincial average. My question to the minister is, will the minister fund improvements to this dangerous intersection in this year's budget - yes or no?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the answer is maybe. If the honourable member will give me a reference, I will take it to my department and come back with an answer. I have not heard of any statistics with regard to accidents in that particular area. In fact, I should point out, I think, to all members of the House, we're very encouraged this year actually with the accident rate. Last year was the worst year we've had for many, many years. This year is the best year we've had for many, many years.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, one Stoneridge resident told me that all he wants to do is to be able to enter or leave his neighbourhood without fearing that he's going to be involved in a collision or that a member of his family is going to be injured or killed- the most dangerous intersection in the entire central region. Mr. Minister, you and I have corresponded on this, so this is not the first time I've brought this to your attention. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister commit today to funding improvements to this dangerous intersection and dangerous stretch of provincial highway?

[Page 6201]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, at the conclusion of Question Period, I will phone across to the department and find out exactly what the opinion of staff is with regard to that intersection and whether or not there is any money in the current operational or capital budgets to accommodate the problem. If the honourable member will stay tuned until after Question Period, I'll provide him with an answer.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - PERC CONTAMINATION: BOWLBY PARK - RESOLVE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, this government is also gambling with the lives of the residents of North Greenwood who have been living with the knowledge that their water is contaminated with PERC for the past nine months. All studies point to the potential long-term health risks associated with this substance, including liver and kidney damage and cancer. This contamination is endangering the health of these residents. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, what are you prepared to do for the residents of the Bowlby Park area in Greenwood to resolve this very serious environmental issue?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question, but I believe the question has been answered previously in this House by the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations with regard to $290,000 that was made available to correct this problem.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, that's a pretty glib answer. Dr. Richard Gould, the medical officer from the Department of Health stated the health risks and made recommendations as to how to deal with this issue as soon as possible, and I'll table that letter. Those measures included taking the shortest showers possible, installing filters in wells - basically limiting exposure to this poisonous substance. The only solution is a central water system. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, will you, on the basis of your role as Environment Minister, act on Dr. Gould's instruction to Dr. Roy Fox and urge Kings County to move this project forward immediately?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly urge that this matter be moved along as quickly as possible. There is no doubt, and there certainly is agreement that there have been tests taken and that there is contamination, and the solution is to ensure that we have municipal water installed.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Minister, the residents are begging for your help, and their representative, George Brushetti is here in the gallery today. He is here because of concern for his family and the residents of this area. They want the Department of Environment and Labour to act immediately because of this threat to long-term health is simply unacceptable. My final question to the minister is, will you meet with George Brushetti after Question

[Page 6202]

Period and give him your assurance that you will do everything possible to get immediate action to ensure clean water for these people?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, the answer is certainly, yes, I will meet and would be very pleased to meet. I would also like to pass this over to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to answer the question.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue, one that the government took seriously back in January when the member opposite brought it to our attention and indicated to us that the federal government was prepared to contribute one-third. We immediately contributed our one-third. In The Mail Star of Tuesday, Liberal Environment Critic and MLA Leo Glavine said the province has done its part financially and it's the county that should come up with extra money to get the project underway - that's two days ago - and I'll table that.

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

HEALTH - COBEQUID COMMUN. HEALTH CTR.: OPENING - TIME FRAME

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. After years and many delays by this government to construct the new Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville, the residents it serves are excited about the ongoing construction. This centre can play an important role in addressing the current problems seen in our emergency departments, especially around the HRM. Overcrowding and excessive wait times are only a couple of problems the new facility could address - that's if this government really wants to address the concerns of Nova Scotians. Will the Premier tell this House when the new Cobequid Community Health Centre opens its doors, will all the beds in the emergency room be utilized to ensure medical care be delivered in a timely fashion to the members it serves?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate the Minister of Health is not in the House today because I'm quite sure he could give a very exact answer to this. What I can say is that the government is very committed to this new and expanded centre that will deliver first class service to the people of that area. I look forward to the day when it's fully operational.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I hope with the Premier's comment, "fully operational" means all beds in the emergency room will be utilized. One of the reasons we are building a new facility is because of the growth seen in the catchment area around the facility. This centre serves a population the size of Prince Edward Island. One important issue with the opening of the new facility is that we have adequate staffing levels so I ask the Premier, with the opening of the new facility will there be an increase in staffing levels, such

[Page 6203]

as nurses and doctors, in order to maximize the number of patients seen in the emergency department at the new Cobequid Community Health Centre?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is not the intention of the government to build a first-class facility and not have it properly staffed.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, that's very encouraging and I'm sure it's encouraging to the residents that use that facility. The Premier and many of the caucus members toured the facility not too long ago and many of the residents that are served by the Cobequid Community Health Centre elected the Minister of Finance, elected the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and the member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank and those residents are wondering why their government MLAs have failed to make the case to the Premier and the Minister of Health to ensure that with the new completion of the new facility that the Cobequid Community Health Centre emergency room will open 24 hours a day. Can the Premier commit to that facility's hours of operation when it opens the new facility in the Fall of 2005?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite and the good people in that part of HRM that the three members referred to in the question proposed by the member opposite are strong advocates that the multi-service centre be completed, be adequately staffed and fulfill all of the medical health requirements that it was designed to do for the community.

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

IMMIGRATION - INT'L STUDENTS: TUITION INCREASE - EFFECT

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we need highly trained immigrants to come and work in Nova Scotia. Frankly, our population is declining. By next year the number of deaths in Nova Scotia will be higher than the number of births. By 2009 it's estimated we will have a shortfall of 50,000 skilled workers in this province. Despite this, the government is discouraging international students, many of whom would stay and work in Nova Scotia, by allowing Dalhousie University to increase its tuition for international students by a whopping 15 per cent in a single year. My question is for the Minister of Immigration, what steps have you taken to offset this unfair gouging of international students by the university?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the member with respect to international students is that shortly after being sworn in, I sent a letter to the federal minister with regard to enhancing their opportunities for working off campus. I've met with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on that issue a few weeks ago. I'm pleased to see that the federal government is going to move forward with regard to that issue. We

[Page 6204]

look forward to continually working with our universities to ensure more opportunities for immigrants coming to study here in Nova Scotia.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, a 15 per cent increase - that's a huge increase for an international undergraduate student. That's enough to force international students away from our province and it runs completely counter to the aims of the immigration strategy which has just been adopted. My question again is, why is the Minister of Immigration content to drive these desirable students away from our shores?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said - in fact, it's one of the top agenda items that we put forward to the federal government with respect to providing opportunities for international students to be able to work off campus. We felt very strongly about that issue and I'm pleased to see that the federal minister and his colleagues have seen fit to move forward on that.

With respect to the tuition question, I believe that would be better appropriately answered by my colleague, the Minister of Education and I will refer it to him.

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the tuition fees are set by the Board of Governors at Dalhousie University. As members in the House would know, we entered into a memorandum of understanding with the 11 institutions in the province to see a cap on the increase of undergraduate tuition fees. We have promised three years of stable funding in the universities. In return, they have promised to reduce expenses. Part of that memorandum of understanding, too, is that they've agreed to work on a credit transfer between community college and universities, as well as to increase the number of members of populations who are under represented.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the answer from both ministers, but you're both missing the point. You're talking about the MOU, you're talking about working off-campus and your talking about credit transfers. I'm talking about high tuition fees that are discouraging students from coming here. I think the message is that both ministers need to work together to make this happen, it's not something that happens from one or the other. We have an immigration strategy, and this is counter to it. I'd like both ministers to do more than dance around the subject. Specifically, and I would like to go back to the Minister of Immigration, will you work with your counterpart, the Minister of Education, to see that the universities try to hold the line on tuition fees for international students?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that the Minister of Education and I work very closely with regard to issues dealing with immigration and post-secondary students. With that, I'll forward it on to the Minister of Education to elaborate on that.

[Page 6205]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think one answer will suffice.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - N.S. WATERWAYS: PROTECTION - LEGISLATE

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Current legislation protecting waterways in Nova Scotia is 20 years old. It has a very narrow focus on public drinking water quality and water course alterations. It does not cover other threats to water quality, such as air pollution, erosion, land drainage and storm sewers. There are not even regulations under the Act. Our waterways are at risk. This is particularly significant for Dartmouth, well recognized as the City of Lakes. My question to the minister is, will you make a commitment today to immediately upgrade legislation, regulations and policies to protect Nova Scotia's waterways?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly have updated policies to ensure that we protect our waterways in the Province of Nova Scotia. There is continuing consultation with the stakeholders involved, and all people in the Province of Nova Scotia, to make sure that we will bring forward amendments to the Environment Act that will be sound and will protect the environment.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ. Scientific knowledge and environmental standards have changed considerably in 20 years, and currently storm drains and land runoffs are dumping pollutants and sediments directly into Dartmouth's waterways, overloading whatever capacity they have to maintain quality and appearance. This is true right across the province. Will the minister commit to tighter controls and higher standards and consequences to lessen the impact of man-made drainage into waterways?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we're continually looking at improving the rules of the road and the regulations that we have in the Province of Nova Scotia, and we appreciate some of these structures are old and have been installed for a long period of time, and we're working with municipalities and others to make sure that they're upgraded and that they meet with current standards.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, let me give you a current example from my constituency of Dartmouth South-Portland Valley. The current and proposed developments around Morris and Russell Lakes in Portland Estates are an example of best intentions not being enough to protect the lakes. The municipality, residents and developers have taken a number of progressive steps to balance lake protection and necessary development, yet streams and storm sewers will continue to feed oil, grease, manure, sentiment and fertilizer into those lakes. I ask the minister, what is his department doing to prevent this from happening?

[Page 6206]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, the department is continually monitoring issues responding to requests to try and ensure that we keep the best possible quality of the environment in the province.

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

TPW - DIGBY-ANNAPOLIS RDS.: PAVING SCHEDULE - DETAILS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Residents of Digby-Annapolis have become increasingly frustrated over the conditions of roads. Most all of our roads are pretty bad, but the Weymouth Mills Road is one example, it has broken up in so many pieces that it has gone to a gravel road. Personally, I've never seen a road broken up this bad before in my life. My question to the minister is, will any of the roads in the Digby-Annapolis be paved or repaired this year?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I imagine that there will be some repairs and some construction in the Digby area.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, our gravel roads have become mud roads because the department has been using low-class gravel for the past seven years. They have done this to save a little money only which will cost us more in the end. The runoff is filling the ditches with mud, so when it rains, the water causes flooding and in turn deterioration to these roads is even worse. Will the minister please indicate whether there will be a change in the quality of gravel purchased for the dirt roads of Digby-Annapolis?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have specific requirements and specs for gravel and far as I know, those standards are being rigidly enforced right across the province. If there is indeed a defective product being provided to the Department of Transportation and Public Works, then the Department of Transportation and Public Works will take action to have it rectified.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, because of the runoff, it's clogging our ditches and the alder bushes are growing and causing visibility problems for drivers. Last year, some money was given to that local department but the people have seen very little done from it. Will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works make a commitment to look into the plan for the removal of alders this year in the Digby-Annapolis area?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the honourable member will be delighted to learn that we are putting more money into the operational budget this year and more money into the capital budget and that will result in an increase in the activities by the Department of Transportation during the Summer construction season.

[Page 6207]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, earlier today in Question Period, the Minister of Community Services tabled what can only be considered a disgraceful attempt to justify the policy of this government which robs people of their future. He attempted to tell the members of this House that among other things, those single parents wishing to attend university could get subsidies in the amount of $3,862.50 for child care. Well, what he didn't say is that those subsidies aren't available because there aren't any more to be had and secondly, you can only get them if you have the additional $3,000 you have to pay on top of that in order to access child care. My question to the minister is, when will he give up with these pathetic justifications for that policy and bring forward a policy which will actually allow single parents to access the university education that will allow them to meet their potential?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as I was speaking to this earlier, I am proud to be a Canadian, I'm proud to be a Nova Scotian. We have a tremendous social safety net in place. That social safety net, which incidentally captured in this letter, was published in The ChronicleHerald and The Daily News. The honourable member did not respond to it at that time and the supports, depending on the number of people in the family, go up to almost $32,000 for a family of three - a single parent from a family of three who wants to attend university. It takes advantage of the social safety net that's available. Mr. Speaker, that is substantial.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, you have about 15 seconds.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the Minister of Education to please explain to the Minister of Community Services which student loans are interest free?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. Maybe the honourable minister will explain it outside.

Order, please. Before we go to Government Business, I would ask the honourable Premier to table documents that he read from earlier when he responded to questions from the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, which documents are we referring to?

MR. SPEAKER: Whatever documents the honourable Premier read from, I would ask you to table those.

THE PREMIER: I tabled the letter from the Leader of the Conservative Party.

[Page 6208]

MR. SPEAKER: I believe it was in response to questions in regard to VLTs from British Columbia.

THE PREMIER: What I read, Mr. Speaker, was an excerpt from the Web site of the Attorney General of the Province of British Columbia.

MR. SPEAKER: If the honourable Premier will table that, please.

THE PREMIER: Okay, well, I'll get a copy.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to introduce to you and to members of the House in the gallery opposite, from Sackville, a constituent of Sackville-Cobequid, Steven Hyland, who is here watching the proceedings of the House. I would ask the members to give him the usual warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Just on a point of order, when I asked the question concerning VLTs, the Premier made reference to, I think, an officer - Don Smith, or someone like that. I'm assuming that he has some material that's outside the Web site that relates to Officer Smith.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the only thing that's required tabling in the House is something that a member actually reads from, not something they refer to. If anybody reads from a document in the House, they are required to table it, if they directly read from it.

MR. GRAHAM: That's understood.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, before I call the business, I would like to respond to the question from the member for Halifax Fairview and just simply tell him that I have no indication that it's the most dangerous intersection in Nova Scotia. However, that intersection is under consideration in the current construction year for improvements. It will depend on the budget and that's the best that I can do.

[Page 6209]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 147.

Bill No. 147 - Youth Justice Act/Motor Vehicle Act.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak for a bit on this piece of legislation. I think last time, on Tuesday, we closed debate right at 5:59 p.m. I just got up and moved adjournment. So I haven't had a chance to really start my comments and I wanted to take some time today.

Mr. Speaker, this is legislation that is in many ways long overdue, but I think it's important that we understand that this is a very small component of a much bigger plan that we have not seen from this government. This government has, until the introduction of this legislation, been very political. It has been very wry at pointing the finger at another level of government - the federal government.

In many ways, Mr. Speaker, that has been based on the fact that the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the federal piece of legislation, frankly, is a piece of legislation that does need changing. But, I think we need to understand that in this province, in this country, you must not only be tough on crime, you must be tough on the causes of crime as well and that is why this legislation addresses a component of that, but it doesn't address the need for this government to have a plan for ensuring that the youth of this province are provided with alternatives because, let's be frank in many cases, what the youth of this province are doing - and you have to beg the question - why are they active in criminal activity, those that are? Why are they stealing vehicles? Why are they joyriding? Why are they street racing? Why are they involved in these activities with motor vehicles that are causing, in some cases, obviously, as we all know, in the McEvoy case, the death of an innocent woman, in the case of other situations passengers in the vehicle, in the case of other situations, the drivers of some of these vehicles. These are situations that are very dangerous.

[Page 6210]

[4:15 p.m.]

It goes back to a simple question, why are the youth of this province doing this? They're no different than they are in New Brunswick or British Columbia or Hawaii or California, this is a problem throughout North America. Maybe it's a problem in other parts of the world as well, I think it's particularly a problem in North America because of our love of the motor vehicle, because of our need, in many cases given the geography of Canada, for motor vehicles. Mr. Speaker, that I think is an issue that needs to really be asked. Why is it that youth are doing this?

Now, there are a lot of answers to that question and I'm not a sociologist or a psychologist but I think we can at least begin to look at that and say a few things. That, in many ways by the time a youth is in a position to commit a crime or commit a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act we've already lost. If they are in a position where they are making those choices then they never clearly did understand that there are consequences to negative activity, that there are consequences to criminal activity. I heard the Minister of Justice today on CBC radio saying that we have to make sure that the youth understand that there are consequences for their activity, criminal activity, violation of provincial offences, they have to understand that there are consequences. I don't disagree.

Our Party supports this legislation because, well, to some extent we suggested it four months ago, this is legislation that we said was necessary because it has to be more than just a federal Act, it has to be a concerted effort on behalf of this province to address the issues that are facing our youth. So consequences need to be understood and those consequences, Madam Speaker, involve us knowing that the youth of this province do make choices and when they make bad choices punishment will occur.

I will say these are very simple and very limited in their approach. Suspending a licence for a greater period of time with a violation of a Criminal Cade offence from two years to five years. Increasing the ability to impound vehicles where there is street racing. These are things our Party suggested back in January and in February and back in the Fall, after the McEvoy matter. This minister, for months was saying it's the federal government, it the Youth Criminal Justice Act that needs to be fixed.

Again, my personal opinion is, having read that legislation, it is the most proscriptive piece of legislation I have seen. It is a piece of legislation that tells police officers and Crown Attorneys and judges what they can and cannot do. These are professionals who should have some flexibility, some ability to do their job. Yet this piece of legislation dictates to them who can go to jail, who can be remanded, waiting for trial and who they have to set free without any conditions. It doesn't give them any flexibility in their job to judge individuals, it lays down rules based on which type of offences. When you provide for proscriptive legislation like that, you are obviously setting yourself up for problems because inherently, in our system, if we don't give some flexibility to the professionals in the justice system, the police officers,

[Page 6211]

the Crown Attorneys, the judges, then, of course, there will be circumstances that come up. So what we did with the Youth Criminal Justice Act we said, only in violent offences will a child, will a youth be able to be remanded in jail or be sentenced to jail. Those are the only circumstances, a violent offence.

Now I understand that there is a theory that that is a good thing. But what happens when it's a property offence like stealing a motor vehicle and joyriding, and people die? Is that a violent offence? Is that a property offence? Well, the federal government when they passed this bill back in 2003, when it finally became law, said, no, that's a property offence. So they won't go to jail if they steal a car. Yet people die when they steal a car, go joyriding, street racing, in car chases, people get killed. So now we're saying and I applaud the minister for going to the federal government as one component saying that that has to be changed.

Well, this legislation is so proscriptive that we found, and people found, loopholes that resulted in death in this province and in other parts of the country. So now we have to fix that. Let's be clear, and I've said this on the record here and in the media, but that's not going to happen tomorrow, that's not going to happen next week. I don't think it will happen next year. This will take a very long period of time, to change the Youth Criminal Justice Act and there's a reason for that, not only that the federal bureaucracy can be cumbersome and it will take a while for it happen, Madam Speaker, but also because we have a very interesting Parliament, where, in my recollection, when that Youth Criminal Justice Act passed, it was actually changed to be less - how would I put it? - reactive, less weighing on the side of punishment, because the members in the Bloc Québécois - and I'm told the culture of Quebec has a very different approach to criminality, a very different approach to rehabilitation - wanted to see a piece of legislation that gave them the ability to rehabilitate as compared to punish.

We can have a debate about that if we wish, but the fact is that in this legislation there were compromises made in Parliament with members of the Bloc Québécois to reflect the culture of Quebec. As a result, we have legislation that does not necessarily reflect the ability to provide consequences to those youths violating that Act. Where does that leave us? Well, in a Confederation, of course, we have to make compromises, we have to reflect the culture of Quebec, we have to reflect the culture of English Canada, Nova Scotia. Maybe this Act made some compromises that have affected, on a very personal basis, people in this province, but we need to actually look at where and what this province can do.

We're in this House, we're not in the federal House of Commons, so we are here to talk about what this province should be doing with regard to youth criminal justice matters. This minister has gone on a speaking tour through the Winter. I heard recently he was in Cape Breton, I believe it was at the annual general meeting of the Minister of Energy, pounding the table, saying that I am tough on justice, I will make sure the youth in this province do not get away with these horrible crimes that they are committing. Yet, this is his answer in this

[Page 6212]

Legislature, this is his answer. This is one tiny component of what needs to be done to address the issue of crime involving youth.

It will address, to some extent, a couple of small points. Street racing is a crime under the Criminal Code. If you do it, your car will be impounded. If you loan your car to someone, if you let your child borrow a car and they do street racing, it can be impounded. That's good. We recommended that, amongst other things. Unfortunately, this minister picked that and forgot about a lot of the other things we've discussed, Madam Speaker.

If you are convicted of a Criminal Code offence, most likely criminal negligence causing injury, criminal negligence causing death, maybe manslaughter, depending on the circumstances, reckless driving, dangerous driving - I get them mixed up, which one is motor vehicle and which one is criminal, but one of those two is Criminal Code - if you commit those offences then you can have higher suspensions of your licence. Again, no problem with that. I support the legislation as far as it goes. The problem is that it does not go far enough. What else are we doing? There are things that can be done.

There are things that can be done to address this issue in a way that ensures that we are not only saying that we are going to punish you if you commit crimes, that there are consequences, that is important, that's the tough-on-crime component. But this government has forgotten the tough-on-causes-of-crime component, and it is four-square in their responsibility. Under the Constitution, the federal government deals with criminal matters; this province deals with health, civil rights, property rights. They deal with the things that we can do to ensure that our children, our youth don't get in those circumstances, Madam Speaker, and there's a long list of them. Let's talk a little bit about some of them.

Let's talk about the fact that youth in this province do not have good opportunity to access mental health services. I know in my own riding where I've had mothers come into my office with eight-year-old children who have been kicked out of school because of behavioural problems, yet they cannot get the services they need. That eight-year-old child who cannot get the help that that child needs, an eight-year-old, kicked out of school for the year, because that child cannot be controlled in the classroom. Clearly that child has issues - mental health issues, behavioural issues - that need to be addressed.

Instead of addressing them at eight, we wait until they're 12, and at 12 - and this is a good example because I had another child, I had people in the community come to me because I had a 12-year-old in my riding who was doing some serious damage in the community, property damage, again. I remember going to the police officers and saying, well if and when he does this again - and he did do it again - you release him with conditions, conditions of a curfew, conditions that would ensure that that child would at least have some parametres put on him so he'll understand that there are consequences for property offences, and then if it happens, breaching those orders, you have that power to do things.

[Page 6213]

Well they came back to me and said that would have worked fine under the Young Offenders Act. I can't believe people actually think in the Young Offenders Act, they dream of the days of the Young Offenders Act, because the Young Offenders Act actually gave the police, Crown and judges more power than this Act does.

Under the Young Offenders Act they would have been able to take that 12-year-old child who committed a property offence, who was wreaking havoc throughout a community, they would have been able to arrest, provide conditions like curfew, keeping the peace, staying away from certain individuals, release him back into the community and if the child violated those orders they'd have powers to fix that too.

But under this Youth Criminal Justice Act, Madam Speaker, this piece of legislation, they can't even do that. In a property offence he has to be released without conditions. No curfew, no keeping the peace. No ability to say that that child has to stay away from other people or other certain locations. Clearly, that eight-year-old child who doesn't get the mental health help becomes the 12-year-old child who is showing symptoms, no longer just behavioral problems acting out in class, now some serious property offences. That's the 15-year-old child who's then stealing vehicles and becoming violent. So you see a pattern? It takes years, yes, but that eight-year-old child, when I have the mother in my office saying, I need help, my child isn't getting the help they need, becomes the 12-year-old child who is acting out and police hands are handcuffed - pardon the pun - from being able to do anything and that becomes the 15-year-old child who commits crimes that end up, in some circumstances, unfortunately, with people dying.

Madam Speaker, that is the chronology of what's happening unless this government does something about it, and this piece of legislation, as I said, is one tiny cog in that machinery that can help ensure that our youth don't end up at 15 and 16 making bad choices that result in criminal activity or motor vehicle violations that end up, unfortunately, having people die.

Madam Speaker, there are other things that can be done. I talked about mental health services that need to be beefed up. I don't hear that from this Minister of Justice. I don't hear that from this government. What about recreational services? It's broad ranging. I have a community that's developing, a community that has practically tripled in population in the past 15 years, 20 years, so I can go through new subdivisions in my community and when I was elected in 1998 there were a lot of young children in there. Well those children are now reaching 12 and 13 years of age, and there's nowhere for them to go. There are no recreational services. Quite frankly, there's not a spare piece of land because of the planning that we allow cities to do because we have a Municipal Government Act that allowed them to do it, resulting in no green space for our children, resulting in no parks for our children, so that they have no place to go for recreation. They don't have the ability to pay for basketball because we have a piece of legislation the government hasn't even proclaimed that would allow basketball courts in schools to be free for them in the evenings.

[Page 6214]

We don't have legislation that ensures that there's more green space for our children. We don't have a program to ensure that our children can afford to ensure that organized sports like baseball or soccer or hockey or basketball are cost-effective, are cheap enough, so that those who need it can actually access it. They're the kids who are at risk. The ones who come from families who maybe aren't making so much money, they can't afford hockey, they can't afford basketball, they can't afford to go to the mall every Friday. They can't afford to use the bus in any many cases to go to places where maybe they could access those services.

Those are the children who are at risk of causing the concerns that this minster likes to yell about and say he's going to get tough with, but if we actually invested in those children when they were two, five, eight, 10 or 12, we may not be in the circumstances we are today, where we have to ensure that we're going to suspend their licence, we're going to impound their car. We're going to demand a new Youth Criminal Justice Act.

[4:30 p.m.]

Every child should have that opportunity, Madam Speaker, to know early on what the consequences are and that if you make bad decisions there are consequences. This is a very personal issue for me because I have a four-year-old daughter who is, I must say, in this stage in life, she'll be four in May, but I see at this age, she's a rambunctious one, I like to say the devil is in her because she challenges us in a way our first son never did, but we've said to ourselves if we don't nip this in the bud now, if she does not at the age of three and four understand that you get rewarded for good behaviour and there is punishment and consequences for bad behaviour, we know what the problems will be later in life.

That is something I hope everyone would understand, but I suspect that isn't the case, and the government has to have a role to play in that, from parenting skills, from - you brought in a bill, Madam Speaker, about fetal alcohol syndrome. There's education that must be done for women who are pregnant, and for couples and expectant fathers on their role to play in the lives of their children. These are things that start after conception, before birth, when a child is born. This government is redoing things from birth to five years before they go to school to ensure they have the services to help that family.

We need early childhood intervention, we need early childhood education. We need to talk about the fact that there's money being put into a daycare system in this province, yet we don't know - and maybe we'll find in the budget, but I have a suspicion this government isn't committed to accessible daycare where those children would have the ability to have educational services, supports - and the parents - so that they would be able to ensure their children are given the opportunity to succeed in life. These are things that start early in life.

Then, when we identify those children that are at risk - there's still going to be children at risk, but when we identify them we provide them with the support, the mental

[Page 6215]

health services they need, the education, we provide them with what they need to understand consequences for their actions - good and bad. It starts at such an early age, and yet this government only wants to talk about what we're going to do with 15- and 16- and 17-year olds who commit criminal activity and the punishment under the Motor Vehicle Act they will have to incur. Again, what is this government doing to not only be tough on crime, but to be tough on the causes of crime?

Last Wednesday I had an opportunity in my community to have a group called YACPAC, which is short for Youth and Community Partnership Against Crime. This is a group we set up in the Eastern Passage, Cow Bay, Shearwater area and we set it up because there have been a few - it's a very safe community and I think that's important to put on the record, I know in my seven years as an MLA and living in that community since I was born in 1966, that is a very safe community with a very low crime rate for a community that's larger than New Glasgow or Yarmouth or Bridgewater. But we do recognize that there are no services for our youth in that community, that they have been let down by HRM, by the province, by the federal government.

I was at this conference last Wednesday where they talked about the fact that there needs to be a real understanding that we can't only talk about the punishment, that we have to talk about services for youth. I remember being involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs, and they used to have a saying back then - I think I've used this in the House before - that adolescents, that youth are at an age where they're going to experiment and the question is, are we going to give them positive experiences to experiment with or are we going to allow them to experiment with negative experiences that result in criminal activity? It's up to us to provide them with those positive alternatives that are going to give them a chance to do things that are going to enrich their lives and not destroy their lives and the lives of others.

What I heard at this conference, and the buzzing around that people were talking about - we brought people around from the community to talk about solutions, crime prevention, and we talked about what services we needed for youth, the fact that we need a new teen health clinic in the community, we need more recreational facilities - not only organized sports, but also things like a drop-in centre or a skateboard park or a CAP Centre where they have an opportunity to hang out. They need a place where they know they can hang out, be safe and not be under the influence of others who are maybe going to lead them in a certain direction.

I know there are always going to be bad apples, but the question is, how do we ensure that those youth have both competitive and non-competitive recreational opportunities? In a community of 13,000, like Eastern Passage, there are almost none. We, as a community, are starting to say we can't just wait for the government to solve our problems because, God knows, this government isn't going to do it. We have to start taking back our community and doing it ourselves, and I applaud the people of Eastern Passage and the committee at YACPAC for doing that.

[Page 6216]

But the fact is they shouldn't have to do it on their own. There are certain things we can't do - raising millions of dollars for drop-in centres and skateboard parks and rinks and pools is a lot. We need to know that this government is committed, has a plan with regard to competitive and non-competitive recreational facilities so our children and youth have something they can actually do on Friday nights, on Saturday afternoons, so they have a place to go, a place to hang out. That's all they're asking for, we just did a needs assessment. Yakpak funded a needs assessment with the support of the Community Mobilization Program, a federal program, and that needs assessment talked about the fact that we have a situation where youth are just saying, we want a place to hang out. That's all, it's that simple, a place they can call their own, put their feet up, not be yelled at, told to move on. They can put their feet up, they can play music, play video games, you know, these are simple things. I see the Minister of Health Promotion, he knows full well, as a physical education teacher before he came here, that these sorts of things are necessary.

All I can say is, I hope that the government is listening enough to understand that the big picture has to be more than just a simple piece of legislation to say, we're tough on those criminals. There has to be more for our youth to ensure that they have the opportunities, that they are provided with the educational resources and health resources so that they make proper choices, the facilities so that they are given opportunities in the community that are positive, not negative. And yes, if there's still criminal activity in those circumstances, that they understand that there are consequences for that.

As far as this bill goes, I support it, but it goes nowhere near enough. We're just hitting the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more that needs to be done for our communities, for our youth, for people like Mrs. McEvoy. She was unfortunate enough to be in a car and happening to be driving through that intersection when she was hit by that boy who stole the vehicle and went joyriding. But the fact is, we all have to ask why that boy was there, why that boy was in that car. Now, does he understand the consequences? Sure. With this legislation, he might think before he got into that car and stole it and said, I'm going to lose my licence - I don't even know if he had a licence. That vehicle may be impounded. You're going to hear from the member for Sackville-Cobequid who had very similar incidences in his riding.

Frankly, the fact is, Madam Speaker, a lot of what had to be done had to happen years before that boy was 15 and decided to make that choice. Had he been provided with the services, had he been provided with the help - and let's be clear, the mother of that boy has been in the media saying, I cried for help, I begged for help, and no one was listening. I've seen them come into my office and do the same thing and when I try to get this government to recognize that there is a need for those services, I don't hear it, I don't see what they're doing. They want to talk about the tough on crime, but they don't want to talk about causes of crime that actually are the result of these crimes. If that investment was made, we would have better communities, we would have healthier communities.

[Page 6217]

I don't only want to talk about criminal activity, let's talk about the fact that today in the paper it talked about the obesity rate in this country for youth. These are all things that are to the benefit of our communities, for the betterment of our communities. Yet we have a situation where this government continues to not proclaim legislation that allows our schools to be open, for free, that we do not have a plan on recreational facilities for our communities, we do not have a plan, investment, from this government to ensure that we have more green space while we're planning our communities, so that our youth have places to run, to play, to hang out. Instead, we just have a government that wants to say every piece of land is for sale, put up a house, no tot lots, very little space, no recreational facilities, kids have nowhere to go, they're bored, they end up hanging around with the wrong kids, and we're surprised that this happens? Frankly, the lack of investment of this government and other governments in the past 15 to 20 years in the recreation, education and health of our youth is the reason why we have the situation we have today, whether it's swarmings, whether it's vehicular crimes: joyriding, street racing.

Again, we're not going to fix all of it, but there's so much that can be addressed with a little investment on those causes of crime. Yet this government and this minister want to talk about the tip of the iceberg, this one little piece of legislation. He's claiming it's going to solve all the problems. Frankly, he was happy to point the finger at the federal government, if we didn't say you have to do more. So where we said there's a whole litany of things you must do, including this, he said, well, I'll take that, and then maybe the newspapers and the televisions will show I'm being tough on crime, and everyone will be happy, everyone can go back to their dinner, and we won't have to worry about it.

Well, Madam Speaker, this problem is going to continue and continue and continue because the Youth Criminal Justice Act is not going to be amended today, it's not going to be amended tomorrow and for all we know, it may never be amended. As a result, we need to look at what we, as a province, can do to ensure, yes, improving the Motor Vehicle Act is something that I support; increasing the suspensions for those who commit criminal offences with vehicles, allowing impounding of vehicles where youth are involved in street racing. Those are only a tiny fraction of what must be done for our youth, there is so much more - tough on the causes of crime, tough on crime. This minister only understands half that equation.

He's only seeing half the picture, Madam Speaker, and until this government is willing to understand that investing in our youth is not a cost but an investment that results in a healthier, better educated, higher skilled, and a much better community, a much better province, we're going to continue to have swarmings, we're going to continue to have children joyriding, street racing, stealing vehicles. This minister knows it and until he and his Cabinet are prepared to actually invest in our youth, this piece of legislation isn't going to solve the problem, and he's not being honest with the people of Nova Scotia if he thinks it will. Thank you.

[Page 6218]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Madam Speaker, it's pleasure to have the opportunity to say a few comments on Bill No. 147 as Justice Critic for our caucus. I'm certainly pleased to see the vast amount of government members who are here to listen to this important debate on their own legislation, and that they recognize the importance of this and the Rules of our House on quorum and everything else, and that they take all that seriously. It's funny, we're only in the first week, but I digress.

Bill No. 147, as I mentioned before, Madam Speaker, is another attempt by this government, as has been pointed out by the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, to deflect Nova Scotia's concerns about security of our communities, the safety of our communities and, more importantly, the health and safety of our youth. This is a government which has repeatedly said that it was going to get tough on crime, it's going to make safer streets, and it was going to deal with the issues of crime rates and violence.

What their answer has been with these kinds of bills is let's create more offences. That's what they've said, let's create more offences. At no point have they yet said what can we do to make investments so that our youth do not commit crime, what services can we offer to them. When the minister made this announcement, that's exactly what my statement was - why bring forward a bill such as Bill No. 147 without being able to say here is a bill, I am creating more offences but, more importantly, I'm also making this investment in the youth of this province to try to work with youth at risk and to try to make sure that they become productive members of our society and that they do not get in trouble with the law.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that our caucus has been speaking on for quite some time. This government continues to send mixed messages. In one instance, in their blue book, they were going to get tough on crime and everything else. The Minister of Justice, I'm sure with lots of pressure from the former Minister of Finance, closed down rural courthouses, closed down rural jails, closed the Shelburne Youth Facility. Although the Shelburne Youth Facility, I believe, is the responsibility of the current Minister of Finance, I'm sure the member for Shelburne hasn't forgotten him for that. So I think that, too, bears the burden of taking out the $1.3 million out of the community of Shelburne.

The question becomes, you saved $1.3 million by closing the Shelburne Youth Facility, how much of that money has been reinvested into programs and into services to help our youth? (Interruption) Soon, very soon is the answer from the minister. Well, it's unfortunate for people like Theresa McEvoy that it wasn't sooner than that. It's too bad of the swarmings that we're hearing here in the city that it wasn't sooner than that for those individuals.

Mr. Speaker, this government has been very big on announcing plans. It has been big on that. Your Health Matters was supposed to be their plan to fix health care. We know

[Page 6219]

health care is still not fixed, but at least they came out with a plan on that. They had an Education summit saying that this was a means of bringing all the stakeholders together to try to hear what the concerns were on education. The question becomes at what point is this government going to turn its mind and say we've got serious issues facing the youth of this province and we need to bring stakeholders together and develop a comprehensive plan. Instead, the Minister of Justice, with his cowboys from Colchester North and Cumberland South, up to Ottawa they go, cowboys up there, telling the Minister of Justice in Ottawa that you have to toughen the laws and put more of our youth in jail.

Now, what kind of leadership is that? Is that Nova Scotia values? Is that what we want in Nova Scotia, to have our Minister of Justice and two government MLAs up in Ottawa, standing arm in arm, demanding that we change the laws to put more of our youth in jail, yet they're not willing to put any money towards programs to assist our youth to try to make them productive members of society. I don't think that's what Nova Scotians want, yet this government simply does not understand that.

[4:45 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, this is the same government that when the Youth Alternative Justice Society appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee, we had to go through the spectacle of watching government members criticizing a government program. The member for Pictou East, I remember, was there criticizing this program, saying alternative justice wasn't any good and we should take these young people and put them straight in jail. What kind of an approach is that? I think he was mocked enough by the media and by Nova Scotians that it doesn't require me to do that again here today.

We've moved as a society, and we're now to the point that lets us work with our youth, if they do get in trouble with the law, to do everything possible to rehabilitate them and to offer them the services required, not only for themselves personally to be able to learn from the error of their ways but more importantly that they're able to do it within their own community and in many ways give back to their community as part of their punishment and as part of their rehabilitation.

We have moved as a society, and I'm pleased to see that we have done that. This government needs to continue on that path by making the necessary investments. I know the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage raised a number of the points that I wanted to raise, and I can tell you that for the most part our young people are bored to death. They are. In our rural communities - I'm sure the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage knows that back in Inverness with the size of his county - young people have nothing to do.

Once upon a time in the Summertime there were ball games and young people would come and watch and all that. That's hard to find these days. There's less and less of that going on. There are fewer and fewer places that youth can go, pick up on their bike and bike to and

[Page 6220]

know that they're going to meet young people there, they're going to do some sort of physical activity or they're going to have a social gathering. I'd be curious whether the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage could tell us just how many of those facilities he has in Inverness. I can tell you that in Richmond County they're few and far between.

The problem is that in big, rural ridings, even though you build one, when you have ridings like Inverness and Richmond, Inverness, to go from one end to the next might take you a couple of hours, Richmond's about an hour and a half with our roads, so even if you put one facility, it's tough to expect that kids are going to get on their bikes, depending on where they live in the riding and be able to attend that facility. Even in his own department of Sport and Recreation, there needs to be a change in the attitudes as well.

The days of building baseball fields for our young people to play on seem to have passed us. More and more of our kids aren't interested in playing baseball, they're more interested in skateboard parks, they're more interested in soccer fields. Soccer fields have certainly grown in popularity. We need to make sure that government is prepared to offer the necessary funding to work with communities and work with young people in the things that interest them.

The federal government has tried over the past number of years to put in programs to hire co-ordinators through HRDC to offer youth programs. The problem is that the funding would only be for so many years, and then it would come to an end. The question is when is this province going to step up to the plate and rather than continuing to have everyone sit here in Halifax, start putting people out in communities, paid for by the government, to be able to work with those communities to have the necessary facilities and the necessary programs to keep our youth involved, to keep them active, and more importantly to keep them safe and keep them healthy? That is what we need to do.

For the government to still not admit that they need a plan to address this, to come forward to this Legislature and ask that we make more offences, and saying, well, this is how I'm going to make your community safer and keep our young people safer, I'm going to create more offences is just not the approach that should be used, and it's not the approach that's going to bring a long-term solution to this problem.

Madam Speaker, I'll give you another example. Again this government talks tough. We had the question put to the minister about Operation Shadow. Now what was Operation Shadow? Operation Shadow was a program started in Sydney and later adopted here in Halifax that would allow police officers to go with probation officers after normal working hours and on weekends to make surprise visits to people who were serving house arrest. Now the idea of why did you need police, well, it wasn't reasonable to expect probation officers to go knocking on doors without notice and without any sort of protection or someone of authority with them. The idea was let's have a police officer attend with them. Let's make sure that if you're serving house arrest that you are living up to the conditions. The minister

[Page 6221]

said it's impossible to ensure 24 hour supervision - no one is asking him to have 24 hour supervision - but when you have cases, when you hear of a gentleman who was found in a bar who was supposed to be on 24 hour house arrest, you've got a problem.

More and more conditional sentences are the way the courts are going. In Nova Scotia they really don't have much choice because this government has closed down most of the jails so there's really not too many places to put them. So while the minister might say on one hand he doesn't like conditional sentences, on the other hand, he certainly hasn't been building any new facilities to meet with his new get tough on crime stance either. There seems to be a bit of a conflicting message coming from the minister.

What was most interesting - well, two things - when he answered about Operation Shadow, he said it was cancelled because of the security concerns for the probation officers. That's a bit confusing because the whole idea of the program was to provide protection for probation officers. But maybe he's concluded that even with a police officer with them, it was still unsafe. Yet, he turns around and says the solution to this is to ask neighbours of people under house arrest to call us and to report on their activities. So, it's unsafe for probation officers, unsafe for probation officers with a police officer, yet the neighbours should step up to the plate and start undertaking these responsibilities.

As I said to the media that may work in rural Nova Scotia - maybe in Richmond County in some of our communities, if we know someone, it's in the paper, someone serving house arrest, it's a small place, people are going to know about it. They see the person driving around late at night or at the bar, they're going to know the person shouldn't be there. But, I ask you Madam Speaker who represents an urban riding, I'm wondering if on your street and on the streets you represent, if everyone's aware of who might be serving house arrest in your own riding? I think the answer is no. I don't think it's a realistic answer and the minister would know that it's not realistic.

How many people here live in apartment buildings? I live in an apartment building up here - how many people in apartment buildings are aware that someone in the unit on whichever floor is supposed to be serving house arrest? It's just not practical and that's certainly not any sort of slight on you, Madam Speaker, that you don't know who your constituents are, but you have a vast riding and a riding that continues to change. Certainly, there's a great amount of people who live in that riding and maybe I'm wrong and you can do like one of my colleagues, Paul MacEwan, who used to be able to recite the civic addresses of his own constituents. If that's the case, I certainly would repeal my statements and maybe you do know your constituents as well as that. But, I don't think that's something that's reasonable to expect here in this province.

We have 70 probation officers who are responsible for supervising over 1,000 files of people who are serving house arrest. We'll get into those figures more, I'm sure, in the

[Page 6222]

weeks ahead. The problem is we get so many conflicting statements coming from this government dealing with the problem of crime, youth crime and youth justice.

On the final point, when I asked about Operation Shadow, what struck me is when the minister stood up - Operation Shadow is basically when people are serving house arrest, for the most part they would be adults. Yet the minister gets up and in his justification says, I've done this for youth crime and I've invested this money in youth crime. What does that have to do with people serving house arrest? This government is obsessed with the issue of youth crime. I would tell you, it is not a good obsession. It is an obsession that goes to the belief of members such as the member for Pictou East in saying, put them all in jail. That's our response. If they're going to do that, they're going to have to start building more jails. There's not really any place to put them.

That's just not an approach Nova Scotians want to see. Nova Scotians want to work with youth who get in trouble with the law and offer them the services to rehabilitate them and make them be contributing members of society. We're all aware of people in our own communities who may have been in trouble with the law when they were younger. They have now grown up, they have their own families and fortunately they were given a second chance and they're now contributing members of society. That's something we should be striving for.

We won't catch them all. That's a fact. We're not asking to catch them all, but we need to look at a long-term plan for the sustainability of our communities - especially in rural areas, here in Metro and in urban areas where there's growing populations - to have our youth to be able to attend facilities, programs, activities that will keep them healthy, safe and keep them as productive members of our society which is what we all want to see take place.

So Bill No. 147 goes towards more accountability for youth who try to use vehicles for racing. It goes towards putting a greater burden, I would argue, on parents, knowing now that if their child - son, daughter, or their nephew - is to take their vehicle and is to engage in racing and in dangerous conduct, they risk having their vehicle impounded and the family car being put away. That's a message that regardless of what government does and regardless of what we say as MLAs, at the end of the day there needs to be also an additional burden placed on parents to accept responsibility for the actions of their children and to do everything possible to try to keep their children out of trouble with the law.

That is difficult, Madam Speaker, because you can have some of the best parents in the world who may still have children who do get in trouble with the law. That is the reality. This is another step in increasing the importance of parents being aware of their children's activities as much as possible.

I close by stating that until this government starts bringing forward these bills that are not being followed up with an announcement of a greater investment to work with the youth of this province, they are falling short once again. We will continue to have the problem of

[Page 6223]

higher crime in this province. We will continue to hear incidents of our youth getting into trouble with the law, and we will continue to see incidents of communities not having the productive young citizens that we would like to see there. That is not what Nova Scotians value in this province. That is not what this province was built on and that is certainly not where we want to see this province go.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Madam Speaker, this is really a very important issue. I think it's one of the most important issues that we've had here on the floor of this House so far this session. I'm hoping that we'll hear a lot of debate about this bill and indeed about the approach that this government is taking to an issue that is of increased public concern here in Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, on the very first day of the House sitting again this session, I introduced a resolution. I'm going to make reference to this resolution briefly. The operative clauses were about the growing public concern about the rash of swarmings involving youth in the metro area. It was about the growing public concern of parents about children's safety in the schools and in the schoolyards of this province where there has been and continues to be bullying. I also made reference to the concern that the government's response to these problems is inadequate and there has been a tendency by this government to deflect attention from its own responsibility to deal with these problems onto looking at the federal government's role, or indeed creating a bit of a vacuum that has meant that municipal governments have attempted, and school boards have attempted to address the issue of youth crime and youth violence by looking at things like bullying fines and curfews, both ideas for which there is very little evidence of their effectiveness in dealing with these problems.

I called on the government in that resolution, Madam Speaker, to show leadership, accept responsibility for its role as government in youth violence prevention by initiating an integrated province-wide youth violence prevention strategy. I was very disappointed when government members made this resolution and were not prepared to entertain accepting responsibility and then shortly after this the minister introduces the bill that's before us now.

I think that the government's response is totally inadequate to what is a very serious problem and one of great public concern. I would like to maybe remind people, some people here who may have heard the minister on the radio this morning, on CBC Radio, following an interview with a young woman whose name is Sarah MacLaren who lives in my constituency who is the Executive Director of the LOVE program here in Nova Scotia. LOVE stands for Leave Out ViolencE and it is a program where people who have been victims of violence, who are perpetrators of violence and who have been affected by violence in various ways, young people have an opportunity to really look for long-term solutions for violent behaviours. Ms. MacLaren raised some very good points and some serious concerns about this government's approach which is so narrow and so limited in its focus. The minister

[Page 6224]

came on afterward and he said, well, we believe, that this is the right approach, we believe that this is the way to address violence. Well, I don't have to remind members of the government that there are people who believe that Elvis is alive, but it doesn't mean that he is alive. The evidence that is required, I think, to support the government's beliefs that this very narrow approach will be effective, is sorrowfully absent. There is no evidence that these measures, in fact, will deal with the increasing incidence of violence and . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm finding it a bit hard to hear the honourable member speak. Thank you.

[5:00 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I want to go back to the very tragic incident of the death of Theresa McEvoy, last Fall. I believe that we as members of this Legislature have a responsibility to ask what happened here and what can we do to prevent this from occurring again?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable member agree to an introduction?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It's not a problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for giving a moment of her time. I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery, certainly a friend of this side of the House for sure and I think all members, the President of the funeral directors association - I believe it's called - of Nova Scotia and a resident of the Port Hawkesbury area, and certainly a strong advocate for those working on the blue team in my particular area. I would ask Mr. John Greene to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, every member here in this Chamber, I believe was saddened at the tragic loss of life of Theresa McEvoy. I believe we all take our responsibilities here very seriously in terms of having to prevent another family from having to deal with the kind of pain and suffering that comes from losing such an important person in their lives as a result of a senseless act. So, it may very well be the case that laws around joyriding and the theft of motor vehicles need to be tightened up and strengthened to reflect the seriousness of what that crime can result in, because automobiles are not toys. They are deadly weapons in the wrong hands and used in the wrong ways.

[Page 6225]

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, we have to go beyond simple solutions to what are very complex problems. We must ask ourselves how it is that that young person or any young person, in fact, becomes so out of control that they're in the situation where they can cause such great harm to others in our community.

The Minister of Community Services will know that I have been writing him, for example, with respect to my concerns about the lack of services for youth in our province, my concern that there has been such a profound lack of planning for the implementation of the Young Offenders Act or the new Youth Justice Act, where we all knew that the federal changes were coming and we all realized that the outcome of those changes would mean more young people with serious behaviour problems, in some cases mental health problems, in some cases addiction problems, living in our community without the ability to remove them from the community into detention or correctional facilities.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how did this province prepare for that event, what resources did we allocate. I'm hearing in my community that we did not prepare ourselves well, and we did not do enough. The outcome is that we have families who plead every day with social workers, with Children's Aid Society, Child Welfare Departments, family physicians and MLAs to get services for young people to help families cope with the behaviours that they simply are unable to deal with on their own. I have yet to hear an adequate response from this government in terms of how they are going to take up this challenge to deal with these problems.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, we really need to look at is we need to look at what kinds of plans this government has with respect to helping parents be the best parents that they can be. There's nobody who starts out on the path of being a parent knowing exactly what's in front of them and how to do everything. Often families need help. There's a program over at the IWK funded by the federal government called Family Help. This program has been operating as a pilot project, kind of a pilot research project in two parts of Nova Scotia. It's been in the Northern District Health Authority region and here in the Capital District Health Authority region.

The idea was to have coaches, have a small group of people, I think around four or five people, trained to provide advice to families through a phone line so that at the very early stages of difficulties that families were encountering with their children, it might be kids who had attention deficit disorder and other kinds of behavioural problems, that right at the outset there be some supports for those families. Families had access to manuals around the appropriate discipline, how to deal with their kids when they act out and they push those parameters.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the funding, the research dollars for this program are now gone. The program, the evaluations are in and they're being demonstrated to be very effective ways of providing support to families at an early stage, yet this government has not committed

[Page 6226]

resources now to make those programs a permanent part of the supports that families can have access to. We need to ask, why is that, and when will we see adequate supports so that kids don't spin further and further out of control?

A child who is completely out of control doesn't go from being normal one day, having good, normal behaviour one day, to being completely out of control and a danger to themselves and others the next day. These are behaviours that progress over a period of time, and all of the research indicates this, that there is a progression from much less harmful behaviour and acting out to very harmful behaviour. What we need is to have the ability and the tools to identify early and intervene early.

Mr. Speaker, this bill in front of us today fails to acknowledge that that is indeed what really needs to happen to do justice, to prevent the kind of tragic death that occurred for the McEvoy family. We need to find ways to intervene earlier and better.

The Americans have, for many years, been looking at youth violence. They have probably more experience with this issue than any other country in the world and one of the things they have found is that if you approach youth violence not only from a justice perspective, but also in terms of health and wellness, that you actually do more to prevent problems in our young people before they even develop - you get in there early and you do good preventive work. I believe this really is something that we must encourage the government to do here in Nova Scotia.

The justice system is one of the most slowly moving systems that exists in government. Any parent will tell you - and any person who does work around dealing with families that want and need support around how to improve their parenting - that one of the very first rules is that you don't discipline a young person, a child, or a youth a week, a month, a year after the behaviour occurs - the most effective form of intervention is immediate intervention. If a child does something that they shouldn't have done and the behaviour is unacceptable, you correct it immediately, you deal with it immediately. Is this the justice system we have in Nova Scotia - or anywhere? Where is the justice system that intervenes and corrects bad behaviour, unacceptable behaviour immediately? It doesn't exist.

This is one of the very real problems that we have if we think that we can deal with youth violence through a justice system, because it is a very, very, very slow-moving system. It's a system where even before a charge can be laid there has to be evidence, there has to be an investigation before you can even say that was an unacceptable thing to happen. To put our faith in a very narrow justice approach to dealing with these serious matters, I think would be very foolhardy and faulty.

What this government in a way is doing is it's creating the impression that it's taking these matters seriously, and it's dealing with them seriously, but it's a facade really.

[Page 6227]

[5:15 p.m.]

We have the secure treatment units in the Truro area and there isn't much treatment, there's no treatment going on, it's a 30-day assessment process. During that time my understanding is that it's very difficult for people to get in there to get an assessment, that quite often there are empty beds in the assessment unit, it's not operating at full capacity. We still have to send young people out-of-province to get adequate services and treatment or we have just abandoned them into the community with their families or with voluntary agencies that are unequipped and poorly resourced to deal with this.

So I guess we really need to ask the Ministers of Justice, Health, Education and Community Services when are they really going to get serious about bringing in a comprehensive integrated approach to dealing with what are very serious matters in our community and stop the piecemeal efforts that have very little evidence attached to their effectiveness and that really create more of a facade that they're trying to do something than will actually have any outcome.

I think that people in this province are ready for a government to really take some bold steps and look at this issue in a much more holistic way, that will attack the problem from the early years when problems first develop in children at a much younger stage, will ensure, for example, that the mental health services that are required are put in place, that there are adequate culturally appropriate services available for families from diverse cultural backgrounds which again, from my perspective representing the constituency of Halifax Needham, is a very serious problem and one that I heard as recently as Wednesday night at a public meeting at the North Branch Library where people talked about the loss of a teen health centre in the North End of Halifax. They talked about the difficulties of families in the African Nova Scotian community in the inner city getting access to timely treatment and services for their children and being able to find people who work in the health care system who have an appreciation of the cultural and the ethnic backgrounds of people from other ethnicities. These are all things that are doable, but you have to, first of all, have the will and the commitment to really take this on and, sadly, I don't see enough of that on the government benches.

I didn't want to take too much of the House time on this, but I did want to lay out a bit more of what I think needs to be done by government to address this issue. I want to say to the government members who are here I'm extremely disappointed that you weren't prepared to support a resolution that would see a much more comprehensive approach to youth violence happen in the province. I can assure you that this is not an issue that I or members of the NDP caucus will be moving away from because it's one that we talk about a lot in our caucus. It's one that we're very committed to seeing some real fundamental change and movement on with respect to public policy and, hopefully, we'll have an opportunity to talk about it and have more debate here on the floor of the House in this session.

[Page 6228]

It'll be interesting to see what kind of resources the government is prepared to commit to improving services for children and youth and families in the budget that will be brought forth next Tuesday. I'm certainly looking forward to scrutinizing that budget to make sure that we do something to reduce wait times for mental health services, way beyond what has been done so far, Mr. Speaker. With those few remarks, I take my seat. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, this matter is one that is on the mind of many Nova Scotians. The matter of youth justice is perhaps on the minds of the McEvoy family more than any other at this particular time, and it's important for us to remember as we contemplate this particular piece of legislation the senselessness with which Theresa McEvoy's life was taken. She is one of many people who have been victims of senselessness at the hands of people who obviously were out of control.

I would like to say at the outset of my comments with respect to this piece of legislation that I don't find these proposals by the government to be at all offensive. I think that they are in keeping with a reasonable approach to this particular problem, but what I would say is that they lack context. Many of the comments that I'm about to make will echo the fine remarks made by my colleagues, the member for Richmond, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and the member for Halifax Chebucto.

To think that we are going to fix people by imposing stiffer penalties is the most shallow mistake that we could make in any system of justice. In Canada we have repeatedly made that mistake over and over. I would urge the government and in particular the Minister of Justice to recognize that if all that is intended by this government is to change the penalty sections of certain provisions, then it is the most superficial, shallow and, I would suggest, opportunistic response to the great challenges that exist in youth justice.

These are supportable initiatives, but they are but a small part of many things that need to happen in our province in order for Nova Scotians to move forward and for our communities, ultimately, to become safer. At the end of the day this is about making our communities safer. We haven't done as good a job in Nova Scotia as we could be doing. It's for a wide variety of reasons.

I was interested to hear the member for Halifax Needham, for example, speak about the importance of a timely response when young people, in particular, get into trouble. As a defence lawyer for many years, Mr. Speaker, I'm quite aware of the challenges that exist in our present system, and I'm also aware of the research that clearly points out that the more timely the response is for a young person, the more effective that response is. We need to find ways, at the very least, to ensure that the system we have in place provides a timely, effective and meaningful response.

[Page 6229]

Now that meaningful response isn't always the big stick. It is sometimes. What we hear more often than anything else from people looking to encourage popularity or to gain favour with the public is that we're going to get tougher, we're going to get tougher on crime is the common mantra that you hear, not just in Nova Scotia but you hear it all across the country with perhaps the exception of Quebec, and I'd like to speak about that in a moment.

Mr. Speaker, the matter of youth justice is something that I have spoken and written about for a long period of time. What I would urge the government to do most of all, if they're interested in communities becoming safer, is to follow the research and not just respond with a visceral reaction to every single incident. To thoughtfully consider what is going to make the communities in Pictou East or in Truro-Bible Hill or in Cumberland or in Yarmouth or in Cape Breton or in Halifax safer. Because if we repeat the mistakes of stigmatizing young people and just pretending that by getting out a bigger stick we're going to make it better and playing into people's fears and increasing the civic disengagement that we have around this problem, then we're going to continue to face the same problems and we're going to have these insidious problems with respect to swarmings. We're going to find ourselves with communities where especially seniors don't feel safe to walk.

I'd like to provide some context to all of this. Back in the early 1900s Canada introduced the Juvenile Delinquents Act and for a period of time it served many purposes. It operated under the phrase "pareus patriae", which just meant that it was a parental type of piece of legislation. There were strong components to the Juvenile Delinquents Act and there were weak components to the Juvenile Delinquents Act. One of the strongest components is that there were often community responses when people came into conflict with the law. It meant that for many young people, once they did something wrong and the police intercepted their activity, the response was a community response, and the involvement of families was central as to whether or not the problem was ultimately resolved.

The problem with the Juvenile Delinquents Act was that it was applied unevenly, and sometimes when young people were stigmatized they were kept for very small charges - like shoplifting - for endless periods of time because the parenting at home wasn't at a standard that was acceptable to the community. So, ultimately, particularly with the onset of the Charter of Rights, it was obvious that many of the protections that young people enjoyed in other countries weren't being realized in Canada and we needed to revise the Juvenile Delinquents Act and in came the Young Offenders Act.

The first discussions about the Young Offenders Act emerged in the 1960s, but it wasn't until the mid-1980s that the Young Offenders Act, that has since been scrapped, was brought before Canadians. We all know what happened to the Young Offenders Act. It became a particularly maligned piece of legislation. Nobody's going to pretend that the Young Offenders Act was a perfect piece of legislation, but let's consider a few things just for a moment as we reflect on the question of punishment and balance in all of this context.

[Page 6230]

No country incarcerates young people more than Canada has historically. For eight of the nine most common offences, young people are incarcerated more than adults in Canada - now I see the puzzled look from some of the members across the way when I make reference to those statistics, but that is a fact of the research with respect to what exists in Canada. The fact of the research is that no country in the western world processes young people through the system more than Canada has.

As we begin again another chapter of criticizing another piece of legislation - which isn't a perfect piece of legislation, and some members in the House would appreciate that I had some involvement in advancing some parts of the initiatives under the Youth Criminal Justice Act - let's make sure we strike a balance. I would suggest the balance involves ensuring that we follow the research as well.

When the Young Offenders Act, which did have problems, was ultimately replaced by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the intention of the new Act was to treat more serious offences seriously and to ensure that we find a more constructive response to the problems of youth crime, particularly at the low end. For Canadians, we might consider ourselves to be a soft touch in relation to the rest of the world, but the research clearly suggests that Canada has been processing young people through courts more than any other western country and it's been throwing young people in jail more than any other western country, so as a result let's take a pause for a moment and consider how we can effectively bring about meaningful responses.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the member would allow for an introduction?

MR. GRAHAM: Sure.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, member for Halifax Citadel. I would just like to bring the attention of the House to the west gallery. Tonight we have deputy sheriffs, Tammy Robinson and Daniel Ray, and if they could stand - these people are here just to bring awareness of their cause - hopefully the House can give them a warm welcome tonight. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to our visitors.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the point that I want to make about our responses with respect to youth crime is that the focus needs to be on making our communities safer, what is it that is going to make our communities safer? As much as we may like the red meat of

[Page 6231]

punishment, sometimes that's effective and sometimes it is not. For people to say that the only response that's going to be effective is a stern response, and that the Canadian system is a soft touch, they clearly don't know what they're talking about and don't appreciate the full consequences of what a meaningful response could be. So what we have with the Youth Criminal Justice Act is a movement toward treating more serious offences seriously, and recognizing that there can be more community responses in the way that the Juvenile Delinquents Act provided for more community responses.

What Canadians may not have been ready for is the weight of what this Act has created on the social services network in our country. Clearly, if the Youth Criminal Justice Act was intending to divert more people out of the system for lower-end offences, particularly non-violent offences, the question that needs to be asked is whether or not the community is ready to accept them, whether or not we're prepared to provide the responses like some of the responses that the member for Halifax Needham has referenced with respect to mental health, and the ones that were commented on by the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage with respect to sport and recreation, whether we in the Province of Nova Scotia have the network of responses that are able to catch and support young people who are at risk.

Here's the sad truth about it, Mr. Speaker. Prior to the Youth Criminal Justice Act coming into place, the social safety net for young people at risk in Nova Scotia was more fragmented than perhaps in any other country. What we have found is that the agility required in order to ensure that that social safety net gets tightened hasn't been entirely there.

I'm not going to suggest that the whole problem rests on the shoulders of the provincial government. It obviously rests with the federal government as well. If the federal government is going to put a piece of legislation in place to ensure that young people are going to be moved for low-end offences from the formal system to a less formal system where there are more effective responses, then it needs to ensure that in co-operation with provincial governments there need to be the resources in place and the time needs to be taken to ensure that all of the agility required by health, justice, education, social services, and all the players in between come together to provide effective, creative, meaningful responses. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened in the way that it could potentially have happened.

We're now starting a new cycle of criticizing the legislation and thinking that this legislation is causing the whole problem, instead of looking at the harder questions. It's always going to be easy for a provincial government or for a Minister of Justice to say that the problem exists with the legislation and, ladies and gentlemen, people of Nova Scotia, I'm going to make it better by making things tougher, and that's going to fix it. The truth is that in some circumstances that is effective, but in many circumstances the problems go deeper, and in a province where the social safety net, as the member for Halifax Needham was pointing out, is already in challenged circumstances, we need to provide more meaningful responses over time.

[Page 6232]

So my invitation to the Minister of Justice, who is not present here today, is to come forward with full and complete responses about how over decades, over generations we're going to begin to address the problems of youth crime and make our communities safer for a more lasting generation. I hear the member for Cape Breton Nova concurring with some of the comments that I make, and many of us would be familiar with his experience in this area in ensuring that young people are kept busy, out of trouble and involved in recreational opportunities. Those are the types of things that ultimately are going to have a long-term impact on whether we can walk in our communities safely and whether we feel safe, because right now the simple responses aren't necessarily working.

When I was a young person my father was a sports broadcaster. He used to sign off at the end of all of his sports broadcasts by saying: And remember, parents, when your kids are into sports, they're out of trouble. Well, that's absolutely true today, just as it was many years ago. It's not just about sports, it's about whether you're involved in arts, whether you're playing chess, whether you're hiking, whether you're skateboarding, whether you're doing a variety of things that weren't done many years ago. What we need to do in Nova Scotia is ensure that our young people are active and engaged. What do we find? Well, we find the population of young people in Nova Scotia to be one of the least active of all populations in the entire country. Mr. Speaker, we have about half as many young people involved in sports as the Province of Saskatchewan that has the same population as us.

Now, how many of us are proud of the achievements of our young people? How many of us are sending our young people off to sports and feeling like our teens are engaged and they're competing on a national scale? Well, the truth is that because we don't emphasize activity and sports, because we're not ensuring that we have the facilities in our communities, as the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage pointed out, we're going to find ourselves with communities where there is a vacuum, a vacuum of inactivity.

I often appeared in courts in different parts of the province and I was always struck by the number of places in Nova Scotia where young people were involved in break and enters because they didn't have the kind of facilities that they needed. I know the member for Eastern Shore would certainly appreciate the importance of having facilities in the Eastern Shore because there are enormous challenges in the Eastern Shore with respect to having facilities for young people, to ensure that they stay out of trouble and they're involving themselves in meaningful consequences instead of finding themselves at the Duncan MacMillan High School getting into trouble once again.

We have challenges throughout this province, and the only way for us to have lasting solutions and ensure that we are not going to find ourselves in a terrible cycle is to recognize that the solutions to youth crime, the solutions to making our communities safer rest in more challenging circumstances than just increasing penalties for young people and pretending as if that's going to take the whole problem away.

[Page 6233]

When we look at a snapshot across Canada, I think it's clear to say that there have been some jurisdictions that have provided significant leadership. If one looks at the work that has been done in British Columbia, for example, in realigning the services that they provide to young people at risk, by realigning entire departments around the question of whether or not young people are gong to continue to be at risk, it's clear that we could be doing better. If you look at Alberta, it's clear that we could be doing better and especially if you look at the work that has been done in the Province of Quebec, it's clear that we could be doing better.

Now, in places like Nova Scotia I think it's fair to say that the preponderance of opinion is that the Young Offenders Act or the Youth Criminal Justice Act were too soft on young people. I think it's important, as we put all of this in context, to appreciate that in Quebec they feel quite strongly that the Youth Criminal Justice Act is a hard-nosed, too tough-edged piece of legislation that goes far too far. As we strike the balance of what's most effective for Nova Scotia young people in our Nova Scotia communities, I think it's important for us to look to places like Quebec and examine whether or not some of the responses that they've provided, some of the more holistic responses that they've provided, through Community Services are ultimately making a difference in providing for lasting effects where people come together.

At the end of the day the stigmatizing of young people isn't about a piece of legislation. At the end of the day the challenges we're talking about are related to our relationship to each other. How committed are we to each other? How much do we care about the well-being of our neighbour's children? There was a highly acclaimed book written a number of years ago by Robert Putnam, an American author, called Bowling Alone. He spoke about the insidious problems that happen through social disengagement. What he was arguing quite effectively is that we're involved less in neighbourhood meetings. We're involved less in social clubs, we bowl less together. We're involved in political organizations together less than we were before. In short, our commitment to each other has weakened and our social cohesion has been dropping and we always expect for the professionals to do the job for us. Well, it's not the job of the professionals to raise our children. It's our job to ensure that our young people are provided with positive reinforcement, to ensure that they are provided with role models that are positive, that they have opportunities to do the things that they do best.

There's research out of McMaster University that suggests that for young people who are in trouble, the most important tool, far from jail, the most important tool to putting them back on the right path is to find out what they do well and if that's standing on their heads, or doing tiddly-winks, or playing hockey, then give them that opportunity and once they find their self-esteem in that opportunity, then things start to happen for them and they pull themselves out of the trouble that they're in. We should follow that research. We should look for every opportunity we can find for the young people who are at risk in Nova Scotia to give them an opportunity to do what they do best. If we don't, we're failing them and we're failing

[Page 6234]

all of those seniors and all those people in Nova Scotia who want and deserve for our communities to be safer than they presently are.

This is a larger question than just what penalties we apply to one small piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, and as a province there's a broader response that we can provide than the one that's being presented right now. I invite the Minister of Justice and this government to come forward with a comprehensive plan that recognizes that youth justice and youth crime is not just a matter of increasing penalties, but instead it is a matter that involves a comprehensive social response in conjunction with the responses that we have through our formal system. I've seen young people learn their lessons in court, and I've seen young people learn their lessons through responses that are provided through the social agencies across this province. What we need to do is ensure that the simple responses. The knee-jerk responses that have pervaded Canada and Nova Scotia, don't continue with a broader consideration of the long-term ramifications of that. If we want to simply get tough, as people have described in the past, then let's just look to the United States, see what they've done in creating an industry with incarceration, and then see that they have one of the most violent, domestic societies in the entire western world. It might make us feel good, but the responses obviously are more comprehensive.

[5:45 p.m.]

There is a place for increased penalties. This piece of legislation is obviously a supportable one. I think it is in particular, supportive, it is appropriate for a province that has faced the challenges that it has with a number of crimes involving people who are travelling in cars that are stolen. It's appropriate that this measure be approved and ratified, but I would urge in the strongest terms, this Minister of Justice and this government to start doing the harder work related to youth justice, recognize that this is associated with education, health, social services and a wide variety of issues that have been for too long, been neglected in this province.

I support this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to it going forward to second reading and I look forward to listening to the comments that are coming forward from members of the Government and members of the Official Opposition. Thank you.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's important I think that a lot of the members here express the opinions of many of the residents they represent, and that's one reason why I'm going to stand tonight and have a few comments about this proposed legislation.

As many of my colleagues on both sides of the floor and government members caucus support this bill, and as I do, I support the intention of this bill to address some of the issues

[Page 6235]

around youth justice and especially crimes that are committed with the use of motor vehicles. It's been a topic well discussed in my community, well discussed in the media and across this province with some high-profile cases recently involving deaths of Nova Scotians especially when it pertains to the people involved, younger people of our province.

The thing that concerns me, Mr. Speaker, reading through this bill and being a new member and in my new experience at looking over proposed legislation is that this is a pretty easy read. When you take off the cover of the bill, Bill No. 147, there's only three pages pertaining to this bill, and the last page has eight lines on it. So really two pages of proposed changes to an issue that is extremely important to me, extremely important to the constituents I represent, and I think it's extremely important to all Nova Scotians and all members of this House.

I applaud the efforts by the Justice Minister to include some changes, especially when it pertains to the use of vehicles, as I said earlier, those young offenders who use a vehicle in committing a crime, and increasing the penalties and possibly the fees incurred when charged, and also increasing the ability to hold those vehicles, increase it from 24 hours to up to 30 days if it's a second offence, as stated in the bill.

As many of my caucus members have stated and the member for Halifax Citadel has stated, the problem here isn't just those individuals who commit crimes with vehicles, and we need to hopefully try to make it known to them that the province and the people of this province aren't going to stand for youth engaging in crimes with vehicles. There's a lot of issues around what we need to do and what the government needs to do to address this issue of youth justice in our province and youth crime.

I would have hoped that this bill would have been a lot thicker and harder for me to understand, Mr. Speaker. Not coming from a legal background but coming from a background in health care, I would have hoped that I could have seen a piece of legislation that I would have needed maybe some of my colleagues to help me interpret. There's a lot of issues in my community, especially around the use of vehicles and speeding, especially down our main drag on Sackville Drive. It's well known that we do have a problem out there, and there's always criticism on why this type of thing happens.

We do have to put the onus, I believe, a lot of the times, on the reason behind some of the crimes committed by our youth on parents and the family structure. I take full account of my own children. My wife and I discussed this several times, with young kids, hoping that our children will not participate in crimes in the future and get off track on what our youth should be doing and what their participation in society should be, Mr. Speaker.

There seems to be, not all but, many youth today who are more educated, especially when it comes to what they can get away with, what the law actually states, and what government and what police can actually do to them after they commit a crime. It's amazing

[Page 6236]

to see some of the attitudes with the young and the youth in our communities. I want to emphasize that I'm talking about a small portion of the youth, because there are many youths and the majority of them live their lives abiding by most of the rules and laws of our land and aren't categorized in that group that I'm talking about.

But there are many individuals, many youths who find themselves on the other end of the law, Mr. Speaker. I've witnessed it as a paramedic over the years, going to many calls, especially pertaining to vehicles and high-speed chases and stolen vehicles, where they come down and have no regard to safety, no regard to what they're actually doing. We really need to look at this, we really need to address the issues.

I understand that this is not just something we can fix overnight, this isn't something that just the provincial government can fix, but I think all levels of government, municipal, provincial and especially federal need to seriously look at what is happening to our youth, what is happening to their attitudes or how they're getting these attitudes that they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

I do believe that there should be some stiffer fines, stiffer sentencing to our youth when it comes to repeat offenders. Those individuals, as we've seen in some of the cases we have witnessed over the last several months and the last year - especially in Halifax - they just don't have any regard for the law. We really need to have an avenue for our police officers in this province and for our legal system to address those concerns that many residents have about convictions or penalties that these youth have to endure after sentencing. Really, a lot of people have called my office and said that they're upset with how the sentencing has gone over the years pertaining to youth and youth crimes. As I said, a lot of the issues stem back to what do they do in the community? What is there for our youth in the community?

One important area which I know the member for Halifax Citadel mentioned was sports. I believe sports play an important role in the fight against crime in our communities when it pertains to youth. Keeping them active in sports and giving them an opportunity to try different sports I think is a great avenue and a great possibility to address this serious issue that we are seeing here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I know sports was important in my life growing up and I'm thankful that at a young age some of my mentors who were involved in sports recognized that maybe I would be a good candidate to try to entice to get into different sports. I truly am grateful to many of those individuals who helped me along the way and I think kept me out of trouble and kept me active. I think that's the most important thing for the youth today is to keep them active in our communities.

When you have kids who have nothing to do and they get together in groups - we've witnessed the swarmings in Halifax here. They have nothing to do, they're bored and then they tend to break the law, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure you're well aware of this in your former

[Page 6237]

career as a police officer witnessing youth and other criminals when there's not much to do in communities, especially in small communities in this province. That's when they turn to the side of breaking the law.

Sports is definitely an important avenue we need to look at to deter these youth from . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Definitely.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, honourable member. I appreciate the opportunity. Mr. Speaker, and ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, we've just been joined by somebody who is no stranger to this Chamber. It's awfully good to see him back - Tim Olive from Dartmouth, a former minister. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our guest to the gallery today and I hope he enjoys the proceedings. Welcome, Mr. Olive. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you. I did mention sports is an important avenue that we need to look at and recognize as an area we need to address, especially funding. In my involvement with track and field over the years when I was younger, I remember attending the Canada Games back in 1989. At that time, I didn't pay for a thing when it came to me representing my province in Saskatchewan. To my astonishment, as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, at a committee meeting we had members from the Legion, Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command, coming to our committee asking us where they could find funding to pay for the uniforms for the young athletes that are going to represent our province this Summer in Manitoba. I just couldn't believe this. When I was involved in track and field representing this province across the country, when the Liberal Government was in power, I have to say they did have a lot more money going into sports.

Sport Nova Scotia has had their funding cut dramatically over the years and it's been this government that cut their funding. Athletic Nova Scotia has been cut and has a limited amount of money. I just can't believe that and they stand and wonder why there are problems in our community with youth and I think they need to really look at what their priorities are when it comes to youth justice in this province and start funding youth initiative programs.

Sports is one and the arts in our schools, not all students in our school system are involved in sports. I was fortunate enough to be involved in that, but not all are and arts and culture in our schools are the first target to government cuts.

[Page 6238]

Mr. Speaker, we're hearing it today from the school boards, especially in the Halifax Regional Municipality, about cutting, or not even wanting to deal with the arts programs in the schools and what message is that sending to the youth - that government and municipalities don't care about what our students are doing. Many of these programs involve the students during school, but most of them involve students after school, and it's keeping them busy. It gives them somewhere to go, it gives them a talent, it broadens what they can do in the future and it keeps them active, like I said, and I think by keeping them active, it is a great avenue to reduce what we see in our province when it comes to youth crime and criminals amongst our youth.

One of the other avenues we need to look at is investing more money in mental health and what resources are available to our families and to our communities when a family recognizes, at a young age a lot of them, and I've dealt with it in my own community. I was helping one family, Mr. Speaker, who had a behavioural problem with their son. They tried every program in the province and I won't name names, but this young gentleman was the first resident of the new secure treatment centre in Truro. Everybody was looking forward to this centre to be opened to allow some of our problem children in this province to go, have an avenue to hopefully get some treatment and come out of that facility and back into the communities, but that is really just a secure facility in Truro.

This young gentleman, whom I dealt with his family and pleaded for help from this government, pleaded with the Minister of Community Services, and do you want to know where that young youth is now, Mr. Speaker? He's one of those numbers of our young Nova Scotians who are shipped out of the province to receive treatment and I just can't believe that, that in this day and age that we cannot care for our own youth and have them in Nova Scotia and receive treatment when there's definitely an identified problem with behavioural or any other issues that they may have.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to move adjournment of the debate?

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Definitely, Mr. Speaker. I will have more comment when we resume. So I will move adjournment of debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 147.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

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HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. and sit to approximately 12:00 p.m. at which time we will adjourn for the weekend. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading and we'll be doing any of the bills on the order paper from Bill No. 147 on. I will speak to the two Opposition House Leaders about what bills we can get through tomorrow because I would like to have the Law Amendments Committee going on Monday. So with those few words, I move that we now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until 9:00 a.m. 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 reached the moment of interruption.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

NSLC - Main St. Liquor Stores: Closure - Halt

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm honoured to rise here tonight to speak on this issue about moving liquor stores out of the small downtown areas of the Province of Nova Scotia. As you heard yesterday here in the Legislature when I asked the question to the Minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act and also the Minister of Economic Development, it was about how these downtown cores in the small towns in Nova Scotia are going to suffer when these liquor stores move out of the downtown core and they're put in these big-box stores out in the outer areas. The downtown core was so important for many of the small towns and municipalities in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as of yesterday, and I have asked my question to the minister, today I find out the liquor store in Liverpool is going to be moving out of downtown, out into the

Superstore.

Mr. Speaker, what does it do to the downtown core and these businesses? An example, I think it was, Mr. John Deveau, sent a letter off to the minister asking the minister

[Page 6240]

(Interruption) I guess he's a good member. It's a Crown Corporation. These are Crown dollars, taxpayers' money that are being used to move these liquor stores to Superstores. They had many discussions down there and they don't want these things to happen. The minister yesterday mentioned a tender. If you looked at Section A in that tender, which I tabled yesterday, there was a couple of words in there about should and may not. There's no guarantee that another liquor store is going to open up in Yarmouth. If they go on sales, where's the competition? You have one place to buy your alcohol in the Province of Nova Scotia, it's the NSLC. There's no competition. You can't go to another business downtown, you'll have to go only to this place outside of town.

Mr. Speaker, we saw that there are 10 stores that are currently going to be under construction in Spring 2005. Most of these stores located in the Super Value, Superstores and the Sobeys stores. With contracts being signed, the t's being crossed and the i's dotted, I'm just wondering what the effect on small-town Nova Scotia is going to be with these core tenants who are pulling out of downtown and going elsewhere.

It's important that we know that people invested in their downtown core. We see revitalization of downtown where they're doing up their storefronts and getting money from the federal government, the provincial government, doing up their storefronts and making the downtown look nice again, and attracting businesses. When people get off the ferry in Yarmouth, they like to come downtown. They like to go there for the good food and the good people, not to drive out to a Superstore, a box store out in the outskirts of a town. That's how you get to know the people of Nova Scotia, it's walking through the downtown core and saying good morning and good afternoon and good evening to people. That's how this province is built on the hospitality of the downtown core in many small towns in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, you yourself coming from the small town of Springhill, beautiful facility. Take the Anne Murray Centre out of Springhill and put it out in Amherst somewhere. Those people come there to visit those downtowns.

The main streets of small-town Nova Scotia, I'm afraid are going to be a way of the past, Mr. Speaker. When the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation decides to move all of these outlets out and again the small towns of Nova Scotia are going to suffer. There are seven stores under development and this is - I tabled it yesterday from Rick Perkins, Vice-President of Marketing Communications, Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, seven more stores under development for this year. How many small towns in Nova Scotia are going to suffer because of this? How many?

When do we say to ourselves we're trying to revitalize downtown and bring these downtown - an example of the Yarmouth store, I think it was three years ago that the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation spent almost $500,000 to redo that Nova Scotia Liquor Store in Yarmouth. Three years later they're going to move this store to a box store, Superstore outside and then in the tender yesterday it said, okay, shoulda, coulda, but may not, but to put a tender out to look at downtown, why would the Liquor Corporation spend $500,000 to

[Page 6241]

renovate a store in downtown Yarmouth less than three years ago, or maybe a little longer, that kind of money, then to relocate it and then put a tender back out to move back into the downtown core. Is this not a waste of taxpayers' dollars, Mr. Speaker?

It's either that or give money to a big industry and tax breaks as we have seen today. (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to get involved in any of that kind of stuff, but what I'm saying is, the downtown cores are hurting. We saw many downtown revitalizations of Glace Bay in Cape Breton, revitalizations of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton North, Minister Clarke, the downtown, the beautiful revitalization of downtown. My colleague, the member for Glace Bay, his downtown core is absolutely all redone. The downtown core of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, New Waterford, a $4.4 million mini-mall put in that place.

So what are we going to do? Are we going to just devastate all these little towns in Nova Scotia by moving, this is a mainstay business, this is a core tenant that's there and paying and employing people. This people in Yarmouth or Liverpool or these small areas in Nova Scotia, when they go downtown to buy their beverages or whatever they're having they go in there and they shop while they're there, they may have a meal while they're there, they may have lunch at a restaurant, they may have dinner, they may have a bowl of soup, they may drop into the local MLA's office and say hello.

Mr. Speaker, these small downtowns in Nova Scotia, these are core tenants, again I say, and these tenants, by moving out, are going to cause great harm. I know there were many meetings with the mayor, the deputy mayor down in Yarmouth, the MLA for Yarmouth met with those people, discussions occurred throughout the Summer. They met again in the Fall, they informed the mayor of their business decision, that this was what was going to happen, and their plan. They informed the mayor in the Fall.

The public tender was open for several weeks and numerous newspaper articles were written about the tender during this time. (Interruptions) I'm just telling you, the MLA for Yarmouth is saying I don't know my facts. (Interruptions) No, I'm not down in Yarmouth. I'm in Cape Breton, that's the other end of the province for the MLA. (Interruptions) Well, the minister doesn't know where it's at, he's absolutely right. He hasn't been there too many times, that's right.

Mr. Speaker, this whole tender, when you look at the tender, Schedule 'A', to explore whether a small neighbourhood store should be located in the south end of Yarmouth, should be. There again we see the words "should be". Was there ever an economic development plan for this? Was anything ever done to say, how is this going to affect this little town economically? Was there an impact study done? I asked for that impact study, but I haven't seen it. I don't know if it exists, I don't know if it was ever done.

[Page 6242]

But knowing that this is going to have an impact on such a small town, Liverpool, Yarmouth, all these small towns. Whether it's Windsor, Sydney River, moving into the Sobeys in Sydney River, they're moving into the Glace Bay Sobeys, the Antigonish Sobeys, the Port Hawkesbury Sobeys. They're attached to them, I guess. My colleague, the member for Glace Bay - they're attached. I guess it's like the smoke shops that they have attached to the Sobeys stores. You have to go outside and come in a private door, whatever, because of the pharmacy.

Mr. Speaker, these are taxpayers' dollars. I don't think the Province of Nova Scotia - this is a Crown Corporation - should devastate small-town Nova Scotia by moving these main businesses, these are core businesses that have been there for a number of years, and to spend all this money to redo these stores, renovate these stores and then all of a sudden, less than three years later, to move out. I think that's going to have a very devastating impact on small- town Nova Scotia. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I'll be sharing my time with the honourable member for Yarmouth, the Minister of Natural Resources, to participate in this debate tonight on the network of Nova Scotia liquor stores across the Province of Nova Scotia.

I think I'd like to start with using facts instead of misconceptions in this discussion. The first fact is, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is a Crown Corporation, not a commission as it formerly was, like a government department. It is a stand-alone Crown Corporation, it has competent business people on their board who make business decisions to return the greatest revenues to the people of Nova Scotia. Those revenues, as we all know, have enabled this government, with good management, to balance the budget, to increase spending dramatically on health care, education and especially roads, Mr. Speaker.

Those are key infrastructures for small town, large town, rural, every Nova Scotian. When we look at communities such as Yarmouth, Liverpool, Amherst, Digby, for example where the new retail-friendly model has been put in use and where the new governance model which returns greater returns to taxpayers here in Nova Scotia - let's look at them.

The reason the RFP is done in the first place, it's a proper open tender. The tender allows various businesses in a community - whether it's the existing owner of the building who currently has the NSLC franchise, whether it's an NSLC franchise owned by the NSLC or other businesses in a community, they'll have the right to tender when a tender is up. The RFP goes out.

These communities where there is significant growth and activity and most of those are in rural Nova Scotia because as everyone in this province knows, employment in rural Nova Scotia is up significantly in the last five years. We've seen a net of over 5,300 new jobs

[Page 6243]

in the last three years in rural Nova Scotia. We see Convergys in Cornwallis, we see Dot Com in the Yarmouth area, we see them looking at opportunities where they can expand. We see rural Nova Scotia, small town Nova Scotia having more opportunities than they've had in decades. This government prides itself on working very hard at that.

Let's look at that retail model. The RFP goes out, people do their shopping, socializing near the large food retail centres, around shopping malls. They are interested, those companies, those groups that own them, in participating, in having an NSLC franchise attached near them. When that does happen, I'll give you a couple of figures, just to point out how significant it is.

In Amherst where that new store was put in with the retail-friendly, we're talking about retail space instead of warehouse, we're talking about customer-friendly, cold beer, wine racks, displays in a proper retail configuration for the modern consumer, overall sales are up in the first year by 12 per cent.

When you look at Stellarton, for instance, it's up by 33.7 per cent. When we look at Digby, an area which is a population base typical of mid- to small town Nova Scotia; the same configuration, up 14.2 per cent. Over 80 per cent customer satisfaction approvals on all these sites because it meets the modern consumer. The modern consumer goes to the grocery store, they do their shopping and when they want to then be able to purchase alcohol, the store is right there. They don't have to make another trip. I think those things are key in where that money is spent.

Mr. Speaker, how much time is left in my allotted time?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately five minutes.

MR. FAGE: Thank you. The other thing I think is absolutely key is looking at the opportunity these net revenues with this new retail-friendly model that the liquor store has adopted, when we look at the overall performance of the NSLC under this new governance model of a Crown Corporation with its new retail model, since 2001, the overall net return to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia under that model has increased by 22.3 per cent.

That's $30.6 million that went into eliminating and reducing wait times, went into the education of our children and went into the maintenance of our highways. Those are critical dollars for a province the size of Nova Scotia that we're able to maximize the returns, satisfy the customers of the NSLC and incorporate that into towns and villages all around Nova Scotia.

The other important fact that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are concerned about and employment as the Minister of Economic Development, the employment at these new NSLC outlets has gone up because there are more customers, we need more employees to service

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those customers properly. So instead of seeing an employment decline with the employees with the NSLC, we've seen the actual number goes up. The consumer is happier, there is a larger return to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to pay for essential services and more employment for NSLC employees.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, at this point I would like to turn my time over to my colleague, the honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing his time with me. I've always been of the belief that two is better than one. I believe that having a liquor outlet on Starrs Road and telling those people what the NDP caucus is telling me this evening, that the people in the Starrs Road area are second-class and they shouldn't have a liquor outlet on their street. Well, I believe that they deserve a liquor outlet and I believe the downtown core deserves a liquor outlet.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that there have been five hits approximately to date since they went on the government Web page of private entrepreneurs who want to have an outlet downtown who are willing to tender on this process. I also want to tell the member opposite and the NDP caucus that this member always consults with his community. I went to my town council and I spoke to those people last week. I can tell you that the mayor and the council endorsed what the government is doing for the infrastructure in our community and the liquor sales helps to improve the infrastructure in our community.

Let me tell the member opposite that the Liberals had our seat from 1993 until 1998 and the NDP had it from 1998 to 1999. The Liberals, all they did from 1993 to 1998 was strip our community, they took jobs from our community, they did not put one bit of asphalt in our community. Then, lo and behold, the people of Yarmouth gave the NDP an opportunity to represent them. What did they do? Nothing, nothing.

Well, let me tell you what a Conservative Government has done and a member for Yarmouth has done for Yarmouth since 1999. Every year since 1999 we've had capital expenditures on our roads in the Yarmouth area. Mr. Speaker - jobs - we created jobs in our community, Register.com, it's a success story in our community. Over 270 jobs and they are looking at a major expansion in our community - a new water treatment plant of over $5 million in our community, a sewer treatment plant in the Port Maitland area, a new school addition for the Port Maitland Elementary School, a new school addition for Yarmouth Memorial High, a new correctional centre in Yarmouth, a $10 million investment - jobs in our community. The Minister of Justice was in my community approximately two or three months ago and we just announced a new Justice Centre in our community.

[Page 6245]

Mr. Speaker, it's the sales from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation that helped this government put the infrastructure in communities and it's working with the community. I work with my council, I work with the business community and I can also tell the members opposite that my council and the business community are looking now at ways of enhancing the downtown with the existing liquor store that's there now to attract new business to the downtown area.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on for hours here of issues that we've dealt with and that this member deals with his local community. I'm not like the previous members who never ever were seen from the day that they knocked on the doors to get the voters to vote for them and then they never saw them again until they went back to the doors. Well, this member deals with the people every day and every week.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I was very stimulated by the last comments by the members opposite. (Interruptions) We will talk about prior to 1993. We will start prior to 1993. When we took over government in 1993, the Province of Nova Scotia was bankrupt, thank you to the members opposite. I can remember an occasion that one day we didn't have an opportunity probably even to make the payroll because they had run up so much debt in this province and they continue to run up the debt in this province at a disgracing high rate after the Premier promised in his election campaign he would add nothing to the debt. So this is all crap. (Interruption) I gave this member the courtesy of listening to him and I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that I have the same opportunity. We can have a discussion any time on this.

I'm going to talk about the issue, the real issue, not all the great stuff the last member claims that he did. It probably would have happened anyway. (Interruptions) The real fact of this is they're taking jobs out of downtown. I didn't realize until the member said, they're making a private operation which means there's going to be a private liquor store downtown, too. Well, I think this whole issue, and the government has been promoting this all along, and the Minister of Economic Development said it himself, they're trying to get more money out of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. I totally agree with it, not a problem. That money does, hopefully, go to good things in the province, even though the debt is growing like crazy with this extra money.

One thing that a business does when a business goes to make more money, the biggest cost you usually have is employees, it's the biggest single cost you have. So the solution to reducing the cost of employees is to privatize. It looks like the government is heading in that direction. You're attaching all these stores to the big chain stores, opening them up in between, so all you need to do is move a clerk in who you pay $5 or $6 an hour and then you have all the employees no longer working for the Province of Nova Scotia through a Crown Corporation with all the benefits those employees have and enjoy, and they've worked towards all this time. They're going to have employees of the Superstore or the government

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side's favourite company, Sobeys, and they're going to have these businesses there, they're going to run and eliminate these jobs that have been so hard for people to get and are so treasured in the rural communities.

I think they're headed towards privatization, that's what's going on here. It would be nice to have greater returns to the province, but there are other ways to do it rather than taking good jobs away from Nova Scotians. It's a situation (Interruptions) as the employees go up, the minister said - the employees are up that's true - so then as the employees go up, again your cost of employees go up higher and higher, and the more cost you have in employees, the more attractive it is to eliminate those employees by privatizing and let private business do it at a lower cost to employees.

It's interesting to see how this situation is starting to unfold. First they tried the privatization thing, and there was a huge outcry from the communities. So now they back off a little bit, put a few little stores in place, and now they're getting all lined up for these big businesses to come in, take it all over, privatize it slowly, one little store at a time, just try a sample, see how that works and try another one and another one. It's so easy, the store's right there, the staff is there from the store. They just move in and take the jobs over and that's it. They'll probably do a transition thing and say, if you want to keep your job here and continue working in the Liquor Corporation, no problem, but you're going to become an employee of Sobeys.

Then Sobeys will say, okay, that's no problem, we'll hire you on as an employee, but you're going to be a part-time employee, no benefits, nothing that goes with that at all, and guess what, your wages are going to go way down. And we don't have a union anymore to protect you, so if you don't do the job exactly like we want, and today you're going to work on liquor sales, tomorrow you're going to work stocking shelves, and next week you may be on the cash register in the grocery store, and that job maybe pays $5, $6, $7 an hour, if that much.

Then you have people who have made their livelihood from working in a liquor store, making good money, looking after their families, faced with the problem of either having to take the job at Sobeys or Superstore and then find out that they can't support their families anymore. Then what's all this good economic development going to do? It's going to be for nothing, and it's going to defeat the whole purpose of the situation.

Then you look at the downtown core of these small towns, the livelihood of the towns and you see the big box stores in place. You see downtown Dartmouth as a prime example. For years and years they tried to save the downtown, you still go down there any day through the week and it's like a ghost town, even though there are some big banks down there and some medical offices, there still isn't the core there to attract the people down there and to make sure that the employment is in that downtown core so the core can build and grow and be vibrant and be a part of the community.

[Page 6247]

As we move more and more away from the downtown core aspect of these small communities we lose the nature of the communities, the core of the communities, the things that make a community a very special place. Yarmouth is a very special community; Liverpool is a special community. All these communities in Nova Scotia are very special places. They got that way because our ancestors went there and that's what they wanted to do and that's how they wanted to make the community. So every time you take a service out of a community that the province has, whether it's a liquor store, a Registry of Motor Vehicles or whatever it may be, it takes away from the core and it goes to other areas. It's a situation that is absolutely disgusting, you know.

These guys must be, they keep on hassling here, which I enjoy, quite frankly, but it means that I must be really hitting a note here with them because if I wasn't hitting a note with them, they would be sitting quietly listening, so this really must be the plan of the government. I am kind of anxious to see the budget and see how much more money in growth they're going to have in liquor sales because if I remember right, the last one that they had here, the numbers were down in the sales they projected from the budget quite substantially and we're going to see how much they try to balance the books this time again by shuffling the way they do the accounting process.

That was a pretty neat trick they did that time to balance the books and I'm going to see the neat tricks this time. If they don't balance the books this time, with almost $1 billion they were promised from the federal government, they'll never balance the books. So I trust we're going to have a nice, really good, solid budget for all Nova Scotians and, hopefully, it isn't taking away jobs from people in the Civil Service of this province who desperately need these good paying jobs, highly paid jobs, to ensure that they can look after their family and continue to look after their family and make the local community grow because as we go through the process, these are cherished jobs in small communities. There are not a lot of jobs in a lot of communities and you see a Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, it's a steady job and it works very, very well.

It gives the people the possibility of buying a home and doing the things that they need to do to properly look after their families and that's important. That is important for the structure of Nova Scotia and if we don't have those things in the rural communities, as a growth in the community's strengths, everybody seems to be moving to the Halifax Regional Municipality which is great. I live here and I enjoy it here, but I hate to see the small communities die and slow down to a point that they no longer can support themselves.

Originally in Yarmouth, the town council had tried to prevent this happening, but as all town councils do, they change their mind over time, and that's their right to do that, but hopefully this won't have a huge negative impact on the community as it goes forward but, again, you know, the members opposite keep hassling. So I must be hitting a note here, I enjoy that because when you hit a note with them, it means that they must be going to privatize these stores. I absolutely must have hit a note because they're probably going to

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privatize this and I'm sure that the employees of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, who are very upset and have been upset for a number of years of the possibility of privatization, will be quite interested in these comments they're making, but it's too bad they couldn't make them on the record which would be more interesting for us to hear, but I'm sure someday they will.

As we go through this process and we see what's happening and we see what's happening to small rural Nova Scotia, we see the towns and the out-migration to the bigger cities like HRM. Every time you change something in those communities, it hurts the community, especially in the downtown core, when you see the people who work in these stores, and liquor stores in particular, or any store like that, if you move it from the core, the people who can afford to go buy things, who shop during their lunch hours and other times, it affects other small businesses in the community and for a private store the people typically aren't paid as well and won't have the disposable income to do the things that they would do if they had the funds to do it. So it has a negative impact on all Nova Scotians and every time we make a change like this it does hurt. It does hurt the people and it does hurt the community.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all members for taking part in the debate this evening.

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

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

[Page 6249]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3280

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 the Lions Club of Eastern Passage, Cow Bay held a "Speak Out" contest for youth in the community; and

Whereas high school students prepared and delivered their speeches to a panel of judges; and

Whereas the three winners where Grade 12 students from Cole Harbour High: Timothy Anderson was awarded first place, Alesha Nelson second place, and third place went to Jennifer Churchill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Timothy Anderson, Alesha Nelson, and Jennifer Churchill on their fantastic speeches, and a special thanks to the judges and volunteers at the Eastern Passage, Cow Bay Lions Club for organizing and hosting such a great event.

RESOLUTION NO. 3281

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 volunteers have a very positive impact on our lifestyle; and

Whereas volunteers deserve recognition and acknowledgement of their efforts; and

Whereas Ralph Hebb has been nominated by the Council of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg as their Volunteer of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and appreciation to Mr. Hebb for his many years of volunteer service to his community and to Nova Scotia in general.

[Page 6250]

RESOLUTION NO. 3282

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 volunteerism is essential to having a healthy and vibrant community; and

Whereas it is important that the services provided by volunteers be recognized and acknowledged; and

Whereas John MacLean of Bridgewater has donated over 50 years of volunteerism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank John MacLean upon being presented the first honorary life membership to Recreation Nova Scotia for his dedication to the field of recreation.

RESOLUTION NO. 3283

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 the Bridgewater Curling Club has a very active Youth Curling Program; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Curling Association has, for the first time, crowned Little Rock Champions; and

Whereas a team from the Bridgewater Curling Club was the winning team;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Little Rock Champions team consisting of Olivia Pitman (skip), Erin Powers, Alison McMullin and Emily Rogers.

RESOLUTION NO. 3284

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

[Page 6251]

Whereas Nick and Elaine van Vulpen were honoured with the John van Vulpen Memorial Award recognizing them as the Cumberland County Federation of Agriculture's Farmer of the Year for 2005; and

Whereas the family has worked hard to share their love of farming with the community through much involvement and events such as open farm days, grazing tours, school tours, 4-H judging on-site, Young Farmers Conference, and student on-farm training with the Farm Technology Training Program for two years; and

Whereas Nick and wife Elaine, are the second generation of the van Vulpen family to operate a beef and dairy farm successfully in Nappan, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Nick, Elaine and family on receiving this honourable award and wish them continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 3285

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Gil Collicut was honoured this year with a Paul Harris Fellowship Award by the Amherst Rotary Club; and

Whereas Mr. Collicut's community involvement, past and present, include Amherst Rotary Club, Amherst Chamber of Commerce, Trinity St. Stephens United Church, CREDA mural committee, heritage advisory committee, Kidney Foundation, transition house, Experimental Farm Animal Care Committee, and Fort Lawrence Beaubassin project to name a few; and

Whereas Mr. Collicut is also an honorary life member of both the Maritime and National Association of Professional Photographers of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Mr. Gil Collicut for receiving this prestigious award.

[Page 6252]

RESOLUTION NO. 3286

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Amherst Rambler hockey team members - Andrew Pearcey, Chris Morehouse and Alex Coles - garnered the Community Service Award recently at their closing banquet held in Amherst; and

Whereas the trio earned this honour for their participation in community over the past year; and

Whereas they are to be commended for being community-minded and helpful in all ways possible;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Andrew, Chris and Alex for their community contributions and award.

RESOLUTION NO. 3287

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas CWO Ray Coulson CD (ret'd.) was named Maritimer of the Week by ATV television station after being nominated by the North Nova Memory Club; and

Whereas Mr. Coulson is the curator of the North Nova Scotia Highlander Museum located in the Col. James Layton Ralston Armory. On his own he has worked tirelessly, five days a week totally on a volunteer basis. He proudly does tours for anyone who drops in or requests an after-hours visit; and

Whereas Ray Coulson loves his work and feels it is important to preserve the history of the regiment for young and old. Veterans of WWII bring their children and grandchildren to share the history of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Ray Coulson for being named Maritimer of the Week for his contributions in preserving our military history.

[Page 6253]

RESOLUTION NO. 3288

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Carl's Variety of Oxford, Nova Scotia was awarded the Hometown Christmas Centennial Award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held at the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

Whereas the awards were given out to businesses in the town that went above and beyond to make the town a special site over the Christmas holidays in their Centennial year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carl's Variety on receiving this award and wish them continued success and prosperity over the coming years.

RESOLUTION NO. 3289

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Stacey Carter was honoured at the Springhill Student Appreciation Night in Springhill; and

Whereas Stacey was awarded a plaque for the Most Valuable Player of the Lady Eagles basketball team; and

Whereas it was a night for the school and the students and staff of Springhill Regional High School to show their appreciation to all the athletes who work so hard and show so much dedication all year to their team and their school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Stacey on this outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in the future.

[Page 6254]

RESOLUTION NO. 3290

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Jon Casey was honoured at the Springhill Student Appreciation Night in Springhill; and

Whereas Jon was awarded a plaque for the Most Dedicated Player of the Junior Boys Basketball Team; and

Whereas it was a night for the school and the students and staff of Springhill Regional High School to show their appreciation to all the athletes who work so hard and show so much dedication all year to their team and their school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jon Casey on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3291

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Cecelia Mattinson of Oxford, Nova Scotia was presented with the Centennial of the Year Award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held at the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

Whereas the awards were given out to residents of the town who went above and beyond in volunteering their time and effort to the Town of Oxford and its residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cecelia Mattinson on receiving this award and wish her continued success and prosperity over the coming years.

[Page 6255]

RESOLUTION NO. 3292

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Andrew and Lita MacDiarmid of Oxford, Nova Scotia were awarded the Hometown Christmas Centennial Award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held at the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

Whereas the awards were given out to businesses in the town that went above and beyond to make the town a special site over the Christmas holidays in their Centennial year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Andrew and Lita MacDiarmid on receiving this award and wish them continued success and prosperity over the coming years.

RESOLUTION NO. 3293

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas the Justice Minister expects citizens to enforce conditional sentences in Nova Scotia even though Operation Shadow was cancelled because of safety concerns; and

Whereas while volunteers play a role in crime prevention, it is unreasonable to expect them to enforce sentences when trained professionals fear for their safety; and

Whereas the Justice Minister talks a good game on crime but is failing to provide the resources necessary to enforce the law;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge government to provide the resources necessary to enforce conditional sentences instead of jeopardizing the safety of average citizens.

[Page 6256]

RESOLUTION NO. 3294

By: Mr. Daniel Graham (Halifax Citadel)

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

Whereas overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the best possible solution to the VLT problem is a full ban; and

Whereas the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives indicate in their report, Repairing the Nets, that VLTs are an unfair tax on those least able to afford it; and

Whereas a veteran sociology professor from St. Mary's, John McMullen, in his study, The Gambling Problem and Problem Gambling: Research, Public Policy and Citizenry, recommends that VLTs be banned outside of casinos;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government finally recognize that a full ban on VLTs in bars, Legions and on reserves is the only real solution to the VLT problem and that by continuing to ignore the problem, government is destroying untold lives.