Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-72

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

MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Musquodoboit) - Increase,
Mr. K. Deveaux 6339
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Northwood Manor) - Increase,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6340
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Nakile, Yarmouth Co.)
- Increase, Mr. J. Massey 6340
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (St. Vincent's Guest Home, Hfx.)
- Increase, Mr. H. Epstein 6340
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Northhills, Annapolis Royal)
- Increase, Ms. M. Raymond 6340
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Alderwood Guest Home, Baddeck)
- Increase, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6341
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (E. Cumb. Lodge) - Increase,
Mr. C. Parker 6341
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Anna. Royal Nursing Home)
- Increase, Ms. M. More 6341
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Richmond Villa)
- Increase, Mr. G. Steele 6342
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6342
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Shannex Harbourstone, Sydney)
- Increase, Mr. G. Gosse 6342
Commun. Serv.: Comfort Allowance (Shoreham Village, Chester)
- Increase, Mr. J. Pye 6343
TPW: Weymouth Residents - Safety Increase, Mr. H. Theriault 6343
Educ.: Post-Secondary Funding - Restore, Mr. H. Epstein 6344
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Ms. D. Whalen 6344
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. L. Glavine 6344
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Community Services Standing Committee, 2003-04 Annual Report,
Ms. M. More 6345
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3348, Hum. Res.: Admin. Professionals - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6345
Vote - Affirmative 6346
Res. 3349, Nat. Res.: Lands & Legacy Conservation Partnership -
Importance, (by Hon. C. d'Entremont), Hon. R. Hurlburt 6346
Vote - Affirmative 6347
Res. 3350, Little Narrows Gypsum Co. - Ryan Award,
Hon. K. Morash 6347
Vote - Affirmative 6347
Res. 3351, Nat'l. Med. Lab. Wk. (04/24-04/30/05), Hon. A. MacIsaac 6347
Vote - Affirmative 6348
Res. 3352, Hfx. Pipes & Drums (33rd): Netherlands Liberation Anniv. (60th)
- Participation, Hon. C. d'Entremont 6348
Vote - Affirmative 6349
Res. 3353, Hogan, Patricia - PM Award, Hon. J. Muir 6349
Vote - Affirmative 6350
Res. 3354, Sir Charles Tupper Elem. Sch. - Anniv. (75th),
Hon. J. Muir 6350
Vote - Affirmative 6351
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 167, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act,
Ms. M. More 6351
No. 168, Securities Act, Hon. K. Morash 6351
No. 169, Farm Registration Act, Mr. S. McNeil 6352
No. 170, Income Tax Act, Mr. W. Gaudet 6352
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3355, East. Passage Educ. Ctr. - Call to Remembrance 2005 Comp.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 6352
Vote - Affirmative 6353
Res. 3356, Tsunami Relief: Strait Reg. Sch. Bd. - Contribution,
Mr. Michel Samson 6353
Vote - Affirmative 6353
Res. 3357, Fleming, Roger - Reddy/United Way Award, The Premier 6353
Vote - Affirmative 6354
Res. 3358, Songs From the Heart: Canso Fundraiser - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 6354
Vote - Affirmative 6355
Res. 3359, N.S. Young Liberals: Executive - Election,
Mr. Michel Samson 6355
Vote - Affirmative 6356
Res. 3360, NSAC/Scotian Gold - Research Initiatives, Mr. M. Parent 6356
Vote - Affirmative 6357
Res. 3361, Election (Cdn.): Central Nova Voters -
Interest Level, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6357
Res. 3362, C.B.-Victoria Reg. Sch. Bd.: CUPE Staff - Sch. Cleanup,
Ms. D. Whalen 6357
Vote - Affirmative 6360
Res. 3363, Environ. & Lbr.: Lbr. Standards Code - Review,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6358
Vote - Affirmative 6359
Res. 3364, Emily Fund - Effort: Participants - Thank, Mr. G. Hines 6359
Vote - Affirmative 6360
Res. 3365, Lebanese Commun.: Lebanese Emigrant Day (5th Annual)
- Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 6360
Vote - Affirmative 6361
Res. 3366, TPW - Road: Fuel Tax Revenue - Employ, Mr. H. Theriault 6361
Res. 3367, Decoste, Jon: Debating Seminar - Participation,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6362
Vote - Affirmative 6363
Res. 3368, Silver Seas Soc. Club: Smith Fam. Benefit - Commend,
Ms. M. Raymond 6363
Vote - Affirmative 6363
Res. 3369, Year of the Veteran: Veterans - Respect Show,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 6363
Vote - Affirmative 6364
Res. 3370, Crawford, Helen - Birthday (80th), Mr. W. Dooks 6364
Vote - Affirmative 6365
Res. 3371, Gasparetto, Danilo & Renato/Cherubini Metal -
Achievements, Ms. M. More 6365
Vote - Affirmative 6366
Res. 3372, Bower, Glenda - Bible Hill Central/Redcliffe Schools:
Volunteerism - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 6366
Vote - Affirmative 6366
Res. 3373, Insurance - Non-Profit Sector: Affordability - Ensure,
Mr. G. Steele 6366
Res. 3374, Q104 - Pay Per Play: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6367
Vote - Affirmative 6368
Res. 3375, Port Morien Theatre Prod.: Organizers/Performers
- Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 6368
Vote - Affirmative 6368
Res. 3376, Anzac Day: N. Zealand/Australia/Hants West MLA
- Contribution, Mr. C. Parker 6368
Vote - Affirmative 6369
Res. 3377, Friis, Cst. Chris: HRM - Officer of the Yr., Mr. J. Pye 6369
Vote - Affirmative 6370
Res. 3378, Crawford. Carl "Campy": Commun. Serv. - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 6370
Vote - Affirmative 6371
Res. 3379, YMCA: Hfx./Dartmouth - Vol. Awards, Mr. D. Graham 6371
Vote - Affirmative 6372
Res. 3380, Veteran, Yr. of - Veterans: Tribute - Pay,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6372
Vote - Affirmative 6372
Res. 3381, Long/Brier Islands Health Proj.: Efforts - Applaud,
Mr. H. Theriault 6373
Vote - Affirmative 6373
Res. 3382, McDonald, Nicole - Easter Seals 2005 Ambassador,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6373
Vote - Affirmative 6374
Res. 3383, Lebanese Commun.: Lebanese Emigrant Day - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 6374
Vote - Affirmative 6375
Res. 3384, Rogers - MacKinnon: Retirement - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 6375
Vote - Affirmative 6376
Res. 3385, Sackville Pee Wee AAA Flyers - Hockey Championship,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6376
Vote - Affirmative 6376
Res. 3386, Ruck, Calvin - African Cdn. Equality: Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. G. Gosse 6377
Vote - Affirmative 6377
Res. 3387, Fong, Daniel: Academic Successes - Commend,
Ms. J. Massey 6377
Vote - Affirmative 6378
Res. 3388, N.S. Hum. Rights Comm'n.: CEO/Staff/Convergys -
Workplace Diversity, Mr. J. Pye 6378
Vote - Affirmative 6379
Res. 3389, Sackville Tween Team - Ringette Championship,
Hon. B. Barnet 6379
Vote - Affirmative 6380
Res. 3390, Sutherland, Rev. Donald - Salem United Church:
Minister Emeritus - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 6380
Vote - Affirmative 6380
Res. 3391, O'Toole, Ethel: Lakeside P.O. Postmistress - Appt.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6381
Vote - Affirmative 6381
Res. 3392, Cancer Care N.S.: ICC Prog. - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6381
Vote - Affirmative 6382
Res. 3393, East. Shore - Issues: Importance - Acknowledge,
(by Ms. Maureen MacDonald), Mr. D. Dexter 6382
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 153, Public Service Act 6383
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6383
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6384
Ms. D. Whalen 6388
Mr. H. Epstein 6395
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6401
Vote - Affirmative 6402
No. 162, Public Utilities Act 6402
Hon. C. Clarke 6402
Mr. H. Epstein 6403
Mr. D. Graham 6408
Hon. C. Clarke 6410
Vote - Affirmative 6410
No. 165, Education Act 6410
Hon. J. Muir 6410
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6411
Ms. D. Whalen 6414
Ms. J. Massey 6418
Hon. J. Muir 6420
Vote - Affirmative 6420
No. 147, Youth Justice Act 6420
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 6420
Mr. G. Gosse 6424
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6442
Ms. J. Massey 6453
Hon. M. Baker 6458
Vote - Affirmative 6458
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 6459
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 6459^
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 26th at 12 noon 6460
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3394, Bridgewater Curling Club: 2005 Tankard - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6461
Res. 3395, Hebbville Acad.: Recycling Contest - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6461
Res. 3396, Golden K Club: Sr. Wheels Assoc. - Sponsorship,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6462
Res. 3397, ARK - Bd. Members/Staff: Dedication - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 6462
Res. 3398, Tidnish Commun. Ctr. Assoc. - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. E. Fage 6463
Res. 3399, Boiduk, Barbara - YMCA World Peace Wk. Medallion,
Hon. E. Fage 6463
Res. 3400, MacLeod, Dr. Barry - Cumb. Health Care Fdn. Award,
Hon. E. Fage 6464
Res. 3401, Amherst Skating Club: Prov. Comp. Winners - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 6464
Res. 3402, Health/Commun. Serv.: Attendant Services - Provide,
Mr. D. Dexter 6465
Res. 3403, Bundy-Grosse, Daisy - Black Commun.: Serv. - Honour,
Mr. K. Colwell 6465
Res. 3404, Kings-Edgehill Sch.: Graduating Students - Scholarships,
Mr. W. Langille 6466
Res. 3405, Harris & Co. Art Gallery - Photography: Introduction -
Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 6466
Res. 3406, Memory Lane Heritage Village: Staff/Participants - Thank,
Mr. W. Dooks 6467
Res. 3407, Levasseur, John & Louella: Customer Serv. - Commend,
Mr. W. Dooks 6467
Res. 3408, Year of the Veteran: N.S. Veterans - Thank,
Mr. W. Dooks 6468
Res. 3409, Power, Adrienne: Awards - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 6468
Res. 3410, Lakeview West Chezzetcook: 4 C's Fdn. - Grant,
Mr. W. Dooks 6469
Res. 3411, Callison, Savanna: Debating Comp. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 6469
Res. 3412, Atkinson, Charley/Skidmore, Jim: Central Powersport -
Opening, The Speaker 6470
Res. 3413, Collins, Tyler - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6470
Res. 3414, Brayley, Cadet Tyler/Team - Marksmanship Comp.,
The Speaker 6471
Res. 3415, Barton, Britany - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6471

[Page 6339]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

4:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 79 people from the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, from Middle Musquodoboit:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with current costs of living."

Mr. Speaker, there are 79 signatures and I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

6339

[Page 6340]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from residents, staff and family members of Northwood Manor. The operative clause reads:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with current costs of living."

Mr. Speaker, the petition has been signed by 83 persons and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from Glenwood, Yarmouth County, with 57 signatures from some people who, I believe, are relatives and friends of - and I apologize if I mispronounce this - Nakile Home for Special Care in Glenwood, Yarmouth County.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents and visitors to Saint Vincent's Guest Home, which is located in Halifax Chebucto. This petition bears 117 signatures and the operative words are:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with current costs of living."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of friends and relatives of those living in the Northhills Nursing Home in Annapolis Royal. There are 33 signatures on this petition and the operative clause reads:

[Page 6341]

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with current costs of living."

I have affixed my signature hereto.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with the operative clause:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with the current costs of living."

Thirty-seven residents and family members, who live at Alderwood Guest Home in Baddeck, and I, too, have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents and family and friends at the East Cumberland Lodge in Pugwash. The operative clause reads:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with the current costs of living."

This petition has been signed by 55 people, and I, too, have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with 26 signatures in support of the residents of the Annapolis Royal Nursing Home. The operative clause being:

[Page 6342]

". . . urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with the current costs of living."

I have attached my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from residents, staff, family and friends of Richmond Villa, in Richmond County, with no fewer than 122 signatures. The operative clause of which reads:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with the current costs of living."

I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition entitled Reduce Tuition Fees. It's signed by 120 post-secondary students in this province. The operative clause says to make a considerable investment to core funding in Nova Scotia's post-secondary institutions, to tie the increased core funding through progressive reduction of tuition fees at Nova Scotia's public post-secondary institutions, and to implement a system of need-based grants as soon as possible.

I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by the family and friends of the Shannex Harbourstone in Sydney. There's 22 signatures. The operative clause is as follows:

[Page 6343]

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with the current costs of living."

I, too, have affixed my signature to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The petition was signed by many residents in Chester area, particularly for the residents of Shoreham Village, Chester. The operative clause reads:

"We, the undersigned, strongly urge the government to increase the amount of the comfort allowance for residents who have exhausted their assets under the old system to bring it into line with the current costs of living."

There are 70 names affixed to this petition, and I've also affixed mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the merchants and residents of Weymouth, Nova Scotia, town and area, who would like to propose the following to increase the safety of all residents of Weymouth:

"1. Crosswalk changes and enhancement.

The crosswalk before the bridge of Weymouth is now no longer needed since most of the businesses have moved uptown, and now the doctors office has moved up there as well.

Two new crosswalks are needed in Weymouth. One from the Weymouth Drug Store across to Home Hardware. The sidewalk is on the opposite side of the road for seniors who walk to the drug store. A second one from the new doctors office is on a terrible corner that some drivers take rather quickly, which brings us to the second proposal

2. The residents and merchants would also like the speed limit enforced by the RCMP in the Town of Weymouth."

[Page 6344]

I have affixed my signature to this.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition regarding tuition fees, the operative clause of this petition reads:

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

� Legislate a progressive reduction of tuition fees at Nova Scotia's public post-secondary institutions;

� Increase post-secondary education funding;

� Implement a system of needs-based, non-repayable grants;"

This petition contains 120 signatures and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of university students. It's entitled, Reduce Tuition Fees. It calls on the government to increase core funding to progressive reductions of tuition fees at Nova Scotia's post-secondary institutions. I have affixed my signature to that.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of university students signed by 150 students for the purpose of working towards lower tuition and stronger core funding. I have affixed my name to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 6345]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of the Standing Committee on Community Services, I rise today to table the 2003 - 2004 Annual Report of the committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3348

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

Whereas administrative professionals perform a vital role in the modern office, managing information, organizing the office and mastering office technology; and

Whereas Administrative Professionals Week highlights the major contributions of administrative professionals to business and government; and

Whereas the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and the IAAP Halifax-Dartmouth Chapter provide administrative professionals with education, networking opportunities, certification and other career enhancing programs while also advancing the image of the profession;

Therefore be it resolved all members of the House recognize and applaud these outstanding administrative professionals everywhere within public service and the business community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6346]

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.

[4:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3349

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

Whereas the province's coastal areas, saltwater marshes, forests, islands, and fertile river valleys are of great importance to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the province wishes to acquire more land of ecological significance for conservation and preservation purposes; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Nature Trust was formed in 1994 with a mission to identify, protect, maintain, and restore native biodiversity and ecological integrity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of the new Lands and Legacy Conservation Partnership, an agreement between the Province of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust announced on April 7th, which enables the province and the Nature Trust to collectively increase the amount of land conservation taking place in the province on behalf of all 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.

[Page 6347]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3350

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

Whereas the John T. Ryan Award is presented to mines with the lowest reportable injury frequency per 200,000 hours worked in Canada; and

Whereas Little Narrows Gypsum Company have won this prestigious John T. Ryan 2004 National Safety Award; and

Whereas the Little Narrows Gypsum Company displays a continuous commitment to workplace health and safety, as this is their fifth time winning this award;

Therefore be it resolved that I urge all Nova Scotian companies to learn from the strong workplace health and safety culture displayed by Little Narrows Gypsum Company, and ask the members of the house to join me in congratulating them on this national award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3351

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

[Page 6348]

Whereas this week, April 24th to April 30th is National Medical Laboratory Week, a week to celebrate the skill and dedication of medical laboratory staff throughout the country; and

Whereas medical laboratory professionals serve on the front lines of our public health system and help to make the eighty-five per cent of doctors' diagnosis and treatment decisions that are based on laboratory test results; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is very fortunate to have knowledgeable and dedicated staff in labs throughout the province who work as key members of care teams to provide accurate and timely test results for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize April 24th to April 30th as National Medical Laboratory Week and show our appreciation for the hard work done in labs across the province toward diagnosis, treatment and overall care of 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 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3352

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

Whereas the 33rd Halifax Pipes and Drums band has been entertaining Nova Scotians for many years with their music, and

[Page 6349]

Whereas the 33rd Halifax Pipes and Drums will be travelling to the Netherlands to take part in the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of that country by Allied Forces; and

Whereas this 20-member band, including Belinda Ewer, an employee of the Department of the Agriculture and Fisheries, will be guests of the Dutch military from April 27th to May 10th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer the 33rd Halifax Pipes and Drums congratulations, and extend wishes for a safe and enjoyable journey;

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. 3353

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

Whereas Patricia Hogan was recently presented with a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence and a cheque for $5,000 at a ceremony in Ottawa; and

Whereas Patricia, who has been working at the Dartmouth Pre-School for twenty years, plans to donate a portion of her cash award back to the pre-school as she continues her fantastic work in the early education of children; and

Whereas Hogan explains her commitment to pre-school in three simple words, "I love children", while also saying she loves enhancing their development and simply being with them;

[Page 6350]

Therefore be it resolved Dartmouth Pre-School teacher Patricia Hogan be commended by all MLAs in this Legislature for her devotion to the Dartmouth Pre-School and for earning a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, and wish her nothing but 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3354

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

Whereas 75 years ago teachers and young Halifax students first filled the halls and classrooms of Sir Charles Tupper School; and

Whereas the mission of the school is named after the Nova Scotia Premier who shepherded our province into Confederation is to challenge and to educate the whole person and to develop adaptable contributing members of society who show respect for self and others by working together in a safe, supportive and happy environment; and

Whereas the school has many educators who survive the ever-changing time of the last three-quarters of a century, yet consistently offering those who enter its doors a safe, peaceful and positive learning experience for the young students;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature join me in congratulating Sir Charles Tupper Elementary School, its Principal - Jim Rice, dedicated staff and students on 75 years of educational excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 6351]

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce this bill, I would like to recognize several members of the Changes Coalition in the west gallery. These people were involved in drafting the bill and I would like to recognize their contribution. I ask them to stand as I read their names and then I'll ask my colleagues to welcome them warmly: Pamela Harrison from the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia; Michelle Bouchey, graduate social work student; Jeanne Fay, Acting Chairman of Changes and from Dalhousie Legal Aid; Jacquie Farrow Lawrence, Vice-Chairman, and with the Council on African Canadian Education; Collette Poirier, a member of the coalition; Peggy Mahon, with Women's Centres Connect; Stephanie Hunter with Feminists for Just & Equitable Public Policy; April Landry, a single parent and student; and Shaunderay Clyke, a single mom, student and member of the coalition. (Applause)

Bill No. 167 - An Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2000. The Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. (Ms. Marilyn More)

Bill No.168 - An Act to Amend Chapter 418 of the Revised Statutes 1989. The Securities Act. (Hon. Kerry Morash)

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

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do an introduction. In the west gallery I would like to introduce Lawrence Nason who is the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and Donna Langille who is the Operation Manager of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and in your gallery, I think one of them was a little bit nervous about being in the west gallery, thought it was a little bit too far to the left or something, I'm not sure, but I would like to introduce Doug Bacon who is with the Atlantic Farmers Council, Dox Cox who is the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, and Kirk Sherman who is an executive council member of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. (Applause)

[Page 6352]

Bill No. 169 - An Act to Amend Chapter 3 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Farm Registration Act. (Mr. Stephen McNeil)

Bill No. 170 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 217 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Income Tax Act. (Mr. Wayne Gaudet)

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. 3355

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion sponsored a Call to Remembrance 2005 competition for regional junior high school students to test their knowledge of Canada's involvement in past conflicts; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre team consisted of students Amanda Foley, Amber Foley, Jeff Malette, Garrett Lamer and Deven Spencer; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre team won the gold medal at the regional competition and will now advance to the Nova Scotia championship where they hope to return the team as provincial champions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Eastern Passage Education Centre team for their success in the regional Call to Remembrance competition, wish them all the best at the provincial competition and thank them for helping to keep alive the memory of those who fought for our country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6353]

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. 3356

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 Strait Regional School Board staff and students have raised approximately $31,000 for tsunami relief; and

Whereas this is an extremely large sum of money for students to raise within a region where there is considerable employment issues in various communities; and

Whereas this amount reflects the initiative of the staff and students of the various schools throughout the Strait Regional School Board to aid in the effort to help tsunami victims abroad;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the contribution made by the staff and students of the Strait Regional School Board in raising $31,000 for the Asian tsunami relief effort.

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. 3357

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

[Page 6354]

Whereas the significant public service and many philanthropic endeavors of the late Cyril Reddy are recognized through the new "Cyril Reddy Community Volunteer Award"; and

Whereas the inaugural winner of the United Way of Pictou County award is Roger Fleming - the volunteer manager of the Pictou County Food Bank - who, for over 20 years, has worked countless hours each week to ensure that no one in need went hungry; and

Whereas just like Cyril, the individual who will be honoured each year will epitomize the true volunteer - one who chooses to give his or her time freely for no personal gain;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud Mr. Fleming and thank him for his tremendous contribution to his fellow citizens, and commend the United Way of Pictou County for their work and for honouring through this award, the memory and contributions of a tremendous public servant and volunteer of this province, the late Mr. Cyril Reddy.

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 Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 3358

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

Whereas the Town of Canso, one of Nova Scotia's oldest towns at 400 years old, has been fighting hard to keep financially afloat and not dissolve; and

Whereas the Stan Rogers Folk Festival stepped forward to help the residents organize a mega-concert on Sunday, April 25th, at the Keating Millennium Centre in Antigonish; and

[Page 6355]

Whereas the benefit concert brought together many East Coast musicians in Songs From the Heart: A Concert for Canso, to raise money for economic development projects in this beautiful seaside community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate artistic director of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival, Troy Greencorn, all the musicians and performers and the residents of the Town of Canso, for their magnificent effort to make this concert a financial 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 Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

[4:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3359

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

Whereas on April 10, 2005, the Nova Scotia Young Liberals elected a new executive for the 2005-06 term; and

Whereas this team will represent the youth of this province and provide insight and perspective into issues affecting their futures; and

Whereas the 2005-06 executive includes Chrystiane Mallaley, Ryan Grant, Colin Hebb, Jackie Moher, Matt Cameron, Denis Jennings, Keith Torrie, Scott Pickup, Evan Price, Glenn Horne and Lisa Levangie;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sincere congratulations to these individuals and all of the dedicated and hardworking youth in Nova Scotia who work each day to make a difference.

[Page 6356]

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3360

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

Whereas a research program is presently underway involving Scotian Gold Co-operative and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College looking into ways of selling apples in a snack or fresh-cut format similar to a potato chip; and

Whereas in addition, the research program is investigating using apple peels to produce healthy bio-products; and

Whereas the program is also exploring a new concept of using apples in poultry feed to improve meat quality;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House applaud the research initiatives being undertaken by the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in conjunction with businesses such as Scotian Gold Co-operative, and wish them every good fortune as they continue to explore ways to enhance the economic value of Nova Scotia's apple industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6357]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3361

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

Whereas last evening several hundred people from Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough Counties and beyond gathered for the "Songs from the Heart" concert for Canso; and

Whereas during the evening the very talented and entertaining MC asked those in attendance who wanted a federal election to clap; and

Whereas not one person clapped, including Peter MacKay, MP for Central Nova;

Therefore be it resolved that when young Peter reports back to his Leader about what he learned on his Spring break, he remembers to include that voters in Central Nova aren't nearly as interested in an election as Stephen Harper and his not progressive Conservative Party.

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 Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 3362

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

[Page 6358]

Whereas students attending schools within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board have returned to classes today; and

Whereas classes began following an almost three-week long strike by support staff with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; and

Whereas many dedicated workers spent most of the weekend cleaning the unsanitary conditions in the schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and appreciate the many dedicated and hardworking CUPE staff that spent the weekend cleaning these schools so that students could return to classes and focus on their education.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3363

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

Whereas according to the Workers' Compensation Board's 2004 Annual Report sprains and strains are, by far, the most common type of time-loss injury representing 59 per cent of all claims, with the back being the most common part of the body being injured, representing 39 per cent of these claims; and

Whereas these recorded injuries represent further increased losses for employees and employers; and

Whereas within the Labour Standards Code there is no limit on the number of hours an employee must work before he or she is permitted to take a health break;

[Page 6359]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour examine the Labour Standards Code with a view to improving workplace safety and reducing long-term Workers' Compensation Board costs.

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3364

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 IWK Children's Hospital has recently entered into an agreement with the directors of the Emily Fund; and

Whereas the Emily Fund, established by the late Mr. William Jesso on behalf of his teenage granddaughter, Emily Clarke, will see funds being donated to the hospital and given to children to purchase insulin pumps who don't have the necessary financial means to purchase one for themselves; and

Whereas Emily's father, Edward has said, "the insulin pump has allowed Emily to live a normal life while also allowing the family to be freed from the real captivity of the disease," known as diabetes;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs here in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly extend our sincerest and warmest wishes to Emily Clarke and the board of directors of the fundraising component of the Emily Fund, Ron Magahay, James Barratt and Donald Feeney for their tremendous work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 6360]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please have the member for Halifax Clayton Park call for a waiver of notice on the last resolution that she presented.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park. I would ask you to read the 'Therefore be it resolved' clause.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and appreciate the many dedicated and hardworking CUPE staff who spent the weekend cleaning these schools so that students could return to classes and focus on their education.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3365

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

[Page 6361]

Whereas on April 17th, I had the honour to be in attendance as members of the Lebanese community celebrated the 5th Annual Day of the Lebanese Emigrant at the Diman Lebanese Centre, to mark a day that the Lebanese Government set aside five years ago to remember those who left the Middle Eastern country; and

Whereas this event showcased many of the good things that the Lebanese people share with us, such as traditional Lebanese folkloric dance and wonderful food; and

Whereas the evening reached a pinnacle when the Emigrant of the Year award was presented to Patricia Arab for helping people settle in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Lebanese community on their celebration of the 5th Annual Day of the Lebanese Emigrant, and congratulate Patricia Arab on receiving the Emigrant of the Year award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3366

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

Whereas one only has to drive a few short kilometres out of the City of Halifax to experience what most believe to be some of the worst roads in the country; and

Whereas one of the key factors in attracting and enhancing business opportunities and economic development in an area is dependable infrastucture in good repair; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works' own reports indicated that they do not have sufficient funding to maintain, let alone improve, the conditions of Nova Scotian roads;

[Page 6362]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand that this government come to life and use all the revenue from the provincial fuel tax for its intended purpose.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3367

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

Whereas North Nova Senior High School student, Jon Decoste is one of six students representing Nova Scotia at the Canadian Student Debating Federation National Seminar in Saskatoon this week; and

Whereas the seminar began Saturday and will conclude this Sunday, May 1st, and features two themes, Human Rights and Saskatchewan's Centennial Celebration; and

Whereas Jon has debated numerous topics but admits his favourite subject for debate is politics;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House extend our best wishes to Jon Decoste and all Nova Scotian students participating in the National Seminar in Saskatchewan this week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6363]

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. 3368

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

Whereas Michael Smith is a Grade 1 student at Harrietsfield Elementary School and has been diagnosed with autism; and

Whereas autism is a condition which can be devastating to sufferers and their families alike, both emotionally and financially; and

Whereas the communities of Harrietsfield and Sambro pulled together this Saturday night to stage a benefit dance for Michael's family at the Silver Seas Social Club, and the place was hopping;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Max Edwards Band, Joel Callaghan, Scottie Millar and all others who came out to support the Smith family on the long journey ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3369

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

[Page 6364]

Whereas 2005 has been declared the Year of the Veteran to pay special tribute to Canadian veterans of wars of the last century; and

Whereas attendance in this Legislature is a direct result of veterans having fought for the right of freedom that we enjoy and sometimes take for granted; and

Whereas we extend our respect and tribute to veterans around the world who supported our troops, and to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join together in mutual respect and appreciation for our brave comrades known as veterans.

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. 3370

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

Whereas local Chezzetcook resident, Helen Crawford, turned 80 on January 16th; and

Whereas her birthday was celebrated by family and friends at the Chezzetcook Fire Hall; and

Whereas everyone who attended her birthday party, including myself, had a fantastic time, and it was a great afternoon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Helen Crawford on her 80th birthday and wish her many more healthy and happy years.

[Page 6365]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 3371

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

Whereas Cherubini Metal Works Ltd. started in Dartmouth in 1968 and has expanded to five manufacturing sites in the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas the company now employs 250 people and has sales of $40 million; and

Whereas the Gasparetto success story was highlighted in an article by Robert Martin in the Spring 2005, Nova Scotia - Open to the World, published by Progress;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Danilo and Renato Gasparetto for their vision, hard work, high standards, innovation and investment in this province, and wish all those involved with Cherubini Metal Works 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.

[Page 6366]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3372

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

Whereas Glenda Bower is the volunteer chairman of the Redcliffe Middle School Literacy Week Committee; and

Whereas Glenda Bower of Bible Hill is completing her 13th year as a parent volunteer in the schools; and

Whereas Glenda Bower has volunteered for the past six years at Redcliffe Middle School assisting with technical and peer guidance committees and previously volunteered for seven years at Bible Hill Central where she was president of the parent teacher committee and chairman of the playground committee;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Glenda Bower on her exemplary support to Bible Hill Central and Redcliffe Schools as a parent volunteer and hope that she continues her involvement in public schools in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 3373

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

[Page 6367]

Whereas non-profit groups throughout this province provide valuable services to all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas these groups keep our festivals going, keep our children active and provide community programming, in addition to a long list of other valuable services; and

Whereas non-profit groups in Nova Scotia are having an increasingly hard time providing services and keeping their doors open due to the high cost of liability insurance;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate action to ensure that Nova Scotia's non-profit sector can obtain affordable liability insurance.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[4:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3374

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

Whereas from Friday, April 22nd to April 24th, radio station Q104 held its third annual Pay per Play weekend in support of the Q104 Children's Trust Fund; and

Whereas this year the Q-Crew raised $13,349 with the help of listeners who programmed the weekend play list by donating $25 a song and $104 for a six pack of songs; and

Whereas the Q104 Children's Trust Fund has helped children throughout Nova Scotia, including Glace Bay, to help pay for medical aides to improve their quality of life;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature congratulate all those who participated in the Q104 Pay per Play weekend in support of the Q104 Children's Trust Fund and congratulate management and staff of Q104 for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6368]

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. 3375

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 Port Morien Theatre Players and Branch No. 55 Legion are staging a live dinner theatre production entitled, Laughter in the Dark, on April 29, 2005; and

Whereas this is the 15th year that the Port Morien Theatre Players have entertained nearly 400 enthusiasts annually; and

Whereas this sold out performance is made possible by community minded volunteers who reflect the solid character and fabric of the citizenry in Port Morien;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the organizers of and performers in, Laughter in the Dark.

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. 3376

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

[Page 6369]

Whereas ANZAC Day in New Zealand originally remembers those lost at the Battle for Gallipoli which commenced on this day 90 years ago; and

Whereas today, ANZAC Day has evolved to commemorate all New Zealanders killed in war and honour returned servicemen and women; and

Whereas today, April 25th is ANZAC Day and a member of this House is a veteran of the New Zealand, Australian, British and Canadian Air Forces and bravely served during World War II;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize on this day the contributions and sacrifices made by the people of New Zealand and Australia in the Two Great Wars and recognize the honourable member for Hants West for his personal contribution to protecting the freedom we enjoy today.

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. 3377

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

Whereas on February 25, 2005, the Halifax Regional Police Service honoured Constable Chris Friis, as their Officer of the Year at the Halifax Regional Police's Sixth Annual Awards Ceremony; and

Whereas Constable Friis was the first Village Constable chosen by the Halifax Regional Police Service in 2003, to serve the area of Dartmouth North; and

[Page 6370]

Whereas Constable Friis has been instrumental in developing an open line of communication between residents and the police and has also devoted his own time and resources to help children in need;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature acknowledge the great work done by Constable Friis and congratulate him on being chosen Officer of the Year by his peers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed.

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova

RESOLUTION NO. 3378

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

Whereas on Monday, March 20, 2005, at Central Division, Cape Breton Regional Police Services, the legacy of Carl "Campy" Crawford was acknowledged with the official unveiling of his portrait; and

Whereas Carl "Campy" Crawford, when he joined the Sydney Police Department in 1964, merited the distinction of being the first black police officer on a municipal police force east of Montreal; and

Whereas Carl "Campy" Crawford, with a personality second to none, served as a positive role model for young and old alike in his community;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate Carl "Campy" Crawford, one of the outstanding members of our African Nova Scotian community, who undoubtedly left his mark on our community, making it a better place to live, for today and for many years to come.

[Page 6371]

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. 3379

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

Whereas on April 20, 2005, Adult and Youth Volunteer Awards were announced to community members who have provided outstanding dedication to the children and youth at the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth; and

Whereas over the past 150 years, the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth has been recognizing the outstanding contributions of volunteers serving our communities; and

Whereas the 2005 recipients of the Dr. A. Gordon Archibald Award for Outstanding Adult Volunteer Leadership are Alonzo C. Wright and Peter Ryan; the Marilyn MacDonald Memorial Award for Outstanding Dartmouth YMCA Volunteer was presented to Eric Carloss; and Nada Le-Sayed was presented the Jack Duckworth Award for Youth Volunteer Leadership;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature extend our congratulations to the recipients of the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth Volunteer Awards, and wish them continued success in the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6372]

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3380

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 approximately 650,000 Canadians served in World War I, and nearly 69,000 died; and

Whereas approximately 1 million Canadians served in World War II, and more than 47,000 gave their lives; and

Whereas 2005 has been declared the Year of the Veteran in Canada to celebrate, honour and commemorate the achievements of the many veterans who participated overseas and on the home front in the various wars of the last century;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature join with millions of other Canadians to recognize and pay tribute to our many gallant men and women who fought so bravely and sacrificed so much for our freedom.

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 6373]

RESOLUTION NO. 3381

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

Whereas on Thursday, March 3rd, the Second Annual Health Fair was held in Freeport Community Hall with the 78 participants ensuring that both floors of the centre, including the first floor stage, were well used; and

Whereas this remarkable event was organized by the staff of the Expanded Capacity Paramedic/Nurse Practitioner Project, which is a unique primary care initiative that provides exceptional health care service for these communities; and

Whereas this fair has increased the potential for other wellness enhancement, health promotion and prevention interventions to be established;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the continuing efforts of the committed health professionals of the Long and Brier Island Expanded Capacity Project who are diligently working to improve the lives of citizens on Long and Brier Island.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3382

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

Whereas Nicole MacDonald of Stillwater Lake has been selected as the Easter Seals 2005 Ambassador for Nova Scotia; and

[Page 6374]

Whereas this daughter of Mariette and Ken MacDonald is a busy, involved student at Madeline Symonds Middle School; and

Whereas Nicole will appear as the Easter Seals Ambassador at fundraisers for the Abilities Foundation throughout the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Nicole MacDonald on her selection as the Easter Seals 2005 Ambassador, with best wishes for a great future of further noteworthy accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 3383

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

Whereas five years ago the Lebanese Government set aside the annual Day of the Lebanese Emigrant to remember those who left Lebanon to make their way in other parts of the world; and

Whereas on Sunday, April 17, 2005, in a celebration of the culture and traditions of their homeland, Lebanese Nova Scotians gathered at the Diman Lebanese Centre to recognize the achievements made by the community, as well as their contributions to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the evening was a celebration of traditional food, music and folkloric dance, as well as hope for peace in their homeland;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House congratulate the Lebanese community for this successful event and recognize their many contributions to Nova Scotia.

[Page 6375]

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3384

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

Whereas teaching is a noble profession and those who undertake to teach our children must be recognized for their patience and commitment to our youth; and

Whereas Karen Rogers-MacKinnon recently retired after 33 years as a teacher and school administrator with the Halifax Regional School Board; and

Whereas Karen Rogers-MacKinnon spent 28 years working at the junior high school level in Dartmouth before becoming vice-principal at the Eastern Passage Education Centre in 2001 where she worked until her retirement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Karen Rogers-MacKinnon for her 33 years as a teacher and administrator in the Dartmouth area, and wish her all the best in her retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6376]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3385

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 Sackville has a long and memorable hockey history, with many teams achieving the title of provincial champ; and

Whereas the Sackville Pee Wee AAA Flyers hockey team had a very successful 2005 season and captured this year's provincial title; and

Whereas the prestige of being named Nova Scotia's 2005 Pee Wee AAA Champions gave the coaches and players the honour of representing Nova Scotia at this year's Atlantic Pee Wee AAA Hockey Championship in Mount Pearl;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly congratulate the Sackville Pee Wee AAA Flyers for capturing this year's Pee Wee AAA hockey championship title and for being great ambassadors for Nova Scotia at this year's Pee Wee AAA Championship in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Nova.

[Page 6377]

RESOLUTION NO. 3386

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

Whereas on October 19, 2004, in the City of Ottawa, Calvin Ruck, a well-known activist and senator, passed away; and

Whereas Calvin contributed significantly to the betterment of African Canadians as a volunteer at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Black Cultural Centre, and as a historian and author, focusing on the war efforts of African Canadians; and

Whereas Calvin Ruck was named to the Order of Canada in 1995 and was appointed to the Senate in 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the tireless efforts of Calvin Ruck in the fight for equality for African Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3387

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

Whereas Daniel Fong will be graduating in May of this year from Dalhousie University with a combined honours degree in Computer Science and Physics at the ripe old age of 17, having begun his studies there at only 12; and

[Page 6378]

Whereas Daniel has been researching quantum physics at the university for several years, and in the Fall of this year he will be starting his doctorate studies at Princeton University in the United States on a full scholarship - concentrating on plasma physics; and

Whereas Daniel is one of only seven students worldwide to be accepted into this prestigious program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Daniel Fong for the academic successes he has achieved at such a young age and congratulate him on his upcoming graduation from Dalhousie University, and wish him much future success in his doctoral studies at Princeton University in the Fall.

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.

[5:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3388

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

Whereas Mayann Francis, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, in 2004 started an initiative directed at the business sector, called Champions for a Healthy Workplace; and

Whereas the goal of this project is to have representatives from the business community share their ideas about a diverse workplace; and

Whereas on February 1, 2005 the Human Rights Commission named Convergys Customer Management their third Champion of the Workplace, and Convergys shared their challenges in managing diversity in the workplace;

[Page 6379]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the chief executive officer and staff of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission for their progressive thinking and Convergys Customer Management for being on the forefront of implementing positive processes for integrating diversity in the workplace.

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. 3389

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

Whereas the Sackville Tweens defeated Charlottetown 12 to 4 to win the early bird Ringette Tournament in Montague, P.E.I. late last year, and

Whereas Blaine Vey, Head Coach and Peter Nowen, Assistant Coach, worked, and continue to work with this team to improve their ringette skills and teach them how to be team players; and

Whereas this is a team of bright young ladies with bright futures ahead;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending along congratulations to Sackville Tween team and to the coaching staff.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6380]

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. 3390

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

Whereas Reverend Donald Sutherland was recently presented with the honorary title of Minister Emeritus at the Salem United Church in River John; and

Whereas this honour bestowed by the session, the congregation and the Presbytery of Pictou County is given to a person who has shown exemplary service to the faith and is known by reputation for outstanding accomplishments throughout their ministerial career; and

Whereas Rev. Sutherland has faithfully served his church and various communities for close to 50 years in New Brunswick, Cape Breton, and since his retirement in 1997, as a supply minister to rural communities in Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Reverend Donald Sutherland on his appointment as Minister Emeritus at Salem United Church, River John and thank him for a lifetime of dedicated service to the church and the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 6381]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3391

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

Whereas Ethel O'Toole is now postmistress at the Lakeside Post Office which serves the growing communities along the St. Margaret's and Prospect Roads; and

Whereas Ethel's career began at the old Lakeside Post Office in 1976; and

Whereas Ethel O'Toole has demonstrated valuable leadership and dedication in our community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Ethel O'Toole on her appointment as the postmistress of the Lakeside Post Office with best wishes for a great future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3392

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

Whereas the establishment of the Interprofessional Core Curriculum (ICC), a continuing education program launched by Cancer Care Nova Scotia, will enhance the care already received by cancer patients in our province; and

[Page 6382]

Whereas the ICC program has 10 modules, including pain management, symptom management, treatment and side effects which will be offered in health districts across the province;

Whereas the ICC program is the first of its kind in Canada and designed to increase health professionals' knowledge, skills and promote changes in their professional practice;

Therefore be it resolved the members of this House congratulate Cancer Care Nova Scotia for launching the Interprofessional Core Curriculum and wish the program great success in the years to come.

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 Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3393

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

Whereas residents of the Eastern Shore want the repair, maintenance and upgrading of Highway No. 7 to be made a priority project as part of the clear public plan to keep Nova Scotia roads in good repair; and

Whereas the threatened delisting of the Liscomb Game Sanctuary as a protected wildlife area and the lack of designation of the Ship Harbour Long Lake area as a protected wilderness area causes concern to many; and

Whereas the lack of access to high-speed Internet and public transportation are proving to be barriers to enhanced economic and social development on the Eastern Shore;

[Page 6383]

Therefore be it resolved that this government acknowledge the importance of these issues expressed by residents of the Eastern Shore and lay out detailed plans to implement these priorities.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 153, the Public Service Act.

Bill No. 153 - Public Service Act.

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'll keep my remarks very short with respect to the bill. This bill, as we all know, has been introduced with respect to the Office of Immigration, the new office, which we announced a few short months ago.

The idea behind the bill and the office is to attract immigrants here to our province, to retain them and to help integrate them into Nova Scotia society. Immigrants can offer a great deal to our province both culturally and economically, and we are very pleased with our progress thus far, but we still have a lot of work to do.

[Page 6384]

I mentioned in my comments at the bill briefing that next year was the first year that our death rate would exceed our birth rate. In fact, I want to correct that. Actually this year is the first year that our death rate exceeds our birth rate. That is certainly part of what the government has been looking at in putting forward the new office through the Premier's leadership.

So I look forward to my colleagues' comments in the Legislature as the bill proceeds. I think this is an office which will benefit not only immigrants, but all Nova Scotians. With that, I would like to move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place and to say a few words with respect to Bill No. 153, which establishes an Office of Immigration.

I think there isn't anybody here in this Legislature who isn't aware of the importance of immigration as a public policy issue, particularly given the facts that the minister has just outlined, which is that we are entering into a period of severe population instability in our province. The birth rate this year is thought to be lower than the death rate in the province. While I think this is really an important initiative, I'm wondering when the government is going to do some analysis and assessment of why the birth rate is dropping in the province. I think that it would be interesting to have more than a common-sense kind of answer, but a bit of analysis would be quite helpful.

We know that the Province of Nova Scotia is a province, for all intents and purposes, that was built by immigrants. We can look around the Province of Nova Scotia and we can point to communities and monuments, accomplishments, and we can relate those communities or accomplishments, monuments to particular cultural groups that have been in this province for many, many years: the French, the Germans, former slaves, the Polish community, Italian, Greek, et cetera, this is a province of great diversity and much ethnicity and I think that we all understand that. However, in looking at the immigration strategy that the government set out, there are a number of concerns that I've heard expressed and I think this is a very good opportunity to start a public debate about some of the weaknesses in the government's strategy on immigration.

Mr. Speaker, it's not only a matter of recruiting immigrants to Nova Scotia. The problem, I think, has been and will continue to be the question of retention of immigrants in the province. In many ways Nova Scotia lags behind other provinces in terms of taking a more hands-on approach to having a provincial initiative, provincial policy, some infrastructure to increase the number of people who not only come to Nova Scotia but who stay in Nova Scotia. I want to say that one of the things that I hear expressed most often is the concern that we seem to be placing a very heavy value on recruiting people into the

[Page 6385]

Province of Nova Scotia who have money, who come here with not just a little bit of money but a lot of money.

Our own program, right now, to attract immigrants into the Province of Nova Scotia is one where you have to have a considerable amount of money to invest in a business where you also bring some skills and you work and you may or may not realize a great deal of payback for your investment. So, there are concerns that the people who are being recruited and who this province are expressing an interest in, are only a particular economic class of immigrants and that an awful lot of people who have skills and great possibilities are being left outside. So this, I think, is something that government really does need to take into account and, hopefully will have some kind of a plan to broaden the categories of people who can come to Nova Scotia.

I think that the idea of having to improve the recruitment and retention of immigrants into our province has been around for a long time. I remember the Voluntary Planning council here in Nova Scotia a number of years ago made this recommendation in their report and certainly various chambers of commerce have been talking about this for some considerable period of time. It has taken the government a while, I think, to realize that in terms of our population statistics that it is something that we really need to grapple with. I think last year, if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Speaker, this province encountered a financial penalty under the equalization formula between ourselves and the federal government based on a declining population. We had, I think, been either overpaid in terms of revenue under the equalization program or we had anticipated a certain rate of revenue that, in fact, wasn't available to us because the population that we were making calculations around and the rate of growth simply wasn't there.

I know I attended an all-day session organized out of the Department of Education, the African-Canadian Education division specifically looking at immigration to Nova Scotia from the Black Diaspora. The various presenters spoke about the concerns that they had that the motivation for our immigration policy wasn't necessarily a motivation that embraced the wealth of human resources that diverse immigration policy can bring but, in fact, the motivation was narrowly, economically and financially focused, and this was something that people talked about throughout the conference that day.

[5:15 p.m.]

This daylong conference or forum that I attended was very informative because there were a lot of people there who had paid attention to immigration issues for many years. There were representatives from MISA, there was a member of the faculty over at Saint Mary's who has been doing research on immigration to Canada. There were people who had come to Nova Scotia from other parts of the world. In this quite diverse group of people, there were people who told their stories of how difficult it was to find employment in Nova Scotia, how difficult it was to feel accepted into the province and to have their culture, their values,

[Page 6386]

recognized as being valid and being welcome. They talked about the kinds of challenges that they have felt and that they have had to overcome in staying in our province and really fighting hard to feel comfortable here and to feel like they were welcome and that they are a part of this province.

In some ways I think that's hard for some of us to hear. If we haven't experienced this, then it's not something we can relate to based on our experience, and if it's something that we're not open to understanding because I think we have this image of ourselves as an open society, an open province, a welcoming province, a friendly province. I know that is the sort of image that we have been attempting to project, certainly through some of our tourism advertising and what have you. So we have to make those images the reality, if they're not the reality. We have to listen to people who come here from elsewhere, if they're telling us that that hasn't been their reality then we need to accept that that hasn't been their reality and that we can do better and we need to learn from them what those steps are that would help people feel comfortable, welcome and feel a part of our community.

There are a couple of other issues around our immigration future, I guess I would say, our approach to immigration that I and I know other people grapple with. Certainly, one of the things that is a concern is how do we bring into our province people who want to be here and who have much to offer our province, without stripping countries, particularly developing countries, of their highly-skilled, well-trained young adults or professional people? Certainly sometimes when I speak with people in the health profession, they, on the one hand, recognize the need for a system that will help the recognition of credentials of people from other places and the ability to evaluate those credentials and the ability to support people in having their credentials updated to meet any of the requirements to practice as a professional, let's say, here in Nova Scotia or in Canada.

At the same time, people in the health profession who are doing work, particularly in developing countries, are worried. They feel there's an ethical and a moral obligation that the West, western countries and a province like ours and a country like ours, that we not rob the developing world of their well-trained, particularly in the health care field, that we don't address our health care human resource professional shortages by taking away from countries, that themselves do not have a large supply of well-qualified and well-trained young adults.

This is something that I'm just really starting to appreciate as an issue and one that certainly I think we all have an obligation to learn more about. It's at least nine years ago when I studied overseas in the U.K. I had a classmate who was from Zimbabwe and she taught in a medical school in Zimbabwe and her PhD thesis was on how to retain medical doctors in that country who were being trained and paid for by her government and the great pressure that they were under to try to keep young doctors in the country. Of course, their practices and the conditions under which they practice were a lot different than ours in some ways. The resources that a doctor in the West would have available to them and the salaries,

[Page 6387]

the rewards, all of those kinds of things are so much greater here. So I can certainly understand why this is a problem that we have to, I think, come to terms with.

I think that while the Office of Immigration is an important initiative of government, I think one of the things that we've talked about in our caucus is the concern that our minister seems to continually get more and more little pieces of responsibility so that the Office of Immigration is now put into the office under the Minister who is also responsible for Tourism, Culture and Heritage, who's also responsible for the Office of Health Promotion. These are all very big and important initiatives in their own right. So, I guess on some level you wonder how much time and how much attention one person can really give to all of these great responsibilities that are very weighty? I see the Government House Leader is agreeing that it is a big responsibility and many responsibilities for one person to have. I think this is an important thing to say.

The last thing I think that needs to be recognized is the difficulty that people who come from away have in getting employment in Nova Scotia. This is something that we hear over and over again, that there is a great difficulty. That you get people who come here to Nova Scotia who are very well educated, who speak many languages, who have a strong history of employment in their home countries and elsewhere and they end up being so disillusioned and discouraged by having to take minimum wage part-time jobs in the service sector, quite often in retail. I served on the board of directors of a transition house before I was elected, there was a woman on our board who was from the former Yugoslavia. She had worked in her country as an employment lawyer and here in Canada she was never able for many, many years to get anything other than jobs in retail as a clerk. I know other people who have come here from Bosnia, Kosovo, and these countries who have ended up in similar situations.

It's a revolving door of short-term contracts, low-paying work, and no real ability to find apprenticeships, find those mentoring kinds of opportunities where actually they could be placed or paired up with an employer working in the field that they had a great deal of previous employment history. I think, in particular, about a woman I know who has worked with children, developmentally delayed children, children with special needs, and it just breaks her heart that she's unable to find work, get her foot in the door to employment in an area that she has a great deal of expertise and skill.

If we only had some programs that would partner with newcomers that would have placements available so that they would have an opportunity to be introduced into the industry that they already know, that they have experience and skills in, then it would make such a difference. We all know that credentials are often not enough. Having a degree or having employment history is not enough. You often need those contacts. You have to be able to network and if you come here without those contacts, to try to break in and meet the right people and make those connections it can be very difficult. If you put on top of that language barriers, then it truly is difficult.

[Page 6388]

So I think one of the things that we would certainly like to see more from this government is a real action plan that has some meat on the bones, that really has those mechanisms and, of course, we all know of the good work of MISA. They have largely, through federal government funding, services that they provide for newcomers in assisting to start up small business or be mentored by business people. There are English as second language classes that are offered and, of course, the regional school board offers these programs as well.

I think that there are still many pieces of the government's immigration strategy that need to be more fully developed and it's certainly a process that we in the NDP caucus welcome more public debate and discussion around. We will be participating as fully as we can in that process because we are very committed to having a province that takes full advantage of a much more robust immigration policy, one that would see newcomers coming here not only for economic reasons, but also for cultural reasons. I think our province has benefited tremendously by the cultural makeup of the province and we can only benefit more if we continue on the trajectory of our history.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be able to rise today and say a few words about Bill No. 153 which is the revision of the Public Service Act to establish the Office of Immigration. I really believe that we're on the right track in doing this. Again, we have not been expedient in adopting this new direction, but I think the public and Nova Scotians at large fully accept and understand now the need to diversify and increase immigration and encourage diversity here in our province.

[5:30 p.m.]

It's a very obvious thing in my own neighbourhood, in the Clayton Park riding, just how much it has enriched our neighbourhood and schools. I'm sure that I'm right in saying that that riding would be the most multicultural of all of our ridings in the province. I think, as we're talking in terms of newcomers wanting to feel welcome and at home, they will often go to a neighbourhood where there are a lot of other people from their own background and country. That gives them a sense of comfort and camaraderie and support as they're establishing their roots here in this new land.

Over the last number of years we have found in our schools that the number of children coming in from other countries is really high. Actually, in Halifax West, there are 80 students in full-time ESL training because they've arrived without the right background in English and they are taking full-time classes there. You can appreciate it's a big part of the school as well, out of 1,600 students, to have that number taking ESL.

[Page 6389]

At the same time, when we talk about that we need to talk about supports for those new Canadians. Up to now, the ESL training has been provided through supplementary funding and we wouldn't have any teachers to help those students integrate into our schools and into our communities without that proper training. It's also noteworthy that every single one of the schools in the Clayton Park riding has an outreach worker from the YMCA who is specifically there to help newcomers; to work with the youth who are in the schools, to help them have activities. They have programmed activities on the weekends and after school, things that help them become acclimated here and to help keep busy and active and healthy, it's a very important role they play.

I had the opportunity recently to sit in a workshop of new Canadians and around the table were those youth workers with the YMCA, as well as some other newcomers. The purpose of the workshop was to talk about the new recreation centre that's being planned for the Clayton Park riding. It's to be almost adjacent to the new high school that's up there - Halifax West High School. In the planning phases, the committee and boards that are running this from a community side recognize the need to consult with our new Canadians because they are such a significant force and so valued in our community.

So, the workshop took place to find out what specific needs might be addressed in building this community centre. I call it a recreation centre, but I really do believe, as in many communities, it will become the heart and soul of our neighbourhood as well; a place for people to meet. It's actually being built as a replacement for Northcliff Recreation Centre, which is now in very bad repair and should be torn down as soon as we can replace it.

What was really interesting in the workshop was the ideas that came forward. They really reflect the idea of our community demonstrating that it is welcoming and open. Things like signage that welcomes people in more than one language, in Arabic and Korean, things like that, so when they come in they would feel at home right away and be recognized as a significant part of our community. These things aren't expensive programs or even features of a building to include, they would simply be a sign and a meaningful gesture to the newcomers in our midst that we appreciate them. In fact, we have adopted the idea that our community reflects a multicultural community, and we want to be as reflective and to celebrate that as much as possible.

Each of our schools have large multicultural fairs and events. In Halifax West, more than 50 languages are spoken at that high school, and there are many more countries represented. I know the honourable member for Fairview would also be very well aware of that because many of his constituents attend there, as well, it's really something to be celebrated.

I think there are some lessons we can learn in that community that perhaps other communities can benefit from. A lot of the people coming here from other countries are looking for the urban experience, and HRM presents a city that's a reasonable size. They feel

[Page 6390]

safe and they are often drawn here because of our educational opportunities. So, again, making sure their children are given every support to integrate into the public school system - in the Primary to Grade 12 - is very important. Also, part of the attraction for many of the newcomers is the access to higher education, which living in HRM provides.

So we have to do as much as we can, as well, on the university side to help recognize those students and help them, again, be integrated and part of our community. I also attended a panel recently that had a number of people who were newcomers as well as some representatives of government on the panel and in the discussion, one of the interesting things that came up, it took place at Mount Saint Vincent University, one of the interesting comments that was actually raised in the question period by one of the people there was that in the past, in our waves of immigration, we've often had the bread winner, or the male in the family, would move to a new a country and establish roots and then send for the rest of their family.

That's actually changed a lot in recent years. Often a family overseas will send one of their young people to our universities or to come over here, even in our high schools, we have international students. And they'll come here and sort of check out the place, essentially find out whether or not this is a good place to come live and the parents have an opportunity to visit and check how the children are doing. If that young person puts down roots and is satisfied and happy with Nova Scotia, then their family may very well follow them. So it's a little bit different in terms of the order of who's coming first and who's getting a foothold in the new country. I think that that's very important to notice and to again put a lot of attention on to the university students who are coming here.

Now the Government of Canada just recently made a change that will allow university students to begin to work off campus, because up to now they've only had the opportunity to work on jobs that were on campus. When they're allowed to work off campus, that will give them work experience that is recognized, better cultural acclimation, and more contacts in the community and it will also help them pay for the education which they are being charged extra for to come here.

I think it's a very important move and, Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping that the Government of Nova Scotia will very quickly move - and perhaps through the auspices of this office - to ratify that and take whatever steps are needed to ensure that we can do that here in Nova Scotia and then each university is to sign on with the province. So there are a number of steps that are needed before our students here in Nova Scotia can actually take that step and begin to work off campus. I think that's very important to look at as well.

Again with the university students, we have so many of them here in the province that are international students and they are already receiving Canadian credentials in recognized professional designations. I think that that means that if we can, if they're interested, and we can open the door for them, we'll be very much the winner in this situation because these

[Page 6391]

young people bring fantastic experience and a lot of ethic and hard work with them and they're ready to make their home here in Nova Scotia. So I think that we need to do all we can to make sure that Nova Scotia is ready and willing and extends the welcome mat to these young people and through our programs we can do that.

Speaking of the immigration strategy, I think the consultation that was done around that strategy was very good, it was extensive and people could come in and I know that many individuals that were known to me asked to come in and make representation and they were heard. But I think it may be a little weak on the university side, and our universities are a tremendous asset in this whole puzzle of how we encourage immigration. So, Mr. Speaker, I do hope that that will be strengthened when the office is in place.

It was only a few years ago, in fact in April 2003, that I participated in the steering committee for a conference, it was called the Immigration Partnership Conference. The Immigration Minister at the time was Denis Coderre and he came here and addressed the gathering and it was a two-day event that brought together stakeholders in immigration. Really, to me - and I think to many people who work in immigration - it was seen as a turning point in Nova Scotia's attitude and acceptance of immigration.

By holding that conference, one of the key things that came out of it was that immigration is not a just a federal matter, it's of extreme importance to our province and I think our immigration strategy has recognized that. Looking at our demographics, looking at the future of a declining population and recognizing that we need several answers and one of them is immigration. I think the other thing it did was it helped to get the discussion about immigration coming forward and into the public eye.

Frankly, there had been a sense that discussing anything about immigration, for example in the media, would lead to some kind of backlash, that people would write letters to the editor that were negative. That had been the case in the past. As short a time as three years ago, immigration stakeholders were a little nervous about holding a conference and speaking publically about the benefits of immigration. What really came from that was, I think that the media and other people that influenced these things become more informed and aware and a lot of the myths were dispelled. And those myths are things like has already been mentioned, people worrying about whether or not immigration will take our available jobs in a province that has often known high unemployment, it's a difficult time for people. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I would ask for them to be quiet please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think in fairness to the member for Halifax Clayton Park, she noticed that a number of members were standing still in their places and facing the Speaker and she thought that at the time they were looking for the attention of the Speaker.

[Page 6392]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much. I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker. As I said, I think that we've come a long way in three short years and those myths are being dispelled. The major myth was that newcomers to our province will take jobs from ourselves or from our children and in a province with high unemployment it has been a concern to people. But I think there are so many, not only statistics and so on that point to the fact that newcomers generate wealth, generate jobs and opportunity for our own province and for others here, that they really contribute to our overall prosperity and I think that that is now well understood by Nova Scotians in general.

I think also the statistics speak for themselves, that among the population of newcomers, there are fewer of them that receive any kind of provincial or federal support. They generally have a higher income level. They are higher educated, by and large, and in fact it's worth noting that in the requirements that we have to come to Canada, the requirements are very high.

In fact I was at a dinner where they were talking about an exercise that was done in Manitoba, where all the people who came to this dinner were the business leaders and the political leaders of their city and province and they did a little test as people came through the door to see whether or not those people would have qualified as Canadians. They were asked to give the qualifications of their grandparents as the measure of whether or not they could have come in, and when they went back to the occupations or the educational level of their grandparents, they would not have qualified as Canadians themselves and these were really the leaders, as I say, in commerce, in business and education in their province. It was a real eye opener and I think that it would be good for all of us to consider whether or not we or our family members might have been allowed to come to Canada under the very stringent rules and levels that we set as a government.

I think that we have to appreciate that the people we are attracting go through a lot of hoops, they wait a long time, and they work hard to become Canadians, to gain access and entry to our country, and really they bring with them so many valuable skills that I think Nova Scotians are beginning to realize and no longer question those benefits and I think it has come about because of things like the immigration partnership conference that brought together all three levels of government and also the business community recognizing that all the stakeholders have to play a role.

I hope that that will be a continued focus of this Office of Immigration because really it isn't just provincial now either, we also need to integrate with the municipalities and we need to also look beyond HRM - as much as I've spoken about the benefits and the welcoming community that exists in Clayton Park - I know in some places in Nova Scotia many of our rural areas are really suffering from out-migration and declining population. Just speaking to the member for Digby-Annapolis a few moments ago, he was saying that last year

[Page 6393]

he had checked on the statistics and there were about twice as many funerals as there were live births in Digby last year.

It definitely points to the fact that they're having a population crisis in the rural areas, and there's no reason at all why our newcomers to Nova Scotia would not be encouraged to go to those communities if the door is open and there's a welcome made. Many of them would be setting up businesses and creating employment. So I think we need to consider the smaller communities.

One of the better ideas I have heard about immigration to smaller centres, one that I know the federal government looked at and I'm not sure how far they've gone with it, but in the past and current situation is that a family applies independently so that if they pass the health and medical and all the other things that are required, then they come in as a single family unit. Often what's required is that support network and at a meeting that was held, and I think it was a public session in Truro a couple of years ago, the discussion came up and I believe that the CoRDA, which the regional development agency in that area, had suggested that they would look at sponsoring a group of families to come at one time, so you might have five or six families from a certain country, perhaps from Korea or China, that came together and they know each other and they have a network and it gives them a cultural centre from which they can build their strong footing here in Nova Scotia. I think it would support and nurture new Canadians.

[5:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor and there's a lot of noise in the Chamber. If it's possible to carry conversations outside, then that would be welcome.

MS. WHALEN: While that is an example of one of the things that I think would help very much for us to encourage new Canadians to seek homes in some of the smaller towns and centres in Nova Scotia and I hope that these ideas will be coming forward and that we'll have a strong advocate in the Office of Immigration and through the Minister of Immigration as well.

So I hope that that will happen and I notice in the bill that one of the functions of the office, it says to "facilitate and promote a co-ordinated approach within the Government . . ." and I think that's very important because I mentioned ESL, for example, as an educational concern in the school system and also the provision of support workers, because that's just as important as the language skills, having somebody who can help the young people, especially, integrate and feel at home. So I think that we need to consider that which perhaps would be through the Department of Education, and when we talk about health care, again we need to be providing government services that are welcoming and acceptable and that the newcomers don't feel a barrier to accessing. It's very important because one of the things they

[Page 6394]

come here for are things like our fine health care system, but they have to have a means and a comfort level in accessing that and it may mean that we have to create some special advocates or help to do that.

So, anyway, I really encourage that idea that we not approach immigration as a silo that's just one minister's responsibility. This is the responsibility of all of government and, in fact, all of us as members of the Legislature. I hope that municipal councillors and others will also take up the banner and talk about immigration and its benefits, so that all Nova Scotians will fully appreciate it and also come to believe, as we do, that that is a key to our future prosperity.

On the question of retention, I know we're looking at, I think, a 70 per cent retention is what is being targeted and doubling our numbers of immigrants, and actually by doubling our numbers over a number of years we'll still only be returning to the level we were at in 1995. I think it's worth noting that we had what might have been a spike or an unusual lift in immigration at that time, but we dropped off significantly, and other provinces like Manitoba continue to grow and they're now several times the number of immigrants that we are for a province of the same size. So I know that there are some lessons to be learned, especially by the aggressive approach taken by Manitoba and I hope that we'll be looking at what works there and maybe what is transferable here as well.

In terms of the universities, again I would like to see a stronger tie into the Office of Immigration, maybe greater consultation so that we can flush out more what could actually be done. The final thing is exactly what the scope of the office will be. I'm very anxious in the budget to see just how much we value this new initiative. I'm very hopeful it will be much more than just an office in name only because we need to be effective. We need enough people working there and we need enough resources that that office can go out and not only take people's ideas that maybe contribute to some good things that could be done - and I know that the member for Halifax Needham has suggested more programs need to be put in place that will help Nova Scotians connect with these newcomers who are in our midst, and I totally agree.

A number of years ago there was a good program run through the metro universities which was called an International Host Program. That has fallen by the wayside because of either a lack of support, or opportunity I guess, to advertise it, but what it did was it provided an opportunity for people living in Halifax to put their name in and be matched with a university student from another country, and they were sort of a home family, but they didn't live with you, they simply came and shared different cultural events, maybe Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas, or Halloween, things that would just let them see what life is like off campus, because for many students they don't really leave campus and they don't get to see a glimpse of what it's like for Canadian families, or in a Canadian neighbourhood - you know, what we're doing.

[Page 6395]

So it was a great way to integrate and, again, for the Canadian families to have an opportunity to expose themselves and their children to ideas and people from around the world. My family participated in that for a number of years until it went by the wayside and I was very happy to do that because my husband and I had had the opportunity of living overseas for eight years, and we didn't want our children not to have that opportunity to meet people from around the world. So this provided a wonderful avenue to do that and I think there are so many good ideas like that, but your Office of Immigration is going to require some funds to help community groups and others to establish these kind of programs.

So, I'm very interested again to see the scope of the office and what is planned. I know we're certainly looking forward to continued debate on the issue of immigration. Again, we're very pleased to see that the Government of Nova Scotia is at least moving to establish this office. We have high expectations and we intend to look for results from that office.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 153, which establishes the Office of Immigration at Cabinet level comes to us in a context. The immediate context within which we receive this bill of course is the government's issuance of an immigration strategy document within the last few months. I want to talk, first, a bit about the immigration strategy before turning to another and I think larger context.

It was extremely heartening to see the Premier and several of his Cabinet Ministers standing publicly on the stage at Pier 21 several months ago announcing the province's immigration strategy. This was, in fact, a very fine public policy step to have taken and it sent a very good signal. It sent a signal to the business community, it sent a signal to the federal government, it sent a signal abroad that Nova Scotia is seriously interested in the issue of immigration. At the same time, I have to worry about the extent to which we are actually putting ourselves in a position to take effective steps to advance this immigration strategy.

The opening, I think, for anyone considering our move into immigration as a central public policy matter in Nova Scotia is to recognize that it has been a long time coming. I know that I myself have made reference to immigration in speeches in this House for many years. I can remember personally mentioning immigration as one aspect of an economic development strategy, going back any number of years. I'm certainly not, in mentioning that, attempting to take any credit for the government finally moving in this direction, because it's clear that despite my mentioning of it and despite other members mentioning it from time to time in this House, it was only when the Metro Chamber of Commerce finally, very bluntly, in the last year or two said to the Government of Nova Scotia that we need more immigrants here in order to fill anticipated and actual vacancies in jobs that the government began to move. So it was slow, we've been very slow in coming to this. It is, of course, a very desirable place to have arrived at, but it is only an initial step and we have been slow.

[Page 6396]

The aspect of it being only an initial step is quite crucial to understand as well and on that we have to look at the numbers. Nova Scotia, at the moment, is the recipient of only about 1,300 persons per year who come here as immigrants and refugees. Now, Nova Scotia's population is about 1 million people, it's just under 1 million people and that's 3 per cent of the Canadian population. Now, if we were taking into Nova Scotia, if we were attracting to Nova Scotia, a proportion of the immigrants and refugees who come to Canada every year that corresponded to our domestic population already, that is to say, 3 per cent, we would be bringing here about 7,500 persons, that is about 3 per cent of the level of total numbers of immigrants and refugees who come to Canada every year. Now our present number is only 1,300 or so. Clearly, we are nowhere near achieving what should be a minimum number. That target of 3 per cent that I've suggested should be really firmly fixed in our minds as a minimum number that Nova Scotia ought to be able to attract.

The target that the immigration strategy sets is to double the 1,300 that we're getting now over, I think, a five or so year period. That's still only going to move us to be one-third of the level at which we ought to be.

Stated another way, what it means is that at the moment we receive one-half of 1 per cent of the immigrants and refugees who come to Canada. This is in a province with 3 per cent of the national population. The target is to move us from one-half of 1 per cent to 1 per cent. Yet, we'll still be 3 per cent or perhaps less of the population of Canada, if other provinces increase their population at a time when ours remains stagnant.

So the numbers are not encouraging. This is a very modest step forward. I think we can do better. I think those numbers can be improved upon. In part, it's a matter of allocating resources; in part, it's a matter of constructing effective programs; in part, it's a question of taking the issue seriously. I'm not convinced that the government yet takes the issue as seriously as they ought to.

I want to say immediately that I think immigration is a very good thing for our province. I think immigration is a very good thing for Canada. Canada has been built on immigration, of course. Our province has been built on immigration. Any serious economic study of the effect of immigrants in Canada has shown, time and time again, that immigrants are not a drain, are not having negative impacts on governments or on resources or on the economy. Every serious economic study shows that immigrants are a huge economic stimulus.

I want to suggest that there's an easy way to think about immigration, about increasing our population through immigration that should help anyone who has any hesitation at all about the positive impact or about our ability to absorb immigrants into our society. Here's the way to think about it, just imagine that instead of each of our families that have children now having - what's the average, 1.6, 1.7 children per family, round it to two - assume that families, instead of having two children started having three children again or

[Page 6397]

four. Would people be throwing up their hands and saying, the economy of Nova Scotia is going to go into ruins? How will the Minister of Education ever be able to absorb into the school system all these new children? How will we be able to provide for them in the future? Where will the jobs come from? How will we be able to deal with them in the health care system?

Now it might be a surprise if people in Canada started having, in each and every family, at least one more child than they're having now. Clearly Canadians have decided against it, but if that were to happen, it would not be an economic disaster, it would be clearly seen as an economic stimulus, it would clearly be seen as something that the economy could manage. The school system would not be in chaos; the health care system would not be in chaos. We would be able to plan for it, deal with it and, in fact, it would be just fine.

That's the way to think about immigration. That's the way to think about people coming from abroad into Nova Scotia or elsewhere in Canada. The systems we have in place will not be in chaos; the systems we have in place will be able to deal with it. Of course it requires some thinking, because many of these people will not come here speaking one of the two official languages, although many of them will, too. It's not as if this can happen without thought. It helps to turn thought to it, but it's well within our capabilities. It's exactly because it is well within our capabilities that we should be getting on with it.

Before I turn to virtues beyond the economic, we can nonetheless round this out. I pointed out a minute ago that we have some unfilled job positions and we can anticipate more to come. There are those studies out there, they do indicate this. There is something a little more evanescent though about the nature of immigrants. People who have the gumption to be able to pick themselves up from one part of the world and move themselves to another part of the world are exactly the kind of people who are likely to be able to succeed in their new homes.

[6:00 p.m.]

I want to testify to this. Frequently over the last few years I have been asked by MISA - the Metro Immigrant Settlement Association - to come and speak to their classes. This is the main organization in Nova Scotia that helps new immigrants and refugees settle here. Several times this year I've been asked by the Halifax Regional School Board to come and speak to their classes where they're offering courses in English as a second language. For all of these classes, I've been asked to come and speak about how government functions, particularly the provincial government of course, but inevitably that kind of discussion leads into the function of the federal government and the function of municipal government, from there the discussion goes in many directions. Anyone who talks to a class will know this experience.

[Page 6398]

What I have found invariably in those classes is a group of people who are bright, who are learning enormous amounts about their new country, who are mad keen to make a place for themselves and their families here in Nova Scotia. I'll emphasize that last bit because they would like to stay in Nova Scotia if they could. To jump ahead and for the minister's benefit, I'll say that the factor they identify as the biggest barrier is not having jobs available to them here, I'm sure the minister knows that.

These are amazing people, these are people who are clearly dynamic, these are people who will clearly be successful in their future lives. These are people who will do well by themselves and by their families, by their children and the next generation. In many ways, that's not a surprise. Although I characterized most of these people who came here voluntarily, there are a lot who didn't come here voluntarily, who didn't voluntarily leave their home countries. Many of them are refugees - that is to say, people who have had to leave their home countries because of war or internal strife of one sort or another. There's no difference in terms of their determination to succeed. It is just hugely striking every time I go to one of these classes.

We are extremely fortunate to have organizations like MISA or the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre which also, in association with MISA, offers very focused courses. The people that I have met there have come from all over the world. The people I have met there seem to come from dozens of nations. This tells us something about ourselves in Nova Scotia that sometimes we forget. This is not just the fact that anyone who is not an aboriginal person has come from somewhere else, this is something else.

Although this is something, of course, I participate in and I imagine many here also participate in, I will say that my ancestors certainly were immigrants to Nova Scotia. On my father's side, his father came as a young man almost 100 years ago now and settled in Nova Scotia. On my mother's side, her grandparents came fully 100 years ago now and settled in Nova Scotia. But our ethnicity which is in geographic terms, from Eastern Europe and from Russia and by religious persuasion, Jewish is, in fact, already unusual in Nova Scotia. When Nova Scotia is compared with other parts of Canada, what is striking in terms of ethnicity is that so many of the people here came, in their ancestry, from the British Isles. That's clearly, overwhelmingly the largest group. People from England, people from Scotland, people from Wales, people from Ireland. In addition to that, there is of course a significant Acadian population here, but beyond that, our scattering of ethnicity is very sparse.

This is not the case now in Canada, in many other provinces. It certainly isn't the case in the provinces that have the largest cities that are now attracting most of the immigrants. It's not the case in Ontario with Toronto. It's not the case in British Columbia with the Vancouver area. It's not the case in Alberta with Edmonton and Calgary, and it's not the case in Montreal, although Quebec of course as a province as a whole does have one very large historical background for its residents, and that of course is French.

[Page 6399]

My point is that not only has Nova Scotia been slow, but that the mixture of cultural backgrounds that immigration is going to bring to Nova Scotia should be very welcome. So the justification of course is not just economic. There is a cultural benefit that will be very good for life and society in Nova Scotia, and there will also be a benefit sheerly in terms of knowing what goes on in the rest of the world, because the opportunity to learn more about what goes on in the rest of the world increases enormously when people come and are your neighbours, are our neighbours and their background and some of their linkage is with other cultures and other places. There then becomes an immediacy that we all gain in being able to talk with people whose families, whose friends are still in another country, in another part of the world. It's more immediate. It's more personal, and it's a better way to learn than just watching on television or listening to radio, or reading in the newspapers.

So I say that the benefits are undoubted. I say that Nova Scotia will benefit enormously by increased immigration and retention of immigrants and refugees. Now I've mentioned the target numbers. I want also to say that there's another problem with the strategy that's been adopted for Nova Scotia. The other problem is that it's entirely too economic, although I readily grant and will argue that there is undoubtedly a very good economic benefit from immigrants and refugees. What we have in our strategy is an orientation toward the immigrant investor. I've been receiving letters, as I think other members of the House probably have, from the agency that the government has contracted with in order to help the immigrant investors. I've been receiving letters telling me that so and so is settled in Halifax Chebucto and perhaps at some point I might get the chance to make their acquaintance and welcome them, and I'm going to be happy to do that, but the focus on immigrant investors is a little worrisome.

It's fine if we can find people who have $100,000 to invest in a new business, but that is not the only measure of the ability of an immigrant or refugee to make a contribution to our society. There are people who, of course, came to this country as immigrants or refugees with not a penny, who have done just fine. We should keep in mind that focusing our efforts on this class of immigrant will ultimately do us a bit of a disservice. So I urge the Minister responsible for this new Office of Immigration to think about broadening the approach.

As the minister well knows, there are models out there in other provinces that we could well emulate. The two provinces that seem to have taken the most active steps in order to move forward a provincial level agenda of effective immigration attraction and retention are Quebec and Manitoba. Quebec, of course, because it has decided, and decided years ago, decades ago, that it wanted to pursue, on what was normally a federal matter, an independent course, has long had a very large department of immigration matters. They have a big bureaucracy, they have comprehensive programs, they have money put into it, they have large numbers of bureaucrats assigned to the function, it's well advanced, but essentially they have displaced the federal government presence in Quebec over matters of immigration. I'm not suggesting we move in that direction, or to that extent.

[Page 6400]

Certainly we should learn much from what Quebec has done in terms of the programs they have but, really, our model should be Manitoba. Manitoba is much like Nova Scotia. It's about the same size population, about 1 million people. It has about the same kind of urban/rural split. It has similar kinds of history; but it, too, has taken faster and more aggressive steps with respect to immigration. Within the Manitoba Government, they have a bureaucracy of, I think, about 50 people, who are dedicated to working on immigration matters. If they can have 50 people, and if they can have targets of about 10,000 people, we should be thinking in terms of those kinds of numbers as well.

Now I know that we don't jump immediately from 1,300 to 10,000. That's not going to happen in one year, but it can happen.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member would allow for an introduction?

MR. EPSTEIN: I would, indeed, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me the time to introduce a good friend of mine, Lauren d'Entremont, who is in the west gallery. Lauren is a friend since childhood. We spent long hours playing outside, playing baseball and doing all those great things. I just want to give him the warm welcome of the House as he visits Province House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, even though I don't expect the minister to move through his new Office of Immigration from 1,300 to 10,000 people within 12 months, I do urge him to think about the Manitoba model. We can learn a lot from that province and how they've approached this. They are benefiting from their program. They're not having regrets or second thoughts or concerns about it, they're moving ahead, and they seem to be very successful with it. I think it's the kind of model that we could follow.

[6:15 p.m.]

Finally, I want to flag for the minister one particular problem that I have encountered in discussions with a number of new immigrants and refugees. Indeed, I was surprised to encounter this particular problem at the door during the 2003 election as well, and it's the problem of credentials and moving credentials and having them recognized when they've been earned in one part of the world, but not here. Now I know the minister is alive to this issue, I know that this is an issue on which we've heard a lot recently, but I want to emphasize to the minister that this is not confined to health care, although of course the problem of having credentials recognized for physicians and nurses and other kinds of health care professionals

[Page 6401]

is a very pressing one, because of some of the gaps in our needs to fill the existing health care system, that's not the extent of the problem.

I have heard from people who have engineering qualifications, I've dealt with people who have teaching qualifications, I've talked with people who have dental qualifications, and all of these people have encountered difficulty in having their education and their professional qualifications recognized here in our province. Now that isn't something that I think the minister or the government can solve immediately on their own. Clearly, for certain professions that are generally self-regulating professions, law, medicine, for example, the issue of recognition of foreign credentials is something that has to be discussed between the department, between the minister's office, and those self-regulating professionals, but the sooner those discussions start to take place, the better. Nor is this purely a Nova Scotia problem - clearly this is something on which coordination among the provinces would be desirable.

Immigrants are moving not just to Nova Scotia, of course as we've said they're moving in too few numbers here, this problem is surely one on which the other provinces that have longer experience must have acquired some expertise and I hope that the minister will take the lead and start talking with those provinces. I hope the minister will take the lead and start pushing those self-regulating bodies to talk with other self-regulating bodies around this country, and I hope the minister will also push the universities and community college system to start talking with their corresponding entities around the country to work out a system of recognition of foreign degrees as a preliminary to moving on toward qualifications. This is a complex undertaking, but it's an important one and has to form a central part of our immigration strategy.

Mr. Speaker, as others have said, of course we're happy to see this office created. We're certainly supportive of this bill; we're supportive of seeing a Cabinet level position. We're happy that the government is moving ahead at last on this very important issue, but we look forward to the minister taking hold of this new responsibility and giving it everything it deserves. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues across the floor for their comments with respect to Bill No. 153. I am sure we'll be hearing more in the next number of weeks with regard to immigration and I certainly appreciate the fact that we have to do all we can to attract immigrants here, to retain them, to integrate them and to deal with issues, be they professional credentials, be they helping to integrate them more into

[Page 6402]

the community and finding new programs, English as a second language, issues in our schools. So certainly I appreciate the comments of my colleagues.

I look forward, Mr. Speaker, to further debate on this issue and with that, I'll move second reading of Bill No. 153, the Public Service Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 153. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 162.

Bill No. 162 - Public Utilities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise to speak on second reading of Bill No. 162, an Act to amend the Public Utilities Act. It is a great pleasure to bring this bill to the House as it will give both government and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board the ability to appoint a consumer advocate for the board's utility rate hearing. The Act will increase consumer protection when changes to rules or rates are proposed for gas, electricity or water utilities in the province.

Mr. Speaker, we know that consumers don't always have the time, expertise or finances necessary to intervene in these types of hearings. This bill will give utility customers and consumers that voice through the consumer advocate. The consumer advocate will make sure that rates and rules proposed for consumers are both fair and are balanced. This bill ensures the interest and concerns of Nova Scotians will be represented by an independent person or group with the expertise and ability to participate in these complex hearings. The board will also have the ability to hire a consumer advocate who has the skills and expertise and experience appropriate to the task at hand. As well, government may make regulations relative to the qualifications and experience of a consumer advocate. Bill No. 162 provides added measure to ensure that the consumer advocate selected each time has no conflict of interest with the specific application being considered at that time.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment is flexible and cost-effective. Appointments will only be done on an as-needed basis. This arrangement will also help keep expenses reasonable for applicants who will reimburse the board for the cost of the consumer advocate, like they

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already do now for other expenses associated with rate applications. We know that changes to rates for basic necessities like electricity can hit consumers hard, especially those on fixed or limited incomes, but rate hearings are complex affairs requiring extensive legal and technical preparation. The consumer advocate appointed pursuant to this amendment would have these skills. The consumer advocate will ensure that the evidence that supports fairness will be heard.

Mr. Speaker, I believe these new provisions to the Public Utilities Act will provide consumers with more protection, especially our residential ratepayers, and I commend them to all members for favourable consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for having had the courtesy to offer to myself and to a member of our caucus staff an advanced briefing about his intentions to bring forward a bill to amend the Public Utilities Act in this way and I would also like to immediately say that we intend to vote in favour of this bill at second reading.

Having identified these two points, I think that's all I can say that's complimentary so I will move on to the main body of my speech. I think we have to start by recognizing the context within which this bill comes forward and there is both an immediate context and a larger context. The immediate context, of course, is that Nova Scotians have only recently had a very absorbing experience watching the Utility and Review Board grapple with the exorbitant claim for increased rates by Nova Scotia Power Incorporated.

In the recent round of hearings, the following thing occurred - Nova Scotia Power came in and they asked essentially for 14 per cent increase for everyone's power rates to be effective January 1, 2005. During the set of hearings, a number of the parties, who, I have to say, are the usual parties who often appear at the Utility Review Board over this matter - and I'll tell you who they are because it gives a bit more detail and it's easier to understand - who can go and participate in these hearings at the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, which are very formal hearings. This is our premiere adjudicative administrative body and on rates, it holds formal hearings. It gives advance notice of the nature of the hearings, expert evidence is filed in written form, formal interveners can take up status, they have the opportunity to ask written questions, in this case of Nova Scotia Power, they have the opportunity to ask questions in writing in advance of the hearings of their experts. They can file written evidence of their own, including retaining experts and then, of course, there's the public hearings themselves.

As you can see, it's already a very time-consuming business to be involved in, plus the material is voluminous, it's something of an area for experts and here's who goes: the applicant utility goes and is represented by its legal counsel, by its executive officers, by

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various staff; then usually, either individually or collectively, the very largest of electricity consumers, entities like the pulp and paper plants, are present at these hearings; and sometimes there are other big players in our economy who can come forward with their legal counsel and their experts to participate in day after day of these hearings. It should be clear that it's an expensive process, it's a long drawn out process, that it's a game for experts.

Sometimes, public interest advocacy groups will come. I myself have represented the Ecology Action Centre at Utility and Review Board hearings with respect to Nova Scotia Power in years gone by. So sometimes entities like the Ecology Action Centre are present. Sometimes Dalhousie Legal Aid is present. They will frequently come in order to attempt to represent the interests of low income customers of Nova Scotia Power.

There is another entity called the Electricity Consumers Association of Nova Scotia which takes on a critical role with respect to Nova Scotia Power. But, they too often represent the interests of commercial customers.

That's who normally gets to participate in these hearings. I have to tell you I know that for organizations like the Ecology Action Centre and for Dalhousie Legal Aid, it's a strain on resources to try to participate in these hearings.

In the most recent set of hearings some, but not all of the parties before the board, got together and talked with one another about the possibility of working out a settlement in the middle of the hearings. The utility met with representatives of their largest customers, and they met with a couple of the other interveners and they met with representatives of the Government of Nova Scotia, and they worked out a tentative settlement.

[6:30 p.m.]

A hearing before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board is not like a private lawsuit in front of a court. If two people or three people are in court suing each other, and they decide to go sit in a room and settle their differences, and they come back to the court and they say, here it is, we've settled our differences, the judge will sign off on it and that's it. Now there may be a few lawsuits in particular, or branches of equity, where that wouldn't be the case, but for the most part in your typical lawsuit, that's exactly what can happen, but not at the Utility and Review Board.

The reason for that, of course, is that the board is performing a public function. The board's function is not to treat the matters in front of it as if it were a private lawsuit in which several individuals or several parties could get together and decide what the result is going to be. The board's function cannot thus be usurped. The board's function is to pass upon the application that has been made to it, bearing in mind a variety of factors, including what's best for the public. So that element of the public interest is for the board to determine.

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The board looked around at the settlement proposal, which by the way was for about an 8.7 per cent rate increase instead of 14 per cent. They said, we have to be satisfied that this is in the public interest. They looked at the parties who were in front of them, they looked at Nova Scotia Power, they looked at Dalhousie Legal Aid, they looked at the large customers who were there, they looked at the Electricity Consumers Association of Nova Scotia, they looked at the evidence they had put in, and they said, we don't think the public interest here really is going to be satisfied unless we take an extra step. What we need to do is retain the expertise of someone who can talk to us now about this settlement document and tell us whether it's a good or a bad thing.

So the board, on its own motion, went out and found a person they were prepared to designate as the consumer advocate for this set of hearings. They found a person who had extensive experience dealing with electrical utilities and rates in the United States, a lawyer, someone who came from New Hampshire, who had worked, in fact, as a member of a regulatory commission there for a number of years, and they asked her to speak to the board about the proposed settlement.

Now we all know the ending of the story, the board went away after having heard all of this evidence, deliberated for quite a long time, and then came with what they said was perhaps an acceptable rate increase, and, lo and behold, it was 6.1 per cent. I say good for the board. I say the board did a very good job in this instance. It's a long way from 6.1 per cent on, I think, April 1st, from 14 per cent or even 8.7 per cent on January 1st. Good for the board.

But I mention this immediate context because what the board did was they took this step of appointing a consumer advocate, which indeed is one of the steps this legislation now specifically seems to want to provide for, they did it already, and they did it because the usual participants in front of the board, in the board's view, perhaps weren't really able to represent, in their view, really, the needs of the average range of customers of Nova Scotia Power on an important matter.

Now that's a hard reality in our province. The hard reality is that we don't have a public interest advocacy association as exists in British Columbia and in Ontario. We do not have a dedicated, ongoing, arm's length, independent, non-profit entity whose function it is to represent the customer, the average customer, the residential customer in such hearings. What a pity it is that we don't have such an entity. It's the richer part of the country, B.C. and Ontario, that have been able to find enough members of the public who are prepared to make donations to this kind of entity, a public interest advocacy association to get them established in B.C. and Ontario. They represent the consumer with respect to electricity rates, with respect to gas rates. They represent the customer with respect to common carrier rates. They represent the customer with respect to water rate. They represent, sometimes, the general public on environmental issues. They sometimes represent human rights issues. We don't have such an entity, really.

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We have a few very focused organizations. We have some environmental groups, of which the Ecology Action Centre is the main active one and we have, in front of the URB on occasion, Dalhousie Legal Aid, which, it should be said, has to take the resources of their lawyers and staff away from individual cases in order to dedicate them to dealing with these general issues. I certainly don't fault Dalhousie Legal Aid for doing this, I admire them. They do a very good job but they have very limited resources. The EAC has limited resources.

So I wonder, in addition to observing the fact that we've had this immediate experience here with the board-appointed consumer advocate, and I wonder given that we don't have an independent organization that has emerged on its own historically in Nova Scotia, whether what is being proposed in this amendment to the Public Utilities Act is the most beneficial way to go. It's a matter of profound regret to me that we don't have an independent organization in Nova Scotia that has managed to found itself. It's a matter of regret that we really don't have the money out there, apparently, amongst potential donors in the general public who have been able to come forward and start a public interest advocacy association of the kind that exists in a couple of other provinces.

If that had happened years ago, it would have accumulated expertise, presumably it would have a small staff, it would have a location, it would have a library of resources. I think that such an entity would have been a preferable way to go. Now, I'm not suggesting that the government should have founded such an entity unless a definite way could have been found to make it completely arm's length. What I think the government might have thought about is whether there might have been some way in order to encourage the money to come forward for such an entity here.

So this is really second best. It's second best primarily because what is contemplated is a one-of creation of instant expertise. What is contemplated is that the board itself, in a particular proceeding, may appoint a consumer advocate, or that the Cabinet may direct the board to do so. Unless there is a history, unless there is an ongoing body of knowledge that reposes in one place, with some continuity of the people involved, this will not be doing as good a job as it might otherwise. This immediately directs our attention to another aspect of how we're being offered second best or not quite good enough. This is because what the bill contemplates is only that a consumer advocate can be appointed once the Utility and Review Board has in front of it, some kind of matter that it's scrutinizing. There's no ability on the part of a consumer advocate to exist beforehand and petition the board to have hearings on particular matters.

There has to be some issue that's already in front of the board that triggers the possible creation of a consumer advocate. This too brings out another form of the weakness of what it is that is being suggested to us. Now I'm not going to parse every clause of this bill because we don't do that at second reading. There are weaknesses in what it is that's being suggested to us here. I hope that we recognize that although a power to participate in settlement agreements is being contemplated for the consumer advocate, I hope we recognize

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that the board itself is in the process of rewriting it's own procedural rules with respect to hearings like the hearings it has with respect to utility rates.

It's doing that at this very moment and part of the rewrite is to look at the rules around settlement agreements. Will there be a consumer advocate to talk to the board about what ought to be in the rules about settlement agreements or about any other matters for the conduct of hearings? There won't be because as contemplated by this bill, there is only a consumer advocate invented from time to time perhaps by the board or perhaps upon direction from the Cabinet.

I think, given that the board has already done this, has already appointed a consumer advocate on one occasion, that given statutory recognition to this power that it's already exercised is the least the government can do. The least the government can do is in fact exactly what we've been getting from this government. The idea of a consumer advocate is something, it seems to me, that's been talked about on this side of the floor on several previous occasions. In fact, those occasions stretch back a number of years, mirabile dictu, here we have in a minority government situation, the government deciding that something that the Official Opposition has been talking about might be suitable for legislation, although it's the least they can do here.

There's an amazing parallel between what's happened in this particular instance and what's been the government agenda ever since 2003 election when it became a minority government instead of a majority government. I have to ask myself, would we be seeing legislation about a consumer advocate if there weren't a minority government? I don't think so and this fits within a context of a record that I think is plain to see. Just think back to the 2003 election, our Party, the Official Opposition now, for the third time in a row, ran on a platform that included a few items that I would like to remind the honourable members of.

Freeze university tuition fees, well the government didn't freeze tuition fees but they did negotiate an MOU for 3.9 per cent, the least they could do. Would they have done this if they were majority and hadn't been forced into a minority position? Matter for speculation, I have my opinion, I doubt it. Automobile insurance rates are a problem we said, create a public auto insurance company. Well, the government wasn't too interested in doing anything about it but ultimately felt they had to roll back rates by 20 per cent, just 5 per cent higher than the Third Party had suggested.

[6:45 p.m.]

Would they have done anything about it? They weren't particularly interested in doing something about it. Their immediate reaction was, the marketplace will fix itself. Put more money into the school system, we said. Well, they've started to do it. Pay the health care costs of people who are in long-term care, we said, and do it immediately. Okay, they said. We'll do that. We were planning on doing it a few years from now, but we'll do it.

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So what's striking about this? What's striking about this, including this item, is that the government wouldn't have done any of these things if it hadn't been forced into a minority position. If it hadn't been pushed by an Opposition that has ideas that are attractive to the population in Nova Scotia. So in a way we can say thank you to the government for moving ahead on our agenda; thank you very much for adopting our ideas; thank you for moving ahead on them, however imperfectly. Of course, given the situation the government's in, it's the least they can do, and that's what we have, yet another bill. It's the least they can do; from their perspective, it's the most they ever want to do.

We look forward to seeing this particular bill and others modelled on our agenda, come forward and move through the system where we hope to be able to continue to improve them. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to rise on this bill and make six points. The first is that we intend to support this bill going forward to second reading. The second is that this, we would argue, is a modest step certainly in the right direction. It reflects the board having taken on its own initiative the authority to appoint a consumer advocate quite recently. This gives statutory authority to that and we would suggest it's just following what one would consider to be regular common sense.

Thirdly, we would remind the government that this is not just about a consumer advocate taking a position with respect to rate hearings in power hearing cases - it's obvious that the authority of a consumer advocate can stretch well beyond the simple question of whether or not rates are set an appropriate level - this is clearly an initiative that could encompass a position being taken on a wider variety of issues. In fact, down the road I would encourage a consumer advocate take an active role in a wider variety of questions than just power rate hearings. Obviously there are environmental issues that are at play with respect to a number of the hearings that would be coming before the Utility and Review Board.

Fourthly - and this is more to the point of the purpose of this piece of legislation - these hearings before the Utility and Review Board, under the Public Utilities Act, are obviously more sophisticated as time goes on, the expertise required in order to the follow the evidence requires technical evidence to be known and examined, and researched, and certainly for the cross examination of any witnesses to be at a relatively well-researched level. In order to be persuasive to the board, the advocates for consumers need to understand the technicalities around the evidence that's being presented. We did see in these last circumstances, with respect to the rate hearings, that the big players got together and decided that it was best on their own initiative to strike a deal.

I think it's noteworthy what a substantial difference there was, Mr. Speaker, between what was originally proposed by Nova Scotia Power and what the ultimate decision was of

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the Utility and Review Board. There was an enormous gap with respect to the ultimate rates that were received. I would commend the board for showing the foresight to appoint a consumer advocate in those particular circumstances.

So, it's obvious that having a consumer's advocate is an appropriate step in these circumstances. We need to encourage this more often. Which brings me to my fifth point, and that is that I would encourage the board to take an activist orientation in exercising its discretion to appoint a consumers' advocate. There is a discretion not to appoint. I would suggest in these circumstances that that should be, and some policy should be set up to ensure that that is only done in the rarest of circumstances where it's obvious that there isn't any substantial or reasonable consumer interest; in almost all circumstances there is a consumer interest.

My sixth and final point, Mr. Speaker - before I do an introduction in the gallery, with the indulgence of the House - is that the legislation as it's presently written speaks only of consumers, and I would urge upon the minister and the government to examine carefully whether or not the language of just using the word "consumers" is appropriate, and whether we need to be clearer that this really speaks to residential consumers, and the commercial consumers that are at play before this board are obviously players who are well represented. Residential consumers are the ones who the board was concerned with on this last occasion.

I would urge upon the government careful consideration of an amendment. It appears to be necessary to ensure that this applies to residential consumers and not a broader scope of people. With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude by saying, again, we are supportive of this matter going on to second reading.

With the indulgence of the House, I would like to provide an introduction to a number of the deputy sheriffs who are in the west gallery at this time, if that pleases, Mr. Speaker.

You will recall that we have been visited by a number of people representing the sheriffs, who certainly have a grievance with the government that we hope will be listened to. I would ask, at the conclusion of my introduction of them, that they all please rise and receive a warm welcome from the members of the Legislature. David Elliott, Tammy Robertson, Dieter Konrath, Greg MacRae, Daniel Ray, Derek Mackenzie, Les Borden, Brian Kelly, Kimberly Northrop, George Grant, and Alan Gravelle. Would you please rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. GRAHAM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Those are my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to all our visitors in the gallery this evening.

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If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No.162.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 162. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 165.

Bill No. 165 - Education Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise this afternoon for second reading of Bill No. 165, An Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96, the Education Act. The majority of the changes in this piece of legislation are housekeeping. For example, there were one or two spelling mistakes that needed correction - spelling mistakes, which I'm pleased to say were done by a previous government. (Interruptions)

In addition, we had to update the department's name. There were a number of places in the existing legislation where the department was referred to as the Department of Education and Culture, and thus it was necessary to amend the Act and strike out the word "culture". Mr. Speaker, make no mistake, the other amendments we introduced on Friday are very important and speak to our ongoing efforts to ensure our students are learning in a safe environment and that taxpayers' dollars are used wisely.

One of the amendments, Mr. Speaker, will see a board member leave his or her seat if they are convicted of an offence carrying a maximum sentence of five years or more; of course anyone convicted of certain child-related offences will also cease to be a board member. The five-year time frame did cause some concern and the advice that we received was that five years would include most serious offences.

However, there are some child-related offences below the five-year limit and that's why, Mr. Speaker, we are going one extra step and are preparing regulations. The child-related offences will be listed in the regulations which will be developed. The amendments are

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in addition to steps we've already taken to ensure the safety and protection of students. For example, we already have the code of conduct policy, the child abuse registry, and criminal record checks for teachers and others.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday members of the media asked us why we introduced this amendment. They asked if we were responding to a particular situation and I'm pleased to say that this amendment is not in response to any particular situation. What it is, is the Department of Education being proactive to prevent such an event to occur. We don't want to see any harm come to any of our students and this amendment, together with many of the other initiatives underway, will help protect our students today and in the future.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we also introduced an amendment that will prohibit board members from working for a school board that they are sitting on and for six months after they leave the board. The purpose here is, I think quite understandably, to avoid a conflict of interest. We also introduced an amendment that generated quite a bit of discussion on Friday and that is if a board member resigns, they will be barred from running in special elections called to replace them. Again reporters asked if we were doing this in response to a particular situation and the answer again, is no. Once again, we did not want to wait for such an event to occur, we're being proactive. We don't want to spend tax dollars on an election that was only called because someone could not make up their mind. Taxpayers' dollars are too precious and important business is too important to be interrupted by a special election.

Now, I also want to clarify, in response to a question that was asked on Friday. If a person opts to run in a federal or a provincial election, do they have to resign? The answer is no. I would expect that they would take a leave of absence if they are then subsequently elected in either provincial or federal sphere, then they would be required to leave the school board, and I hope that is now clear.

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of these amendments. We are confident that they will strengthen the Education Act and at the same time, if members of the public or others have questions or concern, I encourage them to attend the Law Amendments Committee and make their concerns and ideas known.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I've been to numerous press conferences in my career, if you can say that we have a career in this line of business. There are a few press conferences that on occasion have been confusing. I talked in advance to the minister about the changes and dutifully report to the Red Room to see what's going to transpire. That press conference went on a track that I think only someone from Cape Canaveral - or it is Kennedy now? - probably could follow.

[Page 6412]

[7:00 p.m.]

Here we were off on a - I could say it was a tangent, but I think it was a moon shot because suddenly we were talking about Wade Marshall and Doug Sparks and African-Nova Scotian candidates and the issue at hand from what it had originally been told to me by the minister was, there were some housekeeping things and spellcheck had found out the Liberals couldn't spell maintenance. But, that's another issue. So I want to look at the fact that aside from the fact that there were a number of not red herrings, but blue herrings in this case.

If we look at what was actually happening at the news conference, let's look at some concerns that I'm sure are going to be brought forward to Law Amendments. I would just like to address them at this time. Amy Smith, one of the reporters for the Herald, asked the question that was on everybody's mind, why is this being brought forward now? Why has this become an issue now? Of what intent is this particular piece of legislation at this time in the history of this House with this Education Department?

The answers we've heard them again, as the minister replied to Ms. Smith during her questions at the press conference - and the minister has reassured us that for various reasons there is no one that they're looking at, there's no serious case out there that they're going to be dealing with, but that intent is there. I guess the key thing is - and this is the bottom line - the safety and health and protection of children under our care, whether they are school principals, school teachers or school board members. School board members, of course, if they're doing their job are regularly in the schools. They're there when the kids are there and under no circumstances can we have somebody who has been criminally charged associating with school children.

The concern I will be looking forward to hearing about at Law Amendments is - I know the legal minds have advised the minister and I know certain learned members of the law in my caucus have said to me, whether it's five years or two years, it's something we should be looking at when it comes to a criminal charge. But, the thing that concerns me is that we have this comment, certain child-related offences. At a later time in debate, hopefully this evening or when it comes back onto the floor, I want you to know the Minister of Justice has brought in an important piece of legislation that has my support, let me assure you. It has my support based upon my previous career as a school principal, also based upon my father's career as a Dorchester Penitentiary guard for 25 long years. I know those deputy sheriffs there understand those men in certain situations are taking people into court that have been charged with certain child-related offences.

It seems to me whether it's two years and a day or whether it's 10 years, the last thing we can have is people who have been charged with "certain child-related offences" anywhere near a school board position, let alone in a classroom. That is something of real concern to me as an educator, as a legislator and I understand you've been given advice, Mr. Minister, on that particular five year cut off. I can tell you the members of my caucus, when we

[Page 6413]

discussed this today at our caucus meeting, we feel uncomfortable with that five years. We believe - unless there are other reasons that can be brought to our attention over the next number of weeks - that it should be two years. After all, this is a very sensitive issue when it comes to the safety and protection of our children.

But, that, of course, will unfold with the passage of time as we go through the Law Amendments Committee and we look at the presentations that will be taking place in that very important tradition of this House.

There is, however, another particular part of this legislation. As you well know, Mr. Speaker, we're not allowed to go through it clause by clause at this stage, but there is a real important part of legislation in here when we look at what I consider the conflict of interest clause. That is that someone who has been working for the board in some role, who resigns, retires, for whatever reason, has to step back for six months before they can then be brought back on some perhaps private contract. They can be brought back as some special assistant and that particular clause is a concern for the members of this caucus. It's a concern because are we looking, and again I've heard the minister answer the question from Ms. Smith when we looked at the press conference and I've heard the minister again make his comments in here, that this particular clause is not designed out there to get any particular person.

I'm not sure whether I feel comfortable with this at this stage. The only thing you have to do when you talk about school boards and school board members, is talk to Strait School Regional Board. It's no reflection on the current administration, it's no reflection on what has happened subsequent to Jack Sullivan. We will remember that name, let me tell you, Jack Sullivan always hit the jackpot. When we, as school administrators, looked and said that's how you run a school board, is that what should be allowed to happen. Let me tell you, that will be a topic that will be brought up when we look at this particular piece of legislation and when we look at that conflict of interest and how things unfold in school board "politics", Jackpot Sullivan's, his name always comes back to haunt us.

His name comes back to haunt us because we see what should not have happened but what was allowed to happen and what lessons did we learn from this whole experience because of how the Strait Regional School Board continues to recover and to their credit have done so miraculously, not miraculously, have done so in a great fashion because of the hard work of the people there who've cleaned up that mess. That is an issue that haunts me when I look back at how things were done at that time and how anything as outrageous as that particular event happened.

Now we see that Mr. Sullivan remarkably has landed on his feet and heaven forbid has another job in another part of this country, in a similar position. Well let me tell you, life must be grand because when we look at what we learn from that experience, I look at that particular clause and I say maybe that's the Jack Sullivan footnote. I'm not saying there's a conspiracy involved and I hope the minister doesn't take it the wrong way, but did we learn

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any lessons from the Jackpot Sullivan show? I'll tell you what we learned, we learned if you want to make a quick stop at the millionaire gate, then you make sure you get well connected with the people on a particular board, you keep them in the dark, you feed them so much you know what, and you suddenly have board members that are mushrooms, and board members who are not out there making real tough decisions.

That concerns me Mr. Speaker, that's the suspicion that I have, I hope that this is not the case here where we are basically paying catchup on what happened in a regrettable history of school boards in this province because let me tell you, that particular chapter in school board history in this province is something we will not soon forget. We will not soon forget because of the embarrassment, but we will not soon forget because of the dollars that were so misappropriated and did not end up in the very hands that need the most, the children under the care of that board. I'm talking about an issue that's of some relevance because it's on people's minds. When you look at changes to the Education Act and you say to yourself, well, what does certain child related offences mean? Why do we have this particular clause in there about six months, why are we so concerned about two years or five years as a criminal charge as opposed to two.

So you can tell Mr. Speaker, at this stage, we have more questions than we have answers. Out of the process of the Law Amendments Committee, of course, hopefully Nova Scotians will have the opportunity to ask the very same questions that I've asked, of the process that we're going to go through. This particular Education Act and the changes are well intentioned, they needed to be done, but the intent and the timing is still of some concern to the members of this caucus. With those comments, I look forward to this bill going through to the Law Amendments Committee at which time we'll hear from Nova Scotians, school board members and other interested people in the education system in this province. Thank you.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on Bill No. 165, An Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96, the Education Act. I understand the Education Act is very large, it covers many, many things, and the minister has said this is primarily housekeeping. I know that there are a number of things that have been just cleaned up in terms of small spelling or punctuation, but there are a few things here that are of importance to Nova Scotians and I think we need to be able to understand fully what the intent was.

I was a little concerned when the minister, in giving his bill briefing, was not really able to say what had precipitated the need for making some of these changes. I mean generally when government wants to make a change in any Act, or amend something, it's because there has been a gap recognized, or something missing, maybe something has been found to be inadequate and it needs to be strengthened, or something has happened, you

[Page 6415]

know, something has occurred that showed that there was a weakness in the current legislation. I think it would be better if we all understood what exactly these amendments were intended to cover and why they were conceived at the Department of Education.

I believe that we have a lot of very pressing issues and I know that the government has been looking hard at the upcoming budget and other things that could be done in education and if that's the case, I'm just, you know, somewhat perplexed as to why we're moving on a few of these things right now. Some of them seem to be half-measures, they don't seem to be going far enough if they are suggesting that change should be made.

So, Mr. Speaker, just to go to a few of the specifics in this amendment that's before us, I notice they have, particularly the conflict of interest one, I'll start with that, that Clause 2(a), which provides that you can't be a member of the school board and also at the same time an employee of the school board and, further to that, it says that you can't become an employee for a further six months after you cease to be a member of the school board itself.

One of the concerns that I have, and it has been raised in our caucus, is that sometimes it's difficult to find people to run for office and to assume that role of a school board representative. I think it is worth noting, you know, in some of the elections that the members are acclaimed because there are no contests for those positions and they pay, at most, usually a pretty small honorarium for serving in a very important capacity of government for these school boards, each one of which manages and is responsible for really tens of millions of dollars in each case. So it's a very important position and yet we have sometimes difficulty in getting people to come forward and to serve.

I was told, in particular in our French school board, that there is often acclamations or a shortage of candidates and it's not uncommon for a teacher in the French school board to also be serving on that school board position. So I would have to check what the current status is, but I don't think it has been uncommon in the past. So I just raise the issue that we shouldn't be putting more hurtles in the way of people who do want to serve and that in that case, if there is a shortage, we should be considering that as a particular case and maybe there needs to be some amendment made to accommodate that. It's just, as I say, something that needs to be considered. So that's one thing.

I do understand the need to protect the school board and there should be conflict of interest guidelines without a doubt and I'm thinking back to when I sat on city council. If there were any decisions that related to business or the employer of the city councillor, they would simply not be present for a vote being taken. There were strict guidelines about something that might be touching closer to you personally and how you could exempt yourself from that decision-making process. That might be the way that that could be attended to.

[Page 6416]

On the point of Clause 3, whether or not you can be a candidate if you've resigned your position, I think we've had some clarification now over the last day or two about what that really means. If a person chooses to run for office at a higher level at city council, or municipally, provincially and so on, I gather they can simply take a leave of absence and if that's the case and they have not resigned their position and if they were unsuccessful in their campaign and their bid for office, they could return to continue to support and serve as a member of a school board.

I think that's very important because one of my concerns is that, again seeking good candidates for office, you have to recognize that people are offering their names to go forward as a public service to become a public servant and represent their area, and I think that in that case we don't want to make it very difficult. I talk specifically about women and whether there are barriers for women running in office. I think the fact that if you had to completely resign your seat and have no assurance that you'd be able to come back to it if you were unsuccessful would be a big deterrent for women seeking higher office.

[7:15 p.m.]

As the minister knows, we've had a number of initiatives to encourage more women to participate in government. We've had a non-partisan campaign school sponsored by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women that was very successful, and there's a municipal initiative underway to get more women to run for office at the municipal level. I can tell you that women don't take as many risks perhaps when it comes to political life - maybe that's one reason why they don't offer their names as much, there could be a myriad of reasons, but I know that if you were asking for a woman to resign a position completely, there may be extra issues at hand there, then not to allow them to run again, I think, for that position would be wrong.

So I think we've clarified that that won't prevent somebody from seeking higher office and I think that that's the proper way it should be, because all of the legislation that we enact should be encouraging women to be more active in everything from agencies, boards, and commissions, to elected office at all levels. So I think that the members of this House would support me in that intent because I think that that would make this House and other bodies of Legislatures and councils a lot more - perhaps more representative of our community, let's put it that way. I'm glad to see that that impediment has been removed.

On the issue of standards, I consider it standards for people who put their names forward in terms of whether or not they are fit to be candidates or deemed to have the right qualities, we get to the clause that talks about child-related offences and Clause 2(b) that talks about having been convicted of an indictable offence, that's punishable by a period of imprisonment of a maximum of more than five years. Both of those things - and also refers there to the ". . . child-related offences designated in the regulations. . .", which I guess the concern I have there is I'd like to see what exactly gets written into the regulations.

[Page 6417]

It's really important that members of this House when we're approving legislation like this or allowing it to move through, that we have a clear sense of what the regulations are going to spell out and it would not be the first time that things have happened that are written into the regulations that surprise members of the Opposition, where a certain spirit or intent has been agreed to and a bill moves forward and the regulations can actually take a U-turn, they can be quite different from what we've agreed to or understood.

I'm always a little leery when everything just gets designated under the regulations, and I think what the minister is probably aiming for there is, again, increasing the standards and asking that people who have these kind of offences that they simply wouldn't be members of our school board - and think again about what an important position that is: The position of trust, a board of individuals who help guide and set the direction for hundreds and thousands of children in their area.

To have somebody who has been convicted of any offence related to children, I think, is a grave concern, and I think that we might want to consider whether or not that part should go further because if it's simply saying if you're convicted during the time that you're sitting as a school board member, and we haven't protected against people who might have previous convictions. I think upon reflection that that probably is quite possible to suggest that if you have any child-related conviction or offence that you've been convicted of that you not ever be able to serve on a school board. I don't think that's unreasonable. I was wondering about the legality of that, but there are certainly many jobs that you can't take if you have a crime involving money and you have stolen or misappropriated money, then there are many jobs where you have to be bonded, and you're not able to be if you have a criminal conviction.

So I think that it would be in a similar vein that you could ask for that to be a requirement of a school board member. Again, we talked about it with the minister in his bill briefing and there will apparently be no check whatsoever on past criminal records or anything of that nature. This bill doesn't go to that extent then, and I guess what I'm suggesting is that we should reconsider and say if it's good to say that you can't have a conviction while you're sitting in that office, then why would we have somebody who previously had that kind of a conviction. I mean parents and members of the broader public are very concerned if there's any kind of child-related offence.

I don't think we'd ever feel very comfortable thinking that the people who are sitting and making decisions about our children and their education, and in fact people who are in trusted positions, those same people who can freely go into our schools, talking to our teachers, solving problems about the schools, they have free access to the schools and to the children there and I think that that needs to be really considered if we're going to look at standards for that service, that we should consider any previous convictions as cause for not being fit to serve. So I think that needs to be looked at.

[Page 6418]

I'm talking specifically about child-related offences, but the other one covers serious offences when we're talking about any kind of offence where you could be imprisoned for five years or more. I think that also requires careful consideration. I would say that is a reasonable clause to include - my only question would be, what if they had a previous prison term for whatever crime, should that not also be considered that it makes them unfit perhaps for office, in the school board particularly?

Then it was mentioned to me there are no similar requirements for service at city councils and other offices that might be guided by the Municipal Government Act or perhaps the Elections Act. I think by the very nature of bringing this before us today, it might suggest that we should be looking at a couple of those other Acts to really provide to the public an assurance of the quality and calibre of the people who are offering for office. So I'd like to leave that as a suggestion because I think we've really just scratched the surface by identifying the clause which is 2(b) identifying that if you're currently sitting as a school board member and if you're convicted of some of these offences, that you're no longer fit. That's just the tip of the iceberg I think and I think if we're going to set out standards, let's be more specific.

Overall, those are really the three key things - whether or not you can be a candidate, the conflict of interest and the part about criminal convictions during your term of office. The other clauses are pretty inoffensive and perhaps they were needed for housekeeping, but I think the other three we've talked about go a little bit beyond housekeeping and suggests perhaps some broader revision be done maybe to other Acts that guide our standards for people who seek office.

With that, I do look forward to the stakeholders who will come to Law Amendments. I know we'll hear from school board members and others who represent the interests of children in education. I think perhaps they may see other things within this legislation that need to be addressed so I'm going to wait and hear as well from them. With that, I will thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take just a very few moments today to speak on Bill No. 165.

As the minister mentioned in his words, this is a mixture of some housekeeping catch up work and some name changes. He did mention one important fact which is, I think, the overriding reason for this and that's to improve our students' safety in the school system.

Although he is saying there's no particular reason that has spurred these changes on, I myself was an elected school board member and the first time I saw this bill it made me wonder if there really isn't something behind this which has instigated this. When I first saw it, I did actually question that.

[Page 6419]

This bill, I believe, is trying to look at some conflicts of interest that maybe the Minister of Education and his department feel may be there now or may be there in the future. It's leading down the path of the issue of if you are a member of the school board, then you cannot be employed by the school board. After six months of leaving that position, you would have to wait six months before you could be employed. So, my question is, if you were an elected school board member and you left - you either didn't win the election or you resigned or what have you - and then six months later you came back in some kind of position on that school board, I have to wonder what would be the difference six months, eight month, a year later? If there's a conflict going on there that someone thinks is untoward, what would really change? What's six months going to do? If there's somebody on the board that is going to look at you in a different light and there's something that shouldn't be going on is going on there, where is this six months thing leading to? I just wonder, where did the six months come from and what really does it have to do with this?

The bill states that any member of the school board who is convicted of an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of a maximum of more than five years. Well, again, where did the number five come from? I have to question that. I guess I'm just looking for more background information on how this bill was written and what kind of information came forward to sort of lead the Department of Education down this road to write this bill. I question those types of things Mr. Speaker. Why isn't it two years? Really, why is it five years?

Also, any member of the school board who is convicted by a child-related offence designated under regulations. We don't have the regulations so I don't really know what that is, so there again that's a question that down the road I guess we will have to wait and see. Anybody in our caucus definitely is going to be in support of anything that is put out there to further protect our children, whether in the school system or wherever they are, if they're playing sports or whatever, after-school programs, certainly, we're not against that. There's just something about this bill that gives me a funny feeling and I don't know how to explain it, and I can't help that. I have a feeling about this.

So I guess maybe some of my questions will be answered in the Law Amendments Committee and to that end, I guess I just look forward to it moving to the Law Amendments Committee. I will look forward to hearing from maybe some of the parents or school board members who come in can shed a light on why this bill is here before us today.

Mr. Speaker, I will thank you for listening to me.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Minister of Education it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 6420]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the members on the opposite side of the House. I thought for a minute that I was back in that bill briefing on Friday afternoon, from some of the comments that were made. Anyway, I am pleased that the Parties have agreed that it should go on to the Law Amendments Committee and perhaps get to some of their concerns.

I do just want to say one thing with regard to the proposal that you would not be able to run in a by-election which you have caused by resigning. The intent of that was, if somebody gets mad in a board meeting and says I'm gone, then about a week later has sober second thoughts and says, well I will just run in the by-election and get re-elected, that's the type of behaviour, that sort of protection for boards.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, with that bit of interpretation I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 165.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 165. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 147, the Youth Justice Act.

Bill No. 147 - Youth Justice Act

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. I will check on your times.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to stand to continue debate on Bill No. 147. As I said earlier in some of my comments on this bill, it's a very important bill, it's on the minds of many Nova Scotians and definitely on the minds of many of the people I represent in Sackville. I think with recent cases that we've seen in this province where there's a lot of media attention around it and definitely the loss of innocent lives when it came to a crime committed by a youth and several youth, it really drives the community to wonder what we can do to change this, and what can a community do and what can a government do to hopefully try to change the ways that our youth commit these crimes, and definitely change the sentencing.

[Page 6421]

I think that's where a lot of the frustration with many Nova Scotians is, to see and witness and hear about these cases where youths have committed crimes in our province and some of these cases have been done by repeat offenders and youths who have been convicted several times on different criminal offences where there's not a huge penalty incurred by these youths in our province. I think that's really where the public has stood up over the last year or so and said that we really need to address this and government needs to do and act on the concerns of the residents, especially here in Nova Scotia.

That also begs the question on what has driven this piece of legislation to come to the House, Mr. Speaker. I've said many times before that as an elected official and I hope as an Opposition member, government members bring proactive pieces of legislation to the floor for good public policy. I have to say that this piece of legislation is more the opposite in the other category of a reactive type of stance that the government needed to take because of the outcry from the public.

The question many of the residents have asked me about what we can do, we do need to stiffen the fines - and I'll say again I do support what this piece of legislation entails, and hopefully stiffer fines and stiffer sentences, especially for youth who commit crimes with motor vehicles, and especially repeat offenders. That's the alarming thing that a lot of people have come to me and asked how can we change this, what in our community can we do to try to avert or change the course of what youth do especially when it comes to committing crimes?

[7:30 p.m.]

I know our caucus, many of the members of my caucus spoke previous to me about additional resources, the need for the government to fund resources for the community so that they can recognize youth at a young age. I know the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage mentioned this the other day about if we identify youth at a young age that they may be termed a problem child, that those groups and organizations, and especially the schools, have the resources to hopefully divert that troubled child, or troubled youth, and hopefully rehabilitate them, or educate them, or try to get them on the right path again. I definitely know that that's one of the concerns we have as a caucus.

We need to emphasize to the government that they need to put more resources into our schools especially because, I think, that's an avenue where the teachers, and if you had more teacher assistants, youth support workers in every school, or in an area of school board, that if you could identify these children at a young age. These people need extra resources, and hopefully give them the support, the community, the school and definitely the organizations that help youth and youth programs that they deliver in the province. That's an avenue where government needs to improve.

[Page 6422]

We need a commitment from the government to increase the resources that these schools have, increase the resources to some of the non-profit organizations in our province that deal with youth and youth initiatives, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Mr. Speaker. I'm proud to share and associate myself with the member for Cape Breton Nova who spent many years working with youth and troubled youth to try to change their direction and, hopefully, I think he definitely has done a great job over the years with that and I think he made a difference.

There are many organizations like that out there that are trying to identify those kids who need the extra resources. They need help trying to abide by the law, if you want to say. I know this bill pertains to youth justice and especially crimes with the use of motor vehicles, but these organizations are struggling every day just to keep their doors open and I think that's where we need this government to commit to hopefully helping these organizations, these groups, these teachers, these councillors, on doing their jobs, to hopefully identify these kids.

As the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage said, if you don't catch them at an early age, a five or six-year -old who may be a troubled youth, when they get eight, nine or 10 and get into teen years, it's harder to try to make those youth understand that you have to act a certain way in society and that, you know, there are consequences to their actions. That's why definitely I know our members support a bill that increases somewhat the responsibility or the sentencing on these youth, especially repeat offenders, but it's, more importantly, that we need to get those resources out into the communities throughout our province.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke a little bit on sports and recreation and the important need for government to fund different organizations in the province that go out into the communities and try to encourage youth to become involved in sports and recreation in their communities throughout the province because definitely I think if you can keep youth active and a lot of mentors come out of coaches and being involved in team sports, I think we really need to emphasize the fact that, you know, they're severely underfunded in this province and we really need to look at, hopefully government will look at increasing funding towards some of these sport and recreation organizations.

I also mentioned the arts and culture sector, too, Mr. Speaker, especially in our school systems. They seem to be the first target whenever there are cuts made by government, provincially, federally, and even in the school boards. It seems to be the first area that they go after. As I said before, not all students are involved in sports, some may be into painting or writing or other artistic specialties, and we really need to encourage that participation by the youths in the communities in the province to hopefully get the same effect as those mentors that I mentioned through sport and recreation. I believe that we need to fund these organizations and encourage school boards, and hopefully, as our job as the Opposition,

[Page 6423]

encourage government to increase funding towards that aspect and those departments, especially in the school system.

One of the things that I like to do as the elected official in my area, Mr. Speaker, is get input from the public to find out what their concerns are, what they would like to see, especially when it comes to legislation brought forward by the government, by future legislation. I would hope that the Minister of Justice took that into account when he brought this piece of legislation forward. I hope he went out and spoke with the community members in different communities throughout the province to see what they would like to see in changing the Motor Vehicle Act or the Youth Justice Act, but most importantly I would hope that the minister went out and sought the input of our youth in the community.

I think when you deal with, especially, a piece of legislation that affects the youth, I think they're the best resources we have in the province. If we go out and ask them what they would like to see, they're involved. Maybe some of their schoolmates have committed crimes in the past, and they may be the best experts we have on deciding what punishment we should have for individuals who commit crimes, especially youth who commit several crimes and the punishment that government should come down with.

If the minister didn't go out and seek the input of some of our youth, I encourage him to go out and hopefully seek input. Maybe we might see some youth groups, or youth may address this, and certain clauses of this, in the Law Amendments Committee. I do encourage any youth who are listening to this to contact their MLAs and mention what they'd like to see in this. I think that's an important aspect of maybe empowering our youth in our community to give them an opportunity to put input on a piece of legislation. We hear far too often that our youth feel like they're separate and that adults determine exactly what they need to do all the time and the consequences, and I think if we empower our youth in our community, especially when it comes to legislation that pertains to them, I think that's a great avenue to hopefully get great pieces of legislation through the House.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I encourage the youth and the community to keep vocal, to keep in contact with their elected officials, to encourage them, especially the government, to increase the funding to the resources, to education and especially to health. Mental health in this province, I believe, is direly in need of additional resources, additional funding, especially when we talk about youth mental health. I mentioned it before, about trying to help a family in my community who had a troubled youth and who were trying every avenue, every program in this province to try to rehabilitate their child. They were looking forward to the opening of the new secure treatment facility in Truro.

Sadly, this family didn't get the resources it needed, didn't get the help, didn't get the work that I think needed to go into this young person, because this young family actually is quite fed up with not getting those resources, that this young Nova Scotian is no longer in our province. He's one of those individuals, number of youths that we have had to send out of the

[Page 6424]

province. This province spends a lot of money sending our kids away to be rehabilitated or try a new program that might work. I think that truly is a shame and it really was a shame to see that here in this province a family couldn't get the resources, couldn't get the help for their child and now this child is no longer living in our province.

So, I encourage government that they need to increase resources, increase funding to mental health, to the school board so that we can identify these kids in our community and hopefully at a young age, that we can give them the tools they need to make themselves productive residents in our communities. I look forward to this going to Law Amendments. I know there are a few other members that will stand and speak on this, but I truly hope the Minister of Justice and the government is listening to some of the concerns of the community throughout this province. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to speak about an issue that's important to me. I know this issue around Bill No. 147, An Act to Amend Chapter 38, the Acts of 2001 is to deal with young offenders joyriding in cars and problems today in society. When I look at this piece of legislation, I think of the high profile case and why this piece of legislation is here in the Legislature today and how it arrived at that.

I would like to go back and look at what is going on with young people today, and why. Myself, as a youth worker, somebody that's spent 15 years in the field working with young people - whether in open custody, closed custody, youth centre setting - to know and actually understand what's going on with young people today. Young people today have great potential - potential that I think we should have a look at instead of actually looking at what the problem is.

What is the underlying problem with young people today? Why do young people make the decision to take a set of keys and an automobile and get in a high speed chase? What makes young people today do the things they do? Are there other choices they could make? Sure, there is, there are good choices they can make.

We, as a society, have to help these young people to make those choices. I listened to my colleague for Sackville-Cobequid, I listened to the members of the Opposition speak on this bill, I listened to the government. Long before I came to this Legislature, I had the privilege to be on the board of directors at a YMCA and I worked with my colleague, the minister and the member for Cape Breton North on opening a camp in Barrachois many many years ago. That camp is still open today and I credit the minister who would drive down to my house and pick me up when I didn't have an automobile and take me to those meetings and drive me out to camp. The member for Cape Breton North was quite involved with the YMCA movement, along with myself and other people.

[Page 6425]

I was an executive director and a youth worker - I guess when I first started in the field and I worked in closed custody, it was lights out at 9:30 p.m. and you put them in the cell at 9:00 p.m. I kept looking in those cells and I kept saying to myself, is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? Is this what I'm here for? Is this why I went to Holland College? A graduate of Holland College, like yourself, that said, no, this is not what I'm supposed to do with my life locking up a young lad and look at him put his lights out at 9:30 p.m. There has to be something that I can do as a human being to help this young lad before he gets to that stage.

This is what I bring back to this Legislation, this bill. How can we stop these young people from making these decisions? How can we, as legislators, as a society? As we see what's going on today, the member for Cape Breton North tabled a petition with over 3,000 names on it for the youth crime and vandalism that's going on in his neighbourhood.

Vandalism, poor decision making - I just think about teen health centres which we fought so hard to get for many years, in schools, in high schools to help these kids with their problems. I think of going all the way up to Bay St. Lawrence at one time and looking at an old school up there to turn into a youth centre; I think of all the organizations that I worked within the Family Place Resource Centre; I think of the Community Cares in North Sydney. Recently I sent a letter off to the Minister of Community Services, supporting this organization for single mothers, who were out there working and learning and getting employed and getting jobs.

[7:45 p.m.]

I think what's wrong today, Mr. Speaker, is I think back as a young fellow and my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, was a little league coach when I was growing up, and we had three little league teams in the area of Whitney Pier. We had three little league teams, and the member actually coached one of those teams, The Dodgers. (Interruptions) No, I'm not going to get into that right now, who won or who didn't, but I'm going to say the member here volunteered his time. Many of us in the Legislature volunteer time. But think of those three little league teams in that community at one time, and also a four-team Midget B hockey league, a five-team Midget basketball league.

As I stand here today, there are none of those recreational sports left. I stand here and I listen to people debate about insurance, insurance for non-profit organizations, insurance so that we can go to a school, so I can volunteer my time to teach kids how to play basketball. I don't know where society is going and I don't know where we're going as legislators. What has come to us as legislators is this bill, but I keep looking at the bill and I'm saying to myself, why did he pick up those keys? Is there anything we can do as legislators, and that's why I'm here today. I'm here today because I've seen it, mostly everything with young offenders, all the things I've seen.

[Page 6426]

I think we have to empower youth. I think youth have to be a part of the solution. For example in building a $850,000 Boys and Girls Club on Inglis Street in Sydney, and nobody showed up. They built an $850,000 facility and nobody showed up. We have to go where the youth are. An example is the Dufferin Mall in Ontario. They were having problems with youth hanging out and causing problems and vandalism, so they decided to build a youth centre in the mall itself. They eliminated the problem in the Dufferin Mall because the youth had somewhere to go. They actually had a place where they could go and listen to music and do their own thing, and not have to worry about it.

I'll give you an example of running a program. I started a program about six years ago called Midnight Basketball. I ran the program. It didn't start at midnight, it started at 10:00 o'clock in the evening, but it finished at midnight. Really, I was tricking the young people. They were playing two hours and running around and learning good decisions about being a team player, but when they were finished at 12:00 o'clock, they were that tired that they went home and got a shower and went to bed, they didn't go down the road and do any vandalism. That's the kind of things that you did, and it taught them to think before you do things. Think about it before you try drugs and alcohol. Think about not picking up those car keys and going down the road at such a speed and having a terrible accident like we had here in the city. Think about making those good decisions.

I think about one of the first young fellows I worked with. I remember years ago in school when I was a kid, many years ago, young people were taken right out of the school for bad behaviour and taken right to Shelburne, no questions asked. These young people were going up there and coming back to society with the things they learned or the things they didn't.

We later decided that we were going to have what they call restorative justice. I know my colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel, worked very hard on the restorative justice program, because I was in that field for 10 years, and all the time that he spent and all the time that Ottawa and all the people said we need to change this. We have to be able to have something - the whole idea of restorative justice is holding those young people and putting them to repairing the harm that they did, caused by the conflict and the damage that they've done, to bring them in and hold them accountable.

I thought, back as a young fellow, of taking these kids to Shelburne, they had a nine-hour drive from Sydney to Shelburne, they had no contact with their family, they had no way to get a visit from their family, they had no contact with their siblings, but yet we as a society were shipping our kids off-Island to Shelburne. And all those behaviours and everything else, Mr. Speaker. I remember Father MacFarlane, the priest at Holy Redeemer Camp, going down to Shelburne and taking these young people out of Shelburne to take them back to Holy Redeemer Camp for the Summer. That was something for somebody to do that, a Roman Catholic priest at the Holy Redeemer Church in Whitney Pier would go down and take those young people who were in trouble back to camp, and tried to help them.

[Page 6427]

I thought that's what I would like to do myself, as a person, to be able to give those young people a chance. That's all we ask for so when they don't pick up those keys or they don't make that choice with their peers to smoke dope, drink, you know what I mean? Young people who have connections to their community, Mr. Speaker, are young people who are less likely to be drinking and doing violence because they're connected to their community.

There's an old saying that goes back, I guess, to the native culture, it takes a whole village to raise a child. It should take us, as legislators, a good hard look at what we're doing.

We have turned non-profit organizations in this province into beggars. Non-profit organizations come to the government, an example, as an executive director - which the portfolio I held before I came here - had written to three different ministers in the government - not this government, the government before - saying to these ministers that the money that you spend now on prevention is so worth the little bit of money that you spend, so you give an operating grant.

A lot of these non-profit organizations - the Boys and Girls Club and other centres - don't have the means, the core funding to stay open, they live from grant to grant, so you become a proposal writer. You become a funding and marketing person instead of actually being out there every day working with young people. That's what you become. You're a beggar. In society today, Boys and Girls Clubs, youth clubs, Heartwood down in the Valley, up in Bay St. Lawrence, Community Cares in North Sydney, South End Community Centre in Sydney, Youth Centre in New Glasgow, and all these organizations have become beggars. Beggars are standing here in the Legislature today and thinking about asking for money to provide programming for young people in the Province of Nova Scotia. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Young people who live in neighbourhoods with plenty of community resources such as parks, libraries, recreational areas and youth centres, develop better skills to make those decisions, yet we, as legislators, are always struggling with the point when they come to you and say, we would like to have a skateboard park in a certain area. Well, in a skateboard park - and we look at my age being 50 - a skateboard was not a sport. Today it is a sport, it's a million-dollar business, it's a billion-dollar business, and it is recreation. We have children today who are obese, but yet if they were on a skateboard or on a BMX bike and they were in a skateboard park and enjoying themselves, they wouldn't be out breaking windows or beating people up on the streets and rolling people, we used to say back then, and doing that to people.

Mr. Speaker, we can't understand and I've looked at this for many, many years and I think to myself, of all the volunteers and all the people that spent at being involved in my life, as my coach in little league, as my coach in hockey, as my coach in basketball. I look at my member for Cape Breton South who was a coach in little league actually, I go back to that again, but I mean, at least he was there. At least he was there putting his time in. But to ask people today. When you ask people to come to organizations and volunteer and they're

[Page 6428]

handed sheets of paper saying, okay, here's a document of confidentiality, here's a child abuse registry, here's a CPIC check. These people today are like, jeez, you know, I'm afraid to volunteer with that organization because I have to do this, this and this. Well that's the way society is today, in order for us to put our trust in somebody working with children and that's why you don't see those people out there today.

That's why you don't have those resources that were available back in the 60s and 70s, available today in the year 2005. Because we as a society have gone beyond I guess in looking at getting these people out to volunteer, volunteer for non-profit organizations. The insurance for a non-profit organization, an example the youth centre I talked about in Whitney Pier, $2,240 for liability insurance, $895 a year for a director of liability insurance. You're paying over $3,000 for the small little club that provides programming. Programming for young people, free of charge. There's not one charge for any person who walks through the door of that facility, and it eliminates all the barriers. If there's a dance, everybody gets in. If there's weightlifting, everybody joins. There's tai-kwon-do three nights a week, everybody's there. The community uses it seven days a week. Seven days a week the people use that facility free of charge.

When that facility opened, I remember I couldn't get any money from the government and I was pleading and asking at that time back in 1994, I actually had done a program on the CTV National News with a fellow by the name of Jim Nunsan, and you know where he's at right now. I've done that program about youth at risk and as I speak here today, I gave a somewhat similar sort of speech, and I had a phone call from somebody who said I can't believe that you're running all these programs for that little bit of money and you can't get any government help. Well, maybe I would like to donate $50,000 to your organization.

First of all, I thought it was one of my friends pulling my leg, or something was going on, but I didn't believe this and this guy said, no, I want to give you $50,000 to run that facility, until you can get her going. I said, well, okay. Lo and behold, two weeks later I get a cheque in a plain envelope and a scribbler page for $50,000. I thought I was dreaming or something. I took the cheque to the accountant at Grant Thornton and said here is a $50,000 cheque and he said, no problem, it's good. I mean, see again, the same amount of funding back in 1994 from the Minister of Community Services of $45,000 and I've written to ministers before him, the minister before him and the minister before him. Do you know how much money that facility gets today - $45,000.

Yet we stand here and we look at this bill and we say in this bill how do we stop that young person from picking up those keys? How do we stop him? Here's a facility that's out there providing these programs free of charge and looking at how do we get the government to realize that. So in each letter that I wrote to previous ministers before him, and I guess I'll give credit where credit is due, if it wasn't for the Liberal Leader back in 1995 at that time, and actually the Liberal MP who retired, and I think everybody in Halifax was trying to find out what he was doing with his pension when he retired from federal politics, well, he was

[Page 6429]

giving that pension to the Whitney Pier Youth Club. That's what he was doing and that's the truth, he did, he gave me his pension, a noble man. Here was an MP who later went on to become the leader and the Premier of this province who was giving me his pension for those kids at that facility.

Yet I write this government, and the government before this, and I say here's $45,000. It has been 11 years with the same budget, the same thing going on, and we've had grant after grant. All these non-profit organizations, whether it's Boys and Girls Clubs, the Whitney Pier Youth Club, the Glace Bay Police Boys Club, which my colleague, the member for Glace Bay, is involved in there, all of these organizations keep looking for money, Mr. Speaker, to prevent something like this from happening, to prevent this. So when we say to ourselves why we're not getting enough money, we're not getting enough money, we're not looking at that.

The concentration of poverty in certain neighbourhoods is growing. Why is it growing? Look at the areas. The member for Cape Breton North had a petition. The member for Halifax Needham said what's going on in different neighbourhoods, then the member for Dartmouth North. Why these neighbourhoods? What's going on in these neighbourhoods, Mr. Speaker, that we, as legislators, should be looking at? We should be providing programs to these young people. We shouldn't worry about what colours they're wearing or what gangs they're in. We have to be proactive as legislators. We have to and I'll give you an example in Ottawa.

The police in Ottawa opened the Neighbourhood Centre in a certain area of Ottawa. With that centre being opened for six months, the crime rate in that neighbourhood in Ottawa was down 60 per cent from opening that youth centre. The crime rate was down 60 per cent and this is what we're talking about here today. The crime rate, and you can ask any police officer in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the best place to have a shift right now is Whitney Pier. The reputation of Whitney Pier, for anybody in this Legislature, for years and years it has always been - it's not a place to go, it's not a very good place, and it's not a place to be. Well, I'm very proud to be from that neighbourhood and I grew up on the streets of that neighbourhood. (Applause)

I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it's a great place to grow up. I sit here and I represent the best of people, do you know what I mean? When I met my wife - she's from the Miramichi in New Brunswick - I told my mother-in-law that I was from Whitney Pier. My mother-in-law said to her, well, you know, we were in Cape Breton in 1947 after the war. Your father was sent there to take down the gun batteries around the coast of Cape Breton and you lived in Sydney Mines. Yes, well, the only place I wasn't allowed to go was Whitney Pier. I mean this is my in-laws. (Interruption) Well, the Miramichi is a great place to live, I guess, I married her. So that's the main thing.

[Page 6430]

But in order for young people to be healthy and effective, how do we help them to be healthy and effective to make that transition to adulthood? How do we help the young people so that they can demonstrate to us that they're capable and responsible and caring members of society? How do we do that? Well, we don't do that by closing down their facilities. We don't do that by closing access to their schools. We have a Youth Secretariat in the Province of Nova Scotia. It's the only agency in a provincial government with a mandate devoted exclusively to youth population in Nova Scotia. It's devoted to that.

[8:00 p.m.]

So they're supposed to come back to this government and say look, here's what's going on. They're supposed to come back to this House and tell us to coordinate provincial government needs and concerns and aspirations of the Nova Scotian youth population and tell us what we're doing and how we're serving our young people, youth issues and youth concerns. That's why we have this Bill No. 147 in the driving, they're concerns.

I'll go to social interventions and programs that help young people, people with special needs. The Minister of Education was just up. I'll give an example of a school but I won't mention the name of the school. This is a school in the Province of Nova Scotia that has 100 kids waiting for resource. It has 45 young people waiting for an assessment. It has 55 young people waiting to see a speech pathologist. This is one school, this is not a district, I'm just talking about one school. So what is wrong with society today? Kids with special needs, this is another part of it, young people with special needs, you know what I mean, if they go unadressed in school, and they're not addressed, you know, consequences later on in life leads to criminal activity.

One in ten Canadians have a learning disability, Mr. Speaker, 3 million people, but only 3 per cent of school-aged children with learning disabilities receive special services within their schools. That's a fact. That's a shame. That's what's going on Mr. Speaker. Research shows that 30 per cent to 70 per cent of young offenders and inmates have experienced learning problems. Imagine, that's quite a rate. I'll repeat that again, research shows that 30 per cent to 70 per cent of young offenders have learning disabilities. In a negative effect, it all affects adulthood, it all affects their decisions.

I think it was once quoted that it would be $100,000 a year to keep a young person incarcerated. Yet we have facilities out there that work on limited budgets that have nothing that provide these programs to help these young people make decisions and yet we're willing to spend $100,000 in this. Look at this bill, we're going to make things stiffer and harder for young people. My colleague, the member for Eastern Passage, had a meeting last Friday with a community group. That's what you do, you go into your community and you have a meeting with all the different organizations. I think the meeting was in Shearwater, and the meeting was about what they could do to alleviate the problems in Eastern Passage and Cole Harbour. What can they do? What kind of services can they provide so they can get the young

[Page 6431]

people off the streets? That's being proactive and I congratulate the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for doing those things.

Mr. Speaker, we look at other causes, we think about the member for Dartmouth East, who put in a bill on alcohol for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which put youth at an increased risk of coming into conflict with the law. It's one of the leading causes of learning and behavioural problems, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We saw the bill from the member. We have to help support them in making the right decisions during pregnancy. We have to help support those special needs children, they grow up and their needs aren't being met in the school system.

We look at this bill again and we think of the four different agencies and we always hear ourselves as legislators or anybody else - there's four different agencies in the Province of Nova Scotia, Justice, Community Services, Health and Education. We always hear about young people falling through the cracks, because Health doesn't know what Justice is doing, Community Services doesn't know what Education is doing.

What about the young people between the ages of 16 and 18? These young people are the ones who are drastically falling through the cracks because they don't fall under the mandate of income assistance, because they're living here, they're living there and you have to prove that this is the last resort. It will take anywhere up to three months to figure out how to prove that. That's the only government agency where you're guilty even before you go to court. That's the operations in Community Services. They can actually take a person's cheque away from them.

Imagine the hardship of a single mother with three children losing her cheque because somebody else made an accusation; instead of going out and finding out because they had a statement from somebody, they're going to take that cheque away from that woman. So that woman with three kids is waiting for her cheque at the end of the month and the cheque doesn't come. So you call the caseworker and you say hi, I'm the MLA, looking for the information on why that cheque was removed. Well we had a statement from so and so. That was the ex-boyfriend, that's his girlfriend, but yet they took that cheque away. So what about those three young people in that family who can't do anything and can't eat for that week? Where else do we see such a system where you're guilty before you have a chance to prove yourself? I don't know if there's anywhere else in this country where that happens. Who is devastated by this?

HON. DAVID MORSE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I want to assure the member opposite that if one of his constituents encounters that problem, if they were just to put in an appeal, that the practice of the department is to give them the benefit of the doubt and to keep them on Community Services until they hear the appeal. Thank you.

[Page 6432]

MR. SPEAKER: Not a point of order, but a clarification of the facts, I guess you could say.

MR. GOSSE: That was a great point of order. I'm not even going to bother acknowledging that that member even stood up in this House. (Applause) Tell him to get a paper and pen. I've written many letters to him, I know what he's all about.

Initiatives are offered - what about post-secondary education? Didn't we see a bill put in today? Didn't somebody in this Legislature put a bill in here today? Post-secondary education - how do we get initiatives offered to high school dropouts to encourage them to return to school and graduate and stay away from crime? How do you do that when you're a single parent and you can't go to school?

These people who live in these neighbourhoods and low-income families - their self-esteem is so low, emotionally disturbed at times. The job market - you know what I mean? Youth with a Grade 12 education or higher are likely not to go to jail. Isn't that a statistic? If you have Grade 12, most likely you're not going to jail. According to Corrections Services Canada, Grade 7 is the average age of people who incarcerated today, those people that are in there. Why?

As legislators we ask ourselves the underlying reasons why some youth find it difficult to stay in school. Ask yourself, as a legislator, why? Emotional problems? Learning disabilities? Bullying at school? They can't find the funding to go to school. They can't find the money to go to school, so they get frustrated and they go back to that lifestyle. The only thing they know is how to survive, and no matter what they have to do to survive, they're going to do it. That's what we see in young people today.

Recreation - here's a statistic that's really good. Youth who participate in recreational activities are more likely to do well in school and to have high self-esteem and good social skills. I'm living proof of that, as I stand in this Legislature today. If I didn't play all those sports I mentioned earlier while growing up, I would not be standing in this Legislature today. These personal qualities that these young people have, they don't get involved in criminal activity, they're too busy - there's an old saying that busy hands are happy hands - if these young people are playing basketball, baseball or hockey.

When I first began working with young people, I thought to myself, if all these kids could play sports, because of my background, but some of these kids are so emotionally disturbed they couldn't throw a ball from one hand and catch it with the other hand.

So what is society doing to provide competitive and non-competitive, structured and not structured programming? My colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid said earlier the arts programs. They're usually the first programs that are cut in all the budgets. They're the first to go, always. These are the people who suffer. They're always gone.

[Page 6433]

I can give you numerous examples here today in the Legislature. Ottawa, I said earlier, about building a youth centre and the crime went down by 60 per cent. The Dufferin Mall, Bay St. Lawrence turned the old school into a centre, Community Cares in North Sydney - I just think about all of those things.

What about the P3 schools? In our community, the only schools that are open are the schools that are owned by the community. The new schools built, we can't get access to them. Whether it's insurance, or we don't have access because the school board doesn't own the school. So how can I rent the gym for the kids to play floor hockey on Saturday if the school is not available? I remember when I ran the mini-basketball program back in 1980-81 on Saturday mornings for kids ages nine to 12. I remember going there every Saturday morning, the school was open. Now to get a school, you have to pay somebody to come up to shut off the alarm, get the alarm off, oh, that's fine. Even to raise that amount of $20 a day for four weekends a month or whatever, that becomes a cost.

But again, we see all these costs. All these costs have been downloaded, they were services that were once provided through the government and over the years it's been gutted. The whole social network, when we talk about young people, has been gutted, everything from recreation, from school, from children who live in poverty, integrating recreation in the schools and job readiness programs, there's an example. I used to run youth internship programs. I would take 12 young people off the streets or out of the neighbourhood, between the ages of 18 and 29. What I would do is help these young people find their first employment, but in the meantime I would make sure they had their WHMIS, their CPR, their First Aid, their St. John Ambulance before they went on a job. Some of those people that I first took in, they didn't have a bank account. I had to take them to the bank to cash their cheques, because they didn't have a bank account. I had to help them open a bank account. They didn't have a bank account, they never knew.

I took 53 young people, in over six years, out of the community and put them in youth internship programs. But, again, these are small fixes. These are not core fundings. All these non-profit organizations, as you see, they live from grant to grant. Whether it's the Family Place Resource Centre, whether it's early childhood intervention, when they talk about early childhood intervention and we see the daycare program coming out federally, we see what's going on there. There's people who work in early childhood intervention who can sit down and look at these young people and say, yes, they'll know the ones who will be incarcerated, they know the ones who are going to cause problems in society, because they know their needs aren't being met. Their needs aren't being met, they're just not being met. Their needs are not being met.

The Young Offenders Act, in 1985, I think that was the first Young Offenders Act, when they changed that to the Restorative Justice Program. Before that we have Alternative Measures. I used to sit down as a community person on Alternative Measures to help determine what it should be. So when I look at Bill No. 147, I say to myself, again, how do

[Page 6434]

we as legislators and society get government to put enough money into these programs? How do I stand in this Legislature today and ask, how do we do these things? We can all see, we can all sit down and have hundreds of reports, thousands of pieces of paper - it's like we spend all this money on studies. We have a great study for this, we have a great study for that. But how many of those studies that we do, whether it's health, education, justice, whatever, are actually implemented?

We spend good money, we receive good reports from people. We look at them, we know what's going on, but we don't have the money to implement any of these reports and studies that are given to us as legislators. I just think that young people with strong social connections, they're less likely to engage in activities such as drinking and driving. That's a fact. Unprotected sex and drug use, these are things that with social connections, if they're with good social peers, a good group, those are things that they stay away from. That's a fact. So, if you can provide those kinds of programs - the youth who feel involved, they feel safe, they feel connected. I've seen this over the years of being there. They feel that they're connected to something. They have safe place to gather, they have good relationships with peers, skills, constructive activities for their spare time. They're not running down the road doing vandalism and busting windows in schools, they're participating in good constructive activities.

Unfortunately, the young people have little opportunity for meaningful involvement during this key transition period. What I mean by transition period is adolescence is a turbulent time in life in general, before becoming adults. We all know what that's like, Mr. Speaker, there's 52 or 51 of us now who sit in this Legislature and we know what it's like to go through adolescence and know what it's like to have people who cared for us. Every piece of literature that I used to send out as a youth worker, I used to always put on the bottom, youth don't care what you know until they know that you care, and that's the truth.

[8:15 p.m.]

We, as legislators, or we, as society, they don't care what you know as long as they know that you care. As long as somebody is going to be there for them. As long as you're going to be there to listen to them. You're not going to judge them. You're just going to be there to listen to them.

Youth participation in good programs, give them a chance to develop decision making, good decision making, problem solving skills. They develop meaningful relationships with the opposite sex and a chance, Mr. Speaker, to bolster self esteem, self worth. These are benefits known to protect young people from risk taking behaviour. This is a fact that they know, if these programs and these services are provided that these young people are less likely to get involved in risk taking behaviour. Like this, like picking up a set of keys and causing the death of somebody. When I think of that case and I think about when I first saw it on the news and I saw the mother and how many times did I go and look for help, help from

[Page 6435]

who? Help in school. Was she a single-parent mother, did she get help from the income assistance? You know what I mean? We think about all those things. Creating opportunities for young people. Creating opportunities for youth in care.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Community Services, one of the first people who came into that committee, young people were doing a newsletter called, Voices, and they're Youth in Care. These are young people, Youth in Care. I remember at the youth centre I decided that there are some kids that come to this facility who are in care, they're under the minister's care, but I guess under the children's aid, which is not under the minister's care, so I'm not going to get involved in that one, but what I'm trying to say is that I took youth in care and found them Summer jobs, their first jobs, took them out of foster care and said, look, give them Summer jobs. In other words, I was telling them that I respected them. That they could work in my facility. That they can be involved with the young people there. They became so involved in the facility it was almost like he was wanting my job. This was a youth in care. He was being so involved that he was bringing the music and he was playing the music at the dances. Just for that eight-week work term that he worked there in the Summer and his first pay cheque.

I think about another group that came to the Standing Committee on Community Services was Foster Care Crisis. I know some in the government didn't feel good about that title. I do remember I think there was a letter that was sent to the Standing Committee on Community Services about the behaviour toward the deputy minister. I didn't come to this Legislature to call anybody down or to do anything like that. I came here as an elected official that knows there are problems in society today that hopefully I can be a part of solving, and this is one of them here. We have to learn, what can we do? Again we talk about getting them involved.

We see another study that comes out, obesity in Nova Scotia. Only 15 per cent of Nova Scotia high school students take physical education. Only 25 per cent of Nova Scotia children ages between five years of age and 17 years of age walk or bike to school. I hear the member saying this is on the bill. What I'm trying to do is bring some kind - this bill is Bill No. 147. What I'm trying to do is have this bill come about. What made the decision for that young lad to pick up those keys and cause that? What are the principles of this bill? How do we stop somebody from doing that? How do we stop somebody from making that decision? I'm trying to explain myself here this evening as a youth worker and somebody who worked in the field about how not to make that decision, Mr. Speaker, that's all I'm trying to say. I don't have all the answers, but I do have some answers. I spent 15 years in there and I know what it's like. I worked locking them up at night. I worked in open custody. I worked in closed custody. I know what it's like, and I do know what it's like.

Maybe I'll get another rise out of the minister again. I'm going to touch on housing. I'm going to touch on some stuff in housing that hopefully is not a point of order this time, Mr. Speaker. I think I'll have a sip before that happens. Living in poor quality housing is a

[Page 6436]

well-established factor for behaviour and educational problems. Clearly linked to higher neighbourhood criminal action. We have a program, the feds announced it about two years ago, the affordable housing program. I sat in this Legislature last year and I asked a question to that minister about affordable housing in Cape Breton. The minister stood up in his place and said Cape Breton will get its fair share. It's two years and we got our fair share - zero - nothing. Our fair share is zero. (Interruptions) Living in poor quality housing is a well-established risk factor for behaviour and educational programs. That's a fact.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. GOSSE: Because they live in poor housing. They don't have good housing to live in, you know, conditions adversely affect physically and mentally (Interruption) I remember talking about growing up in the community and there was a bunch of low-income housing that was up on the hill across from the rink. That nickname stuck on that housing group. For years it was called a chicken coop. So if anybody came from that neighbourhood, they were called from the chicken coops. So it didn't matter, if you were poor, you came from the chicken coop. That was housing provided by the government. People were judging them just because, well, people judged everybody in Whitney Pier, just because they were from the Pier, that's why. It didn't matter, but I mean if you came from that part, it was all divided neighbourhoods. Whether you're from the coke ovens, whether you're from the coal ovens, whether you were from the chicken coop, whether you were from honky town, or whether you were from dog patch, or whether you're from rabbit town, it didn't matter, you were still from Whitney Pier.

When I first went to Sydney Academy, we had a door in high school. It was the Pier door. We were associated from all the different students because that was the Pier door. (Interruption) Because most kids from the Pier were no good and they just weren't any good. It's as simple as that. They went in that door and they controlled that door for many years. That's what they thought. That's what everybody thought, but I look back at my Grade 8 picture and I think of the guy who's sitting down on the waterfront here who's a Supreme Court Justice. Imagine, he came from the Pier. I see the three doctors, one at the IWK, and two in the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, three brothers, and they all came from the Pier. I think of the three boys in the RCMP, two families, not one, two. They have three sons in the RCMP and these were all from the Pier, how could these people from the Pier make it?

What's going on? How could they make it? Why did they make it? They made it because they had people who were in their community who cared. They had people there who volunteered. They had people there who cared. They had people there who would say to you, why would I want to steal that car, Gordie, that's not a good decision.

[Page 6437]

AN HON. MEMBER: Role models.

MR. GOSSE: Yes, excellent role models, excellent role models. Campy Crawford, the first Black police officer in the Province of Nova Scotia, east of Montreal, you know, an impact, he was absolutely one of the finest persons that I had the honour to play ball with him back in 1970, we'll say, or a little bit earlier, I guess, back in 1979 actually we went away to play for the eastern Canadians in Moncton?

AN HON. MEMBER: How did you do?

MR. GOSSE: We finished second in the eastern Canadian that year, but Campy Crawford, if you think of the other resolution that I read today, Calvin Ruck, the senator. You think of Winston Ruck in 1964. You think of Isaac Phills, the Order of Canada, in 1967. These are people who came from that community who were no good. These are people who made an impact in this country. These are people who made a difference in this country but, again, like I said, they came from housing.

You know, the perception, I'll give you an example, Mr. Speaker, families who paid more than 30 per cent on their pre-tax income dwellings are considered to be in core housing need. The number of such families rose by 91 per cent from 1989 to 1996. That's astonishing, it's even higher now, and then I'll go back to another subject about housing. When you're an income assistance recipient and your child tax credit, your national child tax credit, I mean that money is earmarked, that money is strictly earmarked for what it says - child tax credit. So that money is given to families for clothing, given to families for buying new clothes for kids to go to school, to buy little things for the children. Low-income families, you know what they spend that money on? They spend that money on providing food, shelter, other things. That money is not going to put new clothes on children, it's not going to help, because they have to spend it because of the budget and the low income that they receive, that money earmarked for the children is spent on household needs and that's a fact. That's a fact.

I just think of, you know, I'm looking at saying the problem of affordable housing can be, how do we address things. I think about, when I thought about affordable housing and I heard on the news that there was a housing development that was going to go in the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations' riding, that's possible, Hammonds Plains- Upper Sackville, whatever, and the community didn't want that and I'm saying to myself, they don't want it? I'll take that in Cape Breton, please, bring that down to Cape Breton, please affordable housing, two years ago the minister said you're going to get your fair share Cape Breton - zero - we get our fair share again. Yet these people in this area don't want that housing and I'm saying to myself we're dying for affordable housing in Cape Breton and in this area of the province they don't want it. I'll ask somebody in the Legislature today, maybe they can persuade the same people to build those in my riding because I'd surely appreciate it. I'd surely appreciate it, it would help my riding and take all these low-income families and

[Page 6438]

give them good homes to live in where somebody's not ripping the siding off at night, or somebody's not breaking and stealing the radiators.

The lack of affordable housing is a key fact in why crimes are committed. For years my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, would always say we're putting too many of these low-income families in affordable housing neighbourhoods that we have to spread them out, yet we see this area of the province do not want them in their area. Here we are trying to spread them out.

We'll talk about income, you think of that young fella, his parents were making over $30,000 a year - I'll give you a little example - improvements in family income - a child at risk, when a family's income reaches $30,000, this kind of risk-taking behaviour is not there. When they reach that $30,000 plateau mark, the risk of that is not there. When a family income reaches $40,000, it changes.

You think as a youth worker or somebody else who's working there knowing that poor children are 4.1 times more likely to engage in aggressive behaviour than children in middle-income families. Poor children are more likely to exhibit delinquent behaviours compared to those of middle- and high-income families. That's a stat, but yet we still provide those families. What I get a kick out of is, I think that you're allowed $184 to eat for the month per person. Then I say my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, has always been in my right ear since I've been elected telling me the fastest growing industry in Nova Scotia is food banks, I've constantly heard that since the day I was elected, from this member. If I was to tell my young fella to go to school and to get a degree and a PhD in food banks, that's because that's what I've heard since I've got here. You know, to tell him to go to school because that's what he saying.

Children who live in persistent poverty are less likely to be included in aspects of society that are critical to their healthy growth and development, for instance, getting involved in sports, getting involved in team sports. I think there's a bill in the House of Commons as I speak here this evening by our colleague, the member for Sackville-Eastern Shore, that families that get their children involved in sports receive a tax credit. That's a good member trying to do that, and he's got that bill in the House of Commons that if your children are enrolled in sports that you will receive a tax credit, I think that's a positive first step. There's all kinds of first steps that we can take as legislators. Most of the young people that were incarcerated back in 1989-99, and the stats will tell you, all came from low-income families.

Then I go back again and I think back, my memory is really coming back. In 1990, this government, the Government of Canada, designed a declaration in the UN, the elimination of child poverty by 2000. I think my memory is right, the elimination of poverty, so right now as we stand in this Legislature this evening, child poverty is at 15 per cent. At that time it was at 15 per cent, so one in every six children in Canada now lives in poverty. We're legislators,

[Page 6439]

we're supposed to be able to do something to help these young people, to help these families. Insurance, imagine an issue like insurance for these groups, these non-profit organizations cannot afford to pay $180 for an event to put it on, whether it's cheerleading in the school or whether it is something else, $150, floor hockey, basketball, gym - how do we get over the hump for doing that?

[8:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, employment. I'm thinking about employment. When I first started the youth internship program, none of these kids were employed, none at all. I thought it helped them, opening bank accounts, it helped their self-esteem and self worth and how good they felt actually having their first bank account. I just think about all those things that can be done.

I think about the Breakfast for Learning program. I remember when I went to the school in my neighbourhood in 1994 and I was looking at a Breakfast for Learning program. They just opened the door and told me we're not going to have that - who's going to come to the school and do that? Who's going to come to that school at 7:00 a.m. and do those things you're thinking about doing? I was told no Breakfast for Learning programs in those schools, I could not, and I was willing to volunteer and have some staff go into those schools. Here it is 2005 and we're having Breakfast for Learning programs in every school. What a difference from the time I went in there 11 years ago to now. But that Breakfast for Learning program is still going on at the Whitney Pier Youth Club.

Breakfast is important because you can't train the brain unless you have the fuel. (Applause) I'm thinking of 64,000 kids over a nine-year period. That's not counting how many dinners - over 100,000 dinners were served in that facility. A lot of "pass the sauce", and they call it Gord's Special Tuesday - and garlic bread.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why do they call it that?

MR. GOSSE: Well, because Gord cooks it up on the weekend. When Gord goes home on the weekend, he cooks and he sends the dinner up to the kids on Tuesday, even to this day, even though I'm a member of this Legislature. I still make sure, I still sit on the board of directors and I'd never leave that place. I'd give this job up tomorrow if I thought something were going to happen to the youth in my community. I would give it up tomorrow.

No, by no means. Again, back to Bill No. 147, the decision about how he picked those keys up and why he did those things. I'm wondering why he did those things. I just think of them and I say to myself if I had been there. I remember when I first started in the field and I first realized that I don't think I could ever be involved in custody and locking young people up again.

[Page 6440]

Let's talk about treatment facilities. Earlier my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, was talking about treatment facilities and mental health issues. They have a treatment facility in Truro - is that treatment facility open as we speak here today? That's a step in the right direction. (Interruptions) No, no, there are many more different things.

Again I come back to constructive and non-constructive programs and competitive and non-competitive. I talked about having a teen night on a Friday night. I talked about the midnight basketball program. A teen night on Friday night is where they can bring their own music, their guitars and do their own thing, but one condition - no drugs and no alcohol. Do your own thing. Empower the young people. Empower the young people to come there and help them. You know what? Those young people are good young people, very good young people.

When a young person goes into a mall today and they have a knapsack, every security guard in the mall walks behind that fellow because he's a young person with a knapsack. Young people today are discriminated against just because they're young, because they're dressed in Gothic clothes, in all black, or they have their hair purple and they have earrings from one end to the other. Just because they look that way and dress that way, they're discriminated against.

Criminal offences are often committed when the perpetrator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. So I thought to myself, and other people and the board of directors at the Whitney Pier club and the people still there say how do we help those young people to not make those decisions of drugs and alcohol? How do we prevent it? Give them opportunities and good choices and good decisions to make. We did that by providing constructive programming.

What I mean by constructive is computers and music and art and theatre and drama, those types of things, and garden, a beautiful garden alongside that facility, a beautiful garden with 18 Norwegian maple trees, a Japanese sumac, Japanese quince, I'm thinking of the garden. When I first went to put that garden in, everybody in the community said they're going to destroy that garden. It's the only garden in the community, but everybody said the kids are going to smash that garden up. And seven years later, that garden is in that community and is as beautiful as the day and expanding each and every year.

That's something I learned from when I was in school when I was a young lad, when Mother St. George used to tell us young fellows in the Holy Redeemer Boys School, the Catholic school system again, paint your name on that window. So we'd always paint our name on the window. Gordie Gosse or somebody else had their name painted on the window. Well, those windows were never broken.

[Page 6441]

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. GOSSE: Because your name was on those windows. It was just a little thing like that. I thought that by planting - ownership of the programs. By empowering youth and getting youth - we've always had two youth members on the board of directors, a male and a female, so they could bring in their ideas. I always told the young people that they ran the facility, I only worked there. They ran the facility, for $45,000 for 11 years. That's two people working. I don't know how they did it, to this day.

I think of all the letters I sent, and I think of all the different things - we've become beggars. Non-profit organizations in the Province of Nova Scotia have become beggars, when they come to the government all the time looking for money. They don't have core funding. They live to help human beings and help young people. Their basic human rights are neglected. They have to come in here and ask us to for money for insurance so the kids can play floor hockey or basketball, or to have core funding. All these non-profit organizations live from grant to grant.

The Community Mobilization Program, a great program run by the federal government. You can apply for that. I ran different programs through the Community Mobilization Program. We ran programs where we had young people going to senior citizens' homes, having card games and doing bingos. We had young people going into senior citizens' homes. That's living from grant to grant. So you apply for another grant. You apply to the corporations. You apply to them each and every year. Each and every year we keep applying.

Again, it brings me back to Bill No. 147. All those things that are neglected in society today that we don't have, because we're not providing those programs for young people. We're not providing the counselling for those young people. I still think of this lady saying - I asked people for help, there was nobody there to help me.

In Canada the Youth Criminal Justice Act specifies that non-violent offenders must be sent to appropriate treatment. This is a serious shortfall in this province. How can we send them to appropriate treatment, when we don't have the appropriate treatment facilities to deal with all these problems?

Mr. Speaker, I take my hat off to all the non-profit organizations, all the Boys and Girls Clubs, Police Boys and Girls Clubs, Heartwood down in the Valley, Whitney Pier Youth Club, and all these people who are out there, who work so hard to do the things that this government used to do. They work so hard. If we provided the core funding, money, available to these organizations, the proven organizations in this province, we wouldn't be here with this bill in this Legislature today.

What would happen if everybody stopped volunteering, and people stopped going to these organizations? You see what's happening today. You see what's going on. You see

[Page 6442]

what's going on with the swarmings here in the metro area, you see what's going on with the vandalism in Cape Breton North, you see what's going on in Dartmouth North. You see those things that are going on. When you have members of the government tabling petitions, 3,000 names on a petition for vandalism in this area, and the people in North Sydney are asking you to come over and speak to them, what did you do in your community to solve that problem? What did we do?

We provided constructive programming for young people, not video games, not pool tables, constructive programming. Yet, again the gaming money - we'll go back to the gaming money, we'll go back to that. All these organizations that used to apply for that money, now they're going to be twisted around to apply to the district health authority. I'm just hoping that money is still going to be available to provide programs. Again, the people who work in those organizations, they become funding and marketing personnel, they become people who have to go out there to raise money. Imagine the time that could be spent working with young people if you weren't out there raising money. Imagine, if you weren't out there, providing programs for young people, that little bit of money that we spend on prevention.

So if you look at, as I said earlier and as I spoke, $100,000 to incarcerate a young person for a year. You could have two youth centres open in different areas of the province. I met with people. I just spoke to a Grade 12 class down in Liverpool, down the South Shore and they said the same thing to me, they jump in the car on the weekend. They get in their car and they do the same thing they do in every small town in Nova Scotia, they park in the empty parking lots with their friends. They go to the end of the Government Wharf or they go down in the main streets.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for giving me the time to speak on this tonight. Hopefully I've made my points clear about spending money with young people is the most important thing that we should be doing as legislators. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, firstly I think it's of real consequence to recognize that when you have a member who stands in this House and can speak with some authority, some experience, and more importantly some sincerity that we just heard over the last hour, you have to be recognized. I want to congratulate the member for Cape Breton Nova because long before he came to this House, long before I had the opportunity to actually meet and talk to Gordie Gosse, I remember the first time I saw him hit a pitch out in Summerside one day when he was playing ball in Charlottetown and I said, so that's Gordie Gosse, the youth worker from the Pier. That's the reputation that got you in this House and that speech is an example of what's going to keep you in this House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I know that you particularly and myself specifically, I'm aware of the fact that many years ago, you would have been looking at a youth at risk. There is no doubt

[Page 6443]

that growing up in the community that I grew up in that Bill No. 147 would not have in any way provided and guidance or direction to the son of a penitentiary guard who was growing up in Dorchester New Brunswick. At the time I want members to know that my father had a very simple message to me as his know-it-all-son, and I would imagine many of you could look at this and say, well you haven't changed much, but let me tell you that my father had a very simple message. He used to say to me, you make a choice, what side of the bars do you want to end up on, because if you keep going in the direction you're going in, you're going to jail. Let me tell you, there was also that measuring tone that would be given by my mother who said, he's not going to jail, he's going to become a school teacher. Now what the comparison between the two jobs is, I will give you those comments as I speak during the next few moments.

Let me tell you and I think it's of real consequence to remember, that in the town that I grew up in, my father wasn't just the penitentiary guard, he was also the man who had the keys to the school. This is the same man who never graduated from high school. Who left and went overseas with a Grade 8 education and worked in the foundry system at home in New Brunswick, but that man was trusted with the keys to the school. We always took it for granted that when there was nothing else to do on a rainy day in the Summer, or school March break, or over the Winter Christmas break, or even when school was cancelled some days. Well, we could just go over to Mr. Estabrooks's house and he would open up the school and let us in. Now let me tell you, those truly were the good ole days. The good ole days as it should be when young people were given direction. When young people were given role models and there weren't obstacles and barriers put in the way of keeping them busy and keeping them out of trouble.

Now along the way, Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that I was positively influenced by many people in my life, but along the way the most important influence came from an athletic coach, who used to take the same message time and time again, keep them busy and keep them out of trouble, and I heard the member for Cape Breton Nova speak earlier about the midnight basketball league. I mean think about this. If you've never been to the Pier and you want to see how youth get involved and have ownership of a particular program, you should come and see how this particular youth group operates and works. No one pays. It's free. It's open. It's not based upon daddy's chequebook and whether he can afford the best skates in town or whether you're going to have the latest basketball uniform. It's free, it's open, and it's available to all.

[8:45 p.m.]

Yet, Mr. Speaker, I hear the Minister of Health Promotion loudly proclaim the fact, and I'll table this in a moment, it comes from the last edition of the Masthead News, in which there is an announcement here that Health Promotion has announced a $4,900 grant to the Active Family and Young Teen Program for the East St. Margaret's School. That's a wonderful piece of news - $4,900. But right off the top, for members opposite, there's $1,000

[Page 6444]

charged for the rental of the school and there's a need for $500 in insurance. So a grant that went out to help young people in the community that I represent, of $4,900, had suddenly got $1,500 right off the top taken away from the grant.

Now, that would seem to me, Mr. Speaker, if we are going to offer worthwhile programs to these kids, why are we not saying that this is not a grant for $4,900. Instead, if my math hasn't failed me through this, it's a grant for $3,400. It's still money and we still thank the Minister of Health Promotion for it, but the obstacles are in the way. The obstacles are there because of the young people who need the opportunity to be involved in their community.

You know, Mr. Speaker, I know in your previous career that you worked with many young people at risk, many young people with time on their hands, many young people who perhaps who perhaps had been stigmatized by the fact that they're teenagers and, as teenagers, they are troublemakers. Well, that's just unfair. I'm proud to say that I can tell you the names of many, many young people who are not troublemakers, who are positive role models, who have been involved in the community that I live in and have taught school in for many years. These young people are involved in their community and now as coaches themselves, or advisors to clubs, or involved in various activities in our community, they themselves are giving back to the community that they are a part of.

I want to reiterate the words that were brought forward by the member for Cape Breton Nova and I hope the members opposite heard these words. Youth don't care what you know, they want to know you care. Think about those words. You're not going to impress teenagers these days with all the knowledge that you have as an adult. They really don't care what you know. They want to know that you care, that you have the time for them, that you will listen to them as an adult, that you, whether you're a policeman, or a deputy sheriff, or a school teacher, you have the time to listen to them, to allow them to have their say.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to you a few examples of things that are very positive in the community that I represent and I also want to make clear to the Minister of Justice that I believe in consequences. I believe in consequences and if you make it very clear to young people these are the consequences and this is what we expect of you, and those expectations are clearly stated and the consequences are followed through on it, the huge majority of young people will meet those expectations, but if you aim low and you treat them inappropriately, they will respond. You know, the experience has always been if you treat them like animals, they will be animals and I mean that in a very derogatory way, but if you treat them with a lack of respect, they will give you no respect in return. Many, many young people are very quick in terms of - they know the people, the adults, who care for them. They know and they are aware of the fact what they can get in terms of respect from adults, from the decision-makers in our communities.

[Page 6445]

What does Bill No. 147 do about that? Really, quite nothing. It doesn't address that issue. Instead, we're saying we should be proactive. Well aren't we being quite reactive when we look at it. I mean we are aware of the consequences of the terrible situation involving Ms. McEvoy and her unfortunate passing. We are aware of the poor decisions that were made by that young man on that eventful day. There is no doubt that he is going to live with the consequences of his decision for many years to come.

Let's look at the situation here. We have these kids, whether they're in our classrooms, or they're in our courts, or whether they're in our judge-appointed decision making, and they're going on to some form of incarceration. We have to balance all of these things, Mr. Speaker. What are they learning, just tell me what are they learning.

The comment has been made, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a town, a city, a group of people who have an investment in young people who are going to make their particular influence on a young person. When it comes to having a young person who does get in trouble, unfortunately they will say various reasons for it happened. They will blame the home, they will point out single-parent status, they will point out the fact that perhaps he or she has not done well in school. They will point to other examples, and those people who are being accusatory of those young people should look a little bit deeper for causes. They should look a little bit deeper when they realize that the reasons for some children turning into adolescents with trouble is that they have not been given the opportunity. Now I know there are people who will say there are some kids who are just bad. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is not true. That is not true. Children are all blessed, when they arrive in this world they are wonderfully innocent little people and, in return, as adults and as examples, we have to make sure that we are there to guide them and assist them.

Let me tell you - and I know the member from Cape Breton Centre has heard this story many times before - there was the time that there was a hockey player from New Brunswick who won the high school hockey championship. He came home late this night, far too late, in fact, and when he crept in the back door and he left his hockey gear out in the snowbank, as he came in through the living room and crawled in front of the television, that particular young man realized, oh oh, that's my father sitting there watching me from the lazyboy and he's concerned about why we won a high school championship and his son never called him, his son never informed him, his son never came home but, instead, he arrives home in the late of the night in a condition that he should not be proud of.

The member for Cape Breton Centre always shares this moment because at that time, when that particular father took the hockey player outside and locked him in the woodshed in Dorchester, New Brunswick, and said to him, that's where you're spending the night tonight, you'll feel a lot better in the morning, let me tell you, those were consequences, and at no time since that day, had I ever put my parents in a position where they would be embarrassed by such behavior. Now, Mr. Speaker, I must candidly admit to you in admission of things that have happened before, I was that young man in front of the television set. Let

[Page 6446]

me tell you, when you're in a situation when you understand the consequences of your behavior and when you look at how young people are going to be influenced, let's look at the fact, punishment and the crime, although in this time, where's the balance. Many, many young people make mistakes. They make the mistakes and they learn from the mistakes, but along the way, as adults, we have not been of great assistance.

As a legislator now we stand here and we pontificate at times about what we do for our community, but in return, we must look at what we haven't done for our community. I can point to the schools in my community. I have had this discussion with you, Mr. Speaker, many times and I bring it to the members' attention. I've brought it to school board members' attention. I cannot rationalize why, if taxpayers pay for the schools in this province, why they're closed all the time? Why are they not open on the weekends for activities?

I'm not just saying the gymnasium. I'm not just saying we have to have the athletes involved. I'm talking about the fact that if we are going to have young people on the straight and narrow, if we are going to have young people who understand the consequences of their action, we have to provide alternatives for them to make sure they are going to have a positive upbringing.

I can use the best example of all - school March break. I have discussed this matter with members of my caucus, with education ministers - the toughest day in the school system is the Monday after March break. Because there you are when they come back in to school and kids of course, the peer pressure involved, where did you go on March break? How come you don't have a tan like I do? Because my parents, my father, my mother could afford to take me skiing at Sugar Loaf, to the South for some sun, Spring training in Florida. And, what happens? What happens to that student who says, I didn't do anything. I stayed home and played video games or I hung out at the corner store.

Can't even get into our schools over March break. An opportunity for them to have some positive physical activity. An opportunity to be able to get into the school to get onto the computers, to - heaven forbid - use the library. In the community I represent, the libraries are in the school. There is one public library and it is one busy place. But in some of the more remote areas of my community, the more rural areas of my community, the library is in the school.

It would seem to me what a wonderful opportunity to have young people being able to have access to the school. Access to the school at all times, not worrying about rent, saying in return this is a trustworthy adult in the community, that trustworthy adult should be given the keys to the school so that if he or she is willing of her or his time to give openly and willingly to supervise an activity, to sign out a book in the library, to be involved in the computer program or just to be available as an adult as an example - those would be the sorts of things that would be proactive. Those would be the sorts of things that are not addressed

[Page 6447]

in Bill No. 147. Those are the sorts of things that would increase the fact that young people have ownership of their community and they feel comfortable in their community.

The word is respect. I used to tell the teens and the kids that I coached in school, although many of them were not aware of what Aretha Franklin used to sing for us - and I won't do it for you here - but that word, respect, you get it because of what you do with and for young people. The member for Cape Breton Nova has and continues to have the respect of the young people in his community. He gives them the time, the effort and in return, they meet his expectations. He treats them with respect and in return they treat him with respect.

In a previous career in the job you had, Mr. Speaker, I know you were put in some tough situations. Some situations where there would be difficulties, but let me tell you there would be many other times (interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to accept the rabbit tracks of the member for Cape Breton Centre or any other references to keys being locked in cars or any particular fines.

What I'm talking about, the fact here is, kids today get a bad rap. It's suddenly front page news that this particular event happened, this swarming happened, this violent event happened. Without doubt we can't say they're not happening, but more importantly, I think it's important for the Minister of Justice and members of that Cabinet and us as MLAs in our communities to say, why are they happening?

[9:00 p.m.]

We've heard from the member for Dartmouth North in the past, the member for Halifax Needham. I've been in these debates in this House and I've heard the member for Halifax Needham during estimates ask for suspension statistics from schools. She would like to know the suspension statistics from schools, and why they are suspended, these young people, for what length of time are they suspended and, particularly, some of the specific reasons of what schools have what suspension rates. They shouldn't be secret, they should be in the open. If that is an indicator of the problems that we have in the school system, then let's deal with it. Let's get out there and let's deal with it.

Now, I heard the member earlier commenting about the waiting list for school psychologists. I'm aware of the fact that he didn't use the school's name, and I understand some of the reasons for that. But I hear from teachers in the schools in my community, and they know that there's at-risk kids in their schools. They know there's children they have under their care who are coming to school each day with no breakfast, that they're coming to school each day and both of their parents are addicted to VLTs. They are aware of the fact that they don't have two cents to rub together, that they can't buy what they expect in the cafeteria, that they go to the guidance counsellor and that they are covered by the Lion's Club as they go through that lunch that day.

[Page 6448]

Those young kids who are in that situation, they feel bad about that, Mr. Speaker, but in return we have to offer them positive examples, we have to offer them help, we have to be able to say that we are there for them. When they are at risk, and it doesn't take an Einstein as a teacher to realize that that young fellow right there, if we can't reach out and help him now, if we as a community, as a policeman, as a social worker, as a guidance counsellor, as a phys. ed. teacher, if we can't reach out and help that young person right now, heaven forbid when he or she is in Grade 8 or Grade 11 or Grade 12, because that's when they're going to make decisions that will really affect them and will affect the communities.

So let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, when I hear from history teachers and geography teachers who I heard from earlier today when we were talking about a particular problem in a school, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, you either help them now or pay for it later. That's the problem we're having at this time. We have a situation here where we have an obviously a high-profile court case that had real consequences in the community in which some of us live and everyone is aware of this. Yet when we look back at the history of these children, as they become adults, it would be no surprise to the teachers of those children, it would be no surprise to the youth worker, it would be no surprise, perhaps, to the minister or the priest that that young child when he was of whatever age or she was of whatever age needed a guiding hand, needed some help, needed some advice, needed an adult who would allow them the time to be able to listen to them.

Mr. Speaker, I also had the opportunity today to meet this outstanding young lady who goes to St. FX, Ms. Clyke. She was in our gallery here today, she took the trip from Antigonish. Of course, she is one of those people, I was so proud to say your education is the key. They can take your car from you, they can repossess your house, they can take the material goods away from you, but they can never take your education from you. That diploma, whether it's from whatever vocational school or whether it's from the Nova Scotia Community College or whether it is a Ph.D. from Harvard, they can not take it from you. That's the key.

I hear the Minister of Community Services on occasion wax poetic about what this government has done, what this government is doing for some young people like Ms. Clyke. Well, let me tell you, the door is closing on Ms. Clyke. She wants a degree, she wants the independence, she wants the opportunity to make sure that she can take care of her own children and provide an example for them. That's what she said to me today, what's she's doing as a single mother, she wants that education because she can say - she wants that degree, she wants that degree because then she can say to her own kids, I got this, I did this and you can do it also.

When that piece of legislation is brought to this House, I hope the Minister of Community Services is open-minded and looks realistically at what is good and what is best when it comes to these young people, whether it's Ms. Clyke or other examples that I can bring to your attention.

[Page 6449]

I also heard my young friend, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, talk about young people in the mental health system. I've brought to the Minister of Community Services this case before and it's a case of real consequence. It's a case involving a young blind man who is a Grade 11 student at CP Allen High School. He was in a group home, Mr. Speaker, if you remember the details. This young man, because of an incident in the group home, has been placed on 4 South of the IWK, which is the mental health ward. He has not been assessed, he has not been taken care of, he has been there since October and, meanwhile, we have a tug of war between the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services. This young man is stuck in limbo, because he should not be on that particular floor. He should be in a loving, caring home in a group home situation.

Now is that the sort of example that we are giving to a young man who is in many ways at risk. This young man is frustrated, he's upset, he calls me on occasion, and let me tell you, he's angry. When he is angry, Phillip Martell will tell you he loses his temper. Why shouldn't he? He's frustrated, he's upset, the system isn't working for that young man, because the system isn't working for him and because the system isn't listening to him. That's when young people will say no one cares, I'll do what I want to do, let me just do what I think is best, because as a young person, we all had the answers at that age.

So when you think of some of these things, Mr. Speaker, and we look at how these events are unfolding, it's a real importance that when we have a punitive piece of legislation that is going to say, at this stage - and we're going to hear from lots of people who will want to speak on this particular bill, who are going to come in and say there has to be consequences, yes, but the opportunity for young people to connect with our community, to connect with their community, young people who want to feel a part of something, they want to feel that they can have a say in something, that they are being listened to, and that's the greatest concern that we always have as politicians.

Mr. Speaker, we always go somewhere and we speak to them. Let me tell you, when I go into the schools where I have the opportunity to speak to them, I say to them - and I think the member from Halifax-Citadel put it best once when we were at the same community meeting, don't let the member for Timberlea-Prospect speak because he'll speak for an hour. In this Legislature, speaking for an hour on an issue of this importance is really quite an easy task. When you're speaking to young people in the school situation, my advice to you, as elected officials, is to go in for that 50 minute class and tell them, take your watch off, and say to them I'm going to talk for five minutes then I'm going to sit down and I want to hear your questions, I want you to talk to me. The first reaction you'll get from them is, when you take the watch off and give it to the kid front row, five minutes sir, that's it, you can't talk any longer. So what do you want to talk about? Then they begin. They open up, and they have their say and they want to talk about some of the problems in their community.

Let me tell you about some of the problems that they've brought to my attention, these are young people who want to be listened to in their community. I remember the first

[Page 6450]

time I visited Madeline Symonds School. I heard a young man say to me, he wanted to know what I knew about the sport of getting out there on a skateboard. I said to the young man, I've never been on a skateboard in my life. I want to know why we don't have a skateboard park. Now my first reaction was, skateboard park, okay. I've heard the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley talk about skateboard parks, I've heard him speak in length about the value of it in the community that he represents, and so I took the opportunity with some Lions Club members to go and listen and to see what a skateboard park is, and, do you know, Mr. Speaker, we now have two skateboard parks in the community that I represent?

Mr. Speaker, those skateboard parks are used day and night. Young people are there. We have a sign by each skateboard park which says this is your property, you take care of it, and if you have concerns, make sure you bring them to our attention. They take care of the skateboard parks. Yes, there are a few messages written to their girlfriend on one particular part, maybe to their boyfriend too, on one particular part of the board, but there are garbage cans there, they are being taking care of, and they are not destroying their skateboard park. They're not out there causing problems in the community because it's theirs. It's theirs, they have some ownership of those skateboard parks. What happened was, when the first time it was brought to my attention, I said because I'm thinking sports, okay - they're going to talk about an outdoor rink, they're going to talk about basketball hoops - but no, a skateboard park.

Now, for many of us who are saying it's going to be a hangout, they're going to be drinking and toking, and all those other things, well, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, I feel very comfortable going to the skateboard parks in the community that I represent - day or night. We stopped by, as Lions Club members, asking how are things going, guys, can we empty the garbage cans for you? You feel comfortable after awhile when you go to them and they say to you, as a Lions Club member, and not necessarily as the MLA, thank you for being involved in this, thank you for listening to us.

This is something that we wanted. This is something that we believe we can use and make great use of in our community because if we don't listen to these kids, if we don't listen to them, they sure as you know what are going to get out there and get themselves in trouble, but if they feel that they have an adult, if they feel they have a schoolteacher, if they feel they have a minister or a priest or a director of a youth club who is going to listen to them, who is going to be able to help them out, who is going to feel they can go to that particular person and he or she will listen to them, let me tell you, then we will have young people in our community who will not be in trouble, young people in our community who feel engaged and feel part of the process.

That's, after all, what it's all about. I'm always so concerned when I tell people that the first teaching job I ever had was in the federal penitentiary system. The federal penitentiary system, the first job that I had was I had to test the young men - and many of them were middle-aged men too - who arrived in the federal penitentiary system at the time and I had to

[Page 6451]

test their learning. I had to test their reading skills, their math skills, and many of them had dropped out of school. Many of them had learning disabilities, many of them had little or no formal education, and that connection has always been there. That connection between, Mr. Speaker, if you are going to insist upon young people to do well, they have to be given the opportunity to do just that - to do well. They have to feel that they can go to an adult, that they can be in a school situation, that they can reach out and they can receive help.

Now things have changed a lot, of course, in the last number of years. You know, we look at the negative influences, we look at the negative influences that are all around young people today. We look at steroids in sports, and we look at some of these violent acts that are being promulgated through these violent videos. We look at some of the other things that young people have to contend with, and I say it to adults all the time that we shouldn't compare what our youth was like as compared to their youth because they have a great deal more peer pressure put upon them. Many of them grow up far too quickly. They grow up far too quickly and, because of that, the consequences they are of course facing are that they are still children, but they expect themselves to be making decisions as adults. That is, unfortunately, a cruel contradiction.

[9:15 p.m.]

So when we look at what Bill No. 147 is recommending and we look at what's going to happen in the Law Amendments Committee and we look at how things are going to transpire during the next weeks as we go through this bill, this particular piece of legislation, let me remind the members opposite and the Minister of Justice in particular, here we are reacting to an issue of real importance to the community, but that short-term pain is not necessarily going to result in long-term gain. There is no doubt that the Young Offenders Act, that some of the legislation that was initially brought forward could be improved. That old thing of throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not going to give the solution that we need in this particular case. There is no doubt that young people without the right direction and advice and assistance and role model, there is no doubt that many of them will make poor decisions.

But, if in return we are positive with them, if we insist upon a degree of respect, if we make clear the consequences of their behaviour, if we outline specifically what we want to do, and we are willing to listen to them then, Mr. Speaker, many of these young people will feel engaged, will feel involved, and they will feel part of the process. That's the issue. I've heard the member for Cape Breton Nova speak at length about this on many occasions, and let me tell you he takes ownership of his community because of the people in his community. The young people in his community feel proud of the fact that they can go to their MLA now, they can go to this man and he knows from where they come. That's, after all, what it is when it comes to youth. It's not that old thing of the rotten apple and the barrel and what will happen to all the other people in the school. That is not what happens.

[Page 6452]

Mr. Speaker, every child has good in him or her. Every child is going to make sure that they have a contribution to make. I can tell you that when I did become a teacher, and I recall those days in terms of the fact of how proud my father was, actually I'm sure my father was more surprised than proud, but we won't go too far down that road. My father probably said, as my mother said to him, I told you so. See, he ended up on the right side of the bars. But then there were occasions, I want you to know I had the opportunity and the presence of my parents to meet and run into students I had taught. It happens once in a while in here. We all remember Bill No. 68. How many of those young health workers who came here through Bill No. 68 would come into the Law Amendments Committee and they would say to the members present . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Let's remember Bill No. 147. I almost forgot that one. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on second reading of Bill No. 147.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just wanted to bring to the attention of the House that it is the honourable Minister of Natural Resources 55th birthday today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: That's a good enough line to make sure, though, that that 55-year-old young minister over there did not go to school with the member for Hants West. Thank you for bringing that to the attention of the House. (Interruptions) The member for Hants West takes us to school every day in this particular House, let me tell you.

Mr. Speaker, where was I? I know exactly where I was . . .

MR. SPEAKER: On Bill No. 147.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, yes, the comparison I was taking about was Bill No. 68. I know Bill No. 147 is not going to be of some consequence, because we don't want to have a repeat of Bill No. 68. Many of those health care workers who came into the Law Amendments Committee, and when I looked at the influence we had and how we responded to their needs and to those young men and women who were involved, then you have the opportunity to actually realize that perhaps you do have a positive influence.

Let me tell you, I remember when the member for Sackville-Cobequid was a student at Sackville High School, and the member for Sackville-Cobequid was not only, let me say, an outstanding athlete, he at times could be one of those types of students that might have to take a visit the vice-principal's office. There would be the occasion when there might be the

[Page 6453]

opportunity to make sure that that young man was listening and listening carefully because this young man was a perfect example of it. You didn't have to really speak too loudly, you had to get his attention, but once you got the young man's attention at the time, he basically had to listen. Why did he have to listen? Because he knew that it wasn't just the teacher involved. It was the home involved. It was his church involved. It was his community involved. It was his athletic coach involved. All of those people in every situation have the opportunity to help be a positive influence, whether it's the young member for Sackville-Cobequid or the 55-year-old minister, the MLA for Yarmouth.

As I wrap up my comments, I want to be clear on the fact that as we take Bill No. 147 and move it into the next stage, there will be an opportunity for people involved in youth groups. It will be an opportunity for people involved in the churches in our community. It will be an opportunity for adults who must look at the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. It just doesn't take the Minister of Justice and 51 legislators to sit in this historic Chamber and decide we are going to rectify the ills of young people with this particular piece of legislation. This piece of legislation will go through the Committee on Law Amendments, it will come back to this House and it's important that when it does come back to this House, it's a better piece of legislation because it must not only deal with those young men and women who need the clear consequences of this behaviour, it must also recognize the many, many positive young people who are involved in our society, and we must recognize them also. With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm rising here today to talk on Bill No. 147, the Youth Justice Act. I wasn't planning on speaking this evening, but after listening to my colleagues talking I thought I would like to say a few words. I'm not going to pretend that I know the legal justice system and what should be done to correct what's going on with youth today. Certainly there are people in Dartmouth East and in all the communities in and around Nova Scotia who do know that there is a problem right now with youth and the crimes that they are involved in. A lot of people would feel that the penalties are not stiff enough and that perhaps there should be increased sentencing. Certainly as another colleague here tonight had said, consequences do have to come in line with actions.

I would like to speak more, Mr. Speaker, on what I think we need to do or some of the issues that we have now in our community that lead youth down the paths that they do take. As the member for Sackville-Cobequid said earlier this evening, how can we change the course of what youth do? I think that's the question that we should all be asking ourselves. I myself wouldn't be here today if not for starting with volunteering in the school system, when my children were in Grade Primary. So, I can speak from that end.

Certainly in Dartmouth East there is a huge need for more funding for things that we need in our community and one of the biggest needs we have in Dartmouth East is the need

[Page 6454]

for a community centre. We do not have a community centre, which everyone knows is the heart of a community. We need a community centre in Dartmouth East, so that our youth have a place to go, as the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova talked eloquently about all of his experience in the centre that he spent numerous hours in. Those are the kinds of things that we need in Dartmouth East, so that our youth can come in off the streets, whether it's first thing in the morning, maybe for a breakfast program, maybe it's at lunch time, after school programs or in the evenings. Also we're talking about a place for seniors to gather and interact with our youth and younger children, which I think is so very important.

In Dartmouth East we have a highly successful Boys and Girls Club, but right now they are operating out of five different places within Dartmouth East. They're doing the best they can, but they do need a home. So we're looking for a home for our youth in Dartmouth East.

One of the great assets we do have in Dartmouth East is our schools and all the people that work in our schools from day to day and on the weekends. That's everybody from - I hope I don't leave anybody out - we have teachers, cleaning staff, the parents who volunteer in our school system and the children themselves. These are so important.

But, as we all know, the school system has taken a beating over the years. I know that firsthand from my three years as a school board member with the Halifax Regional School Board and we've seen everything cut from art programs, music programs, after-school programs, special needs students have huge wait lists. Gone are the days when we used to have enrichment programs in the schools.

We've lost things like our youth support workers. They were cut. These were people that were there on the front line, so that if there was a youth at risk in the school, after school or anytime during school when they were just wandering the hallways or whatever, these youth support workers recognized these youth and they could go up to them and ask, what are you doing? What class should you be in? Come on, let's walk down the hallway, I'll take you to class and we'll get back to what you're here to do.

But we've lost a lot of these really valuable assets and resources. I know that the Minister of Education always says - I don't want to quote him exactly because I can't - if there were more money, we would put it into education. We'll wait and see the budget, I guess, tomorrow. We can remain hopeful for that.

There are schools in the system that can provide more things for youth after school because they're not P3 schools. Unfortunately the P3 schools do not have the same access for students as regular schools. The regular schools do incur costs when they stay open in the evenings and after school. There is a cost incurred there, because they still have to pay for their lights, janitors, and these sorts of things.

[Page 6455]

The P3 schools, even though they're beautiful, they have the better playgrounds, the better computers, the better libraries, the better gymnasiums - everything is better in them as far as the facility itself - they don't have the accessibility that we have in our other schools. Actually, in Dartmouth East, we don't have a P3 school, but I would like to point that out for people that may be suffering from not being able to access these beautiful facilities in their own neighbourhood. So I think that is an issue for some people.

We've seen funding cut right across the board in this province for numerous things. It is hard for children and youth to get out and enjoy joining a sports group - whether soccer, hockey, basketball or what have you - some of these are less expensive to join and require less equipment. But, even if you're a parent and you have one child in one of these things and you want to put them into a music or maybe an arts program after school - I've heard a lot of my colleagues talk here in this session about funding cuts to sports. I'm very happy that I've heard some of them talk about art programs this evening. That's very important to a lot of students - not all students are inclined to want to follow a sports route for their extracurricular activities. A lot of students do really excel in art and that's been one of the places that has taken a big hit. So, if you have a community centre where you can offer some sort of after-school arts program, I think it would be very beneficial to some of the youth in our community.

Actually, the other evening I did have an opportunity to attend the 1st Woodlawn Scout Troop awards ceremony at Woodlawn United Church. They were getting their Chief Scout Award to youth there. What a great group of youth they have there. This is something that is very inexpensive, if you want to compare it to soccer or some of these other things and I'm not putting any of those other things down, certainly they're all great and fantastic.

[9:30 p.m.]

The point I'm trying to make is that not all families have access to the same resources to put their kids in these programs and I think some of these things, it's up to our government to make our communities accessible for youth at all ranges of income, that no matter what kind of income their parents have, we have to make more things available to them. So this is why it's so important to keep our schools open. When the school closes, when the teachers are gone, we need somebody there who is going to come in and offer these programs and we have to think of our schools as community resources, as a community centre. I'm hoping that in the future when we do see new schools built, that they're built with that understanding that really this should be a community centre. There's a great example of that in Eastern Passage. They have a school that operates as a community centre after hours and I think they're doing a great job there.

So, as I did mention, we've taken cuts to arts and culture and I know the parents of music students do a fabulous job of fundraising, but it has come to the point where fundraising is taking over the lives of some of these parents. Actually all the members here

[Page 6456]

probably know how fun it is to go to auctions, that these parents are putting auctions on at an alarming rate, and it's not to provide for extras a lot of the time, it's to provide for things like books for the library, computers and, you know, fundraising that goes on in the school system is phenomenal. Some of the schools that I've been in, the curtains are falling off the windows. Parents are actually fundraising to put curtains on the windows, this is how bad things have gotten in the school system and they want their kids to go to a school that is nice and they feel happy to be there. They don't want to go to a place that is falling apart at the seams.

So, Mr. Speaker, I commend all the parents who are out there and doing all this fundraising to provide trips for the students, to send the sports teams away, and to provide those resources in the classroom. There is huge fundraising going on now to replace playgrounds in our schools because the school board does not have the money to do that. That's an issue. There is no money to do that. So there's all this fundraising going on and that's going to continue for a long time unabated. I don't see any end to that.

Mr. Speaker, this has given me the opportunity this evening actually to go through some of my notes. I recently attended, through the Dartmouth Community Health Board, a great little get-together recently where they had what they called youth dialogue. What they did was, we broke into groups. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Keep the conversations down. The member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

MS. MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I was saying was that the Dartmouth Community Health Board held a wonderful get-together and we had youth there because they had done a survey previous to that that asked a lot of questions to youth and they had actually five different schools involved in that survey. The group that I was involved in looked at family dynamics and we tried to find the number one, two and three issues that were keeping Dartmouth from becoming a healthy, safe neighbourhood. Some of those things that the youth came up with were about their neighbourhood, the safety, issues of that, and their feelings.

Mr. Speaker, in the survey, I'll just give you one example and some day I hope to have more time to talk at length on that survey, but 14 per cent of 7-year-olds to 12-year-olds said that, yes, the community valued them. That's a small amount. So they were looking for solutions that would make things better. They talked about some parenting issues and this, again, is youth. Now, there were some adults there and I didn't write down which comments were from youth or which comments were from adults, but I'll just go over a few of them because I think they are important.

When we're talking about youth justice, it's the youth that we need to be communicating with and what happened was the Dartmouth Community Health Board previous to this little get-together had seniors come in and talk about some of the issues that

[Page 6457]

were important to seniors and then they had the youth come in. So some of the things they felt that were important under parenting issues was that they needed more support. They felt that if they had more support, they would be more likely to succeed. There was a lot of mention about positive role models, that these youth wanted to make the parents proud, that they felt they were rewarded when they actually could make their parents feel proud, that was a reward to them. They said they felt that it was only a small number of youth that were actually making the larger mistakes in the population.

Some of the youth were asking about having opportunities, they wanted more opportunities to get involved in and they were concerned about the cost of these activities, as I mentioned earlier. Some of these activities are out of reach for youth right now. They were concerned about their parents and the cost of child care that their parents had to pay which kept that an issue. They did talk about school sports teams and having to fundraise for getting drives to places and getting the uniforms and the lack of opportunity in the school because of the lack of funding or the cuts to funding. They did feel this was very interesting, that there was a lack of discipline and that youth had too much freedom so I thought they were very open in talking about some of those things.

They did come up with some solutions and I think the number one thing that was overriding everything was communication. They felt that kids and families needed to maybe get a contract going with each other so that they were responsible for themselves so if they had a contract with their parents that maybe the parent could haul that out and say look, two months ago this is what you said and you're not holding up your end of the bargain.

They felt that it would be very beneficial to set up some sort of parent and youth groups in a community centre. Now we need a community centre in Dartmouth East as I said and that was one of the things that I thought would be great, that would be very valuable because if you had a group of youth that could sit down in one room with parents that weren't the parents of that particular group of youth, you can hear it when you're not talking face to face to your own children or teenagers. It's easier for them to open up to you, it's harder with your own kids sometimes.

They felt that the youth groups would want to invite the parents in and that there should be free babysitting, they had all these ideas, I mean they really had thought this through a little bit. Another solution was to make the programs more accessible and more affordable and of course that's all about money and funding and that's really where the government can step in. They wanted the schools to be more actively involved and included and they felt that the amount of time that students spent in school was something that needed to be looked at. They even talked about the time that school begins and when it ends and how that doesn't always work out well for youth because they go to school all day, they have part-time jobs in the evenings, they've got their studies and then they're expected to be back early in the morning. So they had those kinds of thoughts.

[Page 6458]

Some of the things that came out were that some people felt that parents were not always as welcomed and as encouraged to be involved after elementary. I have to say I think that is true to a certain extent because parents practically beg to get involved in elementary school and then when your kids go up to junior high you're sort of expected, it's hands off, they're in junior high, they want to do things on their own. When I questioned the youth actually at this forum, they said, no, that's not the way we feel which I was surprised, although I had always felt that in my heart that's how they felt. They said, no, we want parents there, we love when the parents are there helping us and you know they can help with fundraising. When I question them, well, how would you feel about high school, no problem, they felt that the home and school, the PTA, whatever you want to call it, should be highly involved at all levels of their learning experience. They felt that was very, very important to them.

What I would like to sort of end my comments at, are that I don't have the answers and I don't think anybody sitting here has the answers but I think a lot of people have good suggestions and I think if we go to the youth in our community more and ask them for what their suggestions are and offer them places where they can meet together with other youth and people older and younger than themselves and feel part of the community, that's only going to benefit all of us, Mr. Speaker. I would like to actually take this chance to close debate on Bill No. 147.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of honourable members. I know that all honourable members are very interested in the well-being of young people in Nova Scotia. We all share that as an objective. We're very, very concerned about our young people in all of our constituencies, wherever we live. We've had an opportunity to hear, during debate on second reading, members talk about young people and the concern that they have for them. Clearly, the government shares in that same concern. We are interested, as well, in protecting the people of Nova Scotia and protecting those same young people from harm in illegal activities.

Mr. Speaker, with that I close debate and move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 147. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 6459]

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would request the concurrence of the House to return to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 148 - Justice Administration Amendment (2005) Act.

Bill No. 152 - Liquor Control Act.

Bill No. 158 - Paramedics Act.

Bill No. 159 - Université Sainte-Anne - Collége de l'Acadie Act.

Bill No. 160 - University College of Cape Breton Act.

Bill No. 161 - Special Places Protection Act.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

[Page 6460]

Bill No. 146 - Cross-border Policing Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: [Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.]

The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's agenda.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will meet at the hour of 12:00 noon. The Minister of Finance will be presenting the budget. At the conclusion of the Budget Address, we'll start on the Reply to the Budget Speech. I presume that will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Then we'll move into the daily routine and Question Period, followed by Government Business, which will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills. The House will sit from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m.

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

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

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

[The motion is carried.]

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 9:44 p.m.]

[Page 6461]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3394

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 communities enjoy and benefit from hosting team sports; and

Whereas curling attracts the interests of citizens of all ages; and

Whereas the Curling Club of the Town of Bridgewater hosted very successfully the 2005 Tankard playdowns;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Bridgewater Curling Club for their efforts in hosting the 2005 Tankard competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 3395

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

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

Whereas education and action are essential to promoting an awareness of our environment; and

Whereas recycling is a major component to our efforts to create and maintain a clean environment; and

Whereas many students participated in the 2005 Nova Scotia Recycles Contest;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Hebbville Academy students Jessie Heim, Justin Drummond, Nathon Hatt and Aleksandr Stabenow for capturing the runner-up position for the Grades 7- 9 division.

[Page 6462]

RESOLUTION NO. 3396

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 citizens of Nova Scotia have identified accessible transportation as an important determinant of health; and

Whereas many citizens in all parts of Nova Scotia rely on public transportation to participate in routine activities; and

Whereas the Senior Wheels Association of Bridgewater has provided excellent service to seniors since 1991; and

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations and thanks to the Golden K Club for their volunteer service and for sponsoring the Senior Wheels Association.

RESOLUTION NO. 3397

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 it is essential that we celebrate diversity in our communities and workplaces; and

Whereas the provision of adequate skill development is essential to participation in the workplace and the community; and

Whereas the ARK has been providing its clients with the skills they need to live productive lives over the past 40 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank the board members and staff of the ARK for their dedication and service to their clients.

[Page 6463]

RESOLUTION NO. 3398

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Tidnish Cross Roads & Area Community Centre Association are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this April 2005; and

Whereas for 25 years they have sponsored dances, darts, card parties, skating facilities, ball tournaments, playground, hiking trail and recently added fitness classes, children's gymnastics and youth soccer to their credit. They rally for fundraising events for people and organizations in need. They also oversee the running and management of the Tidnish Tourist Bureau; and

Whereas this community of citizens has been vibrant and active since the mid-1800s - their hall location may have changed but the community spirit and involvement remain 100 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to this community association for their contribution to the well-being and happiness of their citizens and all the best for another 25 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 3399

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Barbara Boiduk won the YMCA World Peace Week Medallion for her life dedication to making the world a more accepting place for everyone regardless of their abilities; and

Whereas Ms. Boiduk established the Cumberland "SMILE" program, which welcomes special needs children for an hour of one-on-one recreational fun on Saturday morning with one volunteer at a time; and

Whereas Ms. Boiduk has dedicated her life to the pursuit of helping others and will continue to do so for as long as she is able - she is a wonderful example for all to follow;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Barbara Boiduk for receiving this much-deserved peacemaker award.

RESOLUTION NO. 3400

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Dr. Barry MacLeod was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Cumberland Health Care Foundation for the year 2005; and

Whereas Dr. MacLeod is regarded as a community leader from his 33-year involvement with various organizations such as United Way, Red Cross, Amherst Rotary Club, former Northern Regional Health Board, board and executive of the Health Care Foundation for 10 years and active on the Above & Beyond Campaign and others; and

Whereas Dr. Barry MacLeod is a longtime supporter of health care in Cumberland County and continues to be active;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Dr. Barry MacLeod on receiving this distinguished award.

RESOLUTION NO. 3401

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas Amherst Skating Club members Haley Speight, Ashley Bickerton and Jennifer O'Brien brought home the hardware from provincial competition this past season; and

Whereas in Pre-Preliminary Ladies, Haley won bronze, Ashley won gold, a silver for Pre-Preliminary Skating Skills and another gold for Pre-Introductory Interpretive Ladies A and Jennifer won a bronze for the latter as well; and

Whereas these young women are climbing the ranks in figure skating and are our future Olympians;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Haley, Ashley and Jennifer for their athletic achievement in this provincial skating competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 3402

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas the province provides home care services so that individuals can live in their own home with dignity, respect and the health benefits of independent living; and

Whereas despite the well-established benefits of independent living, individuals with significant care needs must either rely on family and friends to meet those needs or give up their independence by entering a long-term care facility; and

Whereas this choice has forced many individuals and families to impoverish themselves as they struggle to meet the care needs of a loved one at home;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Health and Community Services should provide self-managed attendant services and similar flexible, innovative community-based options for individuals with disabilities or health challenges who can use those services to live independently without catastrophic costs for themselves and their family.

RESOLUTION NO. 3403

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas Daisy Bundy-Grosse, born in Cherry Brook and raised in East Preston, trained as a singer and in 1942 was elected the first Black princess in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Ms. Bundy-Grosse was very involved in numerous groups and committees in her church and in her community; and

Whereas while living in Montreal, Ms. Bundy-Grosse opened up her home to many homeless youth at a time when they had no other place to go and was a foster mother to six children;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House honour Ms. Bundy-Grosse for her lifetime of service to the Black community in Nova Scotia and beyond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3404

By: Mr. William Langille (Colchester North)

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

Whereas Anna Sarah Eyrich of Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, is graduating from King's-Edgehill School this year with more than just a diploma; and

Whereas Anna has won the Chancellor's Scholarship to Carleton, the Gordon M. Shrum Scholarship to Simon Fraser University, and Major Entrance Scholarships to Mt. Allison, Trent, University of Victoria, York and Waterloo; and

Whereas Anna is one of five students from King's-Edgehill School who has received more than $0.5 million in scholarships to prestigious universities in North America and Europe for September 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Anna Sarah Eyrich, Jennifer MacDonald, Nicole Graves, Daniel Plant and Daiki Shirakawa on their dedication to their education and the fantastic scholarships they've been awarded. Best of luck in your future studies.

RESOLUTION NO. 3405

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas the Harris & Company Art Gallery and Coffee Shoppe is creating a buzz amongst local visitors, Eastern Shore residents and artists; and

Whereas more and more photography buffs are interested in having their artwork displayed next to the likes of the popular Margot Metcalfe, or Gary Worth who was one of the original photographers to show in the gallery; and

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Whereas the Harris & Company Art Gallery holds a photography class, with 10 participants, some of them hoping to one day have their artwork on display, some just wanting to better understand their camera and some wanting to learn more about composition and lighting;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Harris & Company Art Gallery and Coffee Shoppe for introducing its customers to talented photographers in the community who may otherwise have kept their treasured photos to themselves.

RESOLUTION NO. 3406

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas the Memory Lane Heritage Village in Lake Charlotte is portraying rural life as it was between 1940 to 1950 in a new and unique "Living Memory" museum; and

Whereas this attraction, developed around the 1940s and 1950s has marketed itself with great skill and attendance is increasing by 100 per cent every year since its debut; and

Whereas in a commitment to keeping things as historically accurate as possible, the buildings, clothes, cars, and food is reflective of the 1940s and 1950s, along with petting the lambs and feeding the sheep, a family can enjoy a meal in the Cookhouse and take part in museum demonstrations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the staff and participants at the Memory Lane Heritage Village for their commitment and dedication to making this new attraction an anchor on the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 3407

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas since opening their doors in December 2003, Bear Den Café owners, John & Louella Levasseur have been asked to offer more than just great food; and

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Whereas because John and Louella are bilingual, customers have asked them to teach French Conversation Classes at the café; and

Whereas Louella now teaches French Conversation Class every Wednesday night in a very casual atmosphere where people learn how to pronounce words and sentences;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend John and Louella Levasseur for listening to their customers' needs and stepping in to fill their request. They are a perfect example of what being a small business owner is all about.

RESOLUTION NO. 3408

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas 2005 is the Year of the Veteran, I would like to thank our veterans and remind everyone of the sacrifices they have made in service to our country; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is the only province to have a legislative committee dedicated to veterans of which I am the Chair; and

Whereas our government supports Royal Canadian Legions through programs such as Access-ability and Recreation Facility Grants, and in turn the Legions provide communities with support through programs and activities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank all of the brave veterans across Nova Scotia for their dedication and commitment.

RESOLUTION NO. 3409

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas star sprinter Adrienne Power of the Dalhousie Tigers is among the nominees for the 13th annual BLG Awards, honouring top male and female athletes in Canadian Interuniversity Sport; and

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Whereas Adrienne Power is from East Jeddore and was named CIS track athlete of the year, and also was named outstanding female athlete of the CIS Championship this past March; and

Whereas the BLG awards will be handed out this May in Calgary and pending team qualification, she will join Team Canada in the 4 x 400 relay this summer at the world championships in Beijing, China;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Adrienne Power on her recent awards and we hope she successfully races through her future endeavours as she has raced through life so far.

RESOLUTION NO. 3410

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas history is coming alive at Lakeview West Chezzetcook Schools. The schools and community have been fortunate to receive a grant from the 4 Cs foundation, standing for "Creative Connections between Children and their Communities"; and

Whereas the project is a combined effort of artist Marlene Young from Seaforth Studio, Celine Levasseur Burlock, Lakeview staff, Shirley Lowe and volunteers of the Acadian House Museum in West Chezzetcook, where the children receive history classes by members of the museum, are involved in art workshops, learn Acadian dances and songs, and selected students will create seven historical murals applying their knowledge & acquired drawing skills; and

Whereas the project will conclude with a one day Celebration of the Acadian Heritage in the Community at Lakeview school May 14th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the hard working teachers, volunteers, and students for keeping the Acadian history alive, and educating others through their artwork and knowledge.

RESOLUTION NO. 3411

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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Whereas Savanna Allison, a Grade 9 student at Advocate District High School was awarded second place in the Parrsboro Lions Club Speak Out Competition; and

Whereas Savanna focused her topic on the issue of dog control, particularly the idea of banning people from owning certain breeds of dogs; and

Whereas Savanna provided a well-informed presentation with statistics backing up her position that there is no such thing as bad dogs, only bad owners;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3412

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Charley Atkinson and Jim Skidmore of Springhill have recently opened their new business Central Powersport; and

Whereas Charley Atkinson is no stranger to business in the Town of Springhill with his family starting the business of Atkinson Plumbing & Heating in 1924 and Charley made the difficult decision to close the business this year; and

Whereas Charley and long-time friend Jim Skidmore have joined forces to open their new business, a Yamaha dealership called Central Powersport - with Charley's business experience and Jim's lifelong career of maintaining and repairing recreational equipment their business is bound for success.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Charley Atkinson and Jim Skidmore on the opening of their new business Central Powersport.

RESOLUTION NO. 3413

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Tyler Collins was honoured at the Springhill Student Appreciation Night in Springhill;

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Whereas Tyler was awarded a plaque for the Most Valuable 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 Tyler Collins on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3414

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Cadet Tyler Brayley and his team members of the Springhill Marksmanship team recently took home first place from the Cadet Nova Scotia Provincial Marksmanship competition in Halifax; and

Whereas the Springhill team, representing Springhill 1859 RCACC, scored 1,481 points out of a possible 1,600 points to win the competition; and

Whereas the competition has qualified the Springhill team to participate at the national level as one of the two teams representing Nova Scotia cadets at the National Cadet Marksmanship competition to be held at Valcartier, Quebec in May.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cadet Tyler Brayley and his team members on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3415

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Britany Barton was honoured during the Student Athlete Appreciation Night in Springhill in April; and

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Whereas Britany was awarded a plaque for Most Improved Athlete on her junior A girls basketball team; and

Whereas it was a night where the school honoured many of its outstanding athletes and showed their appreciation for the hard work and determination that the team members have given;

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