Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-99

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

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
WCB, Second Quarter Fin. Report,
Hon. K. Morash 8858
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
TCH: Marketing Campaign - Nat'l. Award,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8858
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4797, Gov't. (Can.): Digital Copyright Law - Amend,
Hon. J. Muir 8861
Res. 4798, RCL - N.S./Nunavut Command: Headquarters - Opening,
Hon. C. Clarke 8862
Vote - Affirmative 8863
Res. 4799, Parks, Rosa: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. B. Barnet 8863
Vote - Affirmative 8864
Res. 4800, TCH: Rhapsody Quintet - MIANS Award,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8864
Vote - Affirmative 8864
Res. 4801, Health Prom.: Dacey Rink - Bund Trophy,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8865
Vote - Affirmative 8865
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 266, Consumer Protection Act
Mr. G. Steele 8865
No. 267, Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8865
No. 268, Pre-primary Education Act
Hon. J. Muir 8866
No. 269, Off-highway Vehicles Act
Mr. L. Glavine 8866
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4802, Parks, Rosa: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. D. Dexter 8866
Vote - Affirmative 8867
Res. 4803, Salsman, Murray: Cancer Care - Fundraising,
Mr. M. Parent 8867
Vote - Affirmative 8868
Res. 4804, Agric. & Fish.: Local Processing Rule - Institute,
Mr. D. Dexter 8868
Res. 4805, Sports - QMJHL All-Star Team: Nova Scotians - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 8869
Vote - Affirmative 8869
Res. 4806, Vol. Planning; Heritage Task Force - Support,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8870
Vote - Affirmative 8870
Res. 4807, Stellarton NSCC: Hurricane Katrina - Fundraising,
Mr. R. Chisholm 8870
Vote - Affirmative 8871
Res. 4808, Brown, Blair & Gerardette - Celtic Colours - Vols.,
Mr. F. Corbett 8871
Vote - Affirmative 8872
Res. 4809, Educ. - Post-Secondary Educ.: First Ministers Meeting - Convene,
Ms. Diana Whalen 8872
Vote - Affirmative 8873
Res. 4810, Musq. Valley Mem. Hosp.: Musq. Valley Health Fdn. -
Contribution, Mr. B. Taylor 8873
Vote - Affirmative 8873
Res. 4811, Agric. & Fish.: Pork Producers - Assist,
Mr. J. MacDonell 8874
Vote - Affirmative 8874
Res. 4812, Liquor Licensing Regs. - Entertainment: Min. - Amend,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 8874
Vote - Affirmative 8875
Res. 4813, Van der Linden, Ria: Can.-Wide Science Fair-Bronze Medal,
Mr. R. Chisholm 8875
Vote - Affirmative 8876
Res. 4814, Save Our Shubie: Participants - Thank,
Ms. J. Massey 8876
Res. 4815, Agric. & Fish. - Lobster Fishermen: Success - Wish,
Mr. H. Theriault 8877
Vote - Affirmative 8877
Res. 4816, N. Shore ATV Mud Runners Club: IWK - Fundraising,
Mr. W. Langille 8878
Vote - Affirmative 8878
Res. 4817, "Halifax Champion: Black Power in Gloves":
Ashe, Robert/Downey, David - Thank/Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald (By Mr. H. Epstein) 8878
Vote - Affirmative 8879
Res. 4818, Florian, Amy - Lt.-Gov's. Medal,
Mr. L. Glavine 8879
Vote - Affirmative 8880
Res. 4819, Shining Waters Marine: Const. - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Streatch 8880
Vote - Affirmative 8881
Res. 4820, TPW - Northwest Arm Dr./Old Sambro Rd.: Traffic Control -
Re-examine, Ms. M. Raymond 8881
Res. 4821, Emmanuel Baptist Church - Anniv. (160th),
Mr. K. Colwell 8882
Vote - Affirmative 8882
Res. 4822, North Nova Forest Co-op: Accomplishments - Applaud,
Hon. E. Fage 8882
Vote - Affirmative 8883
Res. 4823, Swift, Doris & Donnie - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. G. Gosse 8883
Vote - Affirmative 8884
Res. 4824, Educ.: Children - Funding Levels,
Mr. H. Theriault 8884
Res. 4825, MacDonald, Ron/N. Sydney Hist. Soc. - Book Launch,
Hon. C. Clarke 8885
Vote - Affirmative 8885
Res. 4826, NSYO - Anniv. (30th), Ms. M. Raymond 8886
Vote - Affirmative 8886
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1010, Nat. Res.: Off-Hwy. Vehicles: Vol. Planning - Recommendations,
Mr. D. Dexter 8887
No. 1011, Nat. Res. - Off-Hwy. Vehicles: Children - Protect,
Mr. Michel Samson 8888
No. 1012, Ins.: Cap - Martin Case,
Mr. D. Dexter 8890
No. 1013, Health Prom. - Off-Hwy. Vehicles: Plan - Min. Response,
Mr. L. Glavine 8891
No. 1014, Fin. - Univ. Textbooks: Taxation - Status,
Mr. G. Steele 8893
No. 1015, Health - Respite Beds: Removal Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 8894
No. 1016, Health - Chemo: Wait Times - Safety Standards,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8895
No. 1017, Educ. - Schools: Revenue Sources - Replacement,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8897
No. 1018, Health - Health Care Workers: Wage Increases - Fairness,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 8898
No. 1019, Health: Martell Case - Lbr. Market Agreement,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8899
No. 1020, Com. Serv.: Home Repair Loans - Accessibility,
Mr. G. Gosse 8901
No. 1021, TCH - Advertising Campaign: Results - Stats Table,
Mr. S. McNeil 8902
No. 1022, Energy - Green Energy Framework: Fuel - Details,
Ms. J. Massey 8903
No. 1023, Educ. - Univ. Funding: Arrangement - Readjust,
Ms. D. Whalen 8904
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:51 P.M. 8906
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 1:54 P.M. 8906
CWH REPORTS 8906
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 228, Social Workers Act 8907
Hon. D. Morse 8907
Ms. M. More 8908
Hon. D. Morse 8908
Vote - Affirmative 8908
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 247, Correctional Services Act 8909
Hon. M. Baker 8909
Mr. F. Corbett 8910
Mr. Michel Samson 8912
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8915
Mr. J. MacDonell 8919
Mr. K. Deveaux 8921
Mr. G. Gosse 8926
Hon. C. Clarke 8928
Vote - Affirmative 8928
No. 250, Motor Vehicle Act 8928
Hon. C. Clarke 8928
Mr. K. Deveaux 8928
Mr. Michel Samson 8933
Mr. F. Corbett 8937
Mr. Gerald Sampson 8941
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 8943
Mr. W. Langille 8947
Mr. H. Epstein 8948
Ms. J. Massey 8953
Mr. J. MacDonell 8956
Mr. J. Pye 8958
Ms. M. Raymond 8963
Hon. C. d'Entremont 8966
Hon. M. Baker 8967
Vote - Affirmative 8967
No. 254, Motor Vehicle Act 8968
Mr. K. Deveaux 8968
Mr. Gerald Sampson 8972
Adjourned debate 8975
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric. & Fish.: Young Fishermen - Assist:
Mr. H. Theriault 8976
Hon. C. d'Entremont 8978
Mr. C. Parker 8981
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 254, Motor Vehicle Act 8984
Mr. C. Parker 8984
Hon. D. Morse 8986
Vote - Affirmative 8986
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee,
Mr. W. Dooks 8987
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 26th at 2:00 p.m. 8988
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4827, Varnes, Avery: Historica Fairs - Tattoo Contest,
Hon. C. Clarke 8989
Res. 4828, DesBarres Manor: Recognition - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 8989
Res. 4829, Hubley, Blaine - Atl. Can. Truckers Championship,
Mr. R. Chisholm 8990
Res. 4830, Hudson, Tim/MacGillivray, Zach: Commun. Contribution -
Thank, Mr. R. Chisholm 8990
Res. 4831, Power, Stephanie: Can. Games (2005) - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8991
Res. 4832, Morris, Amy: Can. Games (2005) - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8991
Res. 4833, Jarrett-MacKillop, Jessica: Can. Games (2005) - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8992
Res. 4834, Gerrits, Adi: Can. Games (2005) - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8992
Res. 4835, Duann, Emily: Can. Games (2005) - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8993
Res. 4836, Dodge, Melissa: Sr. Women's Rugby Nationals - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8993
Res. 4837, Aucoin, Katie: Can. Games (2005) - Participation,
Ms. M. More 8994
Res. 4838, East. Front Theatre: Springhill Guests/Bump Prod. - Staff
Thank, The Speaker 8994
Res. 4839, West, Jessica - MSVU: Grad. - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 8995

[Page 8857]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Mr. Charles Parker, Ms. Diana Whalen

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise primarily on a point of information. I do know that the honourable Minister responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act referred to you for a finding on a resolution I had brought before the Legislature, Resolution No. 4742, on the Residential Tenancies Act, with respect to a quote that I cited the honourable minister of stating.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the House that I reviewed the Hansard of the Budget Estimates for 2005 and could not concur with the quote I used, although, I had simply taken that quote at an earlier date. With that, I would like to tell the honourable minister that I wish to withdraw Resolution No. 4742 from the books.

8857

[Page 8858]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate is:

Therefore be it resolved that government realize that young fishermen in Nova Scotia are struggling and work to find ways to help them.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, Second Quarter Financial Report.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to inform the House that Nova Scotia's tourism marketing campaign has been recognized by the national tourism industry as the best in the country.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada has declared Nova Scotia's 2005 tourism marketing campaign as the winner of its National Awards for Tourism Excellence. Mr. Speaker, this is the second time in the last three years that Nova Scotia's tourism marketing campaign has been named Canada's best.

This year's campaign is yet another example of what can be accomplished through the great partnership the department has with the Tourism Partnership Council and the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. The marketing campaign is a key instrument of our tourism plan, developed through the Tourism Partnership Council. For eight years now, the Partnership Council has brought together tourism operators and government to work on Nova Scotia's annual tourism plan. The results are recognized as the best in the country. What makes this award special is that it comes from the national tourism industry, our peers. The announcement was made last night during the annual National Tourism Conference.

[Page 8859]

Mr. Speaker, research has shown that Nova Scotia's tourism campaign resulted in increased visitor inquiries and greater visitor awareness in markets such as Ontario, Quebec and New England. In a year when tourism numbers are down in many areas of Canada, including here in our province, it was more important than ever to have an excellent campaign.

There are many people to thank for developing this marketing campaign: Corporate Communications Limited of Halifax, the advertising and marketing agency for the department's Tourism Division; the agency researched, created, produced and managed all aspects of the campaign. The staff of the department's Tourism division; this group of dedicated professionals has worked hard to ensure our partnership with the industry is the success that it is. The Tourism Partnership Council, this year under the chair of Charles Clerk; there would not be such an effective partnership without this council. The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, under the chair of Nicholas Carson; TIANS, which represents the tourism industry, has been an important partner for many years.

Mr. Speaker, the hundreds of tourism operators and employees in Nova Scotia share this award. They are the ones who, year after year, provide excellent products and services to our visitors. It is because of these operators and employees that Nova Scotia has a $1 billion-plus tourism industry.

Mr. Speaker, might I add that in the east gallery today, joining us from CCL, and who played a very important role, as I mentioned, in our campaign, is Chris Keevill, President and Chief Operating Officer of Corporate Communications Limited, who oversees the team. I would like to welcome him here and thank him for his involvement, and CCL's involvement, in the campaign. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to reply to the minister's announcement telling us that indeed the Nova Scotia tourism marketing campaign has been recognized nationally as the best in the country. I also would thank him for telling us that the campaign is one of the key instruments in their tourism plan, and reminding us that many more people are hooking up on-line to find out what we have here in Nova Scotia. Certainly, I agree, we should give credit to all those who are working in the tourism industry across this province.

However, the reality is that early projections, even back in July, showed us that numbers are still down and, in fact, you only have to talk to folks in HRM to hear that the cruise ship numbers are down by 11 per cent in Halifax. The car counters at the border are counting 8 per cent less cars than in August last year. You only have to travel to a few areas in Nova Scotia, talk to people in Historic Properties who are talking about losing their business because they cannot afford to keep it open for various reasons. You only have to

[Page 8860]

talk to restaurant operators, when you're out for dinner here, who are telling us that they're having a problem because tourism numbers are down. You only have to visit Historic Properties and properties across Nova Scotia, like Upper Clements Park, and when you visit those parks and you don't have to stand in a lineup, you know there's a problem with tourism in Nova Scotia. You only have to visit campgrounds where they are telling you their numbers are down.

So I'm hoping that the minister had a chance to get out this Summer and visit some of the places that do have an issue with the supposed numbers that they're putting out. Awards are nice, but they're not going to feed the families here in Nova Scotia, they're not going to keep people employed in tourism, and they're not going to keep our tourism operators going. They won an award. Certainly people are getting on-line to find out what we have to offer here in Nova Scotia, and those numbers are up. Yes, people are going on-line but - guess what? - they're not coming here. They're going somewhere else; they're making other decisions for whatever reason.

The reality is that the numbers in Nova Scotia are down. You can hide your head in the sand and say everything is great because we've handed out this beautiful award for some campaign, for some plan, but the plan is not working. That's the bottom line, the plan is not working. I would like to say, for myself and on behalf of caucus, that certainly we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who continue to try to make tourism work in Nova Scotia and we will continue to try to get people to come here. When we're travelling abroad or wherever we are, we will try to get people to come back to our beautiful province. But as far as standing up here and slapping each other on the back and clapping - which is what just occurred - for some award when the numbers show that indeed that's not what's really happening, we can't all be standing here today saying it's great, tourism is great in Nova Scotia, because it's really not what's happening, and I will end there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the minister for providing us with a copy of his statement in advance of the House. I'm happy that our tourism campaign has won an award for the last two of the three years. Tourism has been in decline over the last three years, so while this ad may be winning awards, it simply does not produce the results that Nova Scotians need. Tourism is up in New Brunswick, while ours is in decline.

[12:15 p.m.]

You know, Mr. Speaker, it has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For some reason, despite this award, tourism is down. The ad campaign is only one component. It's the overall strategic plan, including target package marketing, that has been neglected by this minister and his department. It's

[Page 8861]

like everything we see from this minister, he spends more time praising a perceived success instead of finding out why his strategy - if indeed he has one - is not working. This minister says tourism is down in every region, but he fails to mention New Brunswick, where tourism revenues are up 2.5 per cent.

The minister says he wants to double tourism by 2012. Well, Mr. Minister, unless you change direction, that simply will not happen. Tourism operators will continue to close their doors. I wonder if the people who work at Sherbrooke Village feel any comfort by the fact that your campaign has won an award. Sherbrooke Village, like many other major attractions, has seen a huge decline.

Mr. Speaker, watching the minister stand up in the House today to brag about tourism was simply like watching a hockey player stand up and brag about winning the scoring title while his team never makes the playoffs. Tourism operators around this province are looking for leadership. They're looking for some direction from this minister, and today that award may look good on your shelf, but it will do very little to help the tourism operators in this province and help their bottom line. So unless we begin to more forward, your department will continue to sit by as the industry declines.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further statements by ministers?

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4797

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

Whereas the federal government's new copyright legislation, Bill C-60, fails to provide the legal framework necessary to ensure our students and teachers have free access to publicly available materials posted on the Web without expectation of payment by their creators; and

Whereas the proposed legislation demonstrates Ottawa does not understand or value the importance of on-line resources to today's classroom; and

Whereas material that is intended to be free on the Internet should remain free and the federal government's lack of support for Internet use in schools may effectively unplug the Internet in schools in Nova Scotia and across Canada;

[Page 8862]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the federal government to amend its digital copyright law so students and teachers are guaranteed fair and reasonable access to free on-line materials, which are posted without expectation of payment for use.

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 Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 4798

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

Whereas in this, the Year of the Veteran, it is appropriate that the new headquarters of the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion doors officially open to its membership on Gloria McCluskey (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CLARKE: Whereas in this, the Year of the Veteran, it is appropriate that the new headquarters of the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion doors official open to its membership on Gloria McCluskey Drive in Dartmouth; and

Whereas formed in 1926, Legion Command now serves a membership of 35,000, assisting veterans and their dependants; and

Whereas this move from the Provincial Command's former home in Downtown Halifax is a major change but the work of the Legion remains, as always, a commitment to remembrance and service through programs such as the Remembrance and Poppy Campaign, senior services, youth activities and community service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia/ Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion on its new home, and wish its members every success as they continue in service to their communities, especially as they embark this week on the annual Poppy Campaign.

[Page 8863]

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. 4799

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

Whereas a political activist and civil rights leader, Rosa Parks died at age 92 on Monday, October 24, 2005; and

Whereas Mrs. Parks fought for equal rights for people of African descent and touched people from all walks of life; and

Whereas even in her later years she travelled to countries all over the world to tell her story and champion human rights for all;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House join me in a moment of silence in honour of the civil rights activist, Mrs. Rosa Parks.

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 8864]

The motion is carried.

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

[One minute of silence was observed]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, please be seated.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4800

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

Whereas Rhapsody Quintet's new CD, Rhapsody in Red, was recorded in Nova Scotia's historic Provincial Legislature; and

Whereas the Rhapsody in Red CD has had strong airplay and garnered rave reviews in Canada and in the U.K.; and

Whereas Rhapsody in Red was the winner of this year's Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia (MIANS) Best Classical CD;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the exceptional talent of the Rhapsody Quintet and extend sincere congratulations to violinist Anne Rapson, cellist Shimon Walt, pianist Diana Torbert, clarinetist John Rapson, and bass player David Langstroth on their achievement.

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 8865]

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

RESOLUTION NO. 4801

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

Whereas Canada's 2004 Brier champion, hailing from Halifax's Mayflower Curling Club, is on a winning streak again; and

Whereas Skip Mark Dacey, along with teammates Bruce Lohnes, Rob Harris and Andrew Gibson turned their game around this weekend to win their last six straight games to take the Bund Trophy international curling event in Switzerland; and

Whereas the rink's win not only earned them over $13,000 in prize money, it gave them a huge morale boost as the team prepares for the Canadian Olympic trials in Halifax this December;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate this talented team that once again showed the world how strong Nova Scotia's curlers are in this great Canadian sport.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 266 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 92 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Consumer Protection Act. (Mr. Graham Steele)

Bill No. 267 - Entitled an Act to Authorize a Marketing Levy on Cape Breton Island. (Mr. Manning MacDonald)

[Page 8866]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in advance of tabling this legislation, I would like, with your permission, to do an introduction. In the east gallery, I direct the attention of my colleagues in the House to Ann Blackwood who is the director of English Program Services with the Department of Education; Nancy Taylor, who is the coordinator of the Department of Education's Pre-Primary Report Pilot Program and that's what this bill is about; also, Meghan Melville, who is the administrative assistant in that program. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of all members. (Applause)

Bill No. 268 - Entitled an Act Respecting Pre-primary Education. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 269 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 323 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Off-highway Vehicles Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 4802

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

Whereas on December 1, 1955, a courageous and unknown woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama; and

Whereas this historical event marked the beginning of the civil rights movement in the U.S., and brought Rosa Parks, an unknown seamstress, to world attention, leading to the boycott of the city-owned bus company that ended after 382 days, with the outlawing of racial segregation on public transportation; and

Whereas Rosa Parks, a recipient of the highest U.S. civilian honour, the Congressional Gold Medal, and honorary doctorate of humane letters from Mount Saint Vincent University in 1997, died of natural causes on Monday, October 24, 2005, at 92 years of age at her home in Detroit, Michigan;

[Page 8867]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly remember Rosa Parks as the mother of the civil rights movement, a brave and courageous woman, and a true hero who brought world attention for the first time to the unjust laws and discrimination that had been in place since the end of the American Civil War.

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. 4803

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

Whereas with 5,000 gladiolas and the help of a few friends and supporters, Kentville resident Murray Salsman has not only turned his property into a memorial to his late wife Margaret, he has also ensured that others afflicted with cancer will benefit from the proceeds of the flowers; and

Whereas Margaret Salsman lost her battle with cancer just over a year and a half ago, but because of her love for gardening, her memory lives on through her husband's efforts to plant thousands of glads in support of the Cancer Care . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Clerks can't hear the speaker.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. PARENT: . . . Patient Navigator Program; and

Whereas while last year he celebrated Glad Days on August 14th and 15th, this year the whole month of August was designated as Glad Days, raising approximately $7,000 for the cause;

[Page 8868]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend Mr. Salsman for his work, and also thank the cancer patients, Pathfinders and neighbours who helped plant the 5,000 bulbs to make this year an even bigger success and fitting memorial to his wife, Margaret.

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 Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 4804

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have long recognized that value-added processing and manufacturing are the best way to gain value from this province's abundant natural resources; and

Whereas the women and men who process clams, crab and other fish landed in Nova Scotia have questioned why this province does not require local processing of the fish landed here; and

Whereas neighbouring provinces have used a local processing rule to protect and gain jobs, sometimes at Nova Scotians' expense;

Therefore be it resolved that in light of Clearwater's most recent offshore transfer of many North Sydney clam-processing jobs, the government should work with stakeholders to finally put in place a local processing rule that puts Nova Scotia fish-processing workers on an even playing field.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8869]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4805

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

Whereas five Nova Scotians have been named to this year's Quebec Major Junior Hockey League all-star roster for the Canada-Russia Challenge; and

Whereas Ryan Hillier, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Brad Marchand, James Sheppard and Chad Denny will represent our province and their league in this elite tournament; and

Whereas these players have shown tremendous talent and dedication on the ice for the respective Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams this season, affording them the honour of being named all-stars;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate these players and wish them the best of luck as they take on the Russian select team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8870]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4806

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

Whereas a Voluntary Planning heritage task force has scheduled public meetings throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in the month of November, four meetings will be held on Cape Breton Island, a network of museums and heritage societies; and

Whereas all museums need help in making long-range plans for maintaining their buildings;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the Voluntary Planning heritage task force by urging communities across the Province of Nova Scotia to get involved in this task force project in an effort to maintain and enhance our heritage and historical landmarks.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 4807

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

[Page 8871]

Whereas students of the Nova Scotia Community College in Stellarton and from across Pictou County played a pivotal role in raising funds to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina; and

Whereas special recognition should go to the college's human services class for developing the effort and ensuring it became a campus-wide campaign; and

Whereas a total of $1,055.60 was raised by students, with the licensed practical nursing class raising the largest amount of money;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the hard work and commitment of students from the Nova Scotia Community College in Stellarton for their heartfelt efforts and wish them every success in their studies in 2005-06.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 4808

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

Whereas the 2005 edition of Celtic Colours had another successful season of attracting tourists to Cape Breton; and

Whereas this festival has been a huge success due in part to many volunteers; and

Whereas volunteers such as Blair and Gerardette Brown, who take their vacation at this time of the year to provide volunteer transportation and make sure artists arrive and are looked after;

[Page 8872]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Blair and Gerardette Brown as well as the other volunteers who make Celtic Colours the success that it is.

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. 4809

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

Whereas access to post-secondary education is becoming a major concern in Nova Scotia and in Canada; and

Whereas it is of the utmost importance that all relevant stakeholders be engaged in national discussions so that all perspectives in this complex debate are represented; and

Whereas it is time the Premier and Minister of Education recognize the importance of bringing all stakeholders together to solve this provincial crisis and national challenge;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the Premier to call for a First Ministers meeting dedicated to post-secondary education to combat the increasingly unaffordable cost of higher education in this country and, more importantly, in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8873]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 4810

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

Whereas the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital has undergone a major facelift with some recent expansion initiatives; and

Whereas three new offices have been added to bring the total to six, along with a meeting room and a medical records room with a receptionist; and

Whereas the additional space created by the renovations will allow residents from Dalhousie Medical School more room when they go to the hospital to learn, while also providing the nurse practitioner located at the site and the mental health professionals to work more closely together;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the tremendous contribution made by the Musquodoboit Valley Health Foundation in working toward making these renovations happen.

I should add that the official opening is this Saturday.

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 8874]

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4811

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

Whereas pork production in Nova Scotia has fallen from 215,000 hogs in 2000 to 185,000 hogs this year, and it's projected to fall to 180,000 by next year; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia pork industry is worth over $100 million to the Nova Scotian economy and creates 1,500 direct and indirect jobs, mainly in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the pork producers have submitted a long-term plan for the industry to this government to help save the pork industry from collapse;

Therefore be it resolved that this government sit down with pork producers and come forward with a plan to save the Nova Scotia pork farmers from collapse before the current package is depleted in November 2005.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 4812

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

Whereas Elliott Rambeau, a 17-year-old disc jockey from Dingwall, northern Cape Breton, is a young entrepreneur working hard to create and run his own DJ business; and

[Page 8875]

Whereas Mr. Rambeau can work a wedding reception as a DJ, but cannot work at a licenced establishment like a pub or a fire hall, even with an authorized chaperone, because of his age; and

Whereas Mr. Rambeau can legally go to any licenced establishment and play a guitar but, because the gambling authority does not consider a DJ live entertainment, he is restricted from earning a living at his chosen profession;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly ask the minister responsible to revisit the liquor licensing regulations, specifically Regulation 18, Section 7 for the possibility of amendment and remove the unfair barriers that limit this young businessman.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 4813

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

Whereas Ria Van der Linden, who is currently enrolled at Chedabucto Education Centre in Guysborough, has received a bronze medal at the Canada-Wide Science Fair; and

Whereas project-based science supports the work of teachers by allowing students to practice fundamental mathematic and literacy skills, and shows the creativeness and enterprise of which Nova Scotia students are capable; and

Whereas more than 10,000 secondary students in Nova Scotia participate in school-based science fairs, with more than 1,000 students moving on to participate at a regional science fair each year;

[Page 8876]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ria Van der Linden on her bronze medal win at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, and thank all science teachers and school boards across the province for encouraging their students to explore scientific pursuits.

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. 4814

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

Whereas we have witnessed another silt runoff into our Shubie Canal, Lake MicMac, and Lake Charles, which required the Department of Environment and Labour to place yet again another stop-work order on both the Dartmouth Crossing project and the Highway 118 construction; and

Whereas since the very first public meeting on this project, people from Dartmouth East warned that without the proper environmental assessment there would be problems; and

Whereas a group of women joined together to form the Save Our Shubie team, collected names on a petition, fought to save our park and lakes from a possible crisis which has now become a nightmare;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank these ladies who have absolutely no background in the fields that our Department of Environment and Labour profess to have, yet still they had the vision to foresee this disaster and to this very day are still fighting to "Save our Shubie".

[Page 8877]

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4815

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

Whereas the lobster fishery is now underway in western Nova Scotia lobster fishing area No. 35 and soon will be in southwestern Nova Scotia in LFA No. 34; and

Whereas this fishery is vital to the coastal communities of these areas, worth in the vicinity of $0.5 billion for this province; and

Whereas this is the only viable fishery left in our coastal regions, I urge the government to work with our federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to help this industry remain strong for our communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly wish the fishermen well with the lobster fishery this year and many more 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.

[Page 8878]

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4816

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

Whereas in memory of Lantz Dewar, who died at the age of 16 months from Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, the third annual ATV Rally took place in Kemptown this past May; and

Whereas proceeds were donated to the IWK, the Cancer Society and the Wynn family of Onslow, whose six-year-old son Ryan is battling cancer; and

Whereas the event, hosted by the North Shore ATV Mud Runners Club, raised over $3,500 to be split amongst the three groups;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the ATV Mud Runners Club on their fantastic fundraising initiative and wish them future success as they support the members of the family 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.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 4817

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

[Page 8879]

Whereas David Downey, a lifelong resident of the North End of Halifax, held the title of middleweight boxing champion of Canada for eight years, from 1967 to 1975, with only one brief interruption; and

Whereas David Downey was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 1999, in recognition of his athletic accomplishments; and

Whereas David Downey is the subject of a fascinating new biography by Robert Ashe entitled, Halifax Champion: Black Power in Gloves;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature thank Robert Ashe for providing Nova Scotians with this record of the life of an important citizen and congratulate Mr. David Downey on his biography, Halifax Champion: Black Power in Gloves.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4818

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

Whereas Amy Florian, a student at Western Kings District High School is a recipient of the 2005 Lieutenant Governor's Award; and

Whereas Amy has a 96 average, is involved with numerous school activities and is an active volunteer within her community; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's medal is awarded to students for leadership qualities, community services and academic achievement;

[Page 8880]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge and congratulate Amy Florian for her outstanding achievement.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 4819

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

Whereas Shining Waters Marine is located in Tantallon at the head of St. Margaret's Bay and offers a full service marina with over 1,200 feet of water frontage, storing over 200 yachts; and

Whereas Shining Waters Marine is currently constructing an 8,000 square foot marina building scheduled for completion in time for the 2006 season; and

Whereas the boating, relaxing scenery and spectacular hospitality make this marina a popular stopping place for boaters;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate brothers, Peter and Tom Vokey, owners of the Shining Waters Marine on their new construction, and wish them continued future success as they service boating enthusiasts and the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8881]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4820

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

Whereas the Northwest Arm Drive is one of the major routes into Halifax and includes some of the busiest intersections in the province; and

Whereas the intersection of Northwest Arm Drive and Old Sambro Road is constantly travelled, but has been deemed not to merit even a three-way stop sign let alone a traffic light; and

Whereas The ChronicleHerald recently featured a photo of a dump truck overturned at this intersection;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Department of Transportation and Public Works to re-examine its criteria and the decision not to place adequate traffic control at the end of Northwest Arm Drive where it crosses the Old Sambro Road.

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 Preston.

[Page 8882]

RESOLUTION NO. 4821

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

Whereas Emmanuel Baptist Church was founded in 1845 in the community of Upper Hammonds Plains by Black refugees who came to Nova Scotia and settled in the area; and

[12:45 p.m.]

Whereas Emmanuel Baptist Church has played an integral role in the community of Upper Hammonds Plains, providing encouragement, support and nurturing the spiritual growth of the residents; and

Whereas Emmanuel Baptist Church continues to meet the needs of the community and has expanded its outreach to include people of various ethnic, cultural and denominational backgrounds, with a response that has necessitated the expansion of the church;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge the accomplishments of Emmanuel Baptist Church and 160 years of service to the community in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 4822

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

[Page 8883]

Whereas a red spruce seedling planted Friday in Pugwash River, on land owned by the North Nova Forest Owners Co-Op Ltd became the 1,000,000th tree planted by the Co-op in 2005 and surpassed last year's record high of 760,000; and

Whereas there were a number of factors enabling the North Nova Forest Owners Co-op to plant 1 million tress this year including good weather, additional harvesting and increased silviculture funding from the Nova Scotia Government; and

Whereas since the inception of the 29-year-old North Nova Forest Owners Co-op, which manages privately-owned woodlots for owners in Cumberland and Colchester Counties, more than 11 million trees have been planted, enabling 4,681 hectares of land being returned to active forest production;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the fantastic work being accomplished by the North Nova Forest Co-op and wish them another 29 years of continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, before I read this resolution, this resolution is about a 50th Anniversary of the beautiful . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm sure we'll hear that when we hear the resolutions.

RESOLUTION NO. 4823

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 14, 1955, Doris and Donald Swift were married and recently celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary; and

[Page 8884]

Whereas they were married in the same year that a bridge was built to join the Cities of Dartmouth and Halifax and the Canso Causeway was built to join the Mainland of Nova Scotia with the Island of Cape Breton; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Swift have withstood the test of time along with our bridge and causeway;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly congratulate Doris and Donald Swift on their 50th Wedding Anniversary and wish them many more happy years together.

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. 4824

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

Whereas it is widely accepted that the most valuable resource we have in Nova Scotia is our people, and the future prosperity of this province is dependent on the abilities and strengths of our children; and

Whereas one of the most sacred trusts that we, as citizens of this province, have is the care and education of the younger generation; and

Whereas the chronic underfunding of educational programs is putting the future of our children at risk;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House impress on the Minister of Education the desperate need for more appropriate levels of funding support for our institutions of learning, to ensure the success of our children.

[Page 8885]

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 Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 4825

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

Whereas the North Sydney Historical Society held a book launch to introduce its newest project; and

Whereas the book entitled In and Out of Order is a history of persons who have served in the provincial or federal parliaments who were either elected in the local constituencies or locals who have been elected to office elsewhere in Canada; and

Whereas the book was written over the past year by author Ron MacDonald and covers politicians from 1867 to the present day;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Ron MacDonald and the North Sydney Historical Society on their latest project.

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 8886]

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4826

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra was established in 1977 to foster the careers of young Nova Scotian musicians between the ages of 13 and 25; and

Whereas since then the orchestra has seen numerous professional musicians and scores of accomplished amateurs graduate from its ranks, has recorded and broadcast regularly on a national network, and has opened the ears and eyes of other young people to musical possibilities in their lives; and

Whereas the orchestra intends to mark this 30th season by performing in Boston and joining some of its alumni in performances throughout the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra to the musical life of the province, and support the company in its campaign to raise money for touring and recording in its 30th year.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:51 p.m. and end at 1:51 p.m.

[Page 8887]

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES.: OFF-HWY. VEHICLES:

VOL. PLANNING - RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the off-highway vehicles, I guess it's the Minister of Natural Resources. Not too long ago the Premier and I were among those who attended a ceremony to honour the late Robert Stanfield. An important part of the Stanfield legacy is the Voluntary Planning Board. According to the government, the purpose of Voluntary Planning is, "To measurably improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of all Nova Scotians . . ." After a very extensive consultation, Voluntary Planning made well-balanced recommendations to ensure safety and enjoyment for children whose parents allow them to ride off-highway vehicles. The rate of serious injury and death of children in ATV accidents has risen dramatically and yet the government is refusing to act on these licensing recommendations. My question for the minister is, could he please tell the House why his government cares so little about the health and welfare of children?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member opposite, this government is a responsible government, is an open and transparent government. We're the ones who had the foresight to deal with the off-highway vehicle. We have an action plan that is working for all Nova Scotians.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, doctors, nurses and parents have endured a ton of twaddle instead of clear answers about why this government will not act on recommendations to ensure safe, supervised and licensed enjoyment of off-highway vehicles by those under the age of 16.

I'll turn to another recommendation which is of particular importance to rural Nova Scotians. Farmers, homeowners like widows who still live in their family home, people who have moved into newly developed rural subdivisions, all feel betrayed by this government's refusal to require written permission from landowners before off-highway vehicle drivers, clubs and associations cross private land. The existing requirement for verbal permission is unenforceable and the government knows this well. My question for the minister is, will he tell rural landowners why his government is forcing them to endure noisy, damaging and unwelcome trespassers?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, this government has an action plan that is working in favour of private landowners. If people want to trespass on land, they have to have permission from the landowners before they can go on the property. I don't understand why that member cannot understand that.

[Page 8888]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that doesn't amaze me really as much as the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the health of children, the right of peaceful enjoyment of one's own property apparently doesn't hold much sway with the government. I'm going to try a third important issue on which Nova Scotians spoke through the Voluntary Planning process. This Progressive Conservative Government flatly rejected the recommendation to prohibit off-highway vehicles in protected wilderness areas. Instead, the Cabinet wants to create a right of access to protected areas for these vehicles. For more than 400 years, no one has needed an ATV to reach and enjoy Nova Scotia's wilderness. The mayor of my home county, former Progressive Conservative Environment Minister John Leefe, has demanded full protection of areas like the Tobeatic from these vehicles. So my question for the minister is, will he explain why he ignored Voluntary Planning and decided to create a right to take all-terrain vehicles into protected wilderness areas?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, farmers and landowners have to get permission if they want to use ATVs on their property. We have protected wilderness areas in our province and this government and my department are enforcing the laws in our protected wilderness. Maybe the member should get The ChronicleHerald from last weekend when they laid charges for people cutting rights-of-way and being in the Tobeatic without consent of the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

NAT. RES. - OFF-HWY. VEHICLES: CHILDREN - PROTECT

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on October 12th the government released its plan for off-highway vehicles. To many Nova Scotians' dismay and disappointment, this government has refused to take steps to protect Nova Scotians and, most importantly, to protect Nova Scotia's children. Children are being hurt and killed because of these very large and powerful machines. This will continue because of the government's inaction. So much for the Premier promising that this session would be focusing on safety issues. So my question to the Premier is, when will you step in and take a stand to help protect these children and their families from any more heartbreak?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has come forward with a plan that achieves three of the major objectives that we had set before ourselves. Number one, the program that we are introducing protects public lands, it protects private lands, and it enhances the safety of the use of the off-highway vehicles for young Nova Scotians - three objectives - and the three objectives are being met.

[Page 8889]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Premier is oblivious to the devastation that is caused by inexperienced drivers too young to have the physical strength, skills and judgment to properly operate these large machines safely. The Premier is confident today that his government's plan has adequately addressed the issue of safety despite the fact that his own colleagues in the health professions and the IWK, most recently, clearly do not agree.

Mr. Speaker, these are not politicians, they're health care professionals. They have seen the devastation first-hand. They have looked at your plan, they have deemed it to be inadequate, and they are calling upon you now to show leadership. My question is, Mr. Premier, as a doctor yourself and having practised in a rural area for many years, how can you continue to ignore the concerns of your colleagues, in the health care profession, of putting children's safety first?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the government's strategy achieves, it allows responsible parents, who are prepared to take an accredited off-highway vehicle course, to supervise their children in the responsible use of an off-highway vehicle. This will guarantee compliance. I actually welcome the interventions of my colleagues who point out the dangers of off-highway vehicles when they are used inappropriately by young people. What we are putting in place is a system that will ensure that young people are supervised and they understand how to operate these vehicles safely.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Premier would be willing to go give that speech to the next family who has to have a child crippled because of these ATVs. Maybe then he can say that this was the right approach. When health care professionals, not politicians but health care professionals, have looked at your plan, they have seen the devastation at the IWK and they have told you that it's not enough. Here is a time for leadership - a leadership they expect you to show as Premier. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador got leadership from their Premier on that question. Once again, Nova Scotia seems to be lagging behind Newfoundland and Labrador, and we don't have a Premier who is willing to show the leadership that's necessary.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are expecting children's safety, that everything we can do as legislators we will do to ensure that. So my question again (Interruptions) The discomfort from his own members clearly shows how they are even uncomfortable with this issue. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier once again, regardless of what your backbenchers are telling you, will you for once put the safety of children first, and make sure that we have legislation on off-highway vehicles that respects the safety of those children?

[Page 8890]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that this strategy will result in responsible parents coming forward to provide the appropriate supervision and the appropriate training for their young people to safely operate these vehicles.

[1:00 p.m.]

If, in fact, you don't believe, Mr. Speaker, in the ability of parents to be responsible, then what a terrible society is evolving. (Interruptions) Parents can be responsible. They will be asked to be responsible, and they will protect their children.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

INS.: CAP - MARTIN CASE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Minister responsible for the Insurance Act. Stanley Martin is a 74-year-old Nova Scotian who served his country for 25 years in the military. He was involved in a not-at-fault accident in December 2003, and continues to deal with the ongoing effects of his collision. Stanley is a widower who was able to take care of his household chores before the accident, but now finds most things, like cutting the lawn, to be impossible. More than that, some of the few pleasures that Stanley had left before the accident, such as playing the guitar, have become difficult. The insurer took the position that his claim was subject to the government's $2,500 cap, so Stanley is left with no recourse but to await the outcome of the constitutional challenge to the government's Insurance Act. I want to ask the minister, is this the way that he believes veterans and Nova Scotians in general deserve to be treated?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of this specific incident. If, as the honourable member said in his preamble, this is before the courts, then I think that's the appropriate place to allow it to be decided.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Martin's case is not before the courts, but I will tell you this, Stanley Martin is a symbol of all that is wrong with the cap imposed by this government. There is a growing body of evidence, based on research in the United States, that caps on non-economic loss disproportionately affect women, the elderly and students. There have been many cases brought to the government's attention in the House, where students, women and the elderly have been disenfranchised because of the cap. So my question for the minister is, will the minister tell this House when his government will do the right thing and lift the cap on pain and suffering awards for Nova Scotians?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, over the last several years, insurance rates rose steeply in this province. This government came forward with a balanced plan that has seen major reductions in the cost of insurance in this province, and we're pleased with those achievements.

[Page 8891]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the minister says, last week the Consumers' Association of Canada released a comprehensive study of auto insurance rates. Their findings, based on 90,000 quotes in Nova Scotia, showed that rates in Halifax are nearly twice those charged in Victoria. Because of the $2,500 cap they have placed on awards for non-economic loss, many Nova Scotians have been left to handle the ongoing effects of accidents while the insurers walk away with record profits. I want to ask the acting minister, how can his government continue to justify the Insurance Act that they created that rewards insurers and penalizes the injured?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, certainly when we look at the insurance situation of several years ago, as I said previously, there were very high insurance rates in Nova Scotia and in many other jurisdictions in this country. Significant decreases have occurred as a result of the legislation, and certainly Nova Scotians enjoy much lower insurance rates than they did previously.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH PROM. - OFF-HWY. VEHICLES: PLAN - MIN. RESPONSE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. Today, SMARTRISK is releasing its national report on injury prevention. This will, once again, point to prevention being the best method to stop deaths and injuries in children. This is yet another group which will be calling on government to bring in stronger legislation and policies to help protect children.

The Minister of Health Promotion has been completely silent on his government's plan to deal with off-highway vehicles, so my question to the minister is, Mr. Minister, can we assume by your deafening silence that you fully support your government's weak plan to deal with this serious and preventable cause of death and injury?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Government of Nova Scotia saw that there was a need for a proper plan to be put in place. The previous government was unwilling to take any steps whatsoever. So, indeed, we have put prevention initiatives in place that will make a difference for the youth of our province. (Interruptions)

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health Promotion points to injury prevention as one of its six pillars. The minister, however, does nothing more than pay lip service to those organization, groups, health care professionals who feel that injury prevention should be a priority, because when the time comes the minister cowers in the corner and allows his colleagues, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Health, as well as their Premier, to slide these irresponsible policies forward. My question to the minister is, when will you wake up and realize that you have failed Nova Scotians and fight for those who you claim you want to protect?

[Page 8892]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that Nova Scotia is taking a leadership role when it comes to injury prevention and promotion across this country, recognizing what is happening on a national level, recognizing what is happening within our province be it with our seniors or be it with our young people - and, yes, our government, as mentioned, has taken steps with regard to prevention through the strategy.

Mr. Speaker, what will be important is that we monitor closely the effects of the strategy being put forward in the long term, and I can assure that member and all Nova Scotians that we will do so.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, leadership has been shown in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario, not here. Perhaps I can shed some light on the reason this minister chooses to remain silent. Perhaps this minister feels that now is not the best time to come forward, to step up and to fight for what's right. Perhaps the minister feels a better strategy, to have a prayer at winning the Progressive Conservative leadership, is to simply fly under the radar and hope nobody . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'll ask the honourable member to retract that statement please.

Order, please.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I will do so.

My final question to the minister is, why have you been so inept at protecting Nova Scotians, children in particular, and when will you come forward and demand more from your own government?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's absolutely unbelievable that the Liberal caucus would come forward with statements at a time when they wouldn't even put a balanced approach, any approach at all when it came to the off-highway vehicle. The fact of the matter is that our government has taken a leadership role with respect to off-highway vehicles, and if anyone in this Legislature should know, it's that member, from an education point of view how important the steps are we are taking and what they will mean to the young people in our province.

Mr. Speaker, the parents in our province and the young people of our province, we believe in what they are able to put forward with respect to these steps, and I believe that our presentation will make a difference for the people of our province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 8893]

FIN. - UNIV. TEXTBOOKS: TAXATION - STATUS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. In August it became public knowledge that the Canada Revenue Agency had made a new ruling with respect to the taxation of university textbooks. The ruling said that text books with accompanying CD-ROMs or Web site access numbers would be subject to the full HST. Students, bookstore owners and university administrators protested and this Finance Minister was quick to assure them, in August, that his government was working on it. Two months later, on October 18th, long after it was too late to do any good to students starting a new school year, this minister wrote a feeble letter to the federal Finance Minister, which I will table.

This minister's months of inaction cost Nova Scotia students $0.5 million in unfair and unjustified HST. Can the minister tell the House why it took him more than two months, long after the school year had started, to even begin to deal with this issue with the federal Finance Minister?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member because that's one of the issues that has been topical with the people at the universities and something we've been looking at. As that honourable member knows, what you do with the other departments and the federal government is you have discussions with officials. Our officials indicated Nova Scotia's position; we had started the discussion, we indicated at the time that we were starting the discussion. Just to make certain, I followed up with the letter that the honourable member indicated just to make sure that everybody was aware of Nova Scotia's position and where we want to go.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, he talks about being concerned in August, and then he said, well, my people will talk to your people, but nothing changed in time for the school year to start. I'd like to table a receipt sent to us by Ezra Edelstein, President of the Dalhousie Student Union, which clearly shows the additional HST charges he had to pay on his textbooks. The Dalhousie Book Store estimates that about 20 per cent of all their books fall under this new ruling, and that number increases to over 50 per cent for math or science students. My question to the minister is, why is the minister prepared to quietly accept his tax windfall instead of refunding or rebating this money to the students who are studying right here in Nova Scotia?

[Page 8894]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member mentioned, there were a number of submissions, a number of people who indicated the hardship of this. What we've been saying all along, whether it's about the CDs, about the GST and the Income Tax Act is that you have to work with the federal government or other provinces. That's why our department officials work with them, that's why I sent the letter, and we will continue to move in that direction to resolve that issue.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if that minister wanted to solve the problem, he could solve it today. If this policy persists, there will be well over $1 million in HST taken in by that minister's government from Nova Scotia's post-secondary students. That is $1 million that those students cannot use for rent, food, heat or transportation home for the holidays. Will that minister put an end to this heartless policy now by announcing an HST rebate for textbooks, and agree to continue those rebates until he and the federal Finance Minister can get their act together?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what this minister will say is that he will continue to work with the federal government and my other colleagues in other provinces to try to resolve that issue. There are a lot of other issues that we have to work on and resolve, and we will continue to do that. This government recognized that need, and we are trying to resolve that issue for all of the students in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - RESPITE BEDS: REMOVAL EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is going to be for the Minister of Health. Last Fall, when the government made long-awaited changes to long-term care fees, it also announced improved services for family caregivers who require nursing-home-based respite care for loved ones. Family caregivers can access a bed for one day, or up to 28 days, even longer in emergency situations, but in June of this year, the Department of Health took almost half of the respite beds in the province out of service. My question to the minister is this, why did his department give with one hand and take with the other?

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very good and interesting question because, indeed, we did make available those beds for respite care. Unfortunately, from our perspective, the take-up on the respite care beds was not nearly as high as we had hoped it would be or had anticipated that it would be. The fact that they are being used for long-term care beds currently reflects the amount of demand that existed for those beds. Should the situation reverse itself and change, we would be very anxious to make those beds available for respite care.

[Page 8895]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that 38 beds were turned into regular beds to deal with Summer vacation pressures. These beds will only be available for respite use after the patients occupying them have been moved into permanent placement which, as you know, could take months given the long waits for nursing home beds right now. Once again family caregivers bear the brunt of this government's inability to manage long-term care. My question to the minister is, why does he think that family caregivers should take all their Summer vacation in February?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we made those beds available for respite care. The intent was, of course, to encourage the use of respite care so that people could stay in their homes longer. That is still the intent and the policy of the department.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, many caregivers, in fact, were left without relief this Summer because the minister would rather have consultants talk about nursing home beds than have his department actually create them. By the time some of these beds are open for respite again, it will be close to time for Summer vacation 2006. So my final question to the minister is, why would his government rather see seniors go without service than admit they need more nursing home beds?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member made reference to the consultation that is taking place. That is the consultation that will allow us to know the number of long-term care beds, not only the number but the location as well as the breadth of services that should accompany those long-term care beds. That is what's called good planning. I make no apologies for doing the planning that Nova Scotians need for their future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - CHEMO: WAIT TIMES - SAFETY STANDARDS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, late last week we received an unsigned fax from the Capital District Health Authority that I think speaks volumes as to the state of health care in this province. It reads as follows: Many crises exist in health care that the public is unaware of. The wait times for cancer patients to receive chemotherapy exceeds safety. Oncologists cannot do any more and are actively looking for jobs out-of-province where remuneration and lifestyle is better. The minister is aware of this, but the public is not.

Mr. Speaker, the minister made great fanfare on his Web site informing Nova Scotians about wait times in our province. Yet the same Web site fails to give us any indication as to whether certain procedures are provided to Nova Scotians in a safe and timely manner. My question for the minister is, why has the minister failed to tell Nova Scotians that wait times for cancer patients to receive chemotherapy actually exceed safety standards?

[Page 8896]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased that the honourable member has chosen to reference the Web site that we unveiled. I came from a conference of provincial and federal Health Ministers and we have received commendations right across the country for the quality, the amount of information, and the presentation of our Web site. It's considered to be second to none in the country, and we were very pleased.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister should be taking this issue a little bit more seriously. We've heard about the wait times. To see a gynecological oncologist can be upwards of seven months. Now, the minister's department spends considerable time and effort promoting Pap Test Awareness Week, an effort that we in our caucus believe to be extremely beneficial, and yet if follow-up is required, this minister cannot guarantee that a patient will be seen within seven months. That is a disgrace and an insult to women in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): My question to the minister is, was he aware that some women are being told they'll have to wait seven months to see a gynecological oncologist?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. The challenge of providing oncology services is indeed a very daunting one for all of us, not just in Nova Scotia, but right across the country. Capital Health is very actively recruiting to bring additional oncologists to this province. We are supporting them in that effort and we will continue to do so.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, oncologists have said that they are unable to meet safety standards. Yet the minister has failed to inform Nova Scotians that that is the case. The minister knows, he is responsible for the health care system. He alone bears the responsibility of ensuring that people are able to access that system in a timely manner - no one else but the minister. It's you alone who bears that responsibility. My question for the minister is, what specific initiatives will this minister commit today to ensure that our well trained professional oncologists remain here in Nova Scotia and are able to meet the needs of patients in a safe and timely manner?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I've indicated to the House and to all honourable members and to Nova Scotians is that we are working very closely with the Capital District Health Authority to assist in the recruitment of additional oncologists and that, of course, is a very important part of retention. We are going to continue to work to ensure we attract the number of oncologists that we need in this province. We do so in a market that is challenged right across the country, but we will not back away from that challenge, we will continue to work towards fulfilling the vacancies and providing the services that are required.

[Page 8897]

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

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: REVENUE SOURCES - REPLACEMENT

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Last month, Mr. Minister, you and your colleague from the Office of Health Promotion published a draft policy on nutrition in Nova Scotia schools. While you proposed banning most of the food which is currently sold in our schools - along with tea and coffee for the teachers, incidentally - you were only going to give schools $150,000 to implement this policy this year. We agree with the policy. Nutrition for young people is of real consequence, it's something of course that makes sense. But, it's equally important to assist our schools with alternative funding. My question to the minister is, why do you continue to ban every source of revenue open to public schools without providing any money to replace that existing revenue?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. I just want to refresh his memory and that of the other members of the House, this is a work in progress. The members of the food and nutrition group in Nova Scotia policy working group included people from Health Promotion, the Department of Education, Valley Promoting Healthy Schools Project, all of the school boards, the school boards' association, Agriculture and Fisheries. Indeed, last Saturday morning, I got very good feedback from two student groups here in the province and they are making a written submission on the policy.

It is a work in progress. Clearly if the policy were to be implemented in the draft form without amendment - which is not likely going to happen - then there would have to be obviously some very, very drastic changes. I'm glad to see that the member opposite and his caucus recognize that healthy eating as well as exercise is something and he is commending the government for taking this initiative.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, one of the provincial program directors from this very minister's department recently told the minister that it's unreasonable to expect schools to serve healthy, affordable food with their current resources. I've discussed this situation with many of my colleagues from the teaching profession. One suggestion is that perhaps the Education Department should cut its notorious Oliver's expenses from the Supplement to the Public Accounts. Last year, $48,302.39 - I'll table that for the minister's attention - there is the use of coffee and doughnuts for his very own people, funds that could be used in schools across this province. So I ask the minister, where are schools supposed to get the money to promote healthy, active lifestyles to children in classrooms across this province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the nice things about Nova Scotia's schools is that the parents and those interested in education step up to the plate time and time again to provide supplemental benefits for students. Let me just say, one of the things that, as you know, the Department of Education, this year, part of its school breakfast program province-

[Page 8898]

wide for the elementary school, one of the interesting things about that was that in a good many schools that breakfast program was already operating through the initiative of the parents and school advisory councils, or in the case of my home community, the Knights of Columbus.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that parents, who are interested in providing supplemental funds for their students' education, have a great deal of imagination and I'm sure there will be solutions found if some of the more traditional methods of raising funds are lessened or curtailed.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, let's talk about the most important meal of the day. Let's talk about the so-called breakfast program. The guidelines for extending the school breakfast program will not be ready until the year 2006. Meanwhile, we count on Lions Clubs and Knights of Columbus, the Boys and Girls Club in Dartmouth North. We count on the Whitney Pier Youth Club. We count on volunteers to provide necessities that after all, this government is trying to score cheap political points about. So my question to the minister is (Interruptions) I repeat, to score cheap political points as volunteers offer this service. So my question to the minister is, when will you provide the resources to ensure that all Nova Scotia children have access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast from the Department of Education's budget?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting day on the floor of this Legislature, we have the New Democratic Party criticizing the $750,000 that the Department of Health Promotion and the Department of Education put into the school breakfast program. We have the Liberal Party not supporting the free educational use of the Internet in our province's public school classrooms and university classrooms. This is a strange day. Perhaps it's the storm.

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

HEALTH - HEALTH CARE WORKERS: WAGE INCREASES - FAIRNESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, last night a large group of health care workers from the NSGEU held a rally here at Province House, over an issue of shift premiums. Local 97 of the NSGEU fought for and wanted $1 per hour increase in their shift premiums through the arbitration process. The workers won the arbitration and now the increases have been extended to some health care workers, but not all, in the Capital Health District and the IWK. So, my question to the Minister of Health is, why are you not showing some leadership in working with these employees, instead of working against them.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'll ask the Chairman of Treasury and Policy Board to deal with that question.

[Page 8899]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, never in the history of this Legislature has the NDP come into the House and criticized the Government of Nova Scotia, for levelling the wages for all of Nova Scotia's nurses. What part of justice for Nova Scotian nurses do you not understand? We are going to pay nurses across this province the same amount.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, this decision is leaving some health care professions like LPNs literally a day late and a dollar short. The $1 per hour increase does not apply to all of them, and that's the most important thing. It's unfair. This will have a direct impact on recruitment retention issues in the Capital Health District and at the IWK. So I ask the Minister of Health, since he has chosen a $1 per hour increase to some workers, where is the money for the rest of the health care workers in Capital Health District and at the IWK?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it goes to show how focused the honourable member is on the metro area. The decision that was taken by this government is a decision that had province-wide application and implications because recruitment and retention is a province-wide issue and that's why the government acted as it did. The honourable member should know that it has wider application.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I stand here today to ensure all health care workers are treated equally across this province. All health care workers. Nobody is saying it's bad that some health care providers are getting these shift premiums, but the minister's action has left a significant number of workers in the lurch. So I ask the minister, when will he rectify this situation and extend the $1 per hour shift premium increase, to all health care workers in the Capital Health District and at the IWK?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what this government did was take action to ensure that nurses across this province were treated equitably and we stand by that action.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: MARTELL CASE - LBR. MARKET AGREEMENT

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Recently our office was contacted by an individual by the name of Nelson Martell. Nelson's son, Shawn, has cerebral palsy and is currently studying to be an accountant at Cape Breton University. Shawn is performing extremely well; in fact he's receiving top marks in his class. The Labour Market Agreement fund from the federal government is making it all possible for Shawn. The Department of Community Services, along with support from the Department of Education, is providing all the technical needs Shawn requires to succeed in the classroom. The Labour Market Agreement would also provide support and assistance for

[Page 8900]

Shawn to live independently from his parents - the one department which has failed to support Shawn through the Labour Market Agreement is the Department of Health.

So my question to the Minister of Health is, Mr. Speaker, why has this minister's department failed Shawn, while other departments have chosen to support him?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the resources of this government have indeed been applied in this particular situation. The Labour Market Agreement, as it is utilized by the Department of Health, has a different emphasis compared to other departments, and that has been part of the challenge. We will continue to work with that family to provide whatever assistance we can in the future.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the Labour Market Agreement allows the Department of Health to support individuals outside of their normal programming. The minister doesn't have to wait for a self-managed-care bill which, incidentally, would not be a reality if it wasn't for the initiative of this Liberal caucus, you don't have to wait for it to come into force to help this family.

Mr. Speaker, in actual fact a letter from the minister's office indicates Shawn may qualify, but not until next year. The reality is the Labour Market Agreement would enable him to have support now. So my question for the minister is, why doesn't the minister provide 24/7 attendant care for Shawn with monies that his department receives through the Labour Market Agreement?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I already indicated, the Labour Market Agreement is employed by the Department of Health in a manner different from other departments in order to achieve other objectives, but the honourable member is quite right to point out that there is a possibility that this person would qualify for assistance in the future through the program which the honourable member and his colleagues have championed in this House, and which we were very pleased to bring forward in the House.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister is missing the point. This is an individual who has the intelligence and the will to succeed. He could live independently now from his parents, which is the right of any able-bodied individual, an adult, if attendant support was provided from the Department of Health. It's as simple as that. Would the minister reassess this individual's case and provide Shawn Martell with attendant care so that he could have the benefit of the entire Labour Market Agreement and not just certain parts?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we will indeed be assessing this situation and, as we move forward, if there are methods found to be of further assistance, then we will certainly endeavour to apply those and allow this individual to grow and become more independent.

[Page 8901]

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

COM. SERV.: HOME REPAIR LOANS - ACCESSIBILITY

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Three years ago part of the roof on John Eisnor's house blew off and an outside wall was badly damaged in a windstorm. Since then, Mr. Eisnor has been trying to get a grant or a loan to help repair his home. He has been told he makes too much money to qualify for a housing grant to fix his home. Mr. Eisnor's income is just $15,000 a month and . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Not a month, $15,000 a year.

MR. GOSSE: I'm sorry, it's $1,500 a month, and he supports a family of five. So I ask the Minister of Community Services, why are these home repair loans so difficult to get?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. This is an area that's of great concern to me and also to all Nova Scotians. There has been a tremendous amount of interest in emergency housing repair loans and the program. Basically, there is a program that's set with household income limits in agreement with CMHC as to what the thresholds will be to get a grant. If a household does not qualify for a grant, which is basically a gift that's written off over five years, they can apply for a low interest loan from housing services. We always try to make provisions so that the repairs can be done.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the Child Tax Benefit for low income families put the Eisnors just over the $19,000 income limit for a grant. These are federal-provincial programs and as the minister said, CMHC says the province controls the program. The province blames CMHC for the income cut-offs. Frankly, I don't care who sets the limits. They're obviously far too low. That's all that matters. So, I ask the Minister of Community Services just what kind of world is his department and CMHC living in where $19,000 a year feeds a family of five and pays for a new roof and a new wall?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there's one comment on the member's dissertation. I think first and foremost, it's important to get on the record that this government has increased the income limits since we've come into government and, in fact, we just increased them again for the Senior Citizens' Assistance Program. So we are moving on this and we're doing the best that we can in conjunction with CMHC.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, that's news because they come in your office every day looking for help and it's far too low. The Eisnors haven't had heat since last December and they're washing the walls with bleach to kill the mould that is now growing in their home. The Child Tax Benefit is supposed to help children and shouldn't even be counted as regular family income. So I ask the Minister of Community Services, the Eisenors are not alone in

[Page 8902]

this situation, when will he stop shifting the blame and work with his federal counterparts to ensure the criteria for these housing grants and loans is fair and reasonable?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate it if the member would bring the details of this case to my attention. I'll tell you, one of the reasons I say that is that this past July the National Child Benefit just increased to $282.91 for a family whose income outside of the benefit is under $16,000. It's an enormous amount and the province actually supplements even more for larger families. Based on the income figures the member opposite is suggesting to me, I'm not sure this all entirely makes sense and I would appreciate it if he could get those details to me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TCH - ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN: RESULTS - STATS TABLE

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Last week, the Minister of Tourism said that a last minute advertising campaign to the northeastern U.S. had produced, "significant results." Could the minister table in this House the statistics demonstrating these significant results?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'll be sure to get the numbers the member is looking for and I will table them in this House. I believe the reference I was making was with regard to the inquiries from the marketing campaign itself.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, he might have been referencing that but my question was about the ad campaign. The minister has overseen the decline in the tourism industry and his ad campaign has done nothing to save this season. We talked to five out of eight operators involved in this ad campaign - one tourism operator is down 27 per cent, another 50 per cent, while another - as a result of this ad campaign - has received a mere 20 hits on their Web site. If the minister considers these positive results, it is little wonder Nova Scotians have no faith in his department's ability to count. My question to the minister is, does he still stand by his statement that this ad campaign was a success?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the Tourism Industry Association of Canada thinks our marketing campaign is a success. (Applause)

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I hope the marketing campaign of Canada will feed the families of Nova Scotia who are suffering from his lack of response in not recognizing there's a problem in the tourism industry in Nova Scotia. I want to table in this House a story from the Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick, that tourism revenue is up 2.5 per cent. While our tourism industry is declining, New Brunswick's is growing. My question to

[Page 8903]

the minister is, if his department is doing such a good job why are tourism revenues up in New Brunswick while they're declining in Nova Scotia?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact, and I look forward to seeing some of the numbers the member is referring to. The reality is that our country, every province and territory, has been faced with the challenge of visitors coming from the United States, and those numbers declining this year from the United States. That is a reality. It's how you deal with the reality that is important. We are working very closely with the industry. We will release our marketing and development strategy in November. As I said, the marketing strategy for 2005 has worked very effectively. Can we do better? We always shoot to do better and will continue to move in that direction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENERGY - GREEN ENERGY FRAMEWORK: FUEL - DETAILS

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Energy. The Green Energy Framework you announced last week sets an ambitious target of 20 megawatts of electricity generated through biomass, the burning of matter such as waste wood in northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. It outlines the potential for electricity generation in partnership with big business, of course, in the forestry product sector. My first question to the minister is, what are you planning on burning in these plants?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the initiatives for biomass is just that, as the member highlighted. There is enough, with regard to wood waste, in the province. We have some initiatives. As I highlighted when we announced the framework, Brooklyn Energy is generating 25 megawatts and providing power not only for their own use but to Nova Scotia Power and steam to Bowater as a result of that. We're working with the community of Truro, based on community initiatives. By the way, as I said, we're trying to leverage the opportunities under the federal government with the Renewable Power Producers Incentive, again to leverage opportunities for Nova Scotia. I look forward to developing those projects.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, that's really very interesting to me, because just last Friday, I talked to a business operator here in Nova Scotia who burns waste wood to generate heat for his business. He told me that when he read your announcement that he was stumped - no pun intended. So when you're standing here telling me there's enough waste wood available, I have to question that. He was stumped because he is finding it very difficult to source waste wood to burn, which of course increases his energy costs. This scarcity is due to sawmill production cutbacks caused by the ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the United States. (Interruptions) I'm happy to hear that everyone across the room thinks this is a funny question, because it isn't to this business, sorry. So my question to the minister is, where are you planning to get the waste wood to create 20 megawatts of electricity?

[Page 8904]

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I think any business that is looking to source a resource and product, we should look at that. I'm sure the Minister of Natural Resources and his officials would be happy to make that connection. I would say, as industry and community initiatives identified, there is a lot of waste wood product available in this province, and we want to put it to its greatest utilization. We're not hearing that concern but, again, if someone is in need of supply, I'm sure the industry and producers in this province will provide it.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, well, this same businessman told me that since there's less waste wood for him to burn, he has to revert to burning oil. He's now paying three times more for his waste wood. I guess he'll be happy to hear when I phone him up today and say that there's all kinds of wood out there, you just don't know where to find it. My final question to the Minister of Energy is, why did you put (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the Minister of Energy is, why did you put such an ambitious target for biomass electricity in your framework when there seems to be a shortage of wood out there, contrary to what you're saying?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, there has been a whole lot of common sense on this side of the House, and we're still waiting for the NDP to find it as well. They just don't get the realities of what is out there. To that member I would say that it's not just an ambitious target, it's a practical target, it's based on projects that Nova Scotian entities and corporations and communities want to achieve, one of which our government is working with and our government will help them realize with the support of the Government of Canada.

[1:45 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - UNIV. FUNDING: ARRANGEMENT - READJUST

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. The complex funding formula the province uses to determine how much money each university has allocated is based heavily on enrolments, in fact, enrolments for 91 per cent of the base-funding amount. Now the enrolment numbers the province currently uses are based on a three-year average that began in 1993, more than 10 years ago. What this means is that this minister is using enrolment numbers that are more than 10 years old, while knowing full well that over the past 10 years, enrolments have risen in this province dramatically in universities. Mr. Minister, will you readjust the funding arrangement so that it reflects the increases in enrolments over the last 10 years?

[Page 8905]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member will be well aware, we entered into a memorandum of understanding when the university worked for a three-year rolling funding formula. The numbers were thoroughly examined during that process at the table with representatives from the staff of the Department of Education and the representatives from the university sector.

Mr. Speaker, there's no question that we would dearly love them to have more money to put into higher education, but unfortunately, the previous Liberal Government slashed the funding to higher education in the province (Interruption) We were forced to play catch up. I want to tell you that our Premier, with his colleagues in Atlantic Canada, also at a forum in Quebec City two weeks ago - the issue of trying to encourage the federal government to restore a proper funding level for higher education is very much on Nova Scotia's agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. WHALEN: I think all of us are a little tired of hearing that the federal government is to blame for these things. (Interruptions) This government has $1 billion more in operating money than was available in 1999, $1 billion more, and it has not gone to the university or education sector. That's right. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if the minister heard me, but I said there is $1 billion more in our budgets now than there were in 1999, and that money has not been directed to universities. With almost 10,000 more students at our universities, the base amount that the MOU begins on is pegged on the old amounts, when looking at enrolments from 1993 to 1996. So by the time the MOU agreement runs out the minister will be using enrolment numbers that are 15 years old. I want to ask the minister, why did you lock in the MOU without first adjusting for significant enrolment increases?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, last year during the memorandum of understanding process, which by the way was the first of these in Canada and were being looked at very favourably by provinces such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They're following us as usual. To be quite frank, in all seriousness, this process was very well received. The numbers were tossed around there. Now I just want to use what the honourable member said to reinforce to Nova Scotians one of the positions of this government. As you know, the money which flows for a higher education through the CST is based on a population percentage. We have approached the federal government to let that money portion that's flowing for education, flow on the percentage, the number of students we have in our province. We have, of all the provinces in Canada, import percentage-wise, a greater number of students because of the quality of our education system.

[Page 8906]

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, once again I think that the issue is not whether or not we're receiving it on a population or per student basis. I think that's an issue that all Parties agree that should be changed. The issue is that your own source revenue has increased dramatically and that last year your money from the federal government went up over 9 per cent, but that the money to education went up only 6 per cent in the budget. So my question is, why has more not gone to the education for our universities to help them? What little improvement was available through the MOU comes because you've given a bit of stability for three years of planning, that's it, not the money that has come to it. Mr. Minister, will you correct the problem and, once again, amend the MOU to reflect the current numbers in enrolments?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member and all members of this House know, education has been a priority for this government, not only the post-secondary level in terms of the universities where we implement the understanding to put $123 million into the community college to provide more spaces and more programs for students.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[1:51 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[1:54 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

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

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

[Page 8907]

Bill No. 222 - Tobacco Damages on Health-care Cost Recovery Act.

Bill No. 230 - Housing Development Corporation Act.

Bill No. 236 - Small Claims Court Act.

Bill No. 241 - Commercial Mediation Act.

Bill No. 244 - Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act.

Bill No. 246 - International Trusts Act.

Bill No. 249 - Enforcement of Court Orders Act.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Ordered that these bills be read for a third time on a future day.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 228.

Bill No. 228 - Social Workers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 228, the Social Workers Act.

[Page 8908]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak briefly about these amendments to an Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Acts of 1993, the Social Workers Act. As I mentioned in second reading, these are basically housekeeping amendments but as the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers began regulating its profession, these changes were required. They are meant to strengthen the regulatory process and, thus, provide better protection for clients and for the general public.

I think it's very important to note that social work in Nova Scotia is regulated. This means that there are procedures in place covering registration, complaints and discipline. These processes, as I mentioned, protect clients and the general public.

I just want to mention, also, that the social justice values which underline the training and practice of social work in Nova Scotia well match these professionals with the work needs of the Departments of Health and Community Services. I think it's very important and I want to emphasize this to the minister, that positions requiring that kind of training and expertise are maintained, within the Department of Community Services and Health, that their work is not undervalued because they provide benefits to the clients that can't come from other professions. We would like to support these amendments and congratulate the association for updating their legislation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member opposite for her appropriate observations about the value of social workers to our society. Indeed, this is responding to the request of their association to make their regulations current and bring the Act up to date. With that, I would close third reading on Bill No. 228, the Social Workers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 228. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 8909]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 247.

Bill No. 247 - Correctional Services Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I admire the honourable Speaker's motion because I am ready for the question, but, just in case other members do want to have a chance to intervene for a few moments. Mr. Speaker, I will only speak briefly on this bill. This bill is a bill that was brought in by the government in a sincere desire to modernize the parts of our justice system which frankly, the professional legislation is in much need of modernization. In the last session, we dealt with the Police Act and the reason we dealt with the Police Act was because obviously policing is very important to the justice system in Nova Scotia. Another pillar in our justice system in Nova Scotia is corrections. Mr. Speaker, corrections is very important to our justice system and in particular, the workers. The people who work in that system are vital to our justice system. We need a modernized piece of legislation and this legislation is that piece of legislation.

[2:00 p.m.]

It also deals with a number of new ideas and concepts that are coming up particularly in the area of conditional sentencing around the issue of the so-called bracelets that are determined to monitor people who are on conditional sentences or house arrest orders to make sure that those people are complying with those orders. It provides for that, it provides for a clear role of community corrections. Community corrections is a so-called parole or probation officer service which deals with the people who are there. It provides also for clear direction around issues such as providing information - vital information to our probation officers who have to do pre-sentence reports, an important part of the justice system to allow for the proper sentencing of people who have been convicted of criminal offences in our society.

Mr. Speaker, there has been wide consultation with the affected employees through their union. There has been consultation over a long period of time within the department and without. I would ask that the bill be approved in principle, which is what second reading is about, and sent to the Law Amendments Committee. I would therefore move second reading.

[Page 8910]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I think I'm going to probably say a few words about this. Again, to assure the minister, we will be moving this on to the Law Amendments Committee and have it properly vetted.

It's interesting, because one of the aspects the minister has brought up and kind of put it as one of the tenets of this bill is the conditions that the workers have to work under. It's an interesting one, because in last Spring's sitting of this House I stood here in my place and discussed with this minister and asked this minister questions on how certain workers in the justice system are being denied their justice. They were being denied the ability to have an arbitration done in an expedited time, in the amount of time that was more orderly, if you will, Mr. Speaker, what ended up happening was the Department of Justice withheld the proper time limits and so on on this arbitration to the detriment of the worker. The worker ended up winning the arbitration, but it was much like winning the battle but losing the war.

While this worker was waiting to have his fair hearing, one in which he won, as I said, he went into bankruptcy. He went into other debts, he tried other jobs, but the department fought him at every step of the way, even to the point when he went to get EI, they showed up at the EI hearing with the referees to argue against this worker getting his EI benefits. That was the type of draconian methods that this department used against a worker. Now the minister is saying, well, that's all behind us now. We have the dignity of the workers tantamount in our mind and we're going to help protect them.

Mr. Speaker, these people who work in custodial positions in our provincial jails, it's not - and I shouldn't have to tell this House - an easy job. More and more these people who are showing up in our provincial jails are violent criminals, are convicted criminals who have a history and a real problem. Yet, it took us this long to come up with this bill. I have to wonder when the minister says he sees in this bill real protection for the guards, it doesn't jump out at me - the type of protection that these workers need.

Mr. Speaker, another aspect of our provincial institutions is the overall general safety of them, and I mean that in the perspective of the communities in which they're placed. I have one in my community, in Gardiner Mines. Just this past weekend there was a break, and not hearing a news bulletin in the last little while, I believe the two inmates are still at large. The media were advised, obviously by people in the Correctional Services, that these people were dangerous. I realize that this is double stating the obvious but, in reality, someone could be in there for forgery, or something like that, that is not really seen as something that could cause bodily harm to anybody. On the other side, I think both of these gentlemen were in there under a weapon's offence.

[Page 8911]

What shocks me about this, and I hope this will be coming out in the internal investigation, is how this happened. From what I've been told by people who have been working around there is, there were workers inside and outside of the correctional institution, doing some upgrades. Their tools were being left around and so on. So let's find out for sure that these weren't used in aiding and abetting these felons to get out on the street, Mr. Speaker. Then that would cause me great concern because within walking distance of that facility there's at least 15 or 20 residential houses which these people need to be afforded the greatest amount of security.

These are issues and the area I believe that they did escape from was an area where some nine or 10 years ago, which was the same kind of recreational yard, four people were awaiting trial. All four serious offenders who have since been convicted and gone on to do federal time. In that area, the escape was gained by taking a bar of the weights they were using to pry the fence up - and these folks slid under it, Mr. Speaker. Let's hope that that same situation was not used - that indeed the workers - that it had been rectified, and they weren't duped by that same method once again.

Mr. Speaker, there are two vital aspects when we talk about Correctional Services inasmuch as we talk about safety. One is obviously, why those criminals are in the institution in the first place, taken out of general population of our society, and that our society be protected by it. So, therefore, we have to make sure that once they're in there, they're in there for their term or until such time as they fulfill the major part of their sentence, and are deemed to be able to go on the street again.

The other one, Mr. Speaker, is really the fact about how well protected are the workers. Now, the minister says that's one of the major embodiments in this bill. I know in those places, for instance, for the safety of those workers, they don't have regular ties, they just have clip ties, right, I think that's the way it goes. So that's an important part of safety - about what kind of tie you wear. (Interruption) No, no, it's not. So that's a very safety conscious effort.

But, Mr. Speaker, I digress a bit. I want to say though that we will be, as I said earlier, supporting this bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee. I would hope that when we get there and we hear from the workers, the workers say, these are the other perils we find in our workplace and we need these to be corrected. We need our government to stand by us, that the government will say, look, these are good ideas. These are people who do this job, they know it, and what we'll do is we'll protect them. We'll understand if there are problems in the workplace, we respect our employees so much, we'll expedite their arbitrations and we'll be able to go to work with them in partnership to lead to a better workplace.

[Page 8912]

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I will take my place and be glad to see this bill over in the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and say a few words on Bill No. 247 as Justice Critic for the Liberal caucus. First let me say that we are certainly pleased to see that the government is moving to modernize in legislation parts of the justice system, because I think all Nova Scotians will know now that our correctional system certainly has been modernizing significantly over the last few years. It's important that the legislation catch up to that modernization and properly start to reflect that.

Mr. Speaker, one of the main aspects of this bill which certainly has caught the public's attention and the media's attention has been the whole concept of applying ankle bracelets to individuals who are serving conditional sentences. I believe our caucus, over the last couple of years, has certainly been very vocal over the concerns of conditional sentences and whether the government was properly putting in place the necessary framework to make sure that those conditional sentences were actually being met.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, outside the efforts with the ankle bracelets, we are still very concerned that considering there are hundreds of conditional sentences granted every year in Nova Scotia, meaning that there are hundreds of Nova Scotians serving these conditional sentences, this government continues to turn a blind eye to make sure that these conditional sentences are properly being adhered to. Which again fits into the old concept of this government's approach on justice, where it continues to talk tough, continues to talk about safety in our communities, safety in our province, yet, the reality shows that for the most part this government is more than happy to turn a blind eye to some of the serious issues.

Mr. Speaker, let us keep in mind, again, without having the specific statistics in front of me - I know I have raised them here in the House previously, that was provided by Statistics Canada - if we have hundreds of Nova Scotians serving conditional sentences, the pilot project, which is being suggested by the Minister of Justice, would monitor next year, not this year but next year, 20 to 30 offenders. What do we do with the rest, the hundreds who are out there serving conditional sentences? Who is watching them? We now know that we can keep a close eye or a close surveillance on 20 to 30, but what about the rest?

I thought it was interesting in reading some of the media articles that did come out as a result of this announcement, and I noted the comments being made in the Cape Breton Post by Chief Edgar MacLeod, the Chief of the Cape Breton Regional Police, which is the second-largest police force here in this province. He said he wished there was no pilot project, that he would like to see the ankle bracelets being used now rather than a pilot project. In fact, he would like to see them on probably every offender. One of the interesting

[Page 8913]

things that he brought up, which again comes back to the concern we have raised, is that he makes reference to a program which used to exist in our justice system. If I'm not mistaken, that program used to be called the Program Alert, but I could be wrong on that.

I note, with interest, the article in the Cape Breton Post dated Friday, October the 21st, where it says, "When conditional sentences were first being applied in the province, justice officials piloted another program here in Cape Breton in which police and probation officers visited the offender's home at random times. The program was deemed a success but was abruptly cancelled nearly two years ago which left offenders unsupervised with probation officers, police, friends, family and neighbours left to report violations of conditions."

Mr. Speaker, it is this government, this minister who cancelled that pilot project that Chief Edgar MacLeod has deemed a tremendous success. To date, we have not been given an adequate reason as to why the program has been cancelled other than to infer that it was due to costs that the government cut this program. Again, an example where the government talks tough on crime and on safety, yet their actions seem to point to the exact opposite.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this bill refers to our justice system, more specifically our corrections system but it's again an opportunity to remind the government that we continue to have serious issues about safety in our communities here in Nova Scotia. We continue to have too many of our youth using illegal drugs. We continue to have too many of our youth being involved in crime. We continue to hear stories of swarmings, shootings - all things that are not a part of the Nova Scotia culture. It is not what we consider to be acceptable here in this province. These are all matters that the government has turned a blind eye to and to this day continues to talk talk when it comes to safety, when it comes to justice, but their actions seem to say the exact opposite.

I find it interesting that the Minister of Justice and his colleagues once said they don't like conditional sentences, they wish more people were sent to jail. That's quite a bold statement. Probably gets the attention of Nova Scotians but the reality is this is the same government that closed almost every rural jail that there was in this province. They closed them all, other than a number of regional institutions. Put more of our young offenders in jail, put more Nova Scotians who commit crime in jail but when you're not looking, we're going to close the jails so there's nowhere to put them. That is again a sign of the hypocrisy that has come from this Justice Minister, that has come from this government because their get tough on crime is a speech and it's puffery and nothing more. The results speak for themselves - when we read each day in the paper or, each week in the paper, of serious crimes continuing to be committed here in this province - the fact that Nova Scotians are not taking this government seriously when it comes to justice issues here in this province.

[Page 8914]

Mr. Speaker, having had the opportunity as a member of the legal profession to work with some of the people who work in the correctional services, I can tell you we have very fine men and women who dedicate their days to working in our correctional service. It's important that we put in place the necessary safeguards to make sure that they work in a safe environment and that they're properly protected under what can be some difficult circumstances. I can tell you from my own experience one of the positive steps the government has taken, without being too negative to the government, is the construction of a new justice facility for the Strait area. We now have a facility that is properly constructed, that can handle offenders in a safe manner that protects not only the justice officials but it certainly protects the correctional officials as well.

I remember attending a number of court hearings at the old justice centre in Port Hawkesbury which was basically in the basement of the old residences for the vocational school. I remember going in there and this being a basement it certainly wasn't the most pleasant place to start off with, offenders who had not been charged with violent crimes were being brought in in shackles both on their wrists and on their ankles. I remember asking one of the correctional services employees why would you have this individual, who's only here for a petty crime, in these shackles and he said because of the facility we have here, which is so poorly constructed and poorly laid out, we really have no means of catching an offender if he decides to run. Those were some of the problems that existed in the system and again, as I said, the construction of the new justice facility has certainly gone a long ways to addressing that problem in the Strait area and hopefully that is also being done in areas throughout the rest of the province.

Mr. Speaker, I do hope that this bill will make its way to the Law Amendments Committee. I look forward to hearing from those who are involved both in the legal profession with the correctional services about any of the changes that we might be able to implement here. Let us not for one minute be fooled into believing that putting 20 to 30 ankle bracelets on offenders who are serving conditional sentences in this province, which I have already told you there are hundreds per year, is going to provide added security to Nova Scotians. It is one small step but this should not be the last step that this government should take.

Bring back the program that allowed police officers to accompany probation officers to do random checks on offenders in this province. That way and with other steps which I'm sure others will suggest will bring more safety to our communities and give Nova Scotians a strong sense that if you are convicted of an offence and you are given a conditional sentence that that sentence will be carried out. You will properly serve the conditions of that sentence and more importantly, that Nova Scotians, wherever they live in this province, can feel safe in knowing that our justice system is working properly and that this government's statements about protecting our communities is not mere puffery. We can work towards making it a reality. Thank you.

[Page 8915]

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 247, an Act Respecting the Provision of Correctional Services, is of great interest to me because, as many in this House are aware, I grew up in a community just the other side of the New Brunswick border and having had a father who worked for 25 long years in the correctional services in various federal penitentiaries. I can tell you this is a piece of legislation that I took some great interest in. I'm going to make some comments along that line. I should also remind the Minister of Education opposite that aside from our Frontier College experience where we both began that love of teaching, my first real for-pay job, while my father was working in a different institution, was that I served a period of time - I have to be careful how I say that because they let me out on the weekends - I served as a teacher at Dorchester Penitentiary.

This correctional officer's son is proud to say there are some inclusions in this modernized piece of legislation that my father would support. The one thing that's of real importance to all of us, as legislators, is we realize when it comes to a piece of legislation like this, perhaps we have more questions than answers at this stage of the bill. As the bill proceeds and we go to the Law Amendments Committee, hopefully we'll have the opportunity to hear from some correctional officers and probation officers, because these are the very people - and they have been consulted, the minister has brought that to our attention and that's of some importance. The experts have been consulted when it comes to making sure that the justice system in this province - of course we're dealing with provincial jails, two years less a day and various other important orders that are brought forward from our courts - protect Nova Scotians each and every day.

We are no longer facing a justice system where we lock them up and throw away the key. I want you to know, based upon my personal experience, the recidivist - a very important word - the rate of young offenders who - above the age of 20 in most cases - make a history of crime, returning time after time after time. They begin to realize that when they are in an institution - whether it's the minimum security institutions in places such as Springhill, the federal institution in Dorchester or heaven forbid if they end up in the Renous facility on the north shore of New Brunswick or in provincial jails across this province and in this region - in many cases, these facilities are schools for crime.

What happens is, the young man or woman is put in a situation where they are in jail. In many cases, they really have nothing else to do but talk about when they get out what they're going to do. If that role model and positive reinforcement is not there, the result is that they will return to crime. In some cases, an even more violent type of crime.

[Page 8916]

I heard my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre make reference to the situation that has happened in his constituency and the facility at Gardiner Mines that has two escapees at large. I want members opposite to know that I can recall those nights when the sirens would go and the lights would come on the hill in Dorchester. We would realize that somebody from the farm camp - as it was called - had run. Let's be clear on something, if members here have never had the opportunity to visit Dorchester, it would be an important place to go. You don't go over those walls. When there's an escapee from a federal institution in the Atlantic Region, it's usually from a farm camp, the Westmoreland Institution or some other kind of minimum security facility - when it comes to the penal system, whether federally or provincially.

When that siren goes and you realize there's someone at large, when you live on guard row which is if you travelled, of course, on the CN line between Halifax and Montreal, when you come across the marsh you look in the distance and you see this, and as the students I have taken to Montreal many times before ask, what's that castle over there on the hill? Well, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that's no castle, that is, after all, an old 1887-built federal penitentiary. We have to make sure that the people, whether it's in federal penitentiaries or under the jurisdiction of this particular minister, provincial jails, they are safe places for correctional officers to work, they are safe places where they can feel that - they always of course have to be on guard, on guard for their own health, safety, and for the inmates who are under their care - but they have to feel that they are being listened to when it comes to legislation such as this particular piece of legislation.

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that on many occasions I heard my father say no one seems to want to consult us when it comes to a difficulty, when it comes to an inmate they have to deal with who has some particular issues. Now, having worked in a federal penitentiary and having been in the past, on occasion, a visitor - I highlighted that fact - in a provincial jail, because at one time as the vice-principal at Sackville High School we did have a couple of students who had day passes to go to our school. Now I know the member for Hants East is looking at me thinking that must have been an interesting challenge. These young men were put in a situation where they could improve themselves, and I must assure you that half of those projects, one of the two young men, worked out quite well and he did find his way back to get a proper education and is now employed in one of the communities that I represent.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that when you are in one of those situations, in a jail situation, there is a lot at risk. A lot at risk is around you. You never, ever take a break; you never, ever, let down your guard, because in those sorts of situations there are people who are very volatile, people who have many more issues than just the crime that they have dealt with.

[Page 8917]

So, I want to share, if I may, one of the saddest events as a schoolteacher that I dealt with in that particular institution where I worked, and I know that when we hear from correctional officers they will say they have had to deal with that issue. As a young know-it-all - and I know the Minister of Education would join me on this - a teacher at the time, teaching upgrading to inmates, this one particular day one of my students, who of course was older than me and I must now say when it comes to the skills of life knew much more about it than I did, was having a particularly tough day, and I was concerned about the fact that he didn't have this particular assignment done and it was an assignment that I can remember the specifics of - how would Sir John A. Macdonald be treated today with the modern media?

Interesting topic. It was one that I had assigned. It was one that this man was quite interested in because that particular man - I'm not sure where he is now - shared his problems because he was a member of AA and it was something of real interest. That particular day, that particular student, an inmate, did not participate in the discussion. So finally, of course, overstepping the bounds, I turned to him and I said I'm sort of disappointed, calling him by his first name, what's the problem, you don't want to take part in this discussion? Well it was one of those situations where it's not a typical classroom and that man told me what I could do with the discussion of Sir John A. Macdonald, and he told me in very clear, simple language. Of course the guards are also in the classroom making sure that there are no incidents.

Afterwards he came to apologize to me for using that language in our class. He told me that he just received a phone call that his mother had died and that because of his sentence he would not be released to go to her funeral. His crime was a particularly heinous one - if I can use that word - it was a violent crime and he was doing hard time for a long time in that institution.

So when you look at those particular incidents you say to yourself, you know the people who are dealing with inmates day in, day out, they're dealing with incidents outside of the walls or outside of the jail, they are dealing with very, very volatile individuals. So I hear the minister and I'm appreciative of the fact that this piece of legislation has some changes in it that are of some consequence. I know that we are particularly critical when it comes to justice and I'll have some comments on this. I want to draw attention particularly to the provisions in here dealing with female offenders. In certain situations - and I want you to know that I've never been in one of the federal institutions or provincial institutions for women but there has to be a provision clearly stated that a female inmate would be guarded and taken care of by a female correctional officer. That's important to make sure that provision is included and it is. It's a very worthwhile example of how we must deal with the realities of what it's like behind the bars or behind the fences in whatever particular job we have within the institution.

[Page 8918]

[2:30 p.m.]

Of course, there are these terms that are thrown around with great abandon. Some of them are really quite controversial and each of them in their way could be debated. We look at some of these terms, conditional releases, electronic monitoring, open custody and house arrest. Over the last couple of days I've received calls from people in my constituency concerned about a house arrest, in a particular community that I am fortunate enough to represent. A call about rumours about somebody who is under house arrest on a certain street in a certain community that I represent. Those terms have to be very clearly defined, particularly when we look at the issue of open custody. Now I see those terms and I am looking forward to hearing from the Minister of Justice, I'm looking forward to hearing from others members of this House when it comes to the term open custody.

Then there's the issue of electronic monitoring and of course there is much ballyhoo about the fact that we are going to have, in this province, people released from our provincial jails who will have ankle bracelets. These particular electronic devices will be able to monitor where these law breakers, let's call them what they are, are located within our communities. Is that the be-all and end-all answer? It's a step, it's a modern step, I think that if the proper conditions are looked at and it is something that is well researched by the experts behind the walls, behind the fences. If those people recommend, based upon their professional expertise, if they recommend a conditional release with this particular factor of these electronic devices then that's one that I will certainly support. After all, these are the men, the women, the experts and they should be listened to.

I want to congratulate the minister and the department for consulting these particular experts who of course are the ones who really understand the pressure and stress in the jobs they are doing. I want to draw attention to the fact that there's another side to this and that side is the protection of the public. The protection of the public when it comes to the fact that when you place a call to, the local RCMP station in my case, or it could be perhaps the local police station in a town or another jurisdiction across this province and as a provincial official, you're inquiring about the fact that at civic number such and such on street so and so, you're hearing rumours that there is somebody living at that home who is on a conditional release who is electronically monitored - if that's the proper term now, or perhaps under house arrest.

I'm fully supportive of private factors in the issue of privacy but I want you to know that it remains a concern for many Nova Scotians that we have to be fully aware of - if we have within our communities these particular inmates - although they're not inmates once they walk out the door, these particular individuals who have these electronic monitoring devices and where they are located in our towns and in our communities. How close are they to schools? For what length of time are they going to be connected to these electronic monitoring devices? All issues that I know will come forward at the Law Amendments Committee; all issues that I know we'll speak about in greater detail.

[Page 8919]

The concerns, of course, and the answers will be the connection. That connection is, after all, what will have the trust of Nova Scotians when it comes to what they think of this piece of legislation. It's important to go beyond that headline, when it comes down to the electronic monitoring, when we're looking at the bracelet suggestion. We have to look at the many other things that are included in this piece of legislation.

It is, as the minister said, an improvement, it is an important step, it is a modernization of an important piece of legislation, but I think it's also important to realize that there are some changes which, perhaps, we should carefully monitor. We should look at the long-term implications of these. And when it comes to the Law Amendments Committee and we have the opportunity to hear from correctional officers, when we hear from their union or when we hear from probation officers, that will be the opportunity for us as legislators to learn even more about the service that these men and women are doing for our province.

Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I will take my place. I look forward to this piece of legislation moving on to the Law Amendments Committee. I look forward to the opportunity of hearing from correctional officers and other individuals in the justice system, as we continue with this piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not really pleased to stand and speak on Bill No. 247, an Act respecting the Provisions of Correctional Services. The reason for that is that I've been dealing with an issue for one of my constituents who is a correctional officer. So the part that has drawn my attention on this bill is Part III, General, and Clause 94(i), "The Minister may, with the approval of Governor in Council make regulations"; and if you look down those regulations, (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) - (e) says, "respecting the duties, assignments, privileges and benefits of employees not covered by a collective agreement;"

Mr. Speaker, I've raised this with the minister in budget estimates, so it's on the public record, and I spoke to my constituent on this issue, and he said, yes, by all means, use my name and speak on my behalf. He's a gentleman named Mike Trask, who lives in Mount Uniacke, in my constituency. Mike has a disability. He's dyslexic. Actually all he was really trying to do was seek accommodation for his disability, which, for him, would have been some level of privacy, or access to a computer in a way that there is some level of privacy. This has not been able to be done.

I want to say that Mike first walked in my office or phoned me, I forget which, in 2003. So it's been two years that he's been waging this battle, and two years that I've been involved. Actually he's been waging it since before that, probably since 2002, when he raised the issue with management to help accommodate him for his disability. Now there was

[Page 8920]

supposed to be a plan identified in 2002, but that plan was never implemented, and really no accommodation has ever been made for Mike.

It seems to be one roadblock after another, at all the levels of bosses that Mike might have. But they've done far better, they've been promoted. He's been through mediation, and presently he's on long-term disability because of the stress that he's been put through. He has great support from his doctors. They, I have to say, cannot believe that in the 21st Century that someone with a disability would be treated the way this gentleman has been treated. It's my understanding employees in correctional services are given a rough time. He's not the first one I've talked to, he's just the first one I've spent a fair bit of time with. I guess because the others took other routes to seek help and weren't my constituents.

He is not alone. There is a history of giving employees a pretty rough time in correctional services. I asked the Minster of Justice for a meeting and got it. I found the minister gave us what I thought was an open ear and I was really pleased. Actually, I've asked the minister, I think, three different times for meetings on three different issues with constituents and the minister was more than accommodating. He gave us some of his time. I know my constituents really appreciated that fact but the bottom line for Mike is nothing was ever done.

I've raised it with the minister in budget estimates and I've written the Premier on it and am waiting for a response in that regard. I want to say that I'm amazed. My background is teaching, the Minister of Education would know about how school boards try to deal with students who have disabilities. We try to accommodate them in the education system. We try to overcome barriers for these people. We try to make them productive citizens in our society. It's one of those cases where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The sooner you can intervene and help these students, the better chance you have in preventing some of the damage of their disability.

There are a lot of people, particularly from years ago when there wasn't really so much understood about a number of learning disabilities. There wasn't a lot known about how to accommodate and actually students spent more time trying to hide - they would come up with strategies of trying to work, try to achieve and mask their disability even though they weren't even sure they had one. They were trying to meet their goals.

The Minister of Education would definitely be aware of how the area of education has tried to really be forward thinking helping students with disabilities. Well, there are people who have come through the system before we knew anything about a number of these learning disabilities and so they've tried in their own way to meet the test, to be employed and to do the job. Yet here we are in the 21st Century with a gentleman who has had his disability diagnosed, he knows his limitations. We have the technology that could help him with his limitations and I can't believe that - whether it's a computer or access in a specific way so he can get his reports done and so on - this is a big problem for this government. I

[Page 8921]

cannot believe that for what that would cost, they're digging their heels in on this and they are.

The Department of Justice is digging its heels in when it comes to helping this man and for him to be forced into long-term disability because of the level of stress he's been put under, is amazing. This is a man who has had a lot of uphill battles, but has faced them all and won them all and actually got himself to a point where he got trained and was able to be hired by correctional services and that is a remarkable thing. Actually, I think he's had the help of former ministers in this regard. I think he's had the help of a present minister, the Minister of Community Services, I think was one who had helped him. I think the honourable George Archibald when he was a minister, he had written letters and tried to help Mr. Trask.

[2:45 p.m.]

So there are members on the other side of the House who have tried to help Mr. Trask, but somewhere along the line that help has dried up and I cannot for the life of me figure out why - and for me to think that in this day and age, if we would help some student through the education system with their disability and put them in the workforce and then abandon them, that would make no sense to me whatsoever. There is some archaic view around this disability in the Department of Justice and I can't fathom what it is, but this gentleman, by all accounts, is a good employee, a hard worker, really likes what he does, and he is going to be - as far as I can see, the mood here is to drive him out. I can't read it any other way.

Mr. Speaker, in this piece of legislation the government has even indicated there are employees - as a matter of fact, the minister even spoke here today when he brought this bill for second reading, he even indicated the value of the employees in the system. Yet, I haven't seen anywhere in the battle that this gentleman has gone through that the minister believes that and, if he does, he can act pretty darn quickly to rectify any problems that this man has had as an employee and try to be accommodating for a disability. I certainly hope that the minister is listening to this message. My impression is that certainly some of his staff definitely are not helpful either.

Mr. Speaker, with those comments I take my seat and hope that if there is anybody who is listening, they can try to help Mr. Trask in his plight.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take some time to talk with regard to this bill before us. Let me be clear, we will be voting for this bill at second reading because, as a principle, modernizing our correctional services is a good idea. There are some specific issues that I do want to bring forward though with regard to the principle that is

[Page 8922]

being promoted in this legislation and, generally speaking, with regard to corrections in Nova Scotia.

I know that the labour standards aspects of corrections is not part of this bill, that's my understanding. Mr. Speaker, as the Justice Critic for my Party for the last number of years, I have heard regularly from correction officers working in our adult prisons and they have a lot of concerns with how this department has been run. They have a lot of concerns with what this division has been doing. I won't say it goes to the top level, because I think there's generally a lot of respect for the executive director of corrections in Nova Scotia, it's more about the people operating the actual prisons. Operating, maybe even particularly the person who used to operate the central regional correctional facility.

There is a lot of concern amongst the staff as to safety issues with regard to health and safety issues, and these are issues that need attention from this government; ones that I have raised in this House in the past, ones that I have raised with the minister privately, and ones that to this day I don't understand why they have not addressed them. A good example of that is with regard to arbitrations. These workers, in some cases, have been removed from their job, they've been dismissed and they're waiting more than a year to be able to have a hearing and get a decision to know whether they can be reinstated in their job or whether they have to go out and find other work.

Mr. Speaker, in many cases it can be argued that those dismissals are arguable, and instead of trying to expedite the process, instead of trying to ensure that we are appointing arbitrators as quickly as possible, whether it's a tribunal or a single one, this government has dragged its feet and, as a result, there are people out there who have had a lot of hardship, good, hardworking members of the correctional services have had a lot of hardships because of it and yet this government does nothing.

I want to talk about the fact that I know, having spoken to advocate groups, particularly the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia - they've brought up the issue, Mr. Speaker, of how the policies with regard to how Corrections Services operates, need to be not only modernized but publicized. This government likes to talk about being open and accountable, yet, the policies by which they make decisions for disciplining inmates - and in the case of Elizabeth Fry, specifically, female inmates - but let's say all inmates, results in the fact that we don't have clear policies that are published. The people who are either in prison, their loved ones who may be advocating on their behalf or specific groups that advocate on behalf of prisoners do not know exactly what the rules are. Frankly, that's not appropriate.

Whatever you may say about those that are inmates, that are spending time in jail, whatever you may say, whatever your opinion - and I know the spectrum ranges as to why these people may be in jail. The fact is that if they're there, there is still a duty to treat them fairly, to treat them with some humanity, Mr. Speaker. Yet, without those policies being in

[Page 8923]

the hands of the people who advocate on their behalf, without the actual inmates being able to see what the policies are, with regard to how they're disciplined and what the appeal process is, they really do not have the right to due process. That is wrong, that is not appropriate and it is something I would like to see addressed in this legislation as well.

I know that there is talk of putting them on the Web site for the government so that people can access them but doing that on a voluntary basis, Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do, it does not guarantee they are going to stay there. The next Minister of Justice, the next Executive Director of Corrections Services, the next Premier may decide that they want to do things differently, that they may use them as an example and try and remove the access to these documents.

By law, that must be in this legislation. By law, those who work with inmates, those who advocate on behalf of those to help them to ensure that they have due process in the disciplinary process need to have access to those documents. That, I understand, is not in this legislation at the moment, that is not the law of this province and, frankly, that is wrong and something that I would like to see changed, Mr. Speaker.

I think it is also important, Mr. Speaker, to talk about corrections, generally. This is a bill that talks about moving people into house arrest. The Minister of Justice will say house arrest is a fact of life, we don't control that. He's right. It's the federal Department of Justice that controls the Criminal Code and the use of house arrest. He's right. We do not have the ability to dictate where and when house arrest is used. It's in the legislation of the Criminal Code of Canada and it's up to the Provincial Court judges, Supreme Court judges of Nova Scotia, to decide where and when they will use house arrest based on the Statute, the Criminal Code of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, there are things that this Minister of Justice can do. Time and time again he stands in this House and likes to call himself a leader with regard to community safety, crime prevention and correction services, yet, when the time comes to actually do something that can make a difference, he refuses to act. He blames the police and the municipal level, he blames the federal government for their actions in the Criminal Code of Canada, yet, refuses to do things that can make things better.

Mr. Speaker, you know as well as I do that only recently we have introduced legislation that will get tough with regard to drug havens, chop shops, bawdy houses, places that are the centres of criminal activity in our communities. It took the NDP to step forward to say that is leadership on this issue.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to talk about another bill while I am talking on this one but my point is that, time and time again, this Minister of Justice will stand in this House and try to convince Nova Scotians that he is tough on crime. Well, I've said it before and I will say it again, that every time I see legislation like this I see where he is being soft on

[Page 8924]

crime. I know there is at least one reporter who likes to say that is being disingenuous. I will tell you, it is not. Frankly, this minister, when given the opportunity to remedy loopholes to fix problems that can make our communities safer, to ensure that people who are out on house arrest are actually going to be non-violent criminals, he refuses to act.

Here is another example of that. They're going to get 10, I understand, GPS bracelets. That is going to make people feel safer in their communities when people are out on house arrest. I will tell you what that will do, Mr. Speaker. We are sending a message to the judges and justices in this province that house arrest is now a more secure form of release and we are going to start seeing more people out on house arrest. We are going to see people being released that I would suspect are more likely be involved in violent crime.

In his own speech, when he tried to introduce this, just before introducing the bill, Mr. Speaker, the minister, in the wording - I tabled the speech - he may not have mentioned it in his verbal speech but in the written version that we were provided in advance, the two examples he gave were people involved in domestic violence who should stay away from their ex-wives. Well, that's domestic violence, that's harassment, that's stalking and yet we think that's okay to release him on house arrest when these people clearly have a history of being violent. He talked about keeping people away from playgrounds. Who would we want to keep away from a playground? Who would be on house arrest who should be staying away from playgrounds? Well, as far as I'm concerned, that's molesters and pedophiles. Yet this minister talks about having them out on house arrest.

As far as I'm concerned he's sending a message to the judiciary in this province that it's okay to have these people released, now that it's going to be more secure. House arrest is a better form of protection for the public and now we can open it up to allow others to be released who, maybe in the past, the judiciary was a little nervous about releasing. What this minister needs to be doing consistently is giving guidelines to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Prosecution Service, to the Crown Attorneys in this province, telling them anytime you have a violent criminal you must ask for jail. We don't need house arrest with regard, particularly when we're talking sexual offences, domestic violence offences. We cannot be talking about this in a way that's going to allow more people who have a tendency towards violence, whether it be within their own domestic situation, sexual violence, we can't be allowing them out on house arrest.

We've seen examples of this in the recent past and yet this minister in his own speech that he wants us to have in advance, talks about these as examples of people who could be on house arrest and how these 10 bracelets are going to make the community safer. It's not going to happen, Mr. Speaker. Frankly, what we need to be seeing is a minister who is willing to recognize that we need to be tougher with them in the sentencing process and with regard to whether or not they're incarcerated.

[Page 8925]

Violent criminals should not be allowed on our streets, should not be allowed out in a way that they are going to be a threat to our community. Ten GPS bracelets are not going to make our community safer. They're not going to make it easier for people to feel comfortable in their homes when they know that down the street or around the corner there's someone on house arrest who has committed a violent crime either against a loved one, a child or someone else. Those are the crimes that we do not want to be seeing people getting house arrest for.

This minister, instead of trying to make it easier either directly by creating these 10 GPS bracelets or indirectly by sending a message to the judiciary that it's okay to do house arrest, those are the type of issues that this minister likes to say is leadership; I would argue it's the opposite. It's sending the wrong signal to criminals, it's sending the wrong signals to our judiciary. What we need is a minister and legislation that recognizes the need to ensure that people who have violent backgrounds, people who have been convicted of a violent crime are not released into the community. We shouldn't make it easier and we shouldn't get false hope that some form of a GPS bracelet is going to make things easier for them, it's going to make life better, more comfortable for the people in these communities.

I think generally speaking there's a real sense in Canada and in Nova Scotia that house arrest is abused. It's abused by the judiciary who uses it as a way of releasing people who are on the bump between going to jail or not. It could even be possibly used as a way to ensure that we're not incarcerating people and having to pay for the cost of incarcerating them. I agree full well there are certain types of people who are committing crimes who don't need to be incarcerated, ones of non-violent crimes. We're talking more about violent crimes, we need to assume that some form of incarceration is appropriate and then look at the situation to see whether there's an exception to that rule. Saying that we're going to make house arrest more acceptable, saying we're going to have a pilot project with 10 GPS is sending the wrong signal and is frankly misleading the people of Nova Scotia into believing that this is a piece of legislation that's going to make their communities safer.

Those are my problems with this corrections bill, it's the principles by which this government seems to lead itself, it's the desire to talk about doing something about justice issues and yet in the end, really doing nothing. That's what this Minister of Justice has done since he was the Minister of Justice in 1999, I believe except for four months back in 2003 when he was the Transportation Minister. This has been the Minister of Justice going on seven years and are communities safer? I think if you walked out this door today and ask the people of Nova Scotia do you feel safer in your community now than you did in 1999? I think we all know what the answer would be and it wouldn't be yes. They'd be saying no we don't feel as safe, we see vandalism increasing, we see violence increasing, we see use of guns increasing and this government is doing nothing.

[Page 8926]

[3:00 p.m.]

In fact, with this type of legislation and ideas, like 10 GPS bracelets, this government is actually sending the opposite signal to criminals, to the judiciary and to the people of Nova Scotia. Let it be clear they are not serious about solving crime in our province. They're not serious about addressing issues, making sure that criminals who are violent are addressed appropriately, Mr. Speaker, just the opposite. They're looking at this on the other side and, frankly, every time this minister wants to stand up and say, I'm a leader with regard to community safety and crime prevention, and every time he wants to say he's being tough on crime, our Party is going to be here standing up, calling him on that, and pointing out the fact that's exactly what he isn't.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it has been a good debate today on Bill No. 247. I listened to my colleagues across the floor, and my colleagues here, talk about house arrest and releases and the GPS system to monitor people who have been convicted of crimes, which leads to a lot of questions about who is going to be entitled to these bracelets. Is it going to be people convicted of violent crimes or people convicted of non-violent crimes? Who is going to be involved in wearing this GPS system?

I know that the Cape Breton Regional Police Force is wanting to start this program right away and have it implemented as soon as possible, instead of having 10 bracelets, you know, to go on with that. Mr. Speaker, after working a little bit in the young offenders facilities years ago and taking young people out on outings, and spending a couple of years in a secure-custody facility and taking some of the young offenders on outings, whether it was when taking out ice fishing a multiple personality disorder, some juvenile psychopaths, and other young people who were involved in various aspects of the law from an early age. I remember this incident one day, chasing one down University Avenue in Charlottetown, for half an hour or 45 minutes, in conjunction with the Charlottetown police, trying to get this young person back in. But this GPS system that we're talking about, I think it would be good for, I guess, the safety of probation officers.

When somebody is put on house arrest, or whatever else, it's up to the probation officers to arrive there, whether it's 10:30 p.m. on Friday or 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, to check to make sure that that person is abiding by the conditions that are set out in the court. So I think we'll wait and see. When some of the police chiefs and other people, correctional facility workers, arrive at the Law Amendments Committee to give some good input and maybe some amendments to this bill, to say, you know, are we going in the right direction? I think we are going in the right direction.

[Page 8927]

I mean, they use GPS for finding cars all over the world. So, surely, if somebody has a GPS system, we'll be able to monitor where they are at at all times, but again I wonder if when the judges sentence these people and they're sentenced to house arrest in your community, how afraid the neighbourhood is to let them know that maybe a pedophile, or somebody with a violent history in the past, you know, that the probation determines that after doing a predisposition report, that this fellow is not violent and he'll be okay running the streets. We have families that live in the neighbourhood and those types of things and, as the member alluded to in his bill, about shutting down crack houses and that, neighbourhoods with drugs and alcohol.

So, hopefully, with the GPS system, people who have been convicted of crimes will be accountable to where they are and abide by the conditions set down by the courts. I hope the 10 GPS bracelets will be expanded sometime down the road, or how this project is going to work. Maybe some of the police forces around the province will be consulted on the use of this, but again my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, he put it quite eloquently that violent offenders are not the ones that these bracelets are meant for. These GPS bracelets are meant for people whom the judge deems are maybe first-time offenders, or say maybe second-time offenders, who may not be repeat offenders. We'll have to look to see who gets the bracelets and how well they're used. I mean how they're inputted into the computer, I guess, and how they can be monitored.

When those people who are wearing these GPS bracelets break the law, you know, they'll be returned back to do the remainder of their sentence in custody. So that alone is a deterrent when somebody's under house arrest but again for the safety of the probation officers and the front-line workers who have to visit these people on weekends and take their time and visit them at all different hours - I think they have schedules. I wonder with the GPS bracelet, will people still be doing urine tests, will they still be having to do those types of programs within the correctional services and the probation office?

Again I hope that this judicial system doesn't allow offenders of violent offences or pedophiles, people like that, to be the ones that are getting the GPS system. I hope the people that are getting these systems are the ones that can be rehabilitated, the ones that can take advantage of the system. It's technology that has changed over the years, it's great technology. I remember looking at a 60 Minutes program on Sunday one evening and seeing them track a car that was stolen in the United States and ended up in the United Emirate States. They're pretty well pin-point accurate with the GPS system but that's not what we're here to debate today. We're here to debate, should we have these implemented right away, are these a good thing? Again, I hope it doesn't give the wrong sense of security to the judicial system that these people, once they have the GPS bracelets on, that will be okay to be roaming around your neighbourhood, that they'll be okay to be in your neighbourhood.

[Page 8928]

I'm just worried about that aspect. I'm worried about the community. There seems to be growing crime and violent crime in certain areas of the province within the CBRM and the HRM. We do have a great police force in the CBRM and great leaders that are running the police force there. I hope that along with their efforts and deterrents of crime, along with the efforts of this bill with the 10 bracelets, that we will see some kind of action in the near future. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I move second reading of Bill No. 247.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 247. 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 Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 250.

Bill No. 250 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works I move second reading of Bill No. 250.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak on this piece of legislation as well. You know, this is another example of the Minister of Justice trying to put patchwork on a system by trying to look like he's being tough. As I've said before and I'll say it again, every time he wants to say he's being tough on crime we're going to get up in this House and point out you can drive a truck through his ideas with regard to being tough on crime.

AN HON. MEMBER: And fill it with gas.

[Page 8929]

MR. DEVEAUX: And fill it up with gas, that's right, and drive away because (Interruptions) Yes, that's right, and depending on the size of the vehicle that can actually be an expensive process. This is legislation that is meant to - I'm actually amazed at the comments I've received on this legislation since it was introduced last week and not one of them has been positive and there's several reasons why.

This is legislation that basically says that if you pay for gasoline and drive off you can be convicted of theft. Now it's not theft of gasoline because there's no separate Criminal Code provision, I think it's Section 334 of the Criminal Code in the bill, that's what it says. That's not a separate provision for the theft of gasoline, that's just theft under or over $5,000. Now I'm assuming in this case it's under $5,000 unless you have a pretty big vehicle that you are filling up but the fact is if you're convicted of theft under $5,000 for stealing gasoline from Esso or Petro-Canada, whichever gas station, then you're going to lose your licence for a period of time. That's the theory behind this legislation.

There's not a person who has been fooled by this minister's idea of what he thinks is being tough on crime. Now I'm going to talk a bit about that and then I want to get into why he specifically picks this crime that people are going to lose their licence for, but not others, and why at this day and age in which we have problems with energy costs - and many would argue that we're being gouged by the energy companies - why he picks this to try to pass a piece of legislation that punishes people for stealing gasoline in a way that doesn't punish them for other things like car theft or other things.

I want to start by talking about the fact that this legislation is probably unenforceable for a number of reasons. First of all, you have to try and get a conviction. In a place, to my mind, in this day and age, it's still quite surprising. I mean, I think a lot of people don't like to think about this, but the fact is that we do not pay for our gasoline in advance. We actually get to fill up our gasoline, go and pay. That's the way gas stations want it. In fact, it could be pointed out that specifically, they removed the full-service system that we had in this province and across the country. Why, because they wanted to save money and by saving money, they keep one person on duty in the store or in the actual booth. You fill up your own gas and you're supposed to go pay. That's how it works in this province.

Well, the problem is, that from time to time you forget. Maybe it has happened to some people in this House. I don't know, but the fact is, some people forget and when they forget they get in their car and they drive away. Well you know what? They had no intention of committing a crime. They had no intention of stealing and from what I understand most times what the police do is they catch the person and say, you forgot to pay. Oh, I forgot, well, I better go pay, and they go back and pay. That, in itself, shows how difficult it is to prove intent, because if you are going to prove a conviction for theft under $5,000, you have to prove that the act of theft occurred and that they had intention of stealing the gasoline.

[Page 8930]

Yet, what we have in this case, Mr. Speaker, is very difficult to prove that there was intention. There are ways of proving it of course. Interesting enough, as far as I can see, it would actually be easier to prove if you had a full-service gas station because clearly there is someone pumping your gas for you, they ask for the money, you drive away. Clearly, someone has said to you, you owe me $20 or $50 for the gasoline, and you drive away - a lot easier to prove intent there. But, when it's self serve, it happens, sometimes you may forget. As a result, it's going to be very difficult to prove intent. So to start with, in a lot of cases, you're not going to get many prosecutions with regard to this issue.

So the minister may want to stand up here and say, we're going to remove the licence of anyone who steals gasoline. He's going to have a heck of a time getting people convicted of theft under $5,000 for gasoline. That's the first thing, Mr. Speaker. Second of all, in many cases - I'm not talking statistically, but anecdotally - a lot of people who are probably stealing the gasoline are driving stolen vehicles. If they are willing to steal gasoline, I would lay dollars to doughnuts they probably also don't have insurance and they don't even have a licence. These are situations where the people clearly have no respect for the law. Why would they respect the need for a licence, the need for insurance or even driving their own vehicle? That being the case, why do we think that if they are willing to steal gasoline that removing their licence is going to stop them from continuing to drive? It probably won't. So again, even if you can catch them, even if you can convict for having intent to steal, in most cases it's not going to make a hill of beans to these people who are probably going to continue to do this. That's another reason why this is not an enforceable piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there's a lot of things that can be said about this legislation, and a lot of things that have been said by the public, but I think what particularly concerned people is that this legislation is dealing with creating an extrajudicial penalty for those who steal. One other thing that I want to bring up, before I move on from the point about enforcement, I'm not clear how the government is going to know when someone has been convicted of stealing gasoline and therefore trigger the suspension of their licence. I'm not sure how that happens, because as far as I can tell this is an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act. It's only two or three lines and it just says, where someone is convicted of theft under $5,000, under the Criminal Code of Canada, with regard to stealing gasoline, they shall lose their licence. I think it's for six months.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how the bureaucracy within the justice system or the Registry of Motor Vehicles is going to know that someone has been convicted of stealing gas. In most cases, an information that would be laid by a police officer charging someone with theft under $5,000 may not specifically mention gasoline. At least not in the actual information. It may just mention theft occurring at an Esso gas station or Petro-Canada gas station. Well, that could be a chocolate bar. It could be shoplifting a chocolate bar. That's theft under $5,000. They could have stolen tires from the gas station, we don't know that. The fact is, I'm not sure how this government thinks there's going to be a bureaucracy that's

[Page 8931]

going to trigger - is the Crown Attorney, is the police officer supposed to file a separate form?

Are we creating more paperwork for justice officials, police officers and Crown Attorneys who are already busy, and when are they supposed to file those forms, after conviction? Is the judge supposed to issue an order somehow? It doesn't say that in the bill that the judge is supposed to somehow issue an order that immediately has the paperwork sent to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. This seems like a haphazard piece of legislation created at the last minute by this government as a means of trying to show they're trying to be tough with regard to criminals.

[3:15 p.m.]

Yet, they didn't think this one through. I'm not sure who suggested this to them. I have a pretty good idea it was the petroleum industry, but why should the petroleum industry be picked to be able to have this special provision put in place when we don't have it with regard to auto dealerships where cars are stolen? I have the Autoport in my riding. It used to be when I was a kid - it doesn't happen as much now, with beautiful vehicles coming from Europe, they have a lot of security measures in place at Autoport, they have a lot of security measures there - they used to have dogs running around, fences - they still have the fences, they have cameras, and security officers. Why do they do that? Because they're protecting their product. They're saying if we don't protect these Mercedes and BMWs and Volvos and other vehicles that we have in our area, in my constituency, then they're going to be stolen.

Yet, instead of the petroleum industry putting in place the provisions to ensure their product is not stolen, we have the government trying to intervene to make itself look tough by saying we're going to suspend licences. We don't think that's appropriate. We don't think that's right necessarily. Why do we single out this type of crime when we don't single out other crimes related to vehicles? Why don't we single out - as I said - car theft, why don't we single out other things related to motor vehicles - joyriding? There are other things that could be as well criminal acts that could result in the loss of a licence, yet this government decides to pick this one at this time.

And that's the other point - why at this time, when people are paying so much for energy? I don't know how many people have told me - this is the opinion of others - that the real robber barons in all this - clearly someone is stealing gasoline, they're committing a crime, but when you look at the way the price of gasoline has jumped up and fluctuated quickly when we all know there was probably some price gouging going on as a result of that, it makes you wonder - it's the old story, you can steal $1 million and no one will pay any attention; you can steal $10 and everyone tries to convict you of a crime.

[Page 8932]

That's the kind of dilemma we have here. We have this minister trying to deal with nickel-and-dime crimes. Yes, they're crimes; yes, they're bad; yes, they need to be convicted, but why these extra judicial provisions when there are other things going on that this minister isn't willing to create extra judicial penalties for? These are the types of issues that we have with this legislation.

I want to go on. I know my colleagues will talk more about this as well, but I want to go on to talk about the fact that (Interruption) What was that? Well, that's it. That's what I'm going to talk about. Other members of my caucus are going to talk about this, but there's an issue here as well and that is that it is quite common, I understand, within the gas service industry that if an employee is on duty when someone steals the gasoline, they are forced to actually have to pay for it out of their salary.

The Labour Standards Tribunal and the Labour Standards division of the Department of Environment and Labour says we've dealt with that because you cannot deduct from anyone under minimum wage. You know what? In this time, in Halifax particularly, we have a 5 per cent unemployment rate, I suspect there are a lot of gas station attendants who are making more than minimum wage. Maybe it's only $1 more, maybe only 50 cents more, but their policy basically only works for people on minimum wage. It doesn't have any effect if you're actually making $1 more or 25 cents more, because what will happen is the person who owns the gas station can deduct that amount until you pay back the cost.

For $50, at $1 per hour, that would be 50 hours of work in which you're losing an hour of pay, and that seems to be allowed under our Labour Standards Code and I don't understand why, when you're not the person at fault.

This is about reversing the onus. If this government wants to pass this piece of legislation, I want to be clear that from our perspective right now, a gas station attendant, the onus is on them if the employer tries to claw back the money for gasoline stolen while they were the attendant - the onus is on the attendant to actually prove that they fall within the parameters of this policy of the Labour Standards division. We think that should be reversed. The assumption should be that those attendants cannot have a deduction from their income because gas was stolen while they were the attendant, unless, with the one exception, for some reason, be it through their own gross negligence or their own activity related to the theft, there's some reason why they were directly involved. As a result, they could then have a deduction. But the onus would be on the employer to prove the exception to a general rule that attendants should not have to pay. This is wrong.

You want to talk about people who are victimized by this, clearly it's not the gas station owners because they're taking it out of the hide of their workers. They're making the workers pay back in wages what they already lost. Someone speculated the other day, how do we know they're not also claiming this as a loss on their taxes? They could be claiming

[Page 8933]

a loss on their taxes for the theft of gasoline. Who knows, maybe they have insurance, yet they're also taking it out of their employee's salary as well.

Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that clearly was not thought through by this government. This Minister of Justice, again, so that he could get up in this House last Tuesday, Wednesday, and make a speech about how he was a leader. I remember the words - we are leading with regard to crime prevention and community safety. He had to fix something up that showed that he was doing something beyond the same rehashing of the same old announcements that he's made over the last two years. As a result, we have this bill that was hastily put into this House, and one that I would suspect was not well thought out and is not good for Nova Scotia.

It's not good because it's not enforceable. The people who might be convicted are not going to pay attention to this law. They're going to disrespect it. The people who are actually victimized are the service station attendants who end up having to have their salary deducted even though they had nothing to do with the theft. These are all reasons why this bill has serious flaws.

Mr. Speaker, this government has to be prepared to explain at some point. The Minister of Energy gets up and says I'll move second reading. That's been a tendency in this House this session, that we've had very few bills on which we've actually had some sort of explanation at second reading, unfortunately. With regard to the principle of the bill, I would suggest to you that it would be helpful if we had the minister stand up and actually explain why we're doing this. I know it was probably only a coincidence, I hope, that the Minister of Energy was here to introduce this, because I would have hoped that we wouldn't try to distance ourselves from the one minister who works closely with the petroleum industry and would have allowed this to be the Justice Minister who was speaking on this bill.

Clearly this is a bill that has serious flaws, Mr. Speaker, ones that this government needs to think about when they are considering whether or not this is the type of law we need in Nova Scotia. If you're going to pass a law, make sure it's enforceable. If you're going to pass a law, make sure you're going to take it seriously, that it's going to be taken seriously by the public. Don't pass laws to make political statements. Don't pass laws to try to ensure that you're going to look like you're tough on crime when in fact this is just another example of this government trying to hastily slap something together without actually thinking through why this is not good for Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise as Justice Critic for our Liberal caucus and say a few words on Bill No. 250. I certainly want to commend my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, for his comments, which reflect in many ways the same belief that we have in regard to this piece of legislation, except that

[Page 8934]

I have a bit of a different take on it than what my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, has. Maybe he hasn't looked at it from this perspective.

As I was speaking earlier on the previous legislation, the Correctional Services Bill, the ankle bracelets, and trying to give Nova Scotians the impression that this government is getting tough on crime, I used a legal term at the time, that it was puffery. I think here is another example of a bill which would fall under the term of puffery. It's giving the impression that you are somehow doing something, that you have some sort of superior solution here, which at the end of day is really doing nothing.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at this bill, my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, pretty much continued to say that this was a government and the Minister of Justice's attempt to give the appearance of being tough on crime, and I agree with him. It is just the appearance of getting tough on crime. Well, let me give you another spin on what this bill is meant to do. This bill is meant to try to somehow convince Nova Scotians that this government has done something to control the rising costs of gasoline and energy prices here in this province. We all know that the Minister of Justice, I'm sure, is trying to assist the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations who has done an absolutely abysmal job of trying to address the cost of high gasoline prices in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I was in this House and watched the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations tell us if we passed his beloved Bill No. 90 - I believe is what it was called - they had the solution to give Nova Scotians immediate relief. They had the solutions that no service stations would close after their bill if the Opposition would only pass it. He had all the answers. They were all in the bill but, lo and behold, the bill got passed and Nova Scotians now know today that the government was only, once again, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, involved in puffery themselves, in trying to convince Nova Scotians that they really had the answer, but the Opposition was holding it up. (Interruption)

Well, the veil was lifted once the Opposition actually allowed the bill to go through and Nova Scotians, today, have yet to see any concrete solutions from this government. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that they are going to wait a long time before they would see anything from this current administration.

So how do we try to make the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and the government look a little better? We know the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has been a complete failure. It's the worst file they could have ever given him or certainly the worst file they could have given to that particular minister. So what did they do? Well, now the Minister of Justice is saying I'm going to try to deflect the reality of what a horrible job you've done by trying to tell Nova Scotians and gas retailers I've got the solution for you now. We're going to deal with the high price of gas because we're going to make people who take gas without paying for it lose their licence.

[Page 8935]

Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to get through all of the legal difficulties that this bill poses and even trying to enforce it. I think my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, has certainly spoken about that at length and it doesn't require repeating. It's clear that trying to enforce this bill is going to be next to impossible and, secondly, it does nothing to deal with the issues of crime in our province, or to deal with the high cost of gas.

What this bill causes me to ask, Mr. Speaker, is that if we feel that it's so important that people who are taking gas without paying for it should lose their licence, we know that that has been increased because of the high cost of gas. What I would like to know is what is the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Justice, or the failing Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, going to do for Nova Scotia homeowners this Winter who will see their home heating oil stolen from their tanks this Winter? People who are desperate are going to turn to that to try to heat their own homes, or to try to resell it, because I can tell you, that's a reality of what takes place in Nova Scotia right now. Many Nova Scotia homeowners have seen, whether it's their Summer home, whether it's their home when they've been away for extended periods, to return to see that the oil is gone from their oil tank. So what do we do for that?

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Call the police.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: The member for Colchester North says call the police. What are the police going to do? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Yes, to be dealt with I hear, and the issues are for the most part the high cost of energy in this province and how Nova Scotians are becoming desperate because of it. Yet this government, after the failings of the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the failing of the Premier who shook hands, Mr. Speaker, with the representative of the independent gas retailers and said you've got my word, well, we know today what that word is worth. I know that the service station owner in Louisdale, Mr. Marchand, knows what that word is worth. He's no longer selling gas and he hasn't been selling gas since July. So that word meant a lot for him and his family. How many other retailers around the province have closed since the Premier gave his famous handshake and said you can take my word?

That's the reality, Mr. Speaker, and that's the reality of what we face here in this province. It's nothing but a farce for the government to come in and try to give the impression, one, that they're being tough on crime and two, that they're actually doing something to deal with high gas prices and high prices of energy by saying we're going to take away your licence if we catch you taking gas without paying for it. We've heard from the police officers who've said it's next to impossible to get a conviction, it's next to

[Page 8936]

impossible to catch these people because, as my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage said, their excuse is they forgot to pay. Then there's the question of how does a lawyer or prosecutor get up and prove that someone who says they forgot to pay and wanted to go back and pay that that wasn't their intent. How do you prove that?

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it's clear, again, the government is putting this bill forward hoping that the Opposition wasn't going to pay close attention to it, hoping that they would be able to say at the end of the session here's an example of how we make communities safer, here's an example of how we've helped the retailers around this province, the gasoline retailers, here's an example of how we're dealing with the high costs of gas in this province, here's an example of how the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has actually done something on this issue. The reality is, lift the veil, we look behind and there's nothing. This is political opportunism, I would say it's political desperation on the part of the government.

The whole issue of high gas prices prevented this government from going to the polls. The Premier has resigned, what is next for this government? It is not getting any better, that is the reality. (Interruptions)

The Premier has resigned, I don't know why that would surprise any of the government members. Maybe they weren't aware of that, but it's my understanding that he has indicated that he will be stepping down in the very near future. Back home we call that a resignation. I'm not sure what the Tories call it, maybe they call it abandoning the ship before the ship actually starts to sink. I know there are many people in Richmond County who would say that it's one of the appropriate terms especially as gas prices continue to be at the rate they are and as home heating oil prices continue to be where they are.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians expect from their government real solutions to the problems that they face every day. This is not one of those. The government knows it, the minister knows it, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is hoping that someone will give him something to try to make him look a bit better from the disaster that he has been having with the responsibility for the issue of high gas prices.

I can tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to seeing what is going to come out of the Law Amendments Committee as to whether at the end of the day Nova Scotians actually believe this is going to make a difference. When Nova Scotians go gas up their vehicles and pay for their gas, it is still almost $1 a litre, and they're still wondering how they are going to pay to heat their homes this Winter.

[Page 8937]

This bill is not going to make a difference for Nova Scotians, they expected better. More importantly and more disappointingly, they were told to expect better from the Premier, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and from this government. As a totality, this bill is a failure and their failure to deal with Nova Scotia gas prices and home heating prices, I would submit to you, Nova Scotians may have in the very near future an opportunity to have their say as to what they think the government as a whole has done on this issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I rise to say a few words on this bill. You know, this bill reminds me of the old adage in newsrooms when they'd look at a story and make this big banner headline that says if it bleeds, it leads. All it was doing was creating a story. That's what this bill is, it's creating a situation that really doesn't exist but trying to fool the public into thinking that this government is hard on crime, that they're tough.

Now my colleague, the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, introduced Bill No. 263, an Act to Make Communities and Neighbourhoods Safer, which really gets to the crux of crime. When the previous speaker, the honourable member for Richmond, was up, he was being heckled from the government side by saying, call the police. So while this government ignores places like crack houses and all that, they want to put a police officer four or five hours working on a file where there may be $40 in gas. This is what they would rather have you to do, they would rather ignore that bill.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member just said what do you do when a theft is committed and he's making light about calling the police. When I was a police officer for 30 years, that's what I expected the public to do when a theft took place was to call the police. That's what they're there for, to investigate and if you people don't want to call the police and if you people don't want to solve crime . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: That's not a point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Thank goodness that the Dudley Do-Rights of the world understand.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Could we have some quiet in the House. Order, please.

[Page 8938]

MR. CORBETT: Madam Speaker, this is - you know, again that member just doesn't get it. When we talk about serious crime, and it's all about the level of very, very finite ability of police officers and we see those resources being stripped away every day but they would rather ignore a great bill like Bill No. 263 and move forward on their Bill No. 250.

Madam Speaker, also in this House last year, I introduced a bill that referred to dine and dash and gas and dash. That bill is out there in the hinterland. Finally after introducing it last year and writing a letter to the Minister of Environment and Labour for his support, he sent me a letter back earlier this week stating, you know what, we used to get some complaints about this but they stopped, so the problem doesn't exist. The problem does exist because workers have stopped complaining. That's their department's position on this, people stopped complaining. You know, that's just not good enough. When it comes to protecting workers, it seems that this government - well no one's complaining. Who cares? No harm, no foul. That's their position on it, but if big oil complains, let's just kind of push them to the front of the line, let's not worry about - let's not talk about neighbourhoods that are facing crises. Let's not do that. Let's not do something sustainable. Let's use our resources to track down people who may take $40 worth of gas.

Let me explain further about that too, Madam Speaker, because what we are going to end up with here is workers, and most of these are young workers maybe working night shifts at these places, finding themselves being in more danger because these criminals, these people are doing the criminal act by stealing this petroleum, and then they realize the consequences are so great. Therefore, the propensity for them to get violent with those workers is greater. What is this government doing to protect those workers? Is this government saying, you know what, to protect you, we're going to make these places have at least two workers on a shift, to make sure that everyone is looked after. No, the government is silent on that. It doesn't want to talk anything at all about worker safety. It wants to run the headline of, we're tough on crime. While the crack houses go basically unabated and not worried by this government for its inability to react to Bill No. 263, don't you dare take a litre of gasoline?

What about more directly, the seniors who may lose a tank of oil because of somebody's misdeeds in stealing home heating fuel from their tank. In Bill No. 250, are they giving those seniors that coverage? No, because it doesn't have the glitz. It doesn't bleed, so to speak.

They want the big shot of the big tarpaulin out in front of the big service station, and they want this to say, look what we're doing. We're really tough on crime. I want to know what part of these mob groups - this is becoming such a great thing out there in our society that we have gangs roaming the street, stealing gas from the poor unwitting Imperial Oil and Petro-Canada and Shell. I wonder where they are? But where are they, Madam Speaker, when they're in New Waterford or Reserve or Dominion or Sydney Mines or Florence and Aspy Bay and Glace Bay, when they're stealing home heating fuel from our senior citizens

[Page 8939]

who worked all their lives? They're nowhere to be found. They're not tough on those criminals.

Madam Speaker, this bill has so much hogwash in it that it's unpalatable. It's got truckloads. You can fill an oil tank with it there's so much hogwash. So why does this government bring this bill forward? Why are they so worried about those desperadoes of the petroleum industry? You know why? Because it makes them appear to be tough on crime. Appear. We would just wish this government would go to the polls so they would disappear.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I just wanted to ask the member opposite, from the conclusion I've drawn from his debate, as long as someone or somebody else has more than you, then to steal from them is perfectly correct. That's the lesson I'm getting.

MADAM SPEAKER: I don't believe that is a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: My history in this House, in this Chamber with that member, is that he always comes to the wrong conclusion. It's not about that, it's not about if you have it's right to take from them. I'll answer the question, I'll do more than his time as a minister, I'll answer his question where he very seldom answers ours, but I will answer that. It's about degree, it's about fairness, it's about saying I'm tough on crime, I will help one group but I will not help another group. Why in this bill don't they put in there that you will lose your licence if you steal home heating fuel from a senior? Why isn't that in there? That's why the conclusion is where we come with this.

It's not about if it's all right - theft is wrong. Theft at any level is wrong. This Party across the way just doesn't get it. They think that it's more important to look tough on crime. What I would say is this minister has clearly misread the public of Nova Scotia on this bill. They know what this minister's about, they know about his smokescreen, they know this will not survive the litmus test of this House, it will not survive the litmus test of the Law Amendments Committee or Committee of the Whole House on Bills . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I've listened to this NDP drivel here for quite some time. It has incited me to get up on a point of order. I'm not going to speak about the fact that the beautiful Province of Saskatchewan has the highest crime rate in Canada and it has an NDP Government. I'm not going to speak about that, but what I am going to tell you, Madam Speaker, is that honourable members opposite should take a look at the legislation, then they should go out and speak to some of the gas jockeys or the gas attendants who are working so hard at the service stations across this province that are being hit by . . .

[Page 8940]

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. Excuse me. That's not a point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Well, you know what? There's less blow from Hurricane Wilma than that over there. That member could stand up and debate the issue but he would rather just be his usual blowhard self.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. CORBETT: I take that back, I retract that.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

MR. CORBETT: There's a lot of hot air coming from that side. Just what he brought up, if he was listening, he basically answered our argument. However he referred to those workers, and when we wanted protection for those workers, his government would not support that. His government will not bring that bill forward, but yet he tries to slough it off some other way. You know, if he really wanted to, he would get up and, in earnest, debate this bill, but he gets up, much like when he was in Opposition previous, and would talk about fishing licences and be tough but when he got over there he cowered, he didn't do it.

[3:45 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, this is about not listening to Nova Scotians. I talk to people who pump gas in my community every day about this, and they know that this guy is just blowing it out his ear, this minister, when he talks about being tough on crime because we still see it every day. Where was this minister this weekend when there was a jailbreak. He was nowhere to be found supporting the residents of Gardiner Mines, trying to make their community safe. That's what this is about. This is not about being tough on crime, this is about an ineffectual government that's in its dying days, that's on its last legs, groping in the dark.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Sit down. Sit down. Come on, sit down.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. The NDP rhetoric is starting to be ridiculous. Did the member for Cape Breton Centre claim that the Minister of Justice should have been outside the jail on guard when the prisoners broke out? Now that is absolutely ridiculous. Madam Speaker, you can't let him ramble on with so much

[Page 8941]

irrelevancy. It's a disgrace to this House that he's being so irrelevant in here today and it's a disgrace to that Party, it's a shame.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on the subject of the bill.

MR. CORBETT: Bill No. 250 does not address crime in this province. It doesn't address jailbreaks, it doesn't address anything. This is a bad bill which Nova Scotians will prove is a bad bill when it ultimately fails, and we will see that over at the Law Amendments Committee. With that said, I will take my place.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Madam Speaker, I hope that the general public who are viewing this on television today will take into account the fact that the previous speaker is auditioning for Club 54 after the next election.

This is a serious offence and it requires some serious debate. The theft of gasoline leaves these hard-working station owners - it's like neighbours stealing from neighbours because when somebody drives off with a tank full of gas or partially filled, whatever, it is not the large oil companies that they're stealing from, they're stealing from their neighbour. In a way I can understand the reason why they would want to bring a bill forward but the problem that I have with it is the fact that it's a quick fix for a timely problem. I don't think too much thought has gone into the end result.

Somebody drives up, fills up their tank, drives off, it's been said to call the police - well, what else do you do? When you call the police, what information do you give them? The licence number of the vehicle if you were fortunate enough to have that, if you were busy as a one station attendant doing several things, then how can you make sure you get the licence number of every vehicle. If you were successful in getting the licence number of the vehicle and then the police discover the vehicle parked in a parking lot downtown somewhere with no driver inside, prove who was driving the vehicle. Do you look at the registration and say well okay the ownership was to Mr. So-and-So, so therefore he loses his licence when he says no, I loaned my car to somebody and I don't know if they gave it to somebody else or not but I loaned it out for the afternoon to somebody to run a few errands. So it's very hard to enforce when I think about how, when you call a police officer and give him the information, can we expect that officer to really do his job and be effective.

A possible solution that I have experienced myself at some service stations when travelling through the U.S. quite a number of years ago, Madam Speaker, was the fact that when you pulled into a service station in the U.S., being from Nova Scotia, you automatically go to the pump and haul out the nozzle and go to fill up your vehicle, but nothing happens.

[Page 8942]

It took awhile to realize that you had to go into the service station and pay for the amount of gas that you wanted, and then with that amount paid, you went out, the attendant then was inside, in the garage. The attendant then turned on the switch to the pump and gave you the $20 or $30, or $40 worth, that you decided to put in your tank. If you were filling up your vehicle and didn't know what the amount was going to be, you tendered your credit card and then you had to go back in to retrieve it and sign for it, or they had your credit card. So there was a guarantee there that nobody would gas up and drive off.

Mr. Speaker, we're talking about drivers driving up to the service stations and stealing gas from the gas station operator. Nobody has mentioned the fact that the large oil companies with their outrageous prices and their terrific spike in prices overnight - 30 cents to 35 cents a litre in one shot - what about the stealing that they were doing from the motoring public? It seems that no condescending attitudes or finger pointing was turned on to the large oil companies.

Madam Speaker, talking about another aspect of the bill, there is already on the books penalties for stealing. How about using a vehicle in the commission of an offence? I know that that is something that is also liable where the vehicle can be seized. That is much more harsh and possibly there could be financial assistance by the oil companies to install cameras that would register the licence plate numbers of the vehicles. That way they're guaranteeing that regardless of who the driver was, that is the vehicle that filled up, that is the vehicle that drove off, and that is the vehicle that will be seized. Therefore, using myself as an example, I am not going to loan my vehicle to anybody unless they are a reliable person because I do not want to lose my vehicle, and neither would anyone else.

There are those aspects to look at and it's okay for me to stand here and criticize, and that's my job. What I try to do, Madam Speaker, if I can, is offer a solution. It may not be the proper one but, hopefully, it will get the government thinking that maybe this bill could be modified, or let's approach the large oil companies and say, listen, this is an investment in your own business. A lot of the oil companies own the service stations. I think it wouldn't cost them too much. It would be an income tax deduction, I'm sure, against their massive profits. If they were to buy cameras and install them at the service stations, and that would relieve a lot of the fear and the pressure of the gas station attendant - sometimes only a student after school pumping gas - and maybe the first or second day on the job, somebody drives off with a tank of gas. The kid feels terrible. The owner probably lets that young person go. They lose their job because maybe they didn't get the licence number, they were inattentive, or whatever excuse can be used. So it would provide protection for the oil companies, for the gas station operators, for the attendants and for the general public, and maybe curve this theft of gas while it is a timely subject and a timely problem.

Madam Speaker, it is a serious situation. As I said already, it boils down to doing nothing but stealing from your neighbour and that is unacceptable. The bill, like I said, I think it is a timely problem. It is getting lots of media attention, but a quick fix for political

[Page 8943]

means doesn't sit well with me and I have to criticize on that point. I would wish that the government would look into the suggestions that I have made and maybe make representation to the oil companies. Hopefully, between the province and the companies involved, and the station operators, they would come up with a solution to this problem.

With that, Madam Speaker, I thank you for the time and the attention of the House. I will take my seat. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Madam Speaker, I, too, want to stand and say a few words about Bill No. 250. When we first learned that this piece of legislation was coming forward, we thought, well, okay, let's see what attempt the government is going to have on fighting crime in this province. We waited with anticipation to look at this and review this piece of legislation to see if this is something that the province needs, and those people involved with the theft of gasoline would support this piece of legislation, Madam Speaker.

We were quite discouraged when we did finally see this bill introduced because it does indicate - I think, and we think as a caucus - a lack of commitment from this government to address crime in this province. Addressing crime is an important issue and we have all heard from constituents of ours throughout this province about how we have to toughen the penalties when it comes to crime being committed in this province.

I don't think I had one call about ensuring that the oil companies in this province are protected from gasoline theft, Madam Speaker. I would hope that we would see changes that would come about when it comes to crime, dealing with maybe protection of those workers who work in the gas stations throughout this province. Those people tend to be some of the lower paid individuals in this province.

I know that there are some policies or regulations under the Labour Standards that say these employees, if they are making minimum wage, would not have to pay back any shortfalls when it comes to people leaving without paying for gas, Madam Speaker. But I know for a fact that not all of them - there are some in the province that are getting paid minimum wage to provide that service to customers in the communities throughout the province - but there are some that are making a little more than that. Not a lot. They don't make a heck of a lot of money pumping gas. But you can't even call them or have that designation anymore because we know in the province that every day that goes by there are less and less service stations that have full-serve gasoline pumps. They don't pump gas anymore.

[Page 8944]

You know, I was fortunate when I was going to high school, I was able to get a job at a gas station. I pumped gas. That was my job, Madam Speaker. I did make minimum wage at that time. That has changed over the years. For one, it has reduced the number of jobs in our small communities that maybe some of our students depended on because of the elimination of full-service in our province. It has been a slow process. It has taken many years now, but it is very hard for those individuals who depend on full-serve gas stations to find those throughout the province, those seniors who might not be able to get out of their vehicle to fill their car up, those people with disabilities.

Why aren't we seeing pieces of legislation that will protect them, that will protect those gas station attendants to not incur the cost of having to repay their employer because a vehicle came in, filled their car up and drove away? I know that this goes on. There isn't good protection for these workers.

[4:00 p.m.]

In the community I represent, in Sackville, we were fortunate enough during the last several major storms - and I make mention to Hurricane Juan - that our service stations along Sackville Drive were able to somehow keep their power. I think they were the only ones in all HRM that had actual power so they could pump fuel for generators, for cars. I remember having to go down and fill my vehicle up. I was standing in a huge line-up to pay for my gas, and while I was standing there, there was a young lady working behind the counter who just said, there goes another one. There goes another vehicle that's left without paying. Now I'm on the hook for three of them, in that day - in her shift so far. People who drove away. Was it intentional? Probably we'll never know. I know that young lady who was working there wouldn't know that.

In my view, how is this young lady, who is working by herself behind the counter of a large gas station able to stop that from happening. It's not going to be this piece of legislation that's going to stop it, Madam Speaker. This piece of legislation won't help that worker. They're still going to be able to go in and drive away. If they can find that person and try to get a conviction under this piece of legislation. I have many colleagues and friends who are law enforcement officers. I've talked to them about this and they say it's nearly impossible to enforce. It would probably be impossible to get a conviction because all someone would have to say is, I forgot. Really, I forgot. If it was that easy to track that person down, it's most likely that they probably did forget, because the normal residents, everyday Nova Scotians don't walk into a service station, fill their vehicle up and then take off without paying and commit a crime. It does happen that they do forget.

If, by chance, this is something that is happening more and more frequently, it's probably those individuals in the province that commit several crimes, Madam Speaker, and it's probably hardly impossible that they're going to use their own vehicle to go fill up their car to go commit another crime. They're going to steal a vehicle. So you're going to go to

[Page 8945]

the person who owned that vehicle and say well, were you at this gas station at this time? No, my vehicle was stolen.

In our view, this is no indication that this government is taking seriously the crime in this province, Madam Speaker. Why don't we see tougher laws when it comes to small businesses owners? How come we're not seeing something that would help those individuals who have small convenience stores? Because government would say, well that's not our job, it's the job of the convenience store to make sure that their property, their business is protected. They're in charge of their own security. But we see this, and what I read from it is that government is trying to be there for big oil companies. This isn't small, independently owned small service stations. There's not that many left in the province. We're witness to this. They're closing every day, throughout this province. This is huge, profitable, billion dollar profits being made in the oil industry. My Lord, they could take care of their own security. Why don't they supply the necessary tools for that student, for the most part, or that young person who is working in a gas station the ability to do her job or his job, to prevent things like this happening. Prevent people from driving off.

It should be the big oil companies, maybe put more cameras, or maybe bring in a piece of legislation that would limit that you can't purchase gas unless you pay for it up front. I know it happens in the States, I have been down there before where I had to go purchase this. I don't understand why that's not happening today. The big oil companies don't want that, but I don't understand why? I mean I frequently now go to a service station. I don't even talk to an employee. I stick my credit card into the gas pump and then I can get gas. Well what's the difference when you're paying with cash? You should have to walk up, give your cash to someone who is attending in that service station. They release the pumps and allow you to fill your car up. Now the question was, what happens if I'm filling my tank up? Well if you're going to fill your tank up you should know how much it costs, so maybe you go and you put $70 and if only costs $60, you walk your butt back and you get the $10 back from the attendant. Then it limits the ability for them to steal from this company. It limits the ability for this employee to have to be responsible for paying back the money that they're going to be short at the end of their shift from their float.

I don't understand why we have to see a piece of legislation like this come forward, and it's plain and simple, I think government is trying to show that they're tough on crime. Well this isn't the crime that most people are yelling out for government to be tough on, Madam Speaker. This isn't it. There's other crimes. Crimes that involve using a vehicle. I mean there's been so many examples in the last several years in this province that government needs to look at changing rules. Not because someone drove off with $50 or $60 worth of gas. People have died in accidents from stolen vehicles. That's the type of legislation the public wants to see that government's tough on crime with, not to discourage theft of gasoline. We should discourage the theft of anything because it's theft, it's a crime. Why are we dealing with one small aspect of it?

[Page 8946]

I know the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage had asked why we are dealing with just this one area and how difficult it's going to be for lawyers and police officers to do their job to get a conviction on this. I spoke to one officer who said that all they would have to say is I forgot. Oh, I want to pay, I forgot, I want to pay for that. I don't see how this is going to help one bit to curb those individuals from gassing up and driving away from a service station. I don't see how this is going to help one bit. I truly believe those individuals who are doing it on purpose aren't doing it in their own vehicles, they're doing it with stolen vehicles, they're doing it with a vehicle they borrowed from somebody.

I don't understand why we're dealing with this piece of legislation now, when we should be dealing with more serious crimes that are committed, especially using a motor vehicle. In this Bill No. 250 we're going to change the Motor Vehicle Act to allow for suspensions up to six months for the theft of gas. If you rob a corner store or a bank or a credit union with the use of a vehicle you lose your licence for life. Why aren't we seeing something like that? Why aren't we seeing that commitment from this government to be that tough on criminals?

I really believe that's what we should be talking about, Madam Speaker. That's why we feel we need to get up and talk about this and bring awareness around that this is not where government should be spending their time and energy bringing pieces of legislation forward like Bill No. 250, especially when it deals with oil companies. Big oil companies that are profitable, making millions if not billions of dollars, they should be taking care of their own security plain and simple. Just like the small convenience store down on Gottingen Street or on Sackville Drive, they take care of their own security because they want to keep their business running and profitable, making money. They're trying to make a living, and we see this piece of legislation.

That's why I'm standing up and speaking. We shouldn't be wasting our time and our energy on this. We should be more tough on those criminals who are inflicting severe injuries on people, committing serious, serious crimes. Crimes that can be convicted, that police officers can make arrests on, that lawyers can convict in a court of law. Not pieces of legislation like this that in our view is highly unlikely that you will be able to enforce in the first place.

I hope that government understands and hears what we're saying, that the people in this province want this government to be tough on crime, on criminals. Yes, it's illegal to steal gasoline, we understand that, but that's not the message, that's not what I've been hearing over the last two years as the representative for Sackville. People want the government to be tough on repeat offenders. Those individuals who do multiple crimes, who commit multiple crimes, are out on probation now and commit another crime, that's what they want government to come forward with and be tough on. Not these - I think this minor criminal offence. I use that lightly because I know it's wrong to steal, but there are more serious issues out there that government needs to address, and that's what the people of Nova

[Page 8947]

Scotia want them to do. If the government is refusing to do that, we're going to stand up at every chance we can to promote that they're not doing that, they're not being responsible enough to bring tough legislation in here to deal with criminals, especially repeat criminals. That's what we'll do and we'll continue to do that.

With that, Madam Speaker, I look forward to further discussion on this bill.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise and debate for a short time this bill that's in front of the Legislature now. I've been listening intently to the Opposition, both the NDP and the Liberals, about this bill and they seem to be in favour of preventing crime; however, they don't seem to be in favour too much of this bill. Now, they got off track and they started talking about big oil companies. This is not about big oil companies, this is about a theft, a theft of gasoline. I also have been hearing during this Legislature about the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and his favourite saying now is they talk the talk but they don't walk the walk, this has been what he's saying. So what I'm going to be saying now is (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. LANGILLE: What I am saying is that there have been a couple of good points brought up. So what am I going to do? I'm going to put it back into their lap, the NDP and the Liberal, we're going in front of the Law Amendments Committee, lets see some amendments to this bill. Here's one that you should think of which I will support wholeheartedly. That any person who uses a motor vehicle in the commission of a crime shall forfeit their licence for six months upon conviction. On a second offence, forfeit their licence for two years. Now this is a type of legislation that we need in this province. This is the type of legislation that we will expect the members of the Opposition to bring in an amendment.

I've listened to quite a few of you today and this is what I would expect. This is a piece of legislation that we have a problem with right now.

MR. JERRY PYE: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. I'm somewhat astonished knowing that the honourable member serves on the government side of the floor and the honourable member, although he might be a backbencher, it's quite apparent that he does not have the ear of the members of the Cabinet. If not, he certainly would not have had to introduce some pieces of legislation that he's encouraging the Opposition to bring forward at the Law Amendments Committee. I find this a strange place in which we have with respect to legislation.

[Page 8948]

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. LANGILLE: What I'm trying to do is simply this, I'm listening to the Opposition, I'm listening to how tough they are on crime and if they're so tough bring it to the Law Amendments Committee. In the Law Amendments Committee, bring in amendments to this bill. Let's get some teeth. What the government on this side was trying to do was address a specific problem, but maybe we ought to go further and we ought to look at all Criminal Codes when you use a motor vehicle in the commission of an offence. It's the same with a firearm, under the Criminal Code as I recall, I've been out of police work for 11 years now, that if you use a firearm in the commission of an offence you go to jail for four years. However, as a provincial government, there is only so much we can do provincially. We cannot change the Criminal Code, it's a federal responsibility. However, what we do is we enforce the Criminal Code and we enforce the Statutes under the Criminal Code along with other federal Statutes. We can only go so far when we're dealing with crime on a provincial level. I believe that is what we're trying to do.

If we can better ourselves by expanding and broadening this bill, I would be the first person to welcome it. What I am saying, when this goes forward to the Law Amendments Committee, put your heads together, come up with a solution, I want to see your amendments. With that, I thank you very much.

[4:15 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I had intended to deliver what I'm sure would have been one of the shortest of speeches on this bill to be delivered in the debate or indeed one of the shortest speeches I've ever offered to members of the Legislature on any subject. Before I intended, originally, simply to say that I agreed 100 per cent with everything that was said by my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. I thought at that point that I would simply sit down with enough having been put on the record.

I believe the debate has actually engaged my attention, at least to the extent of encouraging me to perhaps double or triple the number of words I had originally thought to put on record. I hope we don't lose sight of our sense of priorities as we engage with this. I know that there's been a lot of noise that this debate has engendered. There's been a lot of cross-talk, that is to say a lot of back and forth and interruptions here on the floor. It's not clear to me why that is. It's not clear to me why it is that members have decided that this is such, apparently, an emotional or high-volume debate. The bill, on its face, is trivial and I would say, silly. So it's not at all clear to me why it is that people feel so engaged, on both sides.

[Page 8949]

The problem with this bill is that really it goes over the top. It has no clear relationship to what it is that ought to be the objective. If there's a legitimate objective that we can engage with, it is to try to discourage the commission of crime. It's not our job to punish crime, that's something that's essentially a matter for the federal government, under the Criminal Code, exercising its federal powers to deal with the criminal law. Our job at the provincial level, where we're not creating provincial offences as, for example, having to do with hunting and so on, things that are clearly within provincial jurisdiction, our job is really to try to create conditions that might lead to minimizing crime. The administration of justice is within provincial control, that means policing is generally within provincial control.

So if the objective is to try to reduce a particular kind of crime, then we have to ask ourselves what is likely to reduce this crime. Now the answer, as suggested to us by Bill No. 250, is that if you up the penalties, if the consequences are greater, then people are going to be discouraged from committing the crime. I don't think that's really the case. I think, in fact, that what is likely to discourage people from committing the crime is the likelihood of being caught. That seems to me much more likely to influence the thinking of people rather than the consequences that might flow.

What that means to me, if we're thinking only about the gas-and-dash situation, is that some emphasis should be put on trying to make sure that it's easier to catch people. How would it be easier to catch people? It would be easier if, in fact, the gasoline stations, the retail stations, had what is fairly common in many retail outlets, namely video cameras. Well, video cameras are usually set up, if they're set up at all in retail gasoline stations, inside the building. So, to a certain extent, the owners are keeping an eye on their own cashiers, but they're also keeping an eye on any potential robberies inside the store. That's entirely appropriate and, indeed, that does tend to discourage although, as we know, not all the time, but it does tend to discourage crime inside the buildings.

If something sensible can be done in alliance with the retailers, it might be to set up a system in which closed-circuit video is on the outside. That's one possibility. It may be necessary to ally that with a presumption that people have, if they fail to pay, done it deliberately. I'm not sure if we want to go there, but it is a possibility. In any event, people can be identified and it doesn't matter, it's not a legitimate objection to say that someone else might be driving the car. That's irrelevant. It's easy enough simply to make the registered owner of the car responsible if there's gas-and-dash if you've got the licence number.

Now, there are probably other ways to go about dealing with this. We've heard suggestions that people should be required always to put their credit cards in in advance or to come in in advance with their cash and buy the gas in advance. Well, these are sensible measures and they're likely to deter the crime. In fact, if you have to pay in advance, they're likely to eliminate the crime. So it seems to me that there are alternatives available. So if there are easy alternatives available why is it that this bill is coming forward and why is it that this bill is coming forward focused only on gas-and-dash? If we think that there is some

[Page 8950]

kind of appropriate linkage to be made between the licensing of people to drive cars and this particular crime, I have yet to hear exactly what it is.

I don't tend to think of this as a crime involving a motor vehicle the same way one might think of crimes involving guns. The fact that it's gasoline, the fact that it goes into a car, the fact that people drive off hardly seems to really focus us exclusively on the fact that it's a car and therefore your ability to drive should somehow be affected.

We have to wonder why it is that there is now a fad to focus on driving and licensing as somehow associated with some kind of criminal activity, because this isn't the only bill that we've seen that has come forward that has made this kind of suggestion. What we don't see is a suggestion from the minister that if someone is involved in securities fraud, they should have their driving licence removed. Why not? I mean if this is so much on the minister's mind, if he has correctly, I think, identified driving as an important way in which we carry on our lives and which we structure our lives, and if he really thinks it's a deterrent, then why isn't he linking it to securities fraud, say? Why isn't he linking it to other forms of white-collar crime? Why is it just this $10, $20, $50 crime that the minister has in mind? Why isn't he thinking about $100,000 frauds? Why isn't he thinking about $500,000 frauds, or $1 million frauds?

All one has to do is turn to the business pages of any of the national papers any day of the week and one finds fresh reports of white-collar crimes on a big scale going on to the detriment of investors who are virtually defenceless.

Why isn't the minister talking about that? If the minister wants to offer something, why doesn't he make it a wholesale consequence for any kind of criminal activity? Why just do it one by one? Is it because he wants to take the 400 sections of the Criminal Code that create offences and bring in bills once, twice, three, four, five or six times a year in which he picks off one offence at a time? Why not do it wholesale? Why not just do them all right now and say that driving is so central to how people carry on their lives, that he, the Minister of Justice, who wants to be known as tough on crime, has hit on this brilliant device for discouraging the commission of criminal activity? People are going to be so scared of losing their driver's licence that they won't commit any crimes.

Well, you know, you only have to say it that way, and you realize that this is not an effective remedy. It is not an effective measure. It is not an effective deterrent measure. Often people don't, in the moment, think of the consequences. Even if they're well advertised, people don't think of the consequences. Even people well educated and in positions of responsibility don't think of the consequences because they think they will get away with it.

Which gets me back to my original point. The best protection is the likelihood of getting caught. That is what is important. That is where the effort should be made. That is where the minister should be directing his attention. That is where he should be directing our

[Page 8951]

attention. The minister should be bringing forward legislation that addresses that and if he doesn't need legislation, he should be talking about budgetary measures to help local police forces or he should be making suggestions to the owners of retail outlets. He might want to talk, for example, about legal framework for video cameras, if there are legal questions around those.

Perhaps he should come forward and bring bills that have to do with privacy and situations that have to do with protection of privacy, when it is appropriate to have video cameras and when it isn't. That would be interesting legislation. That would be effective legislation. That would be the minister actually thinking through something that needs to be thought through and which might be an effective deterrent. This isn't.

So it's, in the end, probably the most damning thing that can be said about a bill. It won't work. It's irrelevant. It just won't work. Furthermore, it won't work in exactly the terms in which the honourable minister seems to think that it will work.

Now, I have a lot of respect for the honourable Minister of Justice. I think he's a smart fellow. And you know what? I think he knows this bill won't work. I think he knows that this bill is a lot of piffle. I think that the honourable minister is coming forward with something because he wants to wave it around and he wants to create himself, for himself, a certain kind of image. He wants to show that he is engaged in the kind of policing function that leans on people who are potentially vulnerable. I think that he wants to show himself to be - as in the phrase that people have used so regularly in this debate - tough on crime.

[4:30 p.m.]

Now, for what possible reason could the honourable minister want to project that image? Well, one could speculate. Is it because he has close associates in the retail gasoline business who have suffered so grievously? Well, I haven't heard him say that. I mean it might be but I haven't really heard him say that. Could it be that there is a wild outcry out there against gas and dash? I don't know. It's something that occurs. Because there is such a focus on gasoline due to the high pricing, there is little reportage that goes along with this. We have heard people talk about instances of gas and dash in different constituencies. So if something is being talked about, I suppose it might have floated into the minister's head that if it's in the press that maybe he could waste the time of the Legislature by bringing forward this measure, I suppose that's a possibility, but I would have thought the minister capable of resisting this impulse. Are there any other possible explanations? Of what use could it be to the minister to paint himself as tough on crime? What constituency might he be attempting to appeal to?

[Page 8952]

Now, like all of us, the honourable minister faces re-election whenever the next election occurs. It may be that in his constituency this is something that's a vital and important issue. I don't think it really is in mine; I don't think it is in most of the other constituencies that I hear. I suppose we have to credit the minister with knowing his own constituency, he's been quite successful there.

But I visited the minister's constituency, too, and I don't notice it as being so sort of wildly different than most of the other constituencies. I don't notice when I'm there - casual chat from people I deal with and meet, who cry out for this kind of tough-on-crime measure, but I suppose there must be a constituency somewhere in the province that somehow thinks that this is an important measure or being able to portray yourself in - dare one say? - a kind of forward, front-of-centre, leaderly kind of way on this issue might be the way to go.

So if the minister wants to take leadership on this particular issue, well, maybe it makes sense, maybe there is a constituency there that would like to see the minister take leadership on this issue. I don't know that it's widespread, I don't think that it is, but I suppose we have to respect the minister's judgment on this. He has the opportunity to bring a bill in front of us and waste some of our time on it for his own, I would think, personal benefit, but it's a peculiar measure, I have to say.

I'm left puzzled. I'm left puzzled, as I think many of my colleagues are, as to why it is that we're being invited to think about this bill. It's interesting to think about it, but I don't find myself thinking positively about this bill. I think it's an unfortunate measure in the end and we should recognize it for what it is. I hope, when I hear members in the other two Parties grappling with the issues that are raised here, that they'll ask themselves some of the questions that I and others have posed, what is this bill for? Is it really going to be effective? Will it really do the job? Is it anything other than symbolic? Is it anything other than personal?

I hope the members will think seriously about this. We know that on previous occasions bills have sometimes passed through second reading and gone into the maw of the Law Amendments Committee, never to emerge again, or they stay on the order paper until they just disappear. I would not be unhappy if Bill No. 250 were one of those bills.

Mr. Speaker, that gets me back to my opening point. I had hoped to say really no more than that I agree 100 per cent with the comments of my colleague, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre - and I do. I do agree 100 per cent with his comments. Although I might have moved on for one or two points. I want to thank him for the comments he made, which were highly impassioned and clear. I thought that he did the job that was necessary here by taking apart this bill, reminding us of what our priorities ought to be.

[Page 8953]

Thank you for the opportunity to make some comments and put them on the record. I hope I never have the opportunity presented to me to speak on third reading for this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I will be standing here talking on Bill No. 250, what we're calling the gas-and-dash bill. This is one of those bills that when you first read it, it seems simple enough. It's a simple issue. When you talk about it in caucus, it's, okay, it's just a simple little bill, but after you spend an hour or two in here listening to your own colleagues and the colleagues in the House talk about it, you actually realize it's more detailed than it looked at first.

I guess what happens after you've listened to various people talk about it, it's not really what's in the bill but what isn't in the bill is the question that you start to ponder. The longer you sit here the more notes you take, the more questions you want to ask, the more things you want to talk about. We're here as supposedly lawmakers to make laws, and when somebody puts a law forward that we don't think is appropriate or is missing things, it's up to us to make suggestions in ways that we think we can make it better.

There are more things missing from this bill than what actually is in the bill, Mr. Speaker. What's missing is that we're not talking about the attendants who actually work in these gas stations, we're not talking about the safety issues that they face while working there, we're not talking about how it will be enforced, and we're not talking about who it's going to benefit. Those are just a few of the things that were not in the bill but we're hearing people talk about today.

Mr. Speaker, if you have cause to be around young people you probably know a couple of them actually working in a gas station in your community. I have to say that it really gives me pause for concern when I do hear from young people in my constituency who are actually working in these gas stations. I want to talk about the safety issues around that. They're working alone, late at night. I don't know if they have security cameras, this specific person who I've actually talked to. I do have a concern for these young people who are working late hours, it's up to them to shut the place down, to control the money that is taken in, to do all these things. These are young people who are still in high school, we know they're in high school, they're making a minimum wage or a little above, they're trying to put some money away for post-secondary education, or maybe they want to buy a car or maybe they want to pay for car insurance. Those are the kinds of reasons why they're working in these places. I do believe they put themselves at risk by working there alone.

This bill doesn't address the fact that we're doing something apparently to help the people who own these gas stations protect what they sell. I believe many of the MLAs in here today probably received the same e-mail that I did from somebody questioning whether or not the onus should in fact be on the fuel companies to protect their own product. Certainly,

[Page 8954]

we can go ahead and take the licence away from somebody who has stolen some gas but then are we going to take licences away from people who shoplift? From people who steal somebody's car and maybe they do have a licence, are we going to take their licence away? Are we going to take the licence away from deadbeat dads? Where is this going? Why have we sort of pinpointed people who steal gas who are going to be the people who are going to lose their licence? Some other people will ask if that is going to be a deterrent anyway. When people flaunt the law they oftentimes don't think about what consequence that's going to bring forward, they're going to do it anyway.

I do believe there needs to be more thought in this bill on preventive measures. If we're going to say to the owners who own these gas stations that we're willing to do this for you, then I want to know what are they willing to do for us? What are they going to put in place to protect our young people, or anybody who works in the stations, what are they going to do to protect them first, before we help them protect their product?

So if you work in a gas station now, I do believe it is up to you at the end of the evening to do a report on how many people have actually gone through your station and stolen gas. The person I was talking to was saying that they are seeing that about four times a day, there is somebody coming in there and making off with this gas.

Now, we also know that our young people are the ones that are being hit with having to cover that out of their own meagre income that they are making there. So we're talking about minimum-wage workers in Nova Scotia who, as we know, are among the lowest paid in Canada right now so there's not a lot of money there for them to be forking out to the people that own these businesses.

Now, you wouldn't go to Zellers - I don't think Zellers has anything right now where if you were working at Zellers and somebody shoplifted some - I don't know - diapers while you were working, does the manager haul you into his office at night and say, you owe us $500 at the end of the week because somebody took off with all these diapers? There is just another kind of way to look at it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. There is far too much noise in here. Please carry your conversations outside. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor - and six minutes.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I can't stress enough that we really need to be looking at this piece of legislation in a way that is going to protect our gas station attendants. We need to look at it in some other ways in which the owners of these stations can, perhaps, put some things in place that really will protect their product before it is stolen. There are places that actually use swipe cards. You have to do that first before you can get your gas out of the station.

[Page 8955]

We have heard from, I believe, some people on our police force in HRM that are saying right now that they don't think this is really enforceable, that right now they track these people down and most of the time people just say, well, you know, I'm really embarrassed but I was in a rush, I was going to pick the kids up from daycare, or something, and I forgot to pay for it and I just drove off. I mean, I have driven off numerous times without picking up my groceries. I paid for them but I did go back and pick them up. So people do forget sometimes.

So if our own police force is saying, I question if it's going to be enforceable because people are saying, I just forgot, and you are going to arrest some grandmother when you go to her door and say - well, not arrest them but say - you're going to lose your licence for six months. You know, I mean, really. I would like to know that before this bill was tabled by the government, how much research did they do? Did they phone around the province? Did they find out how much gas is being stolen, how many people have actually been charged or convicted of stealing gas in Nova Scotia? What do we know about this issue, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker, we know that gas stations around the province have actually been robbed. We know that people are stealing gas from them. We know that it's up to us here in this room to maybe point this government in another direction. I think we have seen today that, certainly, there are serious flaws in this legislation and we are not sure it's enforceable. We know it's not going to protect our young people who work in these places. Does it address the causes of crime? No. Why are we just picking on gasoline as something we need to protect? Why aren't we protecting our grocery stores, our people that work in retail anywhere else, from people taking off before they've paid?

Mr. Speaker, I think this bill is going to have to go back through the process. I would hope to see some amendments to it. I believe that one of the number one amendments is going to be, put something in there, number one, to protect our workers, the majority of them who are young people, from being dinged with the cost of the loss of stolen gas. These are the minimum-wage workers in this province who are going to be dinged with, maybe, you know, it could be half their salary from their next cheque. Meanwhile, we're protecting the big corporations. They, I think, have the finances. They have the resources to protect themselves. I would question, do we need to be protecting them or can they not afford to protect themselves? I think there are some big profits there. I think we need to think, who is this bill for? Who is this bill about? How can we make it better?

[4:45 p.m.]

I'm looking forward to it going through, and I hope we'll do something with it to improve it along the way. Mr. Speaker, I will end there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 8956]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have an opportunity to join in this debate, or lack thereof. I'm amazed at the approach by the minister on this one, actually by the government. This is one of those bills that you can just read that it was generated as a result of just purely political concerns. The high gasoline prices and then the recognition that there were more gasoline thefts recently, and the Minister of Justice reacts. I guess the thing that surprises me the most is that the minister is a lawyer. He has a lot of background in the legal system. He could drive - well, as my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage said - a truck through this, gas and all. We know full well that the minister is well versed in the implications of this, the ability to enforce it, and to actually bring people to be convicted. So the approach to this legislation - actually it's not that the minister is doing something but it's the minister trying to give the appearance of doing something, similar to the Minister of Natural Resources when it comes to his legislation on all-terrain vehicles. (Interruptions)

Actually, the two ministers have done what they've done for purely political reasons. One hoping he'll just bury an issue, that it will disappear, that he can say that he's looked at it and addressed it. The other one, the Minister of Justice, it's almost the appearance that he wants to be seen to be doing something, but for a man of his credentials to stand up publicly and think that this is going to do it is the amazing thing. His doing this is almost opposite - if you can think of it - to the Minister of Natural Resources not thinking that written permission would be better for all-terrain vehicle users. In other words, we have laws in place for people who trespass, but the onus is more on the landowner than it is on the person who is doing the trespassing. So if he had reacted by requiring written permission, that would actually be similar to what the Minister of Justice has done here. We have laws on theft, and yet the Minister of Justice has kind of ramped them up with this legislation to kind of give an extra emphasis or an extra penalty for the theft of gasoline; whereas the Minister of Natural Resources wasn't willing to do that, in terms of trespass, on the issue of the all-terrain vehicles. Yet both ministers have their response for purely political reasons.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member has used the term, purely for political reasons twice in the last two minutes. I do think that he is impugning the motives of members of this House and I would ask you to make a decision on that.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Education actually had a serious point of order, I would be glad to stand in this House and accept it, but that is not a serious point of order and there's no way he's impugning motive in that.

MR. SPEAKER: I rule it wasn't a point of order.

[Page 8957]

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the question of - what we're doing here actually, is politics. There's no other venue that probably has it ramped up to the extent, in this House of Assembly. It's members trying to use whatever advantage the House can give them, to get whatever message out to the public, and that's what's going on here. If the minister was really serious about this issue, and the member for Colchester North indicated that it's an issue of the time, and this is a reaction to an issue of the time. It's not a reaction to a broader issue on theft or how to address this issue, so that it actually may accomplish something. My colleagues have mentioned, you could try to require purchasers of gasoline to pay first. Well, that would make some sense. The question would be if you were to go down that road, what would the reaction of the public be? I think that the members of the government and certainly the minister have perhaps looked at the other alternatives you can do. I mean, you don't have a lot of options. You can either make people pay first. You can have a system whereby something similar to going through the toll on the bridges that a barricade comes down, so you can't leave.

These are possibilities, but the question would be, what would the reaction be from the public? I think the public would say well, I think you're going a bit over the top, and if it wouldn't sell to the public, they're going to do something else that actually is fairly innocuous. It's not going to stop people, because as my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto said, people stop doing whatever it is that you don't want them to do, based on how easy it is to get caught or how hard it is to get caught at doing it. If the government was going down this road, then they would attack the issue of drivers driving without insurance, in a different way. They would actually have affordable insurance in this province and that's what's forcing them.

Some concern for workers would probably be appreciated. My daughter actually works at a gas station, at McNeills in Elmsdale, although they are a good employer. They don't ding their employees if gasoline gets stolen. Roy McNeill actually told me of an incident where somebody drove away from his pumps a week or so ago and the guy got to New Glasgow before he realized he hadn't paid and he came back, to pay for gasoline. So let's say now in a situation like that that they called the RCMP. The RCMP pursue this person to New Glasgow or halfway and this guy is on his way back. How many dollars have you tied up in trying to enforce this legislation for $40 worth of gas?

I think this bill is what it is. It's written for political reasons, hoping that the government will look good on this issue, which is not at the forefront of the minds of Nova Scotians. It's something that has happened. You read with a little bit of curiosity, but you sure don't expect a reaction like this from government, and I would really look forward to see in the amendments that the member for Colchester North will be presenting in the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 8958]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North. (Applause)

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly didn't orchestrate that or didn't request or didn't pay for that applause. I want to say that it is with some trepidation that I stand here and speak on this Bill No. 250, an Act to Further Discourage the Theft of Gasoline and Diesel Fuel. I want to say to the minster responsible for this piece of legislation that there must have been countless hours of his time taken, to sit down and think about crafting such a fine piece of legislation. I can assure you that this piece of legislation surely must have been a part of his dreams because this is the only way this kind of legislation could have ever been crafted to come to the legislative floor of this House.

Of all the legislation dealing with individuals, around people employed in the industry and protecting the industry, this is but one minute piece of legislation. I happen to represent a constituency where I had received a number of calls from businessmen in the community and I had even received some e-mails with respect to this piece of legislation. Many of the citizens in my constituency thought there was a piece of legislation dealing with theft under $1,000. In fact, legislation existed on the books to address that very issue.

Many of the people who operate automotive businesses along the Windmill corridor - some 23 automotive related industries - have certainly expressed a great deal of concern of why there was such a protection to one industry versus no protection to the other industries. There were also a number of individuals who are employed in that industry who felt this in no way would protect them if there were a loss at that gasoline station and it was unrecoverable, they would still ultimately pay.

At one time, those individuals were pump island attendants. That was the title for them because they were out there at the pump islands providing the service to all Nova Scotians in this province. When I say that, I say to all Nova Scotians once again in this province. That no longer exists. As a matter of fact, many of the service stations have gone to self-serve. All the employees are trapped inside as individuals come up and serve themselves at the gasoline pumps and then dash off without paying that bill.

Therein lies a very big problem. If we recognize the opportunity for employment for some high school students and university students and if we recognize this was an entry level employment that they could get that first experience and move on, then that would be absolutely fantastic. Then people would be out there and it would be less likely the individuals who would pull up to the pump island stations and dash off without paying their gasoline. (Interruptions)

I want to say that's true and I want to thank the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect for bringing that piece of legislation forward. I brought Bill No.59, I think, back in April 2004 - 191 bills later and that bill hasn't even seen the light of day. That bill was a piece of legislation that was supported and endorsed by the Nova Scotia Federation of Senior

[Page 8959]

Citizens. The Legion and Veterans Affairs supported that piece of legislation. Nova Scotia LEO and the disabled community supported this piece of legislation. As a matter of fact, they encouraged the government to recognize this Private Member's Bill as a good piece of legislation that would recognize the right of all Nova Scotians to be served.

I can tell you if we were a visible minority other than those which I have stated, there would be hell to pay if we were not prepared to have that kind of service. I want to tell you that. But because the government of the day decided this bill was cumbersome, it was unmanageable, and that it could not stand the test of legislation, this legislation fell through the cracks by this government. Yet this piece of legislation, Bill No. 250, a bill 191 pieces later, seems to be wholeheartedly endorsed by the government. (Interruptions)

[5:00 p.m.]

I want to tell you that legislation should always protect the employee and the legislation, if it were crafted, as the honourable member for Cumberland North had stated, I believe it's Cumberland North (Interruption) Excuse me, the honourable member for Colchester North brought forward the recommendation that all related crimes associated with the use of an automobile, or the use of a mode of transportation, that the individual would automatically lose their licence for six months. I have to tell you that I was somewhat shocked and found that I was at a loss to understand and recognize that the honourable member, who is serving on the government side, obviously doesn't get the ear of the Cabinet Minister. If that honourable member would have received the ear of the Cabinet Minister, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Cabinet Minister would have crafted a different piece of legislation than the legislation that we see because that individual member knows that this is as serious as any other crime, and we need to put it in that text.

We, as a political Party, are not supportive of individuals taking off without paying for their gasoline, much the same as we are not interested and we're not supportive, I should say, of individuals who steal groceries, you know, or who might absentmindedly forget about taking their groceries home. (Interruptions) We recognize that some of these things happen, but what I want to say, Mr. Speaker, is that legislation must make sure that the employees are not penalized and that the money does not come out of their pocket as a result of someone dashing off, particularly in this case, with the stealing of gasoline.

What I find extremely difficult, and I will say to this Legislature once again, is that we can address the issue of stealing gasoline by way of legislation, but we can't address the issue of stealing services that should automatically be provided to the people in this province - the disabled, seniors and vulnerable citizens - who cannot have full-service in this province. All the mechanisms, the tools, internationally, have recognized that they're there, that allow disabled people with guards, with buttons, I don't mean personal guards, but manufactured, I should say technical guards that allow individuals to come in, push a button, and require that service. That service that is provided in many of the states in the U.S.A. is provided at

[Page 8960]

the same rate that the self-service customer receives, and it's simply by virtue of pushing a button.

Mr. Speaker, it's that simple. It requires a modest cost to the industry to furnish their facilities in order to provide that service. I have to say that it really is something. You know we can regulate in this province the facade of a building, particularly a service station. We can regulate the landscaping of the service station. We can say where that service station ought to be located if it happens to affect a historic property, but we cannot tell that industry that it must provide a service to all of its citizens. The citizens do not have an alternative. There are no hydrogen gas stations in Nova Scotia. There is no automobile that operates solely on oxygen or water.

We are at the whim of that very industry that this government feels a piece of legislation should protect. The major industry in this province, the oil industry, can certainly absorb that particular cost. If it can't absorb that particular cost, we should tell them that they have to, because all the automotive-related industries that are in the constituency that I represent have had to go out and hire security guards. Along with the policing services that are provided by the regional municipalities, they in turn had to incur an extra expense to hire security guards to police their facilities.

Now you can debate this piece of legislation all you want. You can ignore me, but sooner or later you are going to have to address the issue because we are becoming an aged population in this province and seniors are becoming a voice that is going to be heard. If that government over there wonders why it has lost the voice of the seniors' community it is simply because it hasn't been paying attention like our Party on this side of the floor has. You have to recognize that in order to gain the support of someone, you need to be assured that you are going to craft legislation or at least be a government that listens to their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that another thing that really annoys me as a disabled person, and as a senior, I guess, because sometimes seniors are termed to be people over 55 years of age. At one time they used to be seniors at 65, but now there there are senior cards passed out to individuals who are 55 years of age. The 50-plus program says that you could be a senior at age 50, so you know, that definition or that number seems to be shifting on another side. The lines are simply blurring, and there is absolutely no question about that.

The point that irritates me, Mr. Speaker, as I come back to it is that even when the media makes an announcement about the price of gasoline and it's going down, it always makes reference to the self-serve number. We are consumers as well. We are out there in an industry, I would say some 35 per cent of us. I don't have an accurate statistical number on that. There are some 35 per cent of us who are disabled seniors and veterans who live in this province who know full well that the price of gasoline for us is not under $1 or 99 cents. It is usually four to six cents more a litre. I should say I don't mind paying for that service as

[Page 8961]

long as I get it, but the unfortunate part of it is, whether I am willing to pay for that service or not, in this province I can be denied that service.

As a matter of fact in the constituency that I represent, Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of service stations that have actually closed down. There are a number of service stations that have gone to self-serve and I have had to move further out of my constituency or at the further end of my constituency in order to receive the kind of services that we all take for granted.

Two weeks ago I happened to have been on Cape Breton Island. I spent some money there. I was a tourist, by the way. I am sure that the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova would know because I actually visited his constituency. I actually had a tour of the beautiful Cape Breton Island, in particular, the CBRM. I have to say that in my travels back, I think that the last full-service station that was going to provide me service was in Whycocomagh, I believe. It was a one-stop. (Interruptions)

You are absolutely right, honourable minister, that was the only place that I was able to get service until I reached Antigonish on the Nova Scotia side of the harbour. Thank you, honourable minister, for that information, but it was a one-stop and the only time that I was able to get service again was in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Down on the Causeway, where there used to be some full service by the Irving service stations, which even provides a restaurant, the Big Stop, is now all self-serve, and also the PetroCanada service station is now self-serve. So when I have to travel, I have to be extremely careful.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's quite noisy in here.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Thank you. So when I travel the Province of Nova Scotia, our beautiful province, like many other seniors, veterans and disabled persons, I have to go through a rigorous planning exercise unlike you can possibly imagine. We have to look at a map, know where the service stations are, and we have to know which ones will provide us with full service and which ones will not and how much of a distance that is from each service station.

AN HON. MEMBER: That must affect tourists, too, doesn't it?

MR. PYE: That would affect tourists, particularly tourists who have disabilities who want to come to this province.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Maybe that's why they are not coming.

[Page 8962]

MR. PYE: What I want to say is that may be some of the reason, as the honourable member for Dartmouth East has mentioned, for a tourist decline. I believe she might have been the Tourism Critic at one time, I'm not sure - oh, she is now, by the way. I guess I better be a little closer to my caucus as to what I am.

I have to say that it's important to recognize those kinds of differences that exist within our society that allow a service to be readily available to one member of our society, but not to others, and how quickly we as individuals can forsake that. We can pass it up as though it is absolutely nothing, it is of no concern. As I said when I introduced Bill No. 59 in this Legislature back in April 2004, I had expected of all the Private Members' Bills to be endorsed by this government, that was the one piece of legislation I had expected the government would wholeheartedly endorse.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure if you go to the South Shore, Yarmouth, or Bridgewater, you will see the number of service stations that have just simply closed and the number of service stations that have transferred to self-service as well, and the kind of services seniors rely upon. You know, we want people to be independent, we hope that people will become independent, and we believe that people have a right to self-reliance and independency, yet we put in obstacles to prevent that from happening. The reason I say that is this, if we did recognize that people have a right to a service, we would be implementing that service immediately and give them back their self-respect and dignity.

How embarrassing it must be - and I know I've encountered it a few times, particularly after operations, when I've had to wait for someone to come and take my automobile to a service station simply because I couldn't drive it there myself and get the kind of service, and drive it to the self-service service station in order to do the topping up of the gas and oil and to do the repairs. That's the kind of independence you take away from individuals, individuals who had that independence for such a long period of time and all of a sudden as a result of government's inaction, no longer have that opportunity to do that.

I want to say that the closing of some service stations is not by accident, the industry has changed considerably, the automotive industry, particularly the manufacturing centre, produces automobiles now that will give you many kilometres, around 40 to 50 kilometres, of highway driving to prevent you to having to stop at every service station. The mileage rates are much better, there are more efficient automobiles. So, unfortunately, some of those industries are going to close.

[5:15 p.m.]

And I do know that there was some talk around a piece of legislation called regulating the industry. I'm a firm believer and a supporter of regulating the industry, if, in fact, that industry provides a level of service to all its citizens. Mr. Speaker, that's the important thing. I took a trip to Pugwash about three weeks ago. Actually I thought I had visited every hamlet,

[Page 8963]

town and community in Nova Scotia, but Pugwash was one of those areas which I actually didn't visit. It's a beautiful place, Pugwash. As a matter of fact it is where the salt mining and the salt industry is in Nova Scotia - it is the capital of salt industry in Nova Scotia. Actually I had to drive directly into town, pull a right, go down the street - I forget the name - to an Esso service station to get full service. I did not want to take the chance of going all the way from Truro, I was making sure that I wouldn't run out of gas before I got to Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

It's important to get around and view these beautiful hamlets, towns and villages throughout Nova Scotia, and to see a different way of life. I hope the minister did not craft this legislation in order to try to keep his support in rural Nova Scotia, from small business in rural Nova Scotia, because this piece of legislation does not only affect rural Nova Scotia, it affects the entire province, whether you're in rural Nova Scotia or not.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know, in summary, I think the Minister of Justice must have spent a tremendous amount of time, and the loss of sleep hours, I cannot imagine . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to go outside, please, if they have to talk.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, in summing up here, I will say to the Minister of Justice that I cannot imagine the number of hours and the intellectual thought and the mental drain this piece of legislation must have taken over the days, months and years of bringing this piece of legislation to the Legislature. Of all the pieces of legislation that could have been passed in this Legislature, this is one that should not have even taken the time that we have put forward here now.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I was going to say that this particular bill is a triumph of political show over common sense, but I gather that the world political may not be parliamentary language. I guess I'll just go with my first instinct, which is to say this is silly. This is just plain silly. It's a classic example of trying to kill a fly with an elephant gun, and probably missing at that.

This bill is playing catch-up to high gas prices of a few weeks ago. It's making an attempt to show that something is being done, and it's dealing with an issue in a really costly manner. I should say, first of all perhaps, that I spend a lot of time around a gas station. I'm proud to say that my brother is the operator of one of the last full-service gas stations in the City of Halifax. (Interruptions)

[Page 8964]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MS. RAYMOND: As I say, I'm proud to say that my brother is the owner of one of the last full-service gas stations in the Halifax Regional Municipality. (Applause) And he has a good business. People come to him, they come to him for mechanical work, they come to him for gasoline; in fact, they come to him for conversation and a good laugh, at times. Most people seem to want to be at that gas station. Every now and then, though, he will talk about the fact that he has had to, as he puts it, fire a customer. Firing a customer means telling a customer they cannot come back. And why do you tell a customer they can't come back? It's either because it's been completely impossible to fix their car and still is or, more often, because he's provided services or gas that somebody hasn't paid for. It's pretty straightforward, that's the way it works. That mechanism has worked for years and years for the operators of gas stations. You'll notice that there are a lot fewer gas stations of all kinds around the province now and there are various pressures, which we're all pretty well familiar with, which are causing that. One of the effects of that is that you have to drive further now to get from one gas station to another. You know, if you've messed up your reputation, if you've been fired from the gas station near you, you're going to be paying a lot of money in the future to drive to a gas station that doesn't know about you.

We've got licence plates on cars and people tend to want to come back and put more gas into that car once they've driven off the gas they stole. Apart from the person who might be travelling through, most car drivers have a pretty good bit of self-interest in making sure that, in fact, they are invited back as a customer. This is the way the system works and it's the way the system works in a lot of stores as well. I should say that my office is in a building which used to be a store, a corner store, but it's not going to be a store anymore. That's just because of repeated theft; everybody who tried to keep that store open, found that they lost so much money through the candy, whatever it was being taken, and they finally said, okay, this isn't worth it.

First of all, there's a huge investment in gasoline, gasoline is hard to get your hands on, you don't exactly just dip your fingers in and leave. Secondly, why would we then set out to protect one particular type of product from theft unless it was for display purposes? That's all I can say. I know how close to the bone retail gas dealers live and they do and they are constantly trying to keep just ahead of the game. I also know that there are an awful lot of really easy ways to solve a problem like this.

What about the fact that you have to get out of the car, self-serve or not, to put in the gas or to pay for the gas that a full-service attendant has put in, you do have to get out of the car so what is so extraordinary about paying first and taking the product later? Nothing. It's actually some very young children who have suggested that to me in recent days, that that's the way to deal with it, just pay for the gas, then you get the gas; pretty straightforward. There are ways to do that too, we have portable Interac machines everywhere, I think a gas

[Page 8965]

pump would be a wonderful stage for an Interac machine that the buttons were big enough to see. No reason you shouldn't just key in how much you're paying, have it approved, get the gas if you want to do it that way. Otherwise, you go into the store and you do it or you hand over the cash and then you get the gas, whatever it is.

Of course, I suppose you could provide your attendants with guns and let them shoot out the tires if you wanted (Interruptions) These are elephant guns. I'd just like to point out one other thing, that this is a very expensive way, this is a massively expensive way of achieving this goal. A tank of gas, well, I can only think of my car, it peaked at $50 but I can tell you that there are an awful lot of people in my constituency who nominally live in a city, the Halifax Regional Municipality, and they live way beyond the reach of public transit, they absolutely have to have cars and they have to have licences if they want to attend school or worse, if they want to work. So you take away somebody's licence for a period of time who has no access to public transit, they may have a hard time with access to work and that's going to cost everybody a lot more than the $50 tank of gas ever could.

I would say this is a way of punishing a lot of people. It punishes the taxpayer as well when the job is gone. It certainly punishes the person who is left with the $50 gas who may not in fact have thought of what used to be a trick used by an old friend of mine who always wore a good watch and it seemed to be a good country habit that when he forgot his cash, he left his watch as hostage. That seemed to be a well-respected tradition. Whether it works in the days of digital watches, I don't know, but if you had a good watch that is one way to do it.

The other thing about this, of course, is that if you take away somebody's ability to drive for six months, even if it doesn't take away their ability to work, if there is not somebody else in the household driving that car, that car is going to sit idle. You know what, the car isn't going to be consuming gas during that six-month period, or whatever. So who is ending up losing money if it's not the gas dealer? More money as a result.

Mr. Speaker, this is really a cumbersome way to achieve something that is achieved all the time just in the run of the day. People want more gas. They don't steal the first tank. If they do, if they happen to have a semi with huge capacity and can take away a huge amount of gasoline that justifies the gas dealer taking them to court, that mechanism exists for gasoline as it does for anything else.

So, Mr. Speaker, I really do hope that we are not going to waste a great deal more time on this. We don't need to be inventing redundant schemes, particularly when these redundant schemes get to be so costly in so many ways, and even end up punishing the people it's meant to benefit so frequently.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will close. Thank you very much.

[Page 8966]

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thought I would say a few words on this one because I just can't sit here and listen to some of the discussions that have happened around here today.

I was a gas jockey for some time back in my earlier years, where I did get to pump gas at the local Shell station which, not only was it a local Shell station for local service, it was also a hang-out for teenagers. It was a great place to hang out and learn the news of the constituency and pump some gas. Never once during my shifts did I ever have anybody gas and dash. I didn't have that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you full-serve?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: We were full-serve at that time, absolutely full-serve. But we did have a few occasions where a person would come in and say - you would ask them, how much do you want, and somebody would say, five bucks, and you would say, fill it up? Yes. So you would fill up the car and they would pass you the five bucks because, of course, they misspoke, I guess, and you were misheard. That happened to me. This doesn't really relate to this issue but I thought it related about as much as some of the discussions across the way. (Interruptions)

But the biggest mistruth, or misspeak, I don't know what you really want to call it, that we talk about, we are here cozying up against big oil and that is not right. (Interruptions) I want the guys across the way - I want the ladies and gentlemen across the way to talk to Timian Merrill who runs an Esso station in my riding, who buys that tank of gas and somebody takes off on him. I want them to talk to Dave d'Entremont who runs an Ultramar, who owns the gas in that station, that somebody drives up and takes off. The Esso is full-serve, the Ultramar is.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think this member is getting up here and should make it clear in this House that the vast majority of gas stations in Nova Scotia are owned by the gas companies, not by (Interruptions)

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Oh, they are in my area.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: In my riding, except for one, they are independent gas retailers. They own the fuel in those tanks. So if somebody takes off on them, they have no recourse. Some of these cases are trucks that take hundreds of dollars of gas and do take up -

[Page 8967]

I have talked to a number of my retailers that this has happened to them. What about Paul d'Entremont that runs the Petro-Canada who works his best to have the people work in there? What about Malcolm Adam who runs the Wilsons Fuel Co. and does his best to keep a mechanic on-site? They actually do full-serve as well. Guy Surette who runs the Ultramar.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make a point here that it is not just protecting big oil which seems to be the thing being perpetrated here. It is about protecting businesses in our local ridings, in our local areas, protecting the small business guys on people driving off on them. On that, I've got to say I support wholeheartedly this bill.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I have very much enjoyed listening to this lively debate by the honourable members opposite. I would, however, just harken to repeat the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries' point, which is, I can just talk about one community in my riding, which is the Town of Lunenburg.

[5:30 p.m.]

In the Town of Lunenburg and surrounding area, there are three gas stations. Two are full-serve and one is self-serve. Of those three gas stations, two are owned by independent small-business people who are the victims of a crime. This is not a victimless crime, (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BAKER: I indicated during the discussion of this bill prior to its introduction that this is not a panacea for all the problems, but at least it is a step at trying to remedy the problems. With that, I would like to move second reading of the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 250. 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 Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 8968]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 254.

Bill No. 254 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak on another Justice bill. It's a great opportunity as well to point out what happened back in 1999 when, I believe it was the Minister of Justice was in Opposition, he was the Justice Critic at the time for the Third Party (Interruptions) You're right. Sorry, Mr. Speaker, let me make a correction. You were the Justice Critic at that time, that's right. In fact, it might have been your bill now that I think of it.

Anyway, there was a bill in 1998 or 1999 to pass with regard to drunk driving and there were certain provisions in that piece of legislation that the then Leader of the Third Party, now Premier, was very eager to promote, that would prove they were serious about dealing with the problem in this province, which was drunk drivers. At the time there was a passage of legislation that allowed for the impounding of vehicles of those who had more than one conviction with regard to drunk driving, offences under the Criminal Code, impaired driving.

That was never proclaimed. Seven years later, the Cabinet of this Tory Government has refused to proclaim that provision. They have refused to proclaim a provision that we think - at the time we voted for it, at the time we said it was a good idea. If someone is a repeat offender, you should impound their vehicle. That was a great idea. The Premier now, Third Party Leader then, was more than willing to make that a point with regard to his ability to promote the fact that they were serious about getting tough on drunk drivers. Yet this government, for seven years, this Cabinet has met weekly and they have refused to proclaim that provision.

Yet they come back in this House now with Bill No. 254 asking for another provision with regard to drunk drivers and again, there is no proclamation date on this bill. There is no proclamation date again. It will be up to Cabinet to approve it. This is the problem we have. We gave them an opportunity in 1999 when they passed the bill at that time and they've refused to proclaim it for seven years. Now they're coming back with a second bill with no proclamation date and we're supposed to believe that this time they're serious about dealing with drunk drivers, when the last time they had a chance to deal with this, they refused to pass the bill. They refused to proclaim it.

It's an Act on the books and the impounding of the vehicles has never been proclaimed by this government after seven years in power. That is a problem. That is a concern I have, because at this point with regard to drunk driving, with regard to the provisions, I have no faith this government is serious about doing anything about it. This

[Page 8969]

minister can get up here and continue to make comments in this House, continue to make speeches saying he's serious about these issues, yet he has refused to proclaim a provision that his Party introduced in 1999 when they were in Opposition. They have had an opportunity to proclaim this for seven years as government and they've refused to do it. It's not only myself who's saying that, let's look at Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, MADD as it's called for short. I think it was earlier this year that they gave this government a C. I think it was one of the bottom marks of any government in Canada, because this government has refused to proclaim the provisions that they passed themselves, wanted passed when they were in Opposition. Has said that there's a lot of things they haven't done with regard to this issue.

Clearly this minister wants to pass something else because he thinks it might help appease some of the concerns. Maybe he's hoping to get a better mark. Maybe it's like homework. He didn't get it right the first time, so this time maybe he'll try and show that he's actually getting it right and, in return, he's hoping maybe to get a B or a B-plus this time from MADD Canada. Probably just before an election even. Wouldn't that be a coincidence. I wouldn't want to assume that there's any politics involved in this, but the fact is that this minister - MADD Canada criticized him and his government earlier this year in saying they are not serious about dealing with drunk drivers in Nova Scotia, that they have not introduced the provisions that need to be introduced, yet this minister comes back in this House and refuses to put a proclamation date on this bill because we're supposed to assume that we're supposed to trust him on this when, in fact, in 1999, there was no proclamation on that bill either and there was no proclamation date and it was never proclaimed.

This is the problem I have with this legislation. Why could we not have put something in here to allow for proclamation of the provision in 1999 that was passed yet never proclaimed? If they are serious about this, there is a provision right now in our legislation under the Motor Vehicle Act that allows for the impounding of vehicles for repeat offenders who have convictions for impaired driving, Mr. Speaker, yet this government refuses to proclaim that, and I don't know why.

They've never provided us, on the record or off the record, a reason as to why they refused to proclaim it, Mr. Speaker. Frankly, after seven years, to come back in this House with another piece of legislation without a proclamation date, proclamation pending Cabinet approval, is basically saying to Nova Scotians, you trusted us once and we didn't do it, so trust us again. Well, I think most Nova Scotians are going to question why they should trust them on this. (Interruptions) That's right, why should we believe you now. I think that's an old saying we've heard in this House.

Mr. Speaker, let's talk about the actual provision they do have, which is the interlocking device. Now the minister, unfortunately, wasn't able to provide many of these details when he moved second reading on this bill, but clearly there are concerns around this as well. My understanding is that there are provisions in this bill that would allow for

[Page 8970]

someone to have - I don't know if it's a half or two-thirds of their sentence suspended if they're willing to purchase the interlocking device. Someone told me it's around $1,200 for one of these devices, and presumably you are going to need one for each vehicle in your family. Well, yes, this is a way for people who have - someone actually wrote this I think recently, comparing this to the past bill that we just had, that you are better off stealing gasoline while you are drunk and driving because if you can pay for the interlocking device then you can actually get a lower sentence, lower suspension of your licence than if you actually just stole it while you were sober.

Isn't that an interesting spin on this, Mr. Speaker, that basically this government is allowing for the removal of a portion of the suspension of the licence if they purchase the interlocking device. So if you can buy your way out of jail, you can buy your way out of the punishment, here's an opportunity to do that. Well, that basically shows to us that there's one set of rules for those who can afford it and one set of rules for those who cannot, and that's not the basis of a justice system. Why should someone have their suspension of licence reduced by a half or two-thirds just because they're willing to purchase an interlocking device? What's that saying to us? What's that saying to society, that you can buy yourself a device.

Let's talk about that device. This device on specific vehicles, maybe on your vehicle if you're convicted. Maybe on your wife's vehicle or your children's vehicle in the family, but what prevents me from then borrowing a friend's vehicle? What prevents me from renting a car and going out and drinking and driving, because I have my licence back? Are we going to ensure that these devices are going to be attached to every vehicle? That someone convicted of drinking and driving is going to be driving? No. There might be some benefit to having an interlocking device, but it is very limited, because the fact is that if you're the type of person who's willing to be a repeat offender with regard to impaired driving, you're going to find ways around this law. You're going to find ways to drink and drive; if it's an habitual problem, if it's a drinking problem you have, you're going to find ways around that. This law will do nothing but make it a little more inconvenient for those who want to do it. Rent a car, borrow someone else's car, maybe have someone else blow into it - I was told that's actually been addressed in this bill, with these devices. I'm not sure how that works.

Mr. Speaker, there are ways in which someone can still get around this, unless we ensure that every vehicle in the province has an interlocking device. I can't see that happening. These are the concerns that we have with this legislation. I want to add one more. If the minister is serious about drinking and driving - we met with MADD, as well, over the Summer, and they brought up another issue, one that this government has refused to introduce in this legislation, and that is for those who have a blood alcohol level, when they're tested roadside, between 0.05 and 0.08 - 0.08 blood alcohol level, you'll be well aware is the legal limit - many would argue you're on the borderline. The equipment at the roadside usually isn't calibrated well enough to allow for a clear test, but there are still

[Page 8971]

concerns when people are in that range. I think right now their licence can be suspended for 24 hours. MADD Canada asked that that be 14 days. We think that is a reasonable approach.

I know that if they had said this to us, they must have said it to this minister and this government as well, yet this government has refused to provide that provision in this bill. I again go back to a point I've made time and time again in this House, today and in this sitting, that this minister likes to stand up and make pronouncements that sound like he's serious about issues related to crime, whether it's drinking and driving, theft of gasoline, house arrest or any other matters. He likes to stand in this House and says he's a leader with regard to community safety and crime prevention; yet when it comes time to address the issue, when it comes time to listen to those who know what they're talking about in this area, like MADD Canada, he refuses to do what they ask. He refuses to proclaim the piece that was actually there before.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just want to indicate to the House - and I think it is a point of order because the honourable member seems to be intimating that this is a bill that I proposed - this is a bill that has been proposed by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. It's obviously a misunderstanding, because this is a bill by that minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order, it's a clarification of the facts for the House.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has the floor.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it might be the Minister of Transportation and Public Works who introduced the bill, but when it comes to issues of drunk driving, which is a criminal offence in this province, and the administration of justice with regard to it, this minister - again, there's another example. He likes to stand in this House and say he's a leader with regard to these issues, but the first chance he has to point the finger at someone else, he gets up in this House and points the finger at them. (Interruptions)

You call that leadership? You call that a leader with regard to crime prevention and community safety? I say that's someone who's willing to point the finger at others and not reflect on the fact that he should be serious in regard to these issues. That's the problem with this minister; that's the problem with this government. They're willing to take half-measures, they're willing to put a facade of being tough with regard to these issues. When it comes down to the facts, they create laws in haste, like this last bill we talked about, they create laws that are half-measures, like this, they pass the law and then refuse to proclaim provisions, like they did in 1999.

[Page 8972]

This is what we get from this government. They like to talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, they refuse to do it. That's the problem we have with this government and the way it treats issues involving community safety, public protection and crime prevention, Mr. Speaker. This government wants to get the credit for the things it does, but then, is not willing to admit that it is not going as far as it could go, ensuring that Nova Scotians are protected, that people who drink and drive are going to have their car impounded if they habitually do that, that they're going to lose their licence for 14 days, suspension, if their blood alcohol is between 0.05 and 0.08.

These are the things this government refuses to do. These are the things MADD Canada specifically asked them to do. Yet they refuse to do this, Mr. Speaker. They refuse to do these things, and I don't know why. This minister will stand in this House and talk like he knows he is able to provide these provisions, yet he also knows there are many other things he could be doing, yet he refuses to do them. I'm tired of this minister continuing to try to take credit for trying to be tough with regard to issues when in fact he is soft on them, he continues to be soft on them.

I said this on the last bill and I'll say it again, we're here to keep him accountable, we're here to keep this government accountable and make sure that every time they try to stand in this House and say they are going to protect the community, they're going to make the community safe, they're going to prevent crime, we're going to be here to call them on it and point out that they're not doing everything they can.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand and speak on Bill No. 254. For the information of the House, I'd like to say, "Clause 1 provides that the Registrar of Motor Vehicles shall require that a person whose driver's licence, or privileges of obtaining a driver's licence has been revoked for an alcohol-related driving offence participate in an ignition interlock and monitoring program before the person's licence is re-instated." While I hear lots of advertisements about drinking responsibly, I don't hear anything being advertised about driving responsibly.

[5:45 p.m.]

My learned colleague, the member for Digby-Annapolis, has informed me that he has met with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving this Summer and they like this legislation, but they feel it should go further. Rather than having it a voluntary program that you could involve yourself in or become part of, MADD would like to see that it would be a mandatory program. So that's something possibly that the government could consider and making it a little stiffer, showing more leadership, and kind of coming down hard on those, Mr. Speaker, who break the law and drink and drive. You've only to try to put yourself in the position of a parent or a relative who has suffered the loss of a family member to a drunk driver when

[Page 8973]

a person who could contribute to society, who has their life snuffed out because somebody has one for the road, or is addicted, or just doesn't care, because it can never happen to them.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation about the ignition interlock, I'm just wondering if there's a loophole there for a driver, an addicted driver, maybe an abusive parent, or an abusive relative, who decides to take another driver with them and have that second person blow into the ignition interlock system and have it unlock, or two guys want to go for a little drive and have a drink and bring one of their children with them, who's intimidated by the abusive parent, and when it's time, periodically I understand that a light will flash on the dash and you have to reblow into the machine to keep the vehicle operational, that maybe this child is forced to do that - if that's a loophole in this ignition-lock system.

I'm not sure if that's the case, Mr. Speaker, but I look at it as an out for somebody who is willing to try to be Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes and do this and look like he or she is trying to abide by the law, yet at the same time has worked out a way of circumventing the law; so I'm wondering, like I said, as a second driver, or a third party. I'm sure that Mothers Against Drunk Driving will search this out and the government will hear more about that.

Something that hasn't been mentioned, Mr. Speaker, I will just move to Clause 3 which doubles the fine for speeding in a school zone.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member that he's not to go clause by clause. We're in the principle of the bill on second reading.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes has the floor.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, in principle, there is another section of the bill that deals with excessive speed in school zones and excessive speed in construction zones known as temporary workplaces. I have to commend the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for being so astute because the honourable member of the Liberal Party, the member for Halifax Clayton Park, introduced a Private Member's Bill to double the fines for speeding in those two areas. I, myself, asked that honourable member to refrain from including temporary workplaces because being the Critic for Transportation and Public Works, I thought it would be to my benefit also if I were to introduce a Private Member's Bill for the transportation end of it. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works on the government side of the House saw fit and made the move quick.

I compliment him on that because all three topics that have been mentioned are serious offences. We have to protect our children in our school zones, people are speeding through there. I personally witnessed and almost became a victim recently at the area out off what's known as the Dartmouth Interchange, where the signage is more than sufficient. The speed limit is reduced right now to 80 kilometres and then 60 before all the traffic must come to a stop. We had a tractor-trailer, a tanker, pass us in the 80 kilometre zone only to have to

[Page 8974]

pull on the air brakes and we had to immediately stop in behind. A vehicle had to pull over to the left hand side of us to stop to keep from hitting us, another vehicle had to pull over the right to keep from stopping and allowing the fourth vehicle enough space to stop.

The bill covers a lot of serious instances that can happen. The speeding in the school zones can be equated to drinking and driving, the speeding in construction zones can be equated to drinking and driving, and can be equated to what the bill talks mainly about in the fact about the ignition interlock system. All three are related, although on first brush maybe it doesn't look like they are, but all are transportation issues that require due diligence on behalf of the province, due diligence on behalf of the police force and more importantly due diligence on behalf of the drivers. These people have to step up to the plate, take responsibility for their actions. Where it is voluntary right now, those who decide to join this program, are hopefully practising what they preach, showing that they are making an honest effort to move forward and protect the public from their wayward ways in the past.

Driving responsibly is what it's all about in all three areas that I mentioned. I hope that the government would consider the possibility that Mothers Against Drunk Driving would prefer to see it made mandatory, because I know we have three strikes and you're out. This could be part of the third strike. Give them the choice on the third strike, either/or, and if they don't want to join - maybe that's the way you're doing it now - giving them the choice in making it voluntary, but maybe by the time they hit the third strike it becomes mandatory that they have to have this ignition interlock system installed.

Having said that and having the time getting on with a few more comments, I will conclude. To bring this in as I heard the previous speaker say - that they could have done this a few years back - I'm glad to see it coming forward now, because every time legislation is passed nothing is perfect. It's nice to see it come forward with improvements. According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, they're saying the improvement is not heavy handed enough, harsh enough or maybe not proper enough. Voluntary - it may work but it's almost like a voluntary speed limit. If the speed limit is voluntary, who is going to follow it? It's hard enough now to be on the highways, do the proper speed and not be run off by vehicles. Either you can't see their headlights in your mirror or they will run you off trying to pass you as the lane comes to an end - anything just to get ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this bill, when it clears and goes on to next reading, and the input from the public at the Law Amendments Committee, that these people will come forward, especially the Mothers Against Drunk Driving - I'm sure they will - and make their case a lot more eloquently than I can for them. I hope that they have their facts and figures ready, and cause this bill to save lives, and be brought forward and supported by the police forces, by the members of this House of Assembly and, more importantly, by the members of the general public - and when I say the general public I mean all the residents of Nova Scotia who are drivers. It's time that drivers step up to the plate and be accountable.

[Page 8975]

Mr. Speaker, as a driver myself, I have one of the ribbons tied on the aerial of my vehicle to advertise Mothers Against Drunk Driving. That, in itself, is a minor display of support, but in a major way, somewhere along the line we have to put some responsibility on the drivers. Locally, in my area of Victoria-The Lakes, three highway workers actually had their helmets blown off of their heads last year on Highway No. 125. On Highway No. 125, here are three local workers out there working in a construction zone with the proper signage, the proper barrels, the proper pylons, and a truck went by with such speed that the helmets blew off three of those workers. Now, I mean, who in their right mind would like to work in that kind of a workplace?

I'm glad to see that the government has put forward - I always call it the working manual - but there is a paragraph in there for temporary work stoppages and lane closures, that once the lane is closed - and I was the one who was pushing the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for this - I understand now that once that lane has closed it is no longer the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. It becomes the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Labour because it becomes a workplace, Mr. Speaker. It is no longer a highway, it becomes a workplace. By becoming a workplace it falls, as I said, under the Department of Environment and Labour, and therefore it must be protected and made safe for the driving public, for the workers and for the repairs of the highway.

Mr. Speaker, the opportunity to make political points . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He'd like you to move adjournment when you're ready.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No, the honourable member can keep going. We have until 6:00 p.m.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Then, in summation, I feel that, as a driver, and all the members of the House of Assembly as drivers, we should lead by example and we should show that we are responsible, show that we would like to see this legislation go forward, and show that when the Mothers Against Drunk Driving make their presentation, if they want it mandatory, maybe the government should consider that and it be more applicable.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption.

[6:00 p.m.]

The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park:

[Page 8976]

"Therefore be it resolved that government realize that young fishermen in Nova Scotia are struggling, and work to find ways to help them."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

AGRIC. & FISH.: YOUNG FISHERMEN - ASSIST

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to stand here and speak for the young fishermen of this province, and also about a policy that was put into place many years ago to protect these same people. In 1979, the honourable Romeo LeBlanc, with his great wisdom, saw that the owner/operator policy in the inshore fishery would protect coastal communities and the people who lived in them. This policy was to make sure that all communities and independent people always had access to a vital resource, the fishery. The owner/operator would keep the wealth spread all around the coast by one person holding one licence per species.

It always was and still is that, one family would hold four or five licences an example would be, one lobster, one groundfish, one herring, one mackerel, et cetera. This was a good system. When one fishing season ended, you would go into another keeping you and your crew employed nearly year-round. When a captain or owner/operator got ready to retire, he would sell out to his son or to a crew member who had been fishing with him for years. This whole enterprise would be sold for a very fair and reasonable price. For example, only back in 1998, you could buy a boat and all inshore licences for $200,000 to $400,000 according to the age and shape of the boat and gear, et cetera. This money could be financed through the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board or other financial institutions. Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that these examples are from the fishery in the western and southwestern part of Nova Scotia that I'm very familiar with.

As you probably know, only one year after 1998, in the fall of 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada made a very serious decision that changed the fishery of this country and also changed the way young local fisherman could finance these enterprises. This decision, which was called the Marshall decision, gave First Nations people the right to fish for a moderate livelihood. Mr. Speaker, as you know, this decision did not go over well with a lot of people who fished in local communities of Atlantic Canada. The fear was that they thought the fishery was going to be taken away from them and given to the First Nations people.

[Page 8977]

In some communities like Burnt Church, New Brunswick, fighting broke out between local fishermen, First Nations, and also the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. At the same time in western Nova Scotia, we, the local fishermen, decided that we would meet with the First Nations to see if we could work this out at the meeting table. The fishermen were told that we must talk first and then if need be we would fight later but this fight never happened in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we talked of working with each other in the fishery under the same rules and regulations that have been in place for decades. These rules and regulations in the lobster fishery have kept this fishery in great shape for decades, much better than any other fishery that did not have these same rules. Our forefathers, along with Romeo LeBlanc, saw that these rules were good for the Atlantic Canadian lobster fishery. Finally a decision was reached by the association of 963 licensed lobster holders in my district and by the First Nations chief that we would work together and DFO accepted this. The decision was made for DFO to buy a number of existing boats, gear and licences for the First Nations people. As this went on for a few months and DFO tried to buy lobster licences, fishermen seemed reluctant to sell them to them. I think this all stemmed back from lack of trust between DFO and the fishermen.

DFO was not pleased that fishermen would not sell to them so in their great wisdom they started raising the price for these lobster rigs, to make the fishermen sell. This began to work slowly but it also brought a lot more tension from outside investors. These outside investors believed if they could buy this fishery out, it would be a great investment for them. If they owned the whole fishery, they believed they could catch them cheaper than the communities could and then sell for a high profit.

So these outside investors started paying more for fishing licences than DFO was paying. Then the prices for those started rising as DFO and outside investors started bidding against each other. They bid above each other to the point where $200,000 to $400,000 licences were going for $800,000 to $1.2 million all in a matter of six months.

Now how could a fisherman's son or crew member ever find financing to buy one of these rigs at these prices. Financial institutions, including the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board, would not put out over $1 million for a $200,000 to $400,000 rig. These lobster rigs became artificially inflated by two great powers, one looking for the control of that fishery by owning it and one for greater access for the First Nations people. Both with money enough to own it all, with one using taxpayers' money.

Mr. Speaker, where does this leave the young inshore independent fisherman? No financial institute in this country will lend these people this kind of money to buy a lobster rig. Not even the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board. So the question is, what will our young sons and crew members do? Personally, two years ago, I ended up giving my fishing rig to my son. This was the only way I could see that this young man could enter this fishery.

[Page 8978]

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the outside investors had an answer also for the inshore fishery. They created the so-called trust agreements. They work by outside investors buying up the lobster licence of the inshore fishery and then they hire the captains to work them. In the Department of Fisheries these seem to be legal because the licence in the department system is in the name of the hired captain, but in the outside investor's office, on a legal form signed by the same captain, this lobster outfit is owned by the outside investor, lock, stock, and barrel. Our young fishermen will never be owners.

Mr. Speaker, it is believed that these captains and crew are paid much less for doing this job, in turn creating more profit for the owner. It is believed that this is just the beginning of this in the inshore fishery. As these rigs are accumulated into a few hands there will become fewer and fewer jobs in the inshore and less communities with an inshore fishery. Remember this happened in our midshore ground fishery in places like Digby Neck, where at one time 50 fish draggers supplied 10 fish plants. Today there are five draggers supplying one fish plant. All sold out for big bucks, far away from Digby Neck, leaving these communities crippled and a lot of workers on welfare and off to Alberta.

Mr. Speaker, we sat and watched this happen in our midshore ground fishery because we didn't know how to stop it. We cannot let history repeat itself and let this happen in our inshore lobster fishery of this province. If the eastern coastal communities of Nova Scotia lose these independent inshore fishing enterprises, we will be seeing these communities as ghost towns, because they're not far from it right now.

Mr. Speaker, go to western and southwestern Nova Scotia and ask every person what is keeping the economy going in that area? The answer will be that it's the small independent inshore fishing industry that's still spread out into the hands of many individuals, and they're spending every cent in those communities.

My hopes and the coastal communities' hopes are that this provincial government will play a big part in helping our new young independent owner/operators into the fishery of this province. If it doesn't do that, I sure hope it doesn't become a bigger part of the problem, like using taxpayers' money to turn our communities into ghost towns.

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and talk to this Opposition motion that is before the House. I want to thank the members opposite for underlining concerns and issues that are facing our coastal communities right across this province, not just in Digby-Annapolis, not just in Argyle, but everywhere in this province that the lifeblood of our coastal communities, of course, is the inshore fishery. I think in this discussion that you could go around and you could point lots of fingers on who's responsible or who's not responsible for some of these issues that have hit upon us. Over the last number of years, successive ministers, when the member for Cumberland North was the

[Page 8979]

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries at the time, I know that a lot of these issues were brought forward.

Going to the Aboriginal issue, you know, I'm not going to stand here and absolutely disagree with the Supreme Court's decision, but that's sort of a stepping point to where this had exacerbated the issue of owner/operator. The bidding war that ensued after the decision was made by DFO to purchase some of these licences, and the bidding war began between the companies, people with money, and the smaller fishermen, it just brought it out of reason. It was absolutely out of reason and it's a shame that this was allowed to go forward.

I want to thank the member opposite, the member for Digby-Annapolis, for all his work during that process. He speaks humbly about the discussions and the work that was done by the local fishing associations in bringing in the Aboriginal groups to discuss the issues with them, to make sure that there was harmony amongst the two groups at that time. I think in the southwest that there has been a relatively easy transition between those bands that were lucky enough to sign a good fisheries deal, that were able to have licences to go forward with, and were integrated into the fishery in the southwest.

I know of fishermen who not only donated fishing equipment, here's some equipment to get you started, here are some ropes, here are some ideas on where you should go fishing, and I think the integration happened almost seamlessly with very little conflict. I want to thank the member opposite for the work that he did amongst the group there. It took a lot of guts I think for a lot of those fishermen to stand up and say, no, this isn't that bad, this is something that we can work with because it's important for the whole fishery and for our local communities.

We talk a lot about capital gains, and we talk a lot about owner/operator. I'm just going to turn to capital gains for a minute because in the transfer of licences now that they have dropped a little bit in price. They still haven't dropped I think to point where the common guy can actually buy a licence because we're still in the range of, I think the last I heard it was $600,000 or $700,000. I think they have dropped a little bit in price, but in the transfer of licence between generations, which is where we were trying to focus for some time, is to ensure that fathers can transfer their licences without penalty to their sons or daughters who want to be fishermen, who want to be fishing people, which is why we have been advocating this to the federal department for quite some time.

I want to talk a little bit, and further on down these prepared notes that they have, that I'm not using at all, you know, it does talk about how capital gains is attached to the federal system and how capital gains is connected. I want to talk a little bit about the situation of capital gains, the situation of licence transfers, and those types of things. It does fall within the realm of DFO. As the members opposite are aware, there is a plan set forward by a gentleman by the name of John Hanlon who was, I believe, the district director for DFO, out of Antigonish I believe, for the Gulf region, and he has been tasked with the issue of

[Page 8980]

owner/operator, to delve down into it, to look at the protection of that inshore fleet, the survival of that inshore fleet, to try to maintain as closely as possible that independence I think that ensures its survival.

He has put forward a number of options to help secure that independence; if implemented by DFO, these concepts, particularly in the lobster fishery, which I think is the one that the member opposite speaks to the most. It's the one I think I'm more familiar with and it is the lifeblood of the southwest and also of places like Pictou West and Guysborough County and those constituencies that are very dependent upon their fisheries.

[6:15 p.m.]

It will be more likely that fishermen will be able to control their businesses into the future. It's a first step in the right direction, although it won't completely solve the problem of getting the necessary dollars to buy a licence. The Hanlon proposal includes an option for owner/operators, independent fishermen, to incorporate. The incorporation will provide fishermen with business tax benefits, including a $500,000 capital tax exemption when they transfer their licence.

This is one we have talked a lot about because this is the same tax exemption people are able to benefit from on transferring their property intergenerationally, from fathers and families to a new generation. If the proposal is accepted, the intergenerational needs of the owner/operator will be addressed. I'm hoping that issue will help bring down some of the prices, some of the costs of these licences. Fishermen will have an incentive to incorporate their businesses then pass those licences down to family members and avoid that capital gains tax.

DFO at this time is also looking at reviewing the Fisheries Act. As a part of the review, the Province of Nova Scotia has asked DFO to look at the option that would allow the provincial loan boards to hold fishing licences as security. We had the discussion in yesterday's session. If this request is implemented, then the province will be able to loan money to fishermen to buy a licence, to actually mortgage that piece. With the licence as security, if it happens that fisher defaults on the loan, then the provincial organization, the Fisheries Loan Board, will be able to make the licence available to other potential fishermen who are willing to accept that debt.

We're not allowed to do that at this point so that's why we're very happy that the DFO has decided to look at the Fisheries Act and help update it. It is 132 years old so it is time we do see some updates on it. Provincially, this will allow us to ensure that a new generation of fishermen are able to remain in our coastal communities.

I spoke a little bit on this change to the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act during second reading. Although this may be just a change in a few words, it will have an impact

[Page 8981]

on the fishing industry with regard to securing money for capital investments, such as boat loans. By putting the approval limit for loans and other guarantees in regulation, we'll be able to make changes based on what's happening in the industry and provide our clients with a better service by shortening the wait time for approvals. So, if we do get the changes that we've been asking for from DFO for some time now, we will be able to quickly move to accepting loans of a greater size. So if we're looking at a loan for a - I'm hoping, let's speak honestly in here that a licence at $800,000 to me doesn't make a lot of sense, but maybe a $500,000 or $400,000 is probably a more realistic number.

The day will come when you will be able to buy a vessel, gear, a licence - it will probably be somewhere around $1 million. I was looking for the latitude in order to make those changes quickly, that if it did become $1.2 million or something like that, we can make changes in it.

I want to thank the member opposite again for bringing this issue forward. It seems over the last few sessions that fisheries hasn't been necessarily a big topic. There have been other topics that have taken precedence over this issue over the last number of sessions and I'm very glad to stand here for my second time of standing and talking about the importance of our coastal communities, the fishery, the lobster fishery in specifics and the protection and enforcement, I'm hoping, of the 1972 Fleet Separation Policy brought in by Romeo LeBlanc. Unfortunately it was ignored since 1972. You've seen fleets change and things change. That was the start of losing control within our coastal communities.

As we go forward, my department will be working its hardest to be sure the Hanlon proposals are as tight as they can be, that the communities are informed of those decisions and of those policies and that they will come into law and come into being in a very short period of time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome this opportunity to have a few minutes to speak about the fishing industry in Nova Scotia and the very great importance it is to our coastal communities. I do thank the member across the way for bringing this issue forward here today and for the minister's comments.

The resolution reads that, "Therefore be it resolved that the government realize that young fishermen in Nova Scotia are struggling, and work to find ways to help them." While the minister has outlined some proposals and some ideas, I guess, really, that is where they're at, they're really not enacted, they're not really at this moment helping our young fishermen that want to get into the business. I guess we're hopeful that maybe those will come forward and be enacted in law or be in cooperation with DFO, with the federal government, that some of these issues can be put forward and will help our young fishermen out there.

[Page 8982]

Now, I come from the North Shore, Mr. Speaker, from Pictou County, along the Northumberland Strait and, certainly, there are a number of fisheries there in the Spring, Summer and Fall. I suppose the lobster fishery is the best known, May and June is our season. But this year it was a particularly bad season for local fishermen. In fact, DFO is saying that it is the lowest catch in 25 years, since 1980. So maybe young men or women out there that are thinking about getting into the fishery in my area are wondering if it's worth their while? They see their fathers, their uncles, their grandfathers struggling to make a living, along our shore and, I'm sure, some of them are thinking about it.

Generally, there are other impediments, I guess, to young people trying to get into the industry. Certainly, overall though, the industry is a billion dollar industry in Nova Scotia, approximately $1.1 billion, $1.2 billion, I believe, in total, on the catch that is there, but it is a higher value added by the time you count the processing.

The history of fishing in this province stretches over centuries, over close to 500 years, I would say, if you go back to the days of Jacques Cartier or even before that; there certainly were Aboriginal people here fishing long, long before that. The normal pattern of events is that the son would follow the father into the business and keep the industry going, keep the business going in the family. That was good for our local communities because it allowed money to stay in the local economy, it allowed our gas stations to be busy, our grocery stores, our hardware stores and so on, because the fishing kept going. The son followed the father, who had followed his father into the business.

I can certainly think of families in my communities where this has gone on for generations, families like the Langilles in River John, or the Elliotts in Tony River, the Faulkners in that same area, the Logans in the Caribou area, the MacDonalds and so on. There are lots of examples of generations of fishing in the community.

But now, of course, because of problems in the fishery, young people are maybe employed, working for their father, working for a neighbouring fisherman, but many of them, of course, are not able, themselves, to buy into the industry to get a boat, gear or licence. Some of them are moving away to other provinces, moving to Alberta, maybe working in a meat packing plant or working in the oil industry out there. They are not following their family's tradition of staying in the fishing industry, simply because of impediments that are there.

One of those impediments, Mr. Speaker, is the high cost of licences. When the prices escalated to $400,000 or $500,000 in my area, or even close to $1 million in southwestern Nova Scotia, even higher than that, I've heard. Who can afford to get into it? How can you justify spending that kind of money, even if you could get access to the capital? There is the problem, is getting access to the capital so the young person can get into the fishery.

[Page 8983]

They, maybe, approach their bank or the credit union and they say, no, sorry, we can't lend you that kind of money, simply because the boat is worth so much, the gear is worth so much, but really, a lot of the value there is in the licences. That is what is being transferred. It's sort of an intangible and the lending institution doesn't want to take a chance on it and lend money on something they can't recover or they don't see as collateral. There's nothing there for them to back up their loan. So they approached the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board and they run into the same problem. They're told no, it's an intangible, we can't lend you money on that. I know while the minister mentioned that perhaps he's working on a solution there with the DFO, I'm hopeful that it's going to come forward that in time young people will be able to borrow money for the whole enterprise, the licence, the boat, the gear, everything to get started and away they go. They're offering the experience, they've been at it since they were 13 or 14 working on their father's boat, but they don't have the access of the capital.

It's difficult right now for that young person to get into the industry and it's difficult for the retiring fisherman to step out or to step down. He can't find a buyer for his fishing business because there's no young person that can afford to get into the business. This is one solution that would help our young fishing families. The other issue that was raised was around the capital gains cost of getting into the industry. It's very expensive tax-wise to be able to afford to buy a fishing enterprise. Somebody's got to pay that tax. Is it the new person getting in or is it the retiring fisherman getting out? If it's valued at $500,000, who's going to pay the tax on that huge capital gain that's there?

I can remember I had one family approach me on this very issue. A 72-year-old retiring fisherman wanted to sell it to his son-in-law, but he found because of the tax implications it was going to be just impossible. So then he said he wanted to give it to his son-in-law and again, because the Income Tax Act is coming into effect, there would be implications for taxes paid and he eventually went to an accountant, talked to him and I think they did something around incorporation to find some way around part of it. In the end, they still had to pay a lot of tax and that's a major problem.

I know in the Province of Quebec they found a way around this. They have allowed for capital gains allowance in conjunction with that province and up to $500,000, the same as the farmers enjoy, the same as small-business people enjoy. If one province can do it, why can't we do it here in Nova Scotia? The precedent is there, their fishermen are able to transfer from father to son, from one generation to another, much quicker and much easier without paying the full large amount of tax. While I know the minister has been having discussions with his federal counterparts, I wish he would aggressively pursue that and find a way that our young people with fishing interests can stay here in Nova Scotia, not have to go to Alberta to work in a meat plant or an oil patch or whatever and be able to carry on the family business. If they're able to stay here, they're adding value to our economy. They're actually helping all the local stores and businesses and it just keeps that tradition alive. I think that's what we all want, we want our fishing industry to thrive and survive. I know my

[Page 8984]

time is drawing to a close, but it is a serious problem and I think that it's imperative upon government to work to find these solutions, whether it's through the Income Tax Act or the Fisheries Loan Board. There are solutions out there and it's vital that we keep our coastal communities strong and vibrant and find ways for our young families to stay in the fishing industry. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have about 20 seconds if any member that hasn't already spoken wishes to speak. If not, we've reached the end of the time for the debate brought forward. I thank all the members for taking part in this very important debate in this House tonight.

[6:30 p.m.]

The House will now resume debate on Bill No. 254.

[GOVERNMENT BUSINESS]

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

Bill No. 254 - Motor Vehicle Act. [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, it seems like I was just up here, but anyway I enjoy having the opportunity to speak for a couple of minutes on Bill No. 254, the Motor Vehicle Act, an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act. I guess the main aspect or principle in this bill is around the alcohol ignition interlock, but really it's all about finding a method or a way of cutting down on drunk driving.

As we know, Mr. Speaker, that is still a very, very serious problem in our province. There are still accidents occurring because of people who are taking a chance and driving while under the influence of alcohol. We all know of cases or instances where people have lost loved ones because somebody made the stupid mistake of having a drink and then going out and driving on our highways. Really that's what it is - an immature or stupid decision by somebody who figures they can drink and then drive on our highways.

Personally I can relate to this, Mr. Speaker. It was 34 years ago that I lost a close family member, a cousin of mine, in a motor vehicle accident caused by drinking. Young people out for a good time on a Friday night - and maybe it was more socially acceptable then that people did drink and drive, but unfortunately three of them lost their lives in Colchester County in that crash. I'm sure there are lots of other examples of people who have experienced the same tragedy, so it is a very serious issue and I'm glad to see the government

[Page 8985]

bringing something forward here. It's not the be-all and end-all, it's not going to solve all the problems, but it's a step along the way and it will help in some respects.

I know the organization called MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving - has been pushing hard not only for this piece of legislation, but for others that would help to save lives of people from people who are drinking and driving. Here is another example. On the weekend, Mr. Speaker, in the Town of New Glasgow there was motor vehicle accident. There were seven young people involved in that accident - I think it was on Saturday evening and six of those young people ended up in the hospital with quite serious injuries and, again, it's suspected that alcohol was the contributing factor.

In our local, or I guess it was the provincial paper on Sunday, there was a story about a mother who will never forget, a Pictou County woman who lost a child due to a drunk driver, and she says when she lost her 10-year-old son, the drunk driver "came through my family like a tornado and ripped it apart." Unless you experience it yourself, I guess you don't really know the consequences, how somebody can feel when they lose a loved one just suddenly, like that, because of somebody's mistake of drinking and driving.

So, Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to see that finally this legislation is being introduced. It's something that our Party has pushed for for a number of years. I think it was the honourable member for Pictou Centre, in a Private Member's Bill a number of years ago, had similar legislation, and our Party has pushed for it for a number of years. I think the government had actually introduced this legislation themselves in 1999 and for some reason it was never proclaimed, but I'm glad to see it back here on the agenda again. Let's hope this time that it will be proclaimed.

Other provinces have introduced it. MADD, as I said, has been recommending this for a long time and I guess it's proven technology and certainly a valuable tool to cut down on the number of drunk drivers. Basically, an alcohol ignition interlock is just a small mechanical system that's hooked directly to a vehicle and the car will not start, so I assume it's hooked also to the starter, or to the electrical system.

There are a couple of questions I guess, Mr. Speaker, that I might raise around it, as to how effective it is. I suppose there's somebody that has more technical expertise than I that could answer that. Will it work if someone else blows into it? If a passenger is in the front seat and decides to blow into it rather than the driver it's intended for, is there some way around that? That's a concern.

Also, it doesn't mention in the bill but what is the tolerance level? Is it 0 per cent or is it higher? It doesn't say exactly what it's going to be. The other concern I have around it is it's voluntary only and if a driver is convicted of being under the influence and loses his licence for 12 months, my understanding is that if they voluntarily agree to bring this alcohol-ignition system into their vehicle then their sentence could be reduced to as low as three

[Page 8986]

months. There's an onus on the driver to want to have that in his vehicle so he can get his licence back sooner.

I wonder if in some cases if it should be mandatory because some people may find ways around it or may wish to find another way to get his licence back sooner. Maybe voluntary will work because you will want your licence back. In some cases, people will probably get around it anyway and I think mandatory might be a better system.

Overall, it's just another tool in the fight against drunk driving. There are other things, like the graduated licensing program and checkpoints by our police officers, licence suspensions. My colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, mentioned we need a 14-day suspension for sure for people that are suspended for between .05 and .08. There's more that can be done, but certainly this is a step in the right direction. Really, we need to get to the point where it's socially unacceptable to be drinking and driving. Education really is the best key to make that happen.

With that, I want to support the bill, but I'm looking forward to maybe more initiatives by government to continue the fight to stop those who are drinking and driving. So I look forward to seeing it move forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members opposite for their constructive interventions and I would move we close debate on second reading of Bill No. 254, the Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 254. 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.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, I would like to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

[Page 8987]

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 232 - Optometry Act.

Bill No. 235 - Dispensing Opticians Act.

Bill No. 243 - Emergency Measures Act/Public Service Act.

Bill No. 251 - Public Service Act.

Bill No. 258 - Building Code Act.

[Each without amendment.]and further:

Bill No. 203 - Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act.

Bill No. 256 - Municipal Government Act.

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

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the business of the day, and I would like to recognize the House Leader of the NDP to set tomorrow's hours and the nature of business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours will be from 2:00 p.m until 6:00 p.m. After the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Resolution No. 4462, which is related to Sysco pensioners, and Bill No. 248, which is the Income Tax Act. I so move adjournment of the House until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[Page 8988]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

[The House rose at 6:40 p.m.]

[Page 8989]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4827

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas Seton Elementary Grade 5 student Avery Varnes has had his tattoo design chosen, one of two among 3,000 entries for Grades 4 to 9; and

Whereas Avery, age 11, of North Sydney has received a winning plaque for the Historica Tattoo Our Moose contest, which creates tattoos that reflect Canadian themes; and

Whereas these winning entries are turned into "lick and stick" tattoos and are distributed at Historica fairs across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Avery Varnes on his accomplishment.

RESOLUTION NO. 4828

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas DesBarres Manor in Guysborough made the news this past Summer being recognized in The Halifax Herald for a great place to dine and stay, and also by Travel Lady Magazine as the jewel of a fabulous trip; and

Whereas DesBarres Manor is a four and a half star inn, built in 1837 as a residence for a Supreme Court Justice; and

Whereas DesBarres Manor is not only known for its elegance and beauty, but also for being "one of the nicest patios in Nova Scotia" and for its fantastic dining room and menu;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate DesBarres Manor on being recognized for their beautiful establishment, fine dining and excellent service.

[Page 8990]

RESOLUTION NO. 4829

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas Liscombe, Guysborough County truck driver Blaine Hubley won the Atlantic Canada Truckers' Championship in early June, and advanced to the nationals in Moncton in late September; and

Whereas Blaine comes from a family that has been involved in the trucking industry all their lives; and

Whereas Blaine today hauls asphalt from Country Harbour to Cape Breton, just as his family was doing 42 years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Blaine for his victory as Atlantic Canada's top trucker, as well as paying tribute to the Hubley family for doing something they have loved for over four decades.

RESOLUTION NO. 4830

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas the Town of Canso's economic development fund received a boost from two student entrepreneurs this past Summer; and

Whereas Tim Hudson and Zach MacGillivray founded a company called Red Music Productions, where they planned and promoted a band concert held at the St. Andrews District Community Centre; and

Whereas proceeds from the concert in the amount of almost $1,400 were presented to Canso Mayor Ray White for the town's economic development fund;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Tim Hudson and Zach MacGillivray for their contribution to the community and for setting such a great example for people of all ages, and wish them continued success in all they do.

[Page 8991]

RESOLUTION NO. 4831

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Stephanie Power was a member of the women's soccer team which participated in the 2005 Canada Games in Regina; and

Whereas Stephanie Power was one of 330 Nova Scotia athletes who competed at these Canada Games; and

Whereas Stephanie Power clearly demonstrated strong athleticism, teamwork and excellence by her participation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Stephanie Power on her participation in Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Games, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4832

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Amy Morris was a member of the women's softball team which participated in the 2005 Canada Games in Regina; and

Whereas Amy Morris was one of 330 Nova Scotia athletes who competed at these Canada Games; and

Whereas Amy Morris clearly demonstrated strong athleticism, teamwork and excellence by her participation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Amy Morris on her participation in Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Games, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

[Page 8992]

RESOLUTION NO. 4833

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Jessica Jarrett-Mackillop was a member of the women's soccer team which participated in the 2005 Canada Games in Regina; and

Whereas Jessica Jarrett-Mackillop was one of 330 Nova Scotia athletes who competed at these Canada Games; and

Whereas Jessica Jarrett-Mackillop clearly demonstrated strong athleticism, teamwork and excellence by her participation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Jessica Jarrett-Mackillop on her participation in Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Games, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4834

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Adi Gerrits was a member of the women's volleyball team which participated in the 2005 Canada Games in Regina; and

Whereas Adi Gerrits was one of 330 Nova Scotia athletes who competed at these Canada Games; and

Whereas Adi Gerrits clearly demonstrated strong athleticism, teamwork and excellence by her participation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Adi Gerrits on her participation in Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Games, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

[Page 8993]

RESOLUTION NO. 4835

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Emily Duann participated in the rowing events for Nova Scotia in the 2005 Canada Games in Regina; and

Whereas Emily Duann was one of 330 Nova Scotia athletes who competed at these Canada Games; and

Whereas Emily Duann clearly demonstrated strong athleticism, hard work and excellence by her participation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Emily Duann on her participation in Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Games, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4836

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Melissa Dodge is a member of the Halifax Rugby Football Club; and

Whereas Melissa Dodge was selected to be part of the Nova Scotia team at the Senior Women's Rugby Nationals in Vancouver, British Columbia in August 2005; and

Whereas Melissa Dodge demonstrated athleticism, teamwork and excellence in participating in this event;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Melissa Dodge for her participation in the Senior Women's Rugby Nationals, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

[Page 8994]

RESOLUTION NO. 4837

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas Katie Aucoin was a member of the Nova Scotia women's soccer team which participated in the 2005 Canada Games in Regina; and

Whereas Katie Aucoin was one of 330 Nova Scotia athletes who competed at these Canada Games; and

Whereas Katie Aucoin clearly demonstrated strong athleticism, teamwork and hard work by her participation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Katie Aucoin on her participation in Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Games, and wish her much success in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4838

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Friday, October 28, 2005, Springhillers will board a Tim Hortons bus to attend a viewing of the play Bump at Eastern Front Theatre in Dartmouth; and

Whereas this play depicts the life of Springhill miners who were trapped underground after the 1958 disaster; and

Whereas Mrs. Norma Ruddick and her family will be special guests of Eastern Front Theatre on this night;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Linda Rosborough, as well as her staff at Eastern Front Theatre, Bud Anderson, Tim Hortons and all Springhillers, for their contribution and dedication to their community.

[Page 8995]

RESOLUTION NO. 4839

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas Jessica West, a resident of Kingston, Nova Scotia, has recently graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University; and

Whereas Jessica has attained enormous academic success while completing a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, graduating with distinction; and

Whereas Jessica was the Convocation Valedictorian and the recipient of the Patricia Butler Prize, in addition to the Sara E. Phillips Memorial Prize in Mathematics;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge and congratulate Jessica West for her remarkable academic achievements.