Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 15, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Commun. Serv. - Disabled (Hants East): Family Benefits Cuts -
Oppose, Mr. John MacDonell 8782
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 8782
Health - Colchester Reg. Hosp.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Dexter 8782
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3275, Sport - Community: N.S. Amateur Sport Fund -
Support Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 8783
Vote - Affirmative 8784
Res. 3276, Culture - N.S. Music Week: Gala Awards -
Recipients Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8784
Vote - Affirmative 8784
Res. 3277, Econ. Dev. - Gas Fitter Prog.: Implementation -
Participants Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 8785
Vote - Affirmative 8785
Res. 3278, Health - Care: Northern Reg. Bd. - Provision Congrats.
Hon. J. Muir 8785
Vote - Affirmative 8786
Res. 3279, Culture - Music Industry: African-Nova Scotian -
Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8786
Vote - Affirmative 8787
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3280, Blumenthal, Jerry - HRM: Dep. Mayor - Election Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8787
Vote - Affirmative 8788
Res. 3281, Acadia Univ./Assoc. Alumni - Conflict: Kings South MLA -
Stance Declare, Mr. W. Gaudet 8788
Res. 3282, N.S. Business Inc. - Formation: Opposition Parties -
Comments, Hon. G. Balser 8789
Res. 3283, Little, Kevin: Warnings - Heed, Mr. J. Holm 8790
Res. 3284, MacGillivray, Kendra - CD: Release - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Downe 8791
Vote - Affirmative 8791
Res. 3285, St. F.X. - Maclean's Magazine: Ranking - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8791
Vote - Affirmative 8792
Res. 3286, Cape Breton - Residents: Treatment (2nd-Class) -
Premier Cease, Mr. F. Corbett 8792
Res. 3287, Tourism - Min.: Duties - Failure, Mr. Manning MacDonald 8793
Res. 3288, Rankin, John Morris & Molly - Contribution Recognize:
Best Wishes - Extend, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8794
Vote - Affirmative 8794
Res. 3289, Little, Kevin - Liberals (Cdn.): Performance -
Assessment Correct, Mr. Robert Chisholm 8794
Res. 3290, Tourism - Min.: Inverness Oran - Concerns Hear,
Mr. M. Samson 8795
Res. 3291, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Twin to Win - Praise, Mr. D. Morse 8796
Res. 3292, Little, Kevin - Liberal Party: Attitude - Return, Mr. J. Pye 8796
Res. 3293, Tourism - Min. (MLA Inverness): Representation -
Condemn, Mr. D. Wilson 8797
Res. 3294, MacKinnon, Ian (Cumb. Co.): Accomplishments -
Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 8798
Vote - Affirmative 8798
Res. 3295, d'Entremont, Irene - Guinness Book of World Records:
Inclusion - Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 8799
Vote - Affirmative 8799
Res. 3296, Liberal Party Leader - Comments: Bedford -
Residents Apologies, Hon. P. Christie 8799
Res. 3297, Paul, Dr. Danny - We Were Not The Savages: New Edition -
Launch Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 8800
Vote - Affirmative 8801
Res. 3298, Culture - African-Nova Scotian Community/
Preston Constituency: Musical Talent - Recognize/Applaud,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8801
Vote - Affirmative 8802
Res. 3299, Works, Amy - RCL (Westville): Mural -
Appreciation Extend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 8802
Vote - Affirmative 8802
Res. 3300, Haliburton, Matt - Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year:
Award - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 8802
Vote - Affirmative 8803
Res. 3301, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104: Construction -
Liberals Contrition, Mr. W. Langille 8803
Res. 3302, NDP: Portfolios - Examine, Mr. F. Chipman 8804
Res. 3303, Liverpool - Incorporation: Anniv. (103rd) - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Morash 8805
Vote - Affirmative 8806
Res. 3304, Reeves, Mary Theresa - Death of: Family - Sympathies Extend,
Mr. B. Barnet 8806
Vote - Affirmative 8806
Res. 3305, Morykot, Donna - Young Engineer of the Year: Award -
Congrats., Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8807
Vote - Affirmative 8807
Res. 3306, Health - Gov't. (Cdn.): Ploy - Transparency, Mr. D. Morse 8807
Res. 3307, MacGillivray, Kendra - CD: Release - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8808
Vote - Affirmative 8809
Res. 3308, Lismore Commun. Ctr. - Craft Fair/Salmon Dinner:
Volunteers - Dedication Applaud, Mr. J. DeWolfe 8809
Vote - Affirmative 8809
Res. 3309, Soldiers Mem. Hosp. (Middleton) - Helipad: Construction -
Residents Recognize, Mr. F. Chipman 8810
Vote - Affirmative 8810
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1046, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Toll -
Increase Prevent, Mr. John MacDonell 8811
No. 1047, Educ. - School Boards: Fuel Costs - Impact, Mr. W. Gaudet 8812
No. 1048, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Toll Increase -
Fairness, Mr. H. Epstein 8813
No. 1049, Health - Diabetes Medication: Cost Increase - Justification,
Dr. J. Smith 8814
No. 1050, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Toll Increase -
Modification, Mr. H. Epstein 8815
No. 1051, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Red Tape Reduction Task Force:
Sunday Shopping - Recommendation Acceptance, Mr. D. Wilson 8816
No. 1052, Justice - Home Invasions: Prevention - Measures, Mr. J. Pye 8817
No. 1053, Fin. - Fuel Tax: Revenue Projections - Table, Mr. D. Downe 8818
No. 1054, Health - N.S. Hosp.: Service Reduction - Effect,
Mr. D. Dexter 8820
No. 1055, Acadian Affs. - Adv. Comm.: Appointments - Process,
Mr. M. Samson 8821
No. 1056, Nat. Res.: NSRL - Sale, Mr. F. Corbett 8822
No. 1057, Fin. - Debt Consolidation: Consultant - Tender, Mr. D. Downe 8824
No. 1058, Health: Privatization - Position, Mr. D. Dexter 8826
No. 1059, Justice - DPP: Hiring Process - Status, Mr. M. Samson 8827
No. 1060, Commun. Serv.: Housing Project (Creighton-Gerrish Sts.) -
Status, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8828
No. 1061, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Sydney Harbour: Treatment - Funding,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8829
No. 1062, Educ. - P3 School: Commun. Groups - Access,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8831
No. 1063, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sydney Steel: Site Remediation -
Time-Frame, Mr. P. MacEwan 8832
No. 1064, Health - Cochlear Implants: Delay - Responsibility,
Mr. D. Dexter 8833
No. 1065, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Red Tape Reduction Task Force:
Deregulation - Busing, Mr. R. MacKinnon 8834
No. 1066, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Paediatric Ward - Staffing,
Mr. D. Dexter 8836
No. 1067, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Glace Bay: Water Supply -
Min. Improve, Mr. D. Wilson 8837
No. 1068, Educ. - Hants East Rural High: Technology -
Resources Required, Mr. John MacDonell 8838
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2463, Environ. - Kings Co.: Water Quality - Ensure,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8839
Mr. H. Epstein 8839
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8842
Mr. D. Morse 8844
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8845
Mr. John MacDonell 8848
Res. 3220, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/98 on): Deficit -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 8851
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8852
Hon. P. Christie 8854
Dr. J. Smith 8858
Mr. K. Deveaux 8861
Mr. M. Parent 8865
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 8865
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Communities - Cooperative Effort: Outcome - Positive:
Mr. M. Parent 8867
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8870
Mr. P. MacEwan 8872
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 16th at 12:00 p.m. 8875
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3310, Acadia Univ. - Maclean's Magazine: Ranking - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 8876
Res. 3311, Culture - ANSMA: Cain-Grant, Tiyailia; Gough, Adrian;
Colley, Shane - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8876
Res. 3312, Culture - ANSMA: Carvery, Linda; Sparks, Jamie; Cain, Cindy
- Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8877
Res. 3313, Culture - ANSMA: Sparks, Jeremiah; Afro Musica: Impact -
Congrats, Mr. D. Hendsbee 8877
Res. 3314, Culture - ANSMA: James, Gary (Papa Grand);
Carson Downey Band; Sparks, Jeremiah - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8878
Res. 3315, Culture - ANSMA: Carson Downey Band; Sparks, Jeremiah;
Sparks, Jamie - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8878
Res. 3316, Culture - ANSMA: Gospel Heirs; Sparks, Jeremiah;
N.S. Mass Choir - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8879
Res. 3317, Culture - ANSMA: Sparks, Jamie; Cain, Cindy; James, Gary -
Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 8879
Res. 3318, Culture - ANSMA: Fashan, Shelly - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8880
Res. 3319, Culture - ANSMA: The Raindrops - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8880
Res. 3320, Culture - ANSMA: Four The Moment - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8881

[Page 8781]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North:

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the positive work that can be accomplished when a community rallies together.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

8781

[Page 8782]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of disabled constituents in my constituency. The operative clause to the Minister of Community Services is, "We, the undersigned, are very concerned about the proposed changes to recipients of Family Benefits. Individual amounts are being reduced under the clothing section, rent section and miscellaneous section. The reduction in shelter (rent) allowance is forcing some disabled people who have been living alone (with some support) to move into Senior Citizen Apartment Complexes. They are not seniors. We have also been advised that some prescriptions or non-prescription medications, that were deemed necessary by their doctor, have been eliminated subject to MSI agreeing to allow coverage. This is causing great hardship to these patients.

These cuts are hurting people who are already at the lower end of the financial ladder. They have nowhere to turn to make up the difference caused by these cuts. It has been said that the present government is operating under the 'Darwinian Theory', i.e. Survival of the Fittest. This is not how we want our government to be run."

Mr. Speaker, there are 227 signatures, including my own.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Eastern Passage. The operative clause reads, "According to the 'Evaluation of High Schools' report produced by the Department of Education in May, 2000, Cole Harbour District (High School) is the only school whose projected enrollment exceeds the 'theoretical building maximum'. Given the fact that over 50% of that school's population comes from Eastern Passage and the inability, for logistical reasons, to transfer these students to another school with less capacity pressures, it is our opinion that the only alternative is to build a high school in our community." I ask that it be tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Truro and surrounding area. The operative clause reads, "We the undersigned are opposed to the planned cuts to the pediatric nursing staff at Colchester Regional Hospital scheduled to begin on November 2, 2000. We believe that a 50% reduction in nursing staff will put our children at risk of being treated in an unsafe health care environment. We demand that the administration of the Colchester Regional Hospital find alternative funding solutions."

[Page 8783]

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature. There are 1,001 signatures on this petition, bringing the total to 4,005 tabled so far. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3275

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

Whereas Sport Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission and the National Sport Centre-Atlantic Canada hosted an Olympian Breakfast in honour of Nova Scotia's Olympians and Paralympians; and

Whereas 22 Nova Scotian Olympian and Paralympian competitors, coaches and officials were part of Canada's team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics; and

Whereas the Olympian Breakfast raised $8,000 for the Nova Scotia Amateur Sport Fund, which will help to grow a quality sport system in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature recognize the efforts of our province's sport community in support of the Nova Scotia Amateur Sport Fund.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8784]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3276

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

Whereas the voice of Nova Scotia often emulates from the work of its artists and, in particular, its music industry; and

Whereas studies have shown that Nova Scotia's music industry creates an economic impact of more than $100 million and involves upwards of 2,500 people; and

Whereas members of the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia just recently recognized their most outstanding representatives at this year's Nova Scotia Music Week Gala Awards ceremonies;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Nova Scotia's music industry and all of this year's Nova Scotia Music Week Award winners and their tremendous contribution to our great province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

[Page 8785]

RESOLUTION NO. 3277

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

Whereas on November 14th, representatives of the Nova Scotia Community College, Sempra Atlantic Gas and the Nova Scotia Petroleum Directorate joined forces with community members to celebrate the graduation of the first class of adult students to complete the gas fitters training course; and

Whereas this training program with business, government and training institutions working together represents a proactive, long-term strategy for dealing with any potential skill and labour shortage; and

Whereas the willingness of adult students to participate in these training opportunities is a clear message that Nova Scotians recognize the need for lifelong learning;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the gas fitter graduates, Sempra Atlantic Gas, Nova Scotia Community College and the Nova Scotia Petroleum Directorate for the successful implementation of this training program.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3278

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 Northern Regional Health Board has recently received a very positive evaluation from the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation; and

[Page 8786]

Whereas a team approach to patient care was supported by the Northern Regional Health Board, health facilities and physicians within the region; and

Whereas the accreditation process provides an objective appraisal of our health care organizations and the services they provide compared to nationally accepted standards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Northern Regional Health Board, medical personnel and facilities within that region for their excellent standard of care provided and recognize that the Nova Scotia health system is among the very best in North America.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION 3279

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

Whereas African Nova Scotians have a strong musical tradition that has spirited their communities for so many years; and

Whereas today those traditions are the foundation on which a whole new generation of African Nova Scotians speak to audiences throughout the world; and

Whereas members of the African Nova Scotian Music Association have this past weekend recognized their most outstanding representatives at this year's African Nova Scotia Music Awards ceremonies before a sell-out crowd;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Nova Scotia's African music industry and all of this year's award winners and their tremendous contribution to our great province.

[Page 8787]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South on an introduction.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to the House the Paralegal Services Class, AK2000-C, from the Nova Scotia Community College, Akerley Campus, in the east gallery. Part of these student's educational process is to see the way this government of ours operates and I think they couldn't have picked a better day to come here. There are 30 students and two members of the faculty: Judith Richardson and Kevin MacLean. It also gives me great pleasure to note that my daughter, Stephanie, is also with the group. I would ask the House to give them a warm reception and show them the best wishes of the House. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome these young people to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3280

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

Whereas last evening, Councillor Jerry Blumenthal was elected the new Deputy Mayor for Halifax Regional Municipality; and

[Page 8788]

Whereas Councillor Blumenthal's extensive record of public service includes his current position as the Vice-President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities; and

Whereas Councillor Blumenthal is well respected in his district as a strong voice for Halifax's north end;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Councillor Blumenthal on his election as Deputy Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality, and extend best wishes to him and to his supportive and equally hard-working wife, Nancy, as they continue to serve the citizens of Halifax Regional Municipality.

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 Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3281

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

Whereas the member for Kings South, yesterday and on Thursday, November 9th, introduced a resolution in this House congratulating Acadia University; and

Whereas the member is to be commended for congratulating Acadia University on its successes; and

Whereas the member has been conspicuous by his silence on the conflict between Acadia University and the Acadia Associated Alumni;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Kings South declare to this House and to his constituents exactly where he stands on the conflict between the university and the alumni.

[Page 8789]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 3282

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

Whereas this government has announced the first comprehensive Economic Development strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia in over a decade, an opportunity which the former Liberal Minister of Economic Development failed to capture; and

Whereas Opposition members have used the introduction of the enabling legislation to malign the intent of not just the government but also of the business community, which has expressed a willingness to help Nova Scotia, not only by supporting this new direction, but also by indicating their willingness to give of their time serving on the Board of Nova Scotia Business Incorporated; and

Whereas the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, an organization representing some 1,850 businesses has indicated that the formation of Nova Scotia Business Incorporated provides important opportunities for private sector participation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Would you like to hear it again? (Interruptions) Order, please. Could we hear the "Therefore be it resolved" again, please.

MR. BALSER: Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the comments of Opposition Parties for what they are, envy on the part of the former Liberal Government members, and unabashed anti-business rhetoric on the part of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 8790]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3283

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

Whereas one Nova Scotian has warned voters that "the Liberals had no principles. My friends told me; history certainly teaches this"; and

Whereas this same Nova Scotian also warned his fellow citizens that he "had been duped" by the Liberals; and

Whereas he summed up the Savage-Boudreau Government's record by declaring "It was all a complete farce";

Therefore be it resolved that voters throughout Nova Scotia should heed these warnings made by the Halifax Liberal candidate Kevin Little, and remember that a Liberal vote cast in a moment is usually regretted for the next four years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 8791]

RESOLUTION NO. 3284

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

Whereas last night Kendra MacGillivray launched her latest CD at The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse here in Halifax; and

Whereas her latest CD entitled, Over the Waves, is Kendra MacGillivray's third recording; and

Whereas the Antigonish native has performed at various concerts and ceilidhs throughout Nova Scotia playing the music of her Scottish ancestors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Kendra MacGillivray on her outstanding accomplishments and wish her great success with her new CD and in all her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3285

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

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish was recently ranked third among undergraduate institutions in Canada in Maclean's Magazine's annual ranking; and

Whereas St. F.X. regained this honour this year to give Maritime institutions a clean sweep of the top three positions; and

[Page 8792]

Whereas the rankings are determined by factors including incoming students' grades, class sizes and funding for research and scholarships;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the administration, staff, students and alumni of St. Francis Xavier University for their continued pursuit of excellence in education, and congratulate them on their well deserved recognition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver. (Interruptions)

A wonderful example for the students upstairs, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. You are an awful raucous crowd today. I would not want our guests to think we are like this every day.

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. 3286

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

Whereas this government's half-hearted approach to dealing with issues affecting the people of Cape Breton has become more and more apparent with each passing day; and

Whereas the non-existent policy on real economic development for the area, a joke for process on Sysco deal, a delayed response to the flooding in Cape Breton, and a policy that leaves many unemployed Cape Bretoners out of the loop on relief funding, has signified the low priority this government places the communities of Cape Breton Island; and

Whereas Murray Johnston, a former Tory candidate for Cape Breton North, is taking this government to task over its disregard for Cape Breton communities, having said that even Party faithful are disillusioned over this government's shabby treatment;

[Page 8793]

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier stop treating the people of Cape Breton like second-class citizens as a punishment for so soundly rejecting its Party in the last provincial election.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3287

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

Whereas the Minister of Tourism and Culture is hardly taxed in his duties as a one portfolio minister in the Hamm Government; and

Whereas the Inverness Oran is condemning the minister for his inability to support the Inverness Golf Course, a project supported by a Liberal Government and killed by the current minister; and

Whereas in his first year in the Tourism portfolio, the minister has managed to oversee the first drop in tourism for five years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Tourism has completely failed in his duties as MLA, and has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a lightweight minister with no influence around the Cabinet Table.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

[Page 8794]

RESOLUTION NO. 3288

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

Whereas a tribute concert was held on Saturday, November 11, 2000, for the late John Morris Rankin at Strathspey Place, the new performing arts centre at Dalbrae Academy, Mabou; and

Whereas over 100 of Nova Scotia's finest musicians performed to the pleasure of an audience of over 500 people; and

Whereas Molly Rankin, John Morris' daughter, delighted those in attendance with a selection of fiddle tunes, including some written by her father;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the valuable contribution made by John Morris Rankin and wish his daughter, Molly, all the best as she follows in her father's footsteps.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3289

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

Whereas a Kevin Little wrote a letter that was published in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald on May 23, 1997; and

[Page 8795]

Whereas Mr. Little writes that "the Liberals have always chosen power over any principle"; and

Whereas he also writes that "Whether it was MacKenzie King, Pierre Trudeau or John Chretien, there was never any consistent attempt to assist the poor";

Therefore be it resolved that Kevin Little was absolutely correct when he looked at the federal Liberals' performance and said "all I see is opportunism".

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3290

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

Whereas the only thing the MLA for Inverness has accomplished as Minister of Tourism is to reduce the growth of tourism in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the minister's only good news announcement was a culture strategy that was quickly shot down by the Finance Minister; and

Whereas a recent column in his local newspaper described him as a "paper-tiger minister, lightweight MLA . . . who has truly abandoned us all";

Therefore be it resolved that the minister listen to the concerns presented in the Inverness Oran and provide more than just "lip service" to the good people of Inverness.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings South has the floor.

[Page 8796]

RESOLUTION NO. 3291

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

Whereas the Kings County-based Twin to Win group has been a powerful advocate for twinning Highway No. 101; and

Whereas group spokesperson, Joan Tracey, praised the efforts of our provincial government to promote Highway No. 101 safety, stating, "If they save even one life, they're worth it"; and

Whereas Ms. Tracey also noted that her group feels betrayed by the former Liberal Government on the issue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House praise the Twin to Win group for injecting much-needed reality into this important safety issue.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3292

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

Whereas current Halifax Liberal candidate Kevin Little has gone on record as referring to the Liberal Party as having abandoned social justice, having no principles, having betrayed the homeless and other disenfranchised groups, having been a total lie, a sham, a ruse, a complete farce and never getting his vote again; and

Whereas Reverend Little will either need to eat his words or vote against himself on November 27th;

[Page 8797]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Reverend Little for his momentary burst of clarity and wish him a speedy return to his earlier position, recognizing the harm the Liberal Party has inflicted upon Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3293

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

Whereas a recent article in the November 8th edition of the Inverness Oran condemned the MLA for Inverness; and

Whereas the article said that the minister is, "a paper-tiger minister, a lightweight MLA without any political clout and who lacks the intestinal fortitude to buck the Party in the name of the people he represents"; and

Whereas according to the article, "we were much better off with one Butch MacIsaac at the helm of the IDA than we are with 10 Rodneys in Halifax";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the MLA for Inverness and Minister of Tourism for failing to adequately represent the concerns of his constituents.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 8798]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3294

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

Whereas Ian MacKinnon, a native of Wallace Station, Nova Scotia, is a graduate of Pugwash District High School, who also received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and his Master of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal; and

Whereas Mr. MacKinnon attributes the inspiration for his paintings and drawings on memories and objects of special interest from his childhood and domestic life in Wallace Station and Cumberland County; and

Whereas Mr. MacKinnon, who has been an active member of the Nova Scotia art community for over 20 years and has exhibited across Canada, has recently been acknowledged with a temporary appointment as the artist in residence for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize Ian MacKinnon for his dedication to his profession and congratulate him on his accomplishments in Nova Scotia and, indeed, in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 8799]

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 3295

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

Whereas Belleville resident, Irene d'Entremont, recently became the world-record holder of the largest collection of brooches according to the Guinness World Book of Records; and

Whereas this unique collection, which began more than 20 years ago, now consists of 2,318 brooches proudly displayed in 36 frames throughout her home; and

Whereas Mrs. d'Entremont is the first brooch collector to apply for world status;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mrs. d'Entremont on pinning down the world record and hope to see her name appear in the next edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3296

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

Whereas the Liberal member for Cape Breton West continues to refer to the former Town of Bedford as Bedrock, as recently as yesterday in the House; and

[Page 8800]

Whereas this pejorative term does not reflect the progressive spirit which embodies Bedford and its residents; and

Whereas the people of Bedford can only be left to wonder whether this term reflects the Liberal Party's attitude towards this proud community;

Therefore be it resolved that the interim Leader of the Liberal Party apologize to the people of Bedford for this repeated slur.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3297

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

Whereas Mi'kmaq historian and writer Daniel N. Paul officially launched the new 21st Century edition of his book, We Were Not the Savages, on November 14, 2000; and

Whereas this book is a Mi'kmaq perspective on the collision between European and Native American civilizations; and

Whereas Danny Paul's leadership in human rights, as spokesperson and activist, and as a builder in the Mi'kmaq community has been widely recognized, including the award of an honorary doctorate degree by the Université Sainte-Anne;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Dr. Danny Paul on the launch of the new edition of We Were Not the Savages, and thank him for his ongoing contributions to human rights and the Mi'kmaq community.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 8801]

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3298

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

Whereas the constituency of Preston is blessed with a multitude of talented and dedicated individuals; and

Whereas at the recent 3rd Annual ANSMA Awards, awards were presented in seven musical categories in addition to three honorary awards of distinction to various entertainers from the African-Nova Scotia music community; and

Whereas 11 Preston constituents were prominent from the field of 16 nominees, competing in a total of 24 nominations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the musical talents of those musicians in the African-Nova Scotia community, especially those hailing from the constituency of Preston.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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 8802]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3299

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

Whereas during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Legion in Westville, student Amy Works had her mural depicting her thoughts about war displayed in the downstairs portion of the Legion; and

Whereas Amy was asked to do this mural after the Legion's Sergeant-at-Arms was shown pictures of Amy's work; and

Whereas Amy's mural showed layered scenes of air battles, a warship, ground soldiers advancing across green hills, and at the bottom was written "Lest We Forget";

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our appreciation from this Legislature to Amy for her diligent work and the approximately 80 hours it took to design and paint the mural which so beautifully honours our veterans.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 3300

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

[Page 8803]

Whereas the Entrepreneurship 12 program at Shelburne Regional High School is a proven success; and

Whereas teacher Matt Haliburton is recognized for his assistance, positive reinforcement and the constructive feedback he offers to his students in teaching this program as part of the Grade 12 curriculum; and

Whereas Mr. Haliburton was recently named this year's award winner of the Planet Entrepreneur Award and was also featured in the October edition of Atlantic Progress;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs through this resolution commend Shelburne Regional High's Matt Haliburton for his foresight as one of the province's educators and wish both him and his class of 2000 every success.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3301

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

Whereas the former Liberal Administration imposed a toll highway on motorists travelling through the Wentworth Valley and began charging $3.00 each way three years ago today; and

Whereas as if the $3.00 charge was not an insult itself, Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation is discussing a 50 cent increase in tolls effective January 1st of the new year that will give the corporation an additional $500,000 annually; and

[Page 8804]

Whereas the former Liberal Administration was so mean that in the contract it signed, they made it impossible for any future government to cancel the deal unless hundreds of millions of dollars were paid in penalties for the closure;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals hang their head in shame over the construction of a toll highway that is expected to bleed an additional $500,000 from the pockets of motorists in 2001.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in our west gallery, we have a truly great Nova Scotian who served this province as a civil servant. He was active in the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and he is a member of the Trades Program. From Sydney, I would like to introduce Bernie LaRusic. If he would stand and get the warm greeting of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3302

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

Whereas in the business world, it is common knowledge that equity or ownership in publicly traded companies is owned by the shareholders or, in the case of mutual funds, the unit holders; and

Whereas share equity is used to assist in expansion of job creation; and

Whereas a significant portion of the owners of this share equity and mutual funds come from the working class saving for retirement; and

[Page 8805]

Whereas the NDP, whose mantra it is to tax the profits of these companies, said profits which end up back in the pockets of shareholders in the form of dividends and distributions as part of the retirement savings plan;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP examine their portfolios and then decide if they want to be part of the problem or part of the solution to economic growth and prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 3303

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

Whereas 103 years ago this Sunday, Liverpool was incorporated as a town; and

Whereas historic Liverpool, the Port of the Privateers, has a tremendously interesting maritime history as the home port for some of North American's most successful privateers; and

Whereas the town, now host to some 3,000 residents, celebrates its history in several treasured sites which include Perkins House Museum, Queens County Museum and Fort Point Lighthouse Park as well as through its annual Privateer Days;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Town of Liverpool as it celebrates over a century of incorporation and make every effort to visit Liverpool and enjoy its historic sites and natural beauty at first chance.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

[Page 8806]

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3304

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

Whereas hundreds of people gathered yesterday in St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Sackville to offer their last respects to Mary Teresa Reeves; and

Whereas Mary Reeves was a dedicated volunteer in the Sackville community devoting countless hours to a wide range of organizations including Beacon House, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Catholic Women's League and the Sackville Seniors' Advisory Council; and

Whereas all who knew and worked with Mary Reeves can attest that Sackville became a better place due to her many contriubtions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House pay tribute to the memory of Mary Reeves and extend our deepest sympathy to her family during this time of sadness and loss.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8807]

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3305

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

Whereas the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia recently presented Donna Morykot with the Young Engineer of the Year Award; and

Whereas Ms. Morykot, a former Port Hawkesbury resident, is currently the lead civil and permitting engineer for Sempra Atlantic Gas; and

Whereas with Sempra, Ms. Morykot is responsible for all engineering design related to the route location for approximately 8,000 kilometres of pipeline making up Nova Scotia's natural gas distribution system;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Donna Morykot on being named Young Engineer of the Year and wish her well in her challenging role with Sempra Atlantic and all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3306

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

Whereas the federal Liberal Government quite deliberately chose to procrastinate in making any supplemental health care commitments, creating a national health care crisis; and

[Page 8808]

Whereas, as expected, the Prime Minister cynically made an announcement just weeks prior to his decision to call an election; and

Whereas even after announcing the federal Liberal commitment, this leaves Nova Scotia with an even smaller federal proportional health care presence next year;

Therefore be it resolved that all Canadians are starting to see through this shallow Liberal ploy as their popularity continues to plummet each passing day as we approach the November 27th election.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 3307

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

Whereas Antigonish fiddler Kendra MacGillivray inherited her love of the fiddle from her grandfather, Hugh A. MacDonald's love of the fiddle; and

Whereas Kendra's third CD entitled Over the Waves was released yesterday in Halifax; and

Whereas the efforts of young musicians like Kendra MacGillivray bring traditional music to life for a new generation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. MacGillivray on the release of her new CD and wish her every success in all her endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 8809]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3308

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

Whereas the Lismore Craft Fair and Salmon Dinner took place this past Sunday; and

Whereas many volunteers once again helped make this year's fair and dinner in Lismore an enjoyable event; and

Whereas proceeds from the fair and dinner are put towards the cost of ongoing repairs and construction at the Lismore Community Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly applaud the dedication and the significant efforts of the volunteers and organization of such a successful event.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8810]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3309

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

Whereas the helipad at Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton is now in full operation after months of intensive work by a large sector of volunteers, including service clubs and charitable organizations; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas fund-raising on this project is still not completed and organizers must still raise approximately $20,000 before the cost of the helipad will be paid in full; and

Whereas in addition to offering a site for Nova Scotia's air ambulance to land at Soldiers Memorial Hospital, the new helipad also enables CFB Greenwood's Search and Rescue helicopters a location to land;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the outstanding work done by the residents of the Town of Middleton and outlying areas in the county in the construction of the helipad that will be used in critical incident situations for patients needing immediate emergency health care.

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 2:46 p.m. and will end at 4:16 p.m.

[Page 8811]

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS: TOLL -

INCREASE PREVENT

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works must know that we are fast approaching the deadline for the first automatic toll increase on Highway No. 104, the Cobequid Pass. All vehicles face a 50 cent toll hike on January 1, 2001. The increase will gouge another $1 million from car traffic alone. This Tory Government says it is against tolls on highways. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, what steps has he taken to ensure Nova Scotians will not see a 50 cent hike in tolls on January 1, 2001?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my predecessor in the former government signed an agreement with a consortium of bondholders to finance that particular stretch of highway. I think his name was Ritchie Mann. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: He could have been a Liberal. (Interruptions)

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as part of that agreement, and attached to that agreement, was a schedule of planned increases in tolling. There is no way that we can avoid increasing those toll rates.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess what the minister is saying is he can't manhandle the consortium. For truckers already being nailed with high fuel costs, this represents another serious hit. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, has he had discussions with the Truckers Association to see what impact a toll increase will have on the industry?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is not only the truckers who are going to be affected, automobile traffic is going to be affected as well. The honourable member may be aware that the agreement that was signed actually carried with it a discount for truckers, and that discount will continue in the future.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, what conversations has the Minister of Transportation and Public Works had with the private consortium to ensure they do not increase tolls on the Cobequid Pass?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I know that the NDP show a great deal of ignorance about many items, but one of the things, for sure, that they should be familiar with is the fact that a contract is a contract. (Interruptions) We have had people look at this contract. The only way we can actually negate the contract is to pay off the contract and, quite frankly, this

[Page 8812]

government is not in a position at the present time to pay off the bondholders who hold the bonds for that highway.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOL BOARDS: FUEL COSTS - IMPACT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. High heating costs are hurting individuals throughout the province, and also institutions are being forced to pay for higher heating costs as well. My question to the minister is, has the minister contacted school boards across the province to find out how the cost of heating fuel will impact them?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the short answer to the question is no. High heating costs were part of the budgeting process the school boards went through last spring and they knew very well, because of last year, that heating costs had to be put in their budgets. As the weather has not been terribly cold yet, there has been no update on how the new fuel costs will affect school boards, but we are keeping in touch with all school boards as the year goes on, on all budget issues, to make sure large deficits are not run up.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is to the Minister of Health. Large hospitals, and smaller hospitals alike, will also have costs go higher as a result of ever-increasing fuel costs. My question to the Minister of Health is, has the minister factored in the cost overruns due to high fuel costs when calculating allocations to district health authorities?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. Clearly, we know that the individual facilities, the additional price of fuel is a burden to them and, yes, we have factored that in.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister of Finance. Will the minister consider increasing funding to the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation and Public Works so they can cope with the high cost of fuel oil this winter?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we just heard the answers from two of our largest departments that deal with agencies such as school boards and hospital boards. They have both indicated that they will work with their agencies but live within their budgets. This is a situation that is not only difficult on institutions, but it is also difficult on individuals, and we realize that. However, the province does not have the ability to offset world oil prices, but as the Minister of Health just answered in the previous question, that has been factored in, especially with health boards, and the Minister of Education answered the question before.

[Page 8813]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS: TOLL INCREASE - FAIRNESS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Sir, in fact, for owners of recreational vehicles or motor homes, the situation respecting tolls for Highway No. 104 is even worse than the impending 50 cent toll increase. Under the omnibus agreement, in addition to the automatic increase, there is an inflation-based increase that is tied to the Consumer Price Index. RVs and motor homes will be facing an additional 25 cents as of January 1, 2002. Can the minister tell us, does he think that this 75 cent cumulative increase in tolls just for owners of RVs and motor homes is fair?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that increase does not take place for another 12 to 14 months, and in the interim we are taking a close look at that particular increase. That is not a scheduled increase in the same respect as the one that is being instituted on January 1, 2001.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is, in fact, set out quite explicitly in Clause 51 of the contract. If the CPI goes up by a percentage that works out to at least the equivalent of 25 cents, that goes on top of the automatic toll-rate increases. This can affect all classes of vehicles, but the class that is most imminently about to be affected is the RVs and motor homes, and they will certainly have hit that CPI trigger by October 2001. How does the minister think tourism is going to be promoted by this 75 cent total increase?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, I am sure, is aware of the tolls on U.S. highways where the RV traffic originates. I also bring to the honourable member's attention that the CPI increase may or may not take place.

MR. EPSTEIN: We are almost there now, Mr. Speaker. Look, with these rate increases, the Cobequid Pass toll highway is going to be even more of an enormous cash cow for the private corporation that runs it. I would like to know what it is the minister is going to do to protect Nova Scotians and tourists and truckers from this big cash grab. What is he going to do?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, cash grab by the consortium. The additional revenue that is realized goes to pay down the bondholders at a more rapid rate than the original agreement. (Interruptions)

[Page 8814]

Mr. Speaker, obviously these gentlemen never paid off a mortgage in their lifetimes. The actual length of the bonds that were issued was 25 years; it is now estimated they will be paid off in 15 or 16 years, then we will own the highway and we can take the tolls off, never to re-institute them, I would hope. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - DIABETES MEDICATION: COST INCREASE - JUSTIFICATION

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the honourable Minister of Health. November is Diabetes Month. and the minister knows that it is a necessity for many diabetics of the blood glucose strips. As of August, Nova Scotia Pharmacare has imposed a maximum allowable cost on what they will pay for the diabetes strips. Now drug stores are forced to charge the difference between the actual cost and the allowable cost, directly to the consumer.

My question to the minister is, what evidence-based, and I repeat, evidence-based decision allows this minister to increase costs for diabetics who already pay more for medication than the average health care consumer.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, clearly the cost of medicine for those who are affected with diabetes is a concern to this minister and to my department. I will say at the same time that there are a number of other groups in the province for whom we would like very much to pay the full cost of medicines. Indeed, we get requests, as that member would well know, from groups whose medications are not covered at all. There is a limit to what we can do as a province. We do what we can, and I want to tell the honourable member that we are very much aware of the problem of diabetes in this province.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is the minister who said all decisions will be evidence-based and he never mentioned a word about that. When you add the costs of co-pay, plus the difference in the maximum allowable costs, patients could be paying as much as $46 more a month for some of the diabetes strips. This could mean as high as $552 more per year for some people with diabetes. My question to the minister is, how can the minister possibly justify charging diabetics this massive increase for essential medical supplies?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the aid we provide, the types of medicines we provide, as a Department of Health, and the assistance we give for particular medications is reviewed annually. That member well knows that - well, maybe he doesn't. The increases that he has just spoken of will be reviewed in due course.

[Page 8815]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what this member does know is that this government puts increased costs for those more vulnerable, and there are none more vulnerable than people suffering from diabetes. This minister already got his pound of flesh from Pharmacare users when he jacked up the co-pay by an increase of 65 per cent and increased the limit from $200 to $350. My question to the minister is, will the minister today give an undertaking to this House to assess the increased financial burden for those suffering from diabetes?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the honourable member is not suggesting that we should ignore other groups by that comment. We are trying to provide a health system which provides for all Nova Scotians. Clearly, those people suffering with diabetes, the cost of their drugs will be considered as we review the amount that we will be paying to assist people who need assistance with drugs.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS: TOLL INCREASE - MODIFICATION

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Sir, the contract for the Cobequid Pass toll highway allows for modification of these scheduled increases in the tolls if the revenue is large and the corporation is profitable. So, it might be possible that the 50 cent scheduled increase for January 1st might be avoided. I want to ask the minister about this, because this contract is the biggest cash-generator he is responsible for and, of course, it is the biggest irritant in northern Nova Scotia, thanks to the legacy from the Liberals. I want to know from the minister, is that the case? Is the corporation so profitable that there will be a modification of the scheduled increase this January?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the short answer is no.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, that is not a very detailed answer. I thought the minister was suggesting to us earlier that the corporation, in fact, was generating a lot of money. Now, the contract is clear, the corporation has to give the province financial statements each and every month, read Clause 68. I would like to know details from the minister. What has the minister been doing with these financial statements? Are they in a heap on the floor beside his desk?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto is trained in the legal profession, learned in the law as some people used to say, and surely he must realize that that original schedule stands, regardless of what the financial situation is for the corporation.

[Page 8816]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the real question is, who is in charge here? Is anyone minding the store, or have the minister and his government just given up? The previous Liberal Government set up that corporation so it would be shrouded in secrecy, but now the chickens are coming home to roost, toll increases are imminent, not even the minister seems to be able to give us details. Minister, when will you report to this House in detail about what is going on with the rates for all classes of vehicles on the Cobequid Pass toll?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would like to phone my secretary, she will be pleased to provide him with the annual report of the corporation and provide him with a copy of the agreement, which was made public, I believe, back in 1997. The document speaks for itself. I think that any lawyer worth his salt could understand that particular contract.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - RED TAPE REDUCTION TASK FORCE:

SUNDAY SHOPPING - RECOMMENDATION ACCEPTANCE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The Mayor of New Glasgow, Ann MacLean has come out against the Red Tape Reduction Task Force recommendation that municipalities be charged with the responsibility for setting Sunday store hours. She says that it will pit municipality against municipality. Why is the minister considering accepting this recommendation in light of those concerns?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the task force took the time to put the recommendations together and have brought them forward. I can assure the honourable member and the mayor of New Glasgow that we will give the matter due consideration.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my answer would be that that decision has already been made, before it is given due consideration. Pictou County has six municipal governments, New Glasgow, Pictou, Stellarton, Trenton, Westville and the Municipality of Pictou County. My question, how can one municipality in Pictou County decide to have Sunday shopping without the others being forced to follow suit?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has made some very interesting observations with respect to the geography of Pictou County. I will take those into consideration.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, at least I am aware of the geography of Pictou County. In Halifax, if you want another lesson, if Halifax has Sunday shopping, then Truro's stores are going to be forced open; then New Glasgow's stores will be forced to open; then the stores of Antigonish, Port Hawkesbury, and Sydney. Every municipality will eventually be

[Page 8817]

forced to make the same decision. Why won't the minister make that decision one way or another and simply live with the results instead of dumping that responsibility on municipalities?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Certainly his observations are matters which we will take into account as we review those recommendations.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, what would be very helpful to us is if the Liberal caucus could bring forward their recommendation with respect to Sunday shopping and what they would like to see the province do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

JUSTICE - HOME INVASIONS: PREVENTION - MEASURES

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. Yesterday five Dartmouth residents, two of whom were in wheelchairs, were robbed at gunpoint by a group of home intruders. Home invasion continues to be a frightening prospect, particularly for the elderly upon whom the criminals often prey. The minister has gone on record as advocating tougher sentencing for home invaders, but that has not always been a great comfort to the victims of these crimes. Stiffer punishment aside, what is this government doing to prevent home invasion?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I appreciate the concern of the honourable member with respect to this very alarming issue. What I can indicate to the honourable member is that this government has continued to press the Government of Canada to change the Criminal Code to create a separate offence for home invasion and also to stiffen the sentencing in provisions of the Criminal Code with respect to home invasion. As well, Mr. Speaker, this government has implemented a public education program to help the public protect themselves from these criminals.

MR. PYE: I would just say, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Justice he cannot always put the blame on the federal government even though it is under federal jurisdiction. In reference to another home invasion during the last session of the House, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley called upon the previous government to ensure that seniors can feel safe in their own neighbourhoods. People still do not feel safe in their homes and despite this government's claim to this issue as a high priority, people are being robbed, beaten and violated. How will the government ensure that people can finally feel safe in their homes?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it strikes me as a little odd that the honourable member's Party, which is not exactly known for being tough on crime, has taken this point of view, but

[Page 8818]

I appreciate that the honourable member is very concerned about people. This government is very concerned about it and I am pleased to report that this province has the toughest sentencing in Canada for home invasion offences.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, once again the Minister of Justice tries to shirk the responsibility onto someone else. During the last session the Tory member for Cumberland South informed the government of the day that seniors are scared to death, they are afraid to stay in their own homes and he called for a task force on the issue back then. My final supplementary, seniors are still scared to death. Many are still afraid to stay in their own homes and there is no task force in place. Why do the Tories talk a good game in the Opposition, but fail to do the right thing when they are in government?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, I want to assure him that I am as concerned as he is that seniors feel safe in their own home. I will take his comments today as the endorsement of the New Democratic Party for tougher sentences in putting criminals away in custody. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

FIN. - FUEL TAX: REVENUE PROJECTIONS - TABLE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, sometimes I think you do that just to trick us all. My question is for the Minister of Finance. Two weeks ago I asked a question in the House as to why the minister is not able to provide detailed revenue figures on quarterly reports. As typical of a very arrogant Minister of Finance, the minister came back with a rebuttal and said, you better find a better researcher to ask a better question. Broadcast News, on November 8th, indicated that after interviewing the minister, he, himself, said he had no idea if he was getting more revenue from fuel taxes, less revenue, or the same. He could have avoided a lot of this confusion if the minister had simply gone and done what we had requested. Will the minister table in the House his revenue projections for both motive fuel taxes and home heating fuel?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I indicated at that time, in the quarterly report, that all the differences in the revenue estimates were broken down for each item we had new figures on. Now, the member asking the question is a former Minister of Finance, and he knows that the revenue numbers, a lot of those are coming from the federal government and it can only be changed periodically during the year. Those we had the numbers for, we described, in detail, all the variances. For the member to say otherwise, is totally misleading.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, well the minister is totally confused because he knows when he was Finance Critic, he looked at those revenue projections that we tabled every quarter on every revenue stream, and he asked very good questions on that. Now he is afraid

[Page 8819]

to put those numbers on the table. He wants to hide the reality of this Tory approach. Well, first the minister says he is getting no extra money, then he goes on to say later that he is getting extra HST. Like I said before, the minister could avoid a lot of this confusion if he would simply provide that information on a quarterly report. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister reveal what kind of windfalls he is receiving in terms of revenues this year?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we will be reporting on the second quarter results which have to be reported before December 31st, and it will be reported in time. There is one item on that line that will be changed, that will be the motive fuel taxes, where we will have updated numbers. I have reported in this House before that the consumption has decreased. So that number will be adjusted on that quarterly update. It will be very specific. The honourable member will have that information.

In regard to HST, Mr. Speaker, we don't have information about every different sector and what component the HST has on that. On that number, if we get the information from the federal government, who is the agency that collects HST, we get the numbers from them - and that honourable member knows that information very clearly - once we get that update, we will adjust the HST number accordingly.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, well the minister, you know this is a Tory Minister, actually a minister under the Buchananites back some time ago talk about accounting and about the lack of information provided to Nova Scotians with regard to revenue. This is not complicated. Surely this minister can answer the question. I have asked him a year ago about the $1.8 billion deficit that Tory Government legacy left in 1993, and the minister will not table that information either; $1.8 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West, would you put the question only please.

MR. DOWNE: Last time I did that he made me sit down. Mr. Speaker, I will start all over again. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: No, no, no. No, just the question.

MR. DOWNE: This Tory . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We heard the speech. The question only please, member for Lunenburg West. Question only.

[Page 8820]

MR. DOWNE: My question to the Minister of Finance is, will the Minister of Finance simply table the proof of the $1.8 billion deficit that the Liberal Government inherited after the 1993 election, and the mess of 18 years of Tory misrule?

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if I am a Buchananite, that must make him a Savagite. I do want to say that the number he quotes, the huge billion number, is totally ridiculous. (Interruptions) I do want to say something. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Some members are louder without a microphone than the one with a microphone.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asked us last fall to restate the 1993 year; I indicated at that time that I would. Our staff has been busy; we did table two budgets in this year. We hired a consultant to come through with that one there, on a part-time basis, to get that information up, and that information should be coming down shortly. My ADM and my deputy minister informed me this week that those numbers are just about finalized and will be coming forward. That honourable member will know that all the statements he said after that statement are untrue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - N.S. HOSP.: SERVICE REDUCTION - EFFECT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, today at Province House we heard more evidence of what this government doesn't value. Shannon Negus worked for 25 years at the Nova Scotia Hospital, helping patients with personal grooming; her main task was to cut patients' hair. These are patients rarely seen in public, and patients that many are not interested in seeing. This service is now severely reduced. While it may seem trivial in the eyes of many, this service gave patients both dignity and self-respect. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why is basic dignity less important than the money he spent on high-priced help in his own office?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that the honourable member fails to mention is that there was indeed a person who did provide beautician services there. But there is sort of a good news side to this too, that indeed dignity is being restored because one of the reasons the services of that person is not needed on a full-time basis is that the residents of that facility are able to go into the community, and be reintegrated into the community, to have that service provided there.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely insulting. The patients there had increased self-esteem and self-worth from something as simple as a haircut. Today, at least

[Page 8821]

one doctor in that facility is giving haircuts instead of patient care. Some of the male patients are having their heads shaved, because they don't have access to this service. Shannon was told that her job no longer fit into the hospital's business plan. She made $19,000 a year. My question for the minister is, is this is the price tag on human dignity?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the person to whom he is referring was a long-time employee of that hospital and is still an employee of that hospital, and a valued employee too.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this ordeal has taken its toll on Shannon Negus and it has stripped patients of some of their self-respect. When will the minister reverse his decision and show Nova Scotians that dignity for all persons is a value worth investing in?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would refer back to the answer that I gave the first time. This is basically, in some ways, not minimizing the unfortunate circumstance of the person who was forced to shift her role; the fact is that because many of the people can be reintegrated into the community, and sample a part of community life and get the beautician or haircut services delivered there, it was not necessary to have a full-time position at the Nova Scotia Hospital.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ACADIAN AFFS. - ADV. COMM.: APPOINTMENTS - PROCESS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Acadians in this province have worked long and hard to preserve their language and culture. One of their major accomplishments was the establishment of the Acadian Affairs Secretariat. The new Tory Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs, who holds himself as the saviour of the Acadians, began his reign of terror by unceremoniously dumping the Executive Director of Acadian Affairs and leaving the Acadians without a voice for several months.

Recently, the minister himself appointed eight individuals to serve on his own advisory committee which he will meet with three to four times a year. My question to the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs is, could the minister tell this House what the application process was for these positions and why these names did not go before the Human Resources Committee?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: First of all, I have never professed to be the saviour of the Acadians, unlike the member opposite. I do want to say that this is an advisory committee and if the member has a problem with asking people such as the President of Conseil scolaire acadien provincial; Stan Surette, the President of la Fédération Acadiens de la Nouvelle-Écosse; Allister Surette, the President of Collège de l'Acadie and on and on. If he feels that

[Page 8822]

those people are not qualified to speak for the federation, for the Acadians of this province, we have a difference of opinion.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Acadians have watched in disbelief as this government has cut funding to French language programs and reneged on their commitments. After watching the executive director get dumped by the minister, they now see him hand-pick his own advisory committee through the back rooms. My first supplementary to the Premier is, Mr. Premier you promised an open and accountable government along with strong leadership. What action are you going to take against your rogue Minister of Finance who so longs to replace you from arbitrarily appointing his own advisory committees?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): The member opposite, I believe, had a very logical answer from the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs. He appointed people who are leaders within the Acadian community to provide him with the kind of advice that ministers should receive. I believe that the minister has responded on this issue in a very responsible way and I uphold the actions of the minister.

MR. SAMSON: This government cut funding to the Collège de l'Acadie and French Language Programming and reneged on his commitment to build Acadian schools. Clara Mae Samson, a retired school teacher from Richmond County wrote in the local paper that, Neil LeBlanc is not a true Acadian. My final supplementary to the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs is, this minister has sat by and said absolutely nothing as this government has callously done their best to destroy the Acadian people. Will the minister do the honourable thing today on behalf of Acadians throughout this province and resign his responsibilities as Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs?

MR. LEBLANC: The honourable member has done much to discredit Acadians in this province by the approach he has taken and today he has come to the lowest. When he says that the people of this province who are the leaders of the Acadian community, such as Yvette Aucoin who is a member of the conseil from Cheticamp, Joeleen Larade, who is a young student at Université Sainte-Anne, that they do not have the right to give me advice when that member opposite says that I know that his game is political and factual. I will not resign and I will offer to the member opposite that he should do the honourable thing and disassociate himself from this discussion because as an Acadian critic he has no credibility. Give the responsibilities to his Leader, who at least talks with some sensibility. (Interruptions)

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

NAT. RES.: NSRL - SALE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: My question is for the minister responsible for Nova Scotia Resources Limited. Yesterday, the minister criticized the Liberal Government's secret

[Page 8823]

unjustified give-away, the right of first refusal of Nova Scotia Resources Limited to the Sable gas partners. He said his government is not interested in that kind of unjustified handout. I say to him, good deal, Mr. Minister, good deal.

However, the minister has not explained how he can pretend to have a bidding war for Nova Scotia Resources Limited when Exxon Mobil sits ready to exercise its right of first refusal for Nova Scotia Resources Limited. My question to the minister is, how can this government pretend it is getting the best deal for Nova Scotians when the Liberals put Exxon Mobil at the front line for this resources.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's question. I have stood in this House and I have said outside this House that to give a ROFR, right of first refusal, for nothing is not the way that any province should act. So I will repeat that in this House today.

I do want to say that although that has been given, I still believe that the process can work. The fact that there are - and I stated outside this House yesterday - there are over 10, I am not going to get into the specifics of how many people are interested in this company, shows that a lot of people are getting into the gas and oil business in this province. I still feel that the process will work but the ROFR is an issue that had to be dealt with but it is one that Nova Scotia Resources Limited, and also Scotia Capital, who is handling the sale, feel they can deal with adequately. We believe we will get the best price possible for the asset.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the deal is already done. The Premier and his colleagues are very outspoken about the need to drive a hard bargain and get more benefits, jobs and royalties for Nova Scotians. Now they are into a sale process when Exxon Mobil has the ultimate control, Mr. Minister. Nova Scotians deserve to know if this government is using this lever to win more jobs and benefits for our province.

So I ask you, Mr. Minister, are you using the sale of Nova Scotia Resources Limited, the Sable project, to get a guarantee that Exxon will increase its operations and jobs here, instead of moving more jobs and operations to Texas?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, actually it is not only Exxon Mobil, there is also Shell that has the right of first refusal, if you want to get into a longer list.

Governments in the past have tried to become, I guess in a sense, dictatorial, as to how processes will work and directed from a political process. We have hired an outside agency called Scotia Capital. They are handling that sale. We are letting them do the commercial process and we have faith that that will happen. The final decision will rest with the government as to whether or not we receive what we consider to be the right price for NSRL. I want to say that there is no secret agenda here; we have put the asset up for sale, we will let the process go forward and once there is an outcome, we will make a decision.

[Page 8824]

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, as this minister knows, the partners of that deal, there are many people in that group who think the Sable project should be managed from Texas, not here in Nova Scotia. They would give notice tomorrow if they were given this right to take the jobs out of this province.

I want to ask the minister very directly, will the government hang on to Nova Scotia Resources Limited, keep a share of the Sable profits for Nova Scotians, ensure better Nova Scotia benefits, instead of adding to a list of secret, politically-inspired, NSRL decisions that, under the Liberals, cost this province $1 billion?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I know the member has questioned whether or not the Liberals' decision cost the province $1 billion. That one there, I guess we could debate maybe on his Opposition Day another day.

You are asking whether or not we will abandon the sale of it? I look at this province, should we be in the gas and oil industry? We got into it because we were the catalyst to start it. Today the situation is different. We have many companies coming to this province that want to be part of it. We were part of the steelmaking industry. We are not going to be part of a steel industry. I look at the situation - if we get the right price for NSRL, it is time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - DEBT CONSOLIDATION: CONSULTANT - TENDER

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. We heard some news here today. The Minister of Finance, after he made the commitment over a year ago that he would be tabling to this House and to myself the full consolidation of debt of what we inherited back in 1993, a $1.8 billion operating deficit of the Province of Nova Scotia, and the minister stated just a few minutes ago that he made a commitment twice to us to do it and, today, he indicated that he is going to hopefully fulfil that.

[3:30 p.m.]

The question I have to the minister is, he mentioned that there is a consultant hired because he said it could not be done with his own staff, did the minister tender for that consultant to do the work?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, actually it was not a company, it was an individual who was brought into the department to help. We have made major changes within the department in regard to changing the accounting standards. (Interruption)

[Page 8825]

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Richmond is making so much noise that you cannot hear yourself. (Interruptions)

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

MR. DOWNE: Obviously, the Minister of Finance is a little sensitive today. He is scared to answer the questions. My question to him was, was it tendered? The answer came back, no, he did not tender to do that work. My question to the minister, if he has gone out and subverted the tendering procedure, which I understand, as Minister of Finance the procurement process is under his offices (Interruption) Oh, it is now over to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

It still means that the Minister of Finance has subverted the procedure. The minister said he did not tender the thing. I ask the minister, who did he hire, what Tory friend did he hire to do the work that he is supposed to have reported back to here?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will get the information as to who the specific individual is. I do not know that information. I do know that with the changes we have made in our department this year, especially in regard to pension evaluation and all the changes in tangible capital assets, our staff have been hard-pressed to get all the information out on time and so they went out to get some additional help to deal with the specific request that was asked by the member for Lunenburg West.

Last fall we indicated that we would do that, Mr. Speaker, and I said today that that information will come forward. In regard to the specifics and so forth, I will get that information. I will take that question as notice and I will come forward.

MR. DOWNE: It appears, Mr. Speaker, that there is no tender. It appears that the minister does not know who the contract was awarded to. It seemed very easy for the minister to table in the House and to all Nova Scotians shortly after the election the numbers dating back from 1996 to the year that they assumed government. That was no problem, Mr. Speaker. They had no problem doing that, but ask them to go back to 1993, well, you would think the world came to an end. The minister is afraid to go back and show the $1.8 billion.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: The world did come to an end to those Buchanan Tories who are sitting in the front benches right here, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

[Page 8826]

MR. DOWNE: The reality is the $1.8 billion deficit that we inherited, I want the minister to say when exactly he will table that information. The last time he told me, I have been waiting another seven months since then.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, there were about 20 different statements and I am not sure how many different questions there were. I indicated to the honourable member that I would get the information as to who did the work because we brought someone in. In regard to when it will be released, I indicated earlier on today in the Oral Question Period that I had discussion with my deputy minister and our staff that that information will be coming forward in a matter of weeks. I do not know how much clearer I can be. If you get up and ask the same question, I will give the honourable member the same answer.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH: PRIVATIZATION - POSITION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. At the August Premiers Conference, the Premier and his colleagues reaffirmed their commitment to publicly funded and accessible Medicare. The Premier's communique says that the issue of privatizing health care was raised but the agenda did not permit a full discussion. Premiers Klein and Harris were outspoken in their demands that the door be left open for private two-tier health care. It is not clear to Nova Scotians where the government stands. My question to the Premier is, what is the position of the government on the privatization of health care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, at the meeting to which the member has referred, we reaffirmed our commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act. I can't make comment on the interpretation of the Canada Health Act that perhaps other governments are putting on it, what I can say, this government is committed to the Canada Health Act.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue. What we are talking about is provinces letting people pay to jump the line and get earlier treatment. Two-tier is happening in Alberta and Quebec, yet the Chretien Government stood aside and let them bring in private-for-profit hospitals instead of using the Health Accord to shut down two-tiered care. Can the Premier tell Nova Scotians whether the federal government has actually changed its position since September, and whether the federal government has now told Nova Scotia that it will withhold cash from the provinces that permit two-tier health care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, the question didn't carry to this side of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member just put the last question, please?

[Page 8827]

MR. DEXTER: Can the Premier tell Nova Scotians whether the federal government has actually changed its position since September, and whether the federal government has now told Nova Scotia that it will withhold cash from the provinces that permit two-tier health care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that the federal government has changed its position. We have not had any exchanges with the federal government that would lead us to believe that there has been any change in their policy. What I can say is there is no change in our policy.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier spoke out when Ottawa failed to restore health care funding as the provinces had requested. It is even more important for Nova Scotia to join other provinces in demanding that the federal government crack down on two-tier care after this election. Will the Premier assure Nova Scotians here today that this province will oppose any steps toward the development of a two-tier health care system and support a federal crackdown?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me an opportunity in responding to say that I believe that Nova Scotians should know what the position is on Nova Scotia issues being taken by every single person who is running for a federal seat here in Nova Scotia. That is what I am encouraging Nova Scotians to do. I want Nova Scotians to know what positions those people who are running for federal office here in Nova Scotia will take on needs-based funding for health care, on the issue of equalization, on the issue of the clawback of the royalties on the offshore. These are issues that are very important to Nova Scotians, and they have a right to know the positions that will be put forward in Ottawa by all of those running, for every Party, for federal office in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - DPP: HIRING PROCESS - STATUS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. On January 31, 2000, the minister announced that he was continuing his search for a new director for the Public Prosecution Service. It has been almost eight months now and still no director in sight. There is no doubt Nova Scotians understand it takes time, but the process seems to be dragging on forever and the minister's efforts are becoming a running joke. My question to the Minister of Justice is, could the minister update this House as to what progress has been made so far to find a new Director of Public Prosecution?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member's interest in this very important issue. What I can indicate to the honourable member is that there have been candidates identified. The interviews, which were anticipated to have been held by this point in time, have not been because of some difficulty in getting a number of

[Page 8828]

people to serve on the committee. I understand those problems are overcome at the moment and that the interviews will be conducted shortly. The hope is a person will be hired by the end of the year.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in a January 31, 2000, press release, the minister stated that, obviously we want to lessen the time-frame for the search, and we will be determining how best we can move forward. Now while we are all trying to be patient, we have had time to watch at least three missions to outer space during this time, yet still no Director of Public Prosecutions. My first supplementary to the Minister of Justice is, what has the minister done to lessen his time-frame for a search, in light of the fact that he has yet to be successful in finding a director?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, obviously the difficulty we have had is that we haven't recruited at NASA. (Laughter) If there are any qualified Crown Prosecutors at NASA, we would be glad to contact them. No, in all seriousness, I understand the honourable member's frustration with the length of the process. Quite frankly, I am a bit astounded that it has taken as long as it has, and I am hopeful that it is coming to a conclusion shortly.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I think everyone in this province understands the difficulty in finding a suitable candidate and the importance of finding the right candidate, but the minister has had well over a year now in this portfolio and seems to have accomplished nothing in this regard. Nova Scotians are left to wonder that if the minister put half as much time in the search as he has for the johns legislation, we would certainly have a Director of Public Prosecution by now. My final supplementary to the minister is, when will this minister take serious action to find a new prosecutor instead of dragging his feet on this most urgent issue?

MR. BAKER: Thank you very much and again, to the honourable member for Richmond, I can indicate that I certainly take it very seriously, but I can also indicate to the honourable member that the issue here is not just simply hiring anyone to be Director of Public Prosecutions in this province. We obviously have to get the right person, and the honourable member would agree with me on that. What I am determined to do is to have the process to produce the right individual for the job in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV.: HOUSING PROJECT (CREIGHTON-GERRISH STS.) - STATUS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Housing. Last year the former minister attended a sod-turning ceremony to begin the first phase of the Creighton-Gerrish Street Housing Project. Those who would benefit from this development live in overpriced slum housing or in emergency shelters. The plan

[Page 8829]

was that the units would be built and occupied by now, yet the site sits vacant and there is no construction happening. My question for the minister is, why is there nothing happening at the Creighton-Gerrish Street Housing Project site?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question because that is an important process that we have been following. The member will be aware that the Housing Ministers from across Canada had a conference in Fredericton in September, and we were challenging the federal government to join us in a housing initiative across the country. That process is on the go, and we hope to bring that federal-provincial agreement into play so they can proceed with a number of projects such as the one she is talking about.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, minister, this project has been fully approved and the funding was set up. I remind you that your department and your government have a significant interest, a financial investment in the entire Creighton-Gerrish Street Housing Project, in loan guarantees, in rent subsidies, not to mention housing the homeless. So my question is, what will the minister do today to get this project back on track without further delay?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what this government is doing is working with a number of housing initiatives across the province. Not only that, we are working with housing co-ops that have deficit funding and we are working on number of those items to try to bring a number of those initiatives together. We will continue to do that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Minister of the Environment. I understand that contamination on this site is what is holding up this project and that it originates on an adjacent property, whose owner hasn't been all that cooperative and may very well be flouting the Environment Act. So I want to ask the minister what will he do to get this project back on track and deal with the environmental concerns without further delay?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that I will ask our department to become much more active with respect to this matter and to do whatever we can in order to ensure that the project gets underway. It is a project that I have a very keen interest in and would like to see it proceed.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - SYDNEY HARBOUR: TREATMENT - FUNDING

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The Provincial Health Council report issued

[Page 8830]

recently indicated that part of our health problems stem from raw sewage going into both Sydney and Halifax Harbours. A plan has existed to clean up Halifax Harbour for many years but no such plan exists for Sydney. With high volumes of sewage going into a new collector sewer, citizens are demanding treatment. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit infrastructure funds to allow for treatment of Sydney Harbour?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the interest the honourable member shows in this important subject. I can certainly assure the honourable member that we will work very closely with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality with respect to addressing their priorities when they bring their application forward.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what we have heard is no commitment, at least at this point, but I will pursue the matter a little and maybe we can get a commitment before I sit down, although I am not optimistic but I will try.

Mr. Speaker, Sydney Harbour has been assaulted by pollution for close to 100 years and efforts in the past decade to clean up the harbour have started with the provision of $10-some million for a collector sewer system to bring the collector sewer to a central point where sewage treatment can then start to kick in and be implemented. Now is the time, I believe, to take control of the situation and clean up the harbour. My question to the minister, again, is why won't the minister commit to cleaning up Sydney Harbour so that Sydney is not the cesspool of Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that it is appropriate for me to respect the wishes of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and when they come forward with their priorities we will certainly sit down and work with them to achieve a solution. I am sure that their priorities will reflect the concerns expressed by the honourable member.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again no commitment from the minister opposite but as my colleague stated, we are not surprised at that. My final supplementary to the minister is - at the very least, the minister should be discussing plans for sewage treatment with municipal officials in Sydney and an early meeting with new Mayor Morgan should be a priority with this minister - will the minister commit today to sitting down with CBRM officials to work towards sewage treatment for Sydney Harbour?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member at the earliest convenience I would be more than happy to sit and meet with the new mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 8831]

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOL: COMMUN. GROUPS - ACCESS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Education. Our schools are at the centre of our communities. They are not only used to teach our children but they provide space for members of the public, for activities that might benefit the community at large. Yet we have learned that many of our shiny, new P3 schools are keeping community groups at bay by making it difficult or impossible to access the facilities after hours.

Can the minister tell us how keeping community groups out of our schools benefits the community?

HON. JANE PURVES: Well, the member opposite knows, and we all know the answer to that question is that keeping the community groups out of schools does not benefit the community. Unfortunately - well, not unfortunately, but there are many factors to be taken into consideration when dealing with community use of schools and they are not all related to P3. Yes, there are difficulties with some groups trying to use schools. We are trying, both through our department and the Department of Sport and Recreation, to work out some of these problems. Usually the problem comes down to cost and sometimes actually the cost of liability insurance, which is not a P3 problem.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, specifically community theatre relies very heavily on access to auditoriums and stages and all of the kinds of things that are available in schools. So I want to ask the minister if she will commit today to take steps to ensure that community-based theatre organizations have full access to P3 schools, where they have been shut out.

MISS PURVES: Well, Mr. Speaker, community theatre groups, as well as many other community groups, should have reasonable access to schools. We are attempting to provide that and work with the developers of the schools. That being said, there are some reasonable costs that community groups do have to pay, whether it is theatre groups or other volunteer groups or sports groups.

Yes, I will investigate that particular situation but I don't think any group can expect to pay zero costs, Mr. Speaker, that is not reasonable. Thank you.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't think community organizations and non-profit organizations are looking for a free ride, they are just looking for access to schools that they have always had access to in the past. That is all they are looking for.

I want to say to the minister that if this government is not opposed to community organizations using schools, would she please tell us what concrete steps she will take to

[Page 8832]

ensure that these organizations continue to enjoy access to schools they have paid for through the tax system.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, certainly all of us have paid for these schools through the tax system. The concrete steps we have taken and are taking are, as I said, through the Department of Education, the Department of Sport and Recreation, constant meetings with people to iron out problems. Certainly in this particular case I will look into it and see what I can do and see if there is anything we can straighten out through the department. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SYDNEY STEEL:

SITE REMEDIATION - TIME-FRAME

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a question to the honourable Minister of Public Works. I have been asked by a fair number of unemployed steelworkers in Sydney and others who are concerned in this matter, to put this question when I got back to the House this week. With reference to the $230 million in the provincial budget for the site remediation at Sydney Steel, when will that work get underway?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, very simply, the remediation will take place when it is required.

MR. MACEWAN: Now, as a supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, the work is required now. Will this work be tendered to bidders from established environmental remediation firms, or will it be carried out directly by the Department of Public Works?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, when the work is required to be carried out, at that time a decision will be made as to whether it will be tendered out or whether it will come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, these are serious questions. Unemployed steelworkers in Sydney are looking for answers to them. Will these jobs be reserved for unemployed steelworkers who have been displaced by the Sysco closure, or will companies that get these bids be permitted to hire anyone that they wish? That is the question that the unemployed steelworkers want answered.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can understand that it is a serious question, and the honourable member has a point as to whether or not the steelworkers will be employed in the remediation when it does take place. At the present time, I can't give him an answer on that particular question because it hasn't been formulated as to when that remediation will commence and exactly how much will be done each year. I would suggest, however, that in

[Page 8833]

our considerations that certainly the plight of unemployed steelworkers will be high on the priority list.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - COCHLEAR IMPLANTS: DELAY - RESPONSIBILITY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, the minister made a comment to the media last week which did not accurately reflect the status of the cochlear implant proposal. He blamed the IWK-Grace Health Centre for the delay, saying the hospital didn't consider it to be a priority. The IWK-Grace Health Centre, in fact, asked for extra staffing, but they have been turned down by the Department of Health. The CEO told a parent that he supports the proposal, but can't fund it because of the severe funding cutbacks. When will the Minister of Health take responsibility for this delay in providing deaf people in Nova Scotia with cochlear implant services?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as explained to the honourable member and the member for Dartmouth East last week, the matter of cochlear implants is something that has been presented to my department. We are currently working with a group from the Capital District Health Authority, and hopefully in due course there will be money available to fund this service.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has avoided the question, and he has tried to blame the IWK-Grace Health Centre for the delay. He knows that there are two aspects to the proposal that has been submitted, one is funding through the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinic for follow-up services, and the other is to hire a surgeon who can implant the device in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, there is no hospital to blame for inaction on the clinic's proposal, why are you dragging your feet on this matter?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary, we are not dragging our feet. We are moving ahead as quickly as we can, and we are consulting with the groups who are affected.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how he defines a delay, this kind of foot-dragging. The department did finally hold a preliminary meeting in October on the issue, more than six months after the department received the proposal. Six months in which 12 more people had to travel at their own expense to Ontario for this service. When will the minister stop penalizing deaf persons, move this issue beyond the preliminary stage and fund the clinic's proposal?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the Department of Health paid for those services that the people received. We do not pay for the travel, as he well knows. I will again tell him, probably for about the fourth time and hopefully he will listen, that we are meeting, at the present time. Department of Health staff has ongoing conversation

[Page 8834]

with people who are affected. Hopefully, we will be able, before too long, to deal with this service in a positive manner. One of the things is they well know we have to have a health care system that we can afford. The honourable member over there earlier today talked about more money for diabetes strips. The honourable member over there talks about more . . .

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - RED TAPE REDUCTION TASK FORCE:

DEREGULATION - BUSING

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. A report entitled Red Tape Reduction Task Force Interim Report, dated November 2000. On Page 36 of that report there is a recommendation to deregulate Nova Scotia's busing industry. I noticed of all the presenters who came before this particular committee, and as well those who have supplied written submissions, none were from the busing industry. So my question to the minister is, given the vacuum of this aspect of the report, would the minister undertake not to deregulate Nova Scotia's regulated bus service until all stakeholders are consulted?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the bus industry is a very interesting one. As the honourable member is aware I am sure, the regulated bus services in the province are encountering a lot of competition these days from unregulated van lines. While I would be loath to categorically state that this is not desirable, I would suggest however that a certain amount of regulation for the unregulated van lines would be in order, particularly with regard to their safety aspects. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that is the exact opposite of what is put in the report. That is the exact opposite on Page 36, but what is even more startling about this is the fact that deputy ministers from practically every government department appeared before this particular committee, except for the Department of Transportation and Public Works. We even had some noted presenters such as anonymous from Shelburne, we have also had the PC Party of Nova Scotia, and I can go on and on.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is will the minister admit (Interruptions)

[Page 8835]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I am interested in what the member for Cape Breton West has to say, not someone else. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor, question please.

MR. MACKINNON: That is true, Mr. Speaker, you recognize talent when you see it.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that the primary reason for this particular recommendation is to cater to big-business interests in Nova Scotia, such as the owners of Acadia Lines?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I just cannot answer that question because it is beyond my comprehension what the honourable member is questioning me on. At the present time we have a bus system in this province which is regulated on a safety basis, and it is also regulated on the basis of profits and fares and what have you through the URB. The concern I think that is being addressed in the Red Tape Reduction Task Force is the fact that there is at the present time competition to that kind of bus service by completely unregulated services operating as van lines. I think that the maximum number of passengers that they can carry, without being a regulated bus line, is nine.

So, Mr. Speaker, these people who are - and certainly to Cape Breton - operating in competition to the regular bus lines, are (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I agree the minister does not understand this particular issue, because on Page 36 of that report it says that the task force believes we need competition in this sector, and that is contrary to what the minister is saying. So, given that and given the fact the issue surrounding Sunday shopping and a whole lot of other preconceived notions by the government, my final supplementary is to the Premier. Will the Premier not admit that this task force headed up by some five Tory backbenchers and chaired by an entity unknown is nothing more than basically a smoke screen to arrive at a preconceived notion on issues such as Sunday shopping and, indeed, deregulation of the busing industry?

THE PREMIER: The government has made a commitment that, among other things, we would consult people on various issues. We felt that a consultation process on red tape which was impacting on the ability of many businesses to operate functionally in the Province of Nova Scotia was a good thing to do. Those consultations have been held. The task force has reported back to government. Government has yet to analyze the recommendations that came as a result of those consultations.

AN HON. MEMBER: You said yesterday you were implementing some of them.

[Page 8836]

THE PREMIER: We will do that with the passage of time, and we will report back by way of what recommendations we are prepared to support as a government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.: PAEDIATRIC WARD - STAFFING

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The minister will recall the paediatric service crisis faced by the Colchester Regional Hospital. He sees every day the continued petitions in this House from his own constituents. The committed physicians there had to force this government to reassess an unsafe decision by the health board to reduce nursing staff. The Third Party Review Agreement was reached based on the assurance that two experienced paediatric nurses would be available per shift over the next three weeks. So my question to the minister is this, are there any experienced nurses staffing the paediatric ward?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in response to that question, I think probably the preamble to that is somewhat open to discussion. The issue of safety, obviously there were two points, and he knows as well as I do that officials from the Department of Health for that board would not propose staffing levels they felt were not safe, so for him, as a person who is not particularly competent in health care or health issues, to make that statement is probably misleading.

On the issue of staffing, there was an agreement worked out, Mr. Speaker. On the medical management committee, every attempt would be to have two experienced paediatric nurses on the floor during the transition period.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we have been told the hospital is having a difficult time finding nurses to fill the shifts on the paediatric ward. Parents in Truro are continuing to use the services at the Colchester Regional Hospital based on the minister's word that experienced staff are there. I want to ask the minister, can you reassure the public who rely on the paediatric unit that it will be staffed by experienced paediatric nurses at all times?

MR. MUIR: I can assure the honourable member and the people who use that service that the level of staffing and the competence of staff will meet the need in that hospital.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health should take the time to actually find out what is going on in the Colchester Regional Hospital. Physicians and paediatricians are keeping up their side of the agreement to continue to provide services. When will the minister guarantee to use whatever means are necessary to ensure the unit is properly staffed?

[Page 8837]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the unit is being properly staffed. I think what the honourable member is referring to is a situation that arose a week ago where there was a bit of a staffing shortage for that unit. The fact of the matter is that a one-to-one ratio is not bad when we are talking about safety in paediatric units.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - GLACE BAY: WATER SUPPLY - MIN. IMPROVE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. As the minister is aware, the Glace Bay and area water system is now under a boil order. The Canadian Tire Foundation for Families distributed 1,232 cases of 12-one litre bottles this morning in Glace Bay; that is 22,000 litres of water. The demand is so high that there are three more trucks coming between now and Saturday. People are desperate and people are scared. When will the minister treat this situation as an emergency and take some immediate concrete steps to improve Glace Bay and area's water supply?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: I want to thank the honourable member for the question, Mr. Speaker. I can tell the honourable member that we will work with the local municipal unit. The honourable member knows full well that it is the responsibility of the municipal unit to come forward with initiatives with respect to dealing with those problems. We will be open to all of the measures that they bring forward.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the minister that myself and the people of Glace Bay and area don't want any more empty promises from that minister and that government. What we want is safe, clean drinking water in Glace Bay and area. We have a right; we deserve it, Mr. Minister. It is a serious problem that requires immediate attention. Will the minister support a long-term plan for proper water treatment in Glace Bay and area, yes or no?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that the municipal unit will be bringing forward programs or requests for infrastructure. If those requests for infrastructure address the problem to which the honourable member refers, we will certainly be open to dealing with them and we will do our very best to expedite their applications so that matters can be dealt with as quickly as possible.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it is now up to companies like Canadian Tire to distribute 88,000 litres of water; the province has done absolutely nothing. I brought the issue of THMs to the minister, you know that there are high coliform levels in Glace Bay's water, nothing has been done, you have not acted. What is it going to take for this minister to act before the lives of the people of Glace Bay and area are put at risk, Mr. Minister?

[Page 8838]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows full well that the action that we took as a government this year with respect to regulations governing water is very much (Interruptions) No, you talk to your seat mate about who passed it off. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

EDUC. - HANTS EAST RURAL HIGH: TECHNOLOGY -

RESOURCES REQUIRED

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, will be to the Minister of Education. Students coming through the school system in my constituency have the advantage of some excellent new technology. The problem is that these students will end up in the Hants East Rural High School for Grades 9 to 12, their last years prior to entering institutes of higher learning. I will table a letter to me from one of the teachers there, Mr. Wayne Garden, who states that the computers in the schools sit idle waiting for technicians to service them, often entire periods are lost because the technician's times have been stretched too far. My question to the minister is, why are schools like Hants East Rural High not being given the resources they need to properly maintain the technology already bought and paid for?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will check into the situation at that particular school. I am sorry people have to wait for technicians, but I know this happens in government departments, it happens in private business, it happens everywhere. I will check into the waiting times to see that they are, in fact, not unreasonable.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will go right to the question; what are you going to tell the parents of children who expect to go from Grade 8 into a school with a reasonable level of usable technology, when they find out that the computers at Hants East are not being used because they can't be fixed?

MISS PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, well, as I said, I will look into the situation at that particular school. If the computers cannot be fixed, then obviously new computers would be needed, if that is the case.

MR. JOHN MACDONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister's own department has made the boast that they support lifelong learning. The school requires technicians. Will the minister commit to the funding to get those technicians?

[Page 8839]

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

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I indicated to the member for Lunenburg West that I would give that information. The person who was hired on a casual basis by the Department of Finance is Kellea Redden. She is a former employee of the province. The cost is less than $1,500 and basically she is brought in to help with it. We are fully in compliance with the Procurement Agreement. I just wanted to clarify that information. I didn't have it at my disposal during Question Period. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore on an introduction. This is a very important introduction so I would ask . . .

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased today to rise on your behalf to introduce two of your friends sitting in your gallery; Archie and Valerie St. Peter, from your community. They are enjoying the House today and I would ask them to stand so that we can give them the traditional welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: He said they are, Mr. and Mrs. Archie St. Peter, from Springhill, Nova Scotia, home of Anne Murray.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, would you call Resolution No. 2463.

Res. No. 2463, Environ. - Kings Co.: Water Quality - Ensure - notice given May 31/2000 - (Mr. W. Estabrooks)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the resolution before us was brought forward at the end of May of this year. On its face, it deals exclusively with a problem that exists in Kings County that has to do with the pollution from the Twin Mountain facility that was originally set up in order to work as a compost facility composting a variety of sludges.

Now everyone, I think, who is a member of this House is familiar with the failings of this operation. The resolution brought forward in May observes that there are problems with this facility, observes that there has been well-identified and documented pollution of surrounding water courses traceable to this facility. We are all familiar with the fears of the nearby residents who are on wells as sources of their water.

[Page 8840]

There is something that is brought out by coming to grips with this resolution that goes well beyond the immediate bounds of the problem at Twin Mountain. The problem has to do with the Department of Environment as much as it has to do with the sludge composting facility that was being operated by Twin Mountain. As with virtually any other organization, the problem is at the top and that is where the solution has to be found. We are all well aware that the Department of Environment has been operating for quite some time without having assigned to it a full-time, permanent minister.

Now the place to start in addressing this resolution and in addressing the difficulty is to point out to the Premier and the Cabinet that they have to do something about the absence of a full-time, permanent, dedicated Minister of Environment. This has nothing to do with the rearrangement of the responsibilities inside the Premier's government so as to bring together the former Department of Labour and the Department of Environment.

The problem is that there is no one person in the Cabinet who is on the job. Unfortunately, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's who has had responsibility in the past has been off ill. The difficulty, however, has nothing to do with that person's extended illness. It is time for the Premier and the Cabinet to do something.

We have heard a lot of talk in another context having to do with Bill No. 62 getting people off welfare and putting them to work. I say to the Premier, it is time to take the step of getting the member for Chester-St. Margaret's off welfare and put him back to work. And, if he cannot get back to work, then he has to be relieved of his responsibilities and someone else has to be assigned those responsibilities. Too much time has gone by and too many important matters are left outstanding to be bundled together in the hands of another member of the Cabinet.

No rational explanation has really been offered as to why it is that this step has not been taken by the government. Problems such as the Twin Mountain problem will not even begin to be solved until there is a full-time minister. Now, this point is clear. The problem is worse. Under this government, there have been reductions in staff at the various departmental branch offices around this province. We brought this out during the time of estimates this past year and we will bring it out again this year when we sit down in the spring to do estimates again with the government. Because I do not expect that they will have addressed or solved that problem between now and then.

Unfortunately, I expect that in the drive to bring the budget of this province into balance by the unfortunate method of continuing to reduce services to the citizens that the Department of Environment will yet again suffer. This is wrong. I cannot imagine that when we have problems such as that of Twin Mountain, which drives our attention to the question of the safety of drinking water, how it is that the government can fail to live up to its responsibility to fully staff that department from top to bottom.

[Page 8841]

Surely, we can look at the terrible experience in Walkerton, in Ontario and say, let's learn the lessons of errors that were made in other provinces and take steps here before there is some unfortunate occurrence.

It is not unrealistic to look at problems that affect drinking water and directly connect them to potential problems of human health. We know that if improperly composted sludge, especially if that is sewage sludge, is allowed to enter into aquifers that form the source for drinking water then there is a serious potential for human health harm.

This is a lesson that surely all modern governments are able to act upon. Many people are unfortunately either not aware of, in sufficient detail, or sympathetic to, an environmental agenda. But I will tell you when people get very concerned about an environmental agenda - it is when there are problems that affect the food chain; when there are problems that affect drinking water. So when something went wrong in Minamata, Japan and industrial contaminants went into the water and then into the fish that people then ate, they paid attention to it. But there is no reason why we should have to get to the point of disaster before we take steps to come to grips with serious problems. Surely we are capable of learning and if we are capable of learning, we are capable of avoiding the problems. That is why it is that we bring forward Resolution No. 2463, the one that has to do with Twin Mountain. We want something serious done about that and other problems.

Now let me tell you, this is not only my opinion on this. Each member in this House has received, just last week, the report of a committee that was set up, mandated to review the Environment Act. When the Environment Act was adopted in 1995, the last section, Section 174 said five years after this Act, we have to have a formal review to see how it is working. That review committee was set up, and the Nova Scotia Environment Act Legislative Review Process 2000 Committee Report just came out. Here is what they have to say. I want to read into the record, in fact, I will table the extracts for members of this House because it is very important what this informed committee set up by this government had to say. These are in the first two pages.

Our committee expected to issue a report merely recommending amendments that would build upon and refine the current Act. As the process unfolded, however, our committee experienced a growing sense of discomfort about how to effectively discharge our duties. Although our perception of the capability of the Act to serve its environment objectives remains intact, we are concerned that this potential is not being realized. We believe that a number of generally modest adjustments to the Act would theoretically make it even more effective, but more is needed. We now recognize that to assess the Act's likely effectiveness, it cannot be disassociated from its practical context. The Environment Act cannot be looked at outside of its relationships to current government priorities and policies, dedicated human and material resources, organizational characteristics of the Department of the Environment, and other legislation, government departments and stakeholders.

[Page 8842]

Mr. Speaker, this committee goes on to say that we have a pretty good Environment Act in place. The trouble is, we don't have enough personnel to enforce it. That is what this committee is saying to us. That committee is saying that we have to put in place the personnel, the dedication, the resources including a full-time minister to get our very good Act in place.

Let me just say as a final word on this that there is no shortage of serious environmental problems in Nova Scotia. Certainly drinking water is a potential catastrophe that we have to come to grips with, but our energy consumption here is a major problem that the department has to look at. There are forestry problems. There are other pollution problems. There is no shortage of work. Let's get this department to work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this resolution forward, and he has certainly expanded the scope of the resolution in terms of the remarks he brought forward. I am very pleased to be able to respond to that expanded discourse. The report to which the honourable member referred is one which we view in the department as an opportunity. The report provides an opportunity for us to respond. It was the report that examined the operations of the department since its inception in 1995, and it was a very thorough report. They did a tremendous job, the people that were involved in it. They brought forward recommendations. We are committed to examining each and every one of those recommendations.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it is also an opportunity for the government to examine its own priorities in terms of the environment, and an opportunity for the government to achieve its stated objectives with respect to the environment. So the report will be viewed by this government as an opportunity. It is going to be reviewed by the department as an opportunity.

I can also say, Mr. Speaker, and I was pleased that the honourable member referenced this, though not directly, but it does provide me with an opportunity to pay tribute to the people who work within that department for their tireless efforts over the years, and the report in no way suggests that the people working within that department have not, in fact, lived up to their responsibilities. It does challenge the government of the day, and it certainly reflects on not just this government but it only comments on about six months that we were in office, most of the comments that are made in the report refer to the time of the previous government. I say that not to be critical, except to suggest that what is coming out of the report, I want to put it in context.

[Page 8843]

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we certainly will learn a great deal from our examination of the report. I am committed to providing a detailed response within a period of six months. I hope that that response will be provided even before that time. I can tell you that people within the department are looking at it now. I, as minister, have gone through the report and have had several discussions with the deputy minister, as well as others, with respect to the contents of the report. Again, I want to emphasize that we view this as an opportunity. We will take the report and move forward from there.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member also made reference to the need for a full-time minister with respect to the environment, and he also suggested why this is a particular concern. I am very pleased to say that today I had some rather lengthy discussions with the honourable member for Chester-St. Margarets, and he has informed me about his progress with respect to his health. He is feeling very optimistic, he is seeing his doctor in the very near future. After that, he is very anxious to become fully briefed on the operations of the department. I am personally optimistic, based on my discussions with the honourable member today, that the House will be able to see him back here in the near future, whether it is going to be in this session or not, I can't say, you will have to speak to his doctor. Certainly in terms of his spirit, I can tell you that we do expect to see him back here. (Applause)

That has not been an easy matter. A member's health requires much more than just the treatment in a medical way, it requires an attitude that enables individuals to be able to look forward optimistically to their future. Certainly, the fact that this honourable member was able to look forward to assuming his duties as a Minister of the Crown, I am sure had a very positive impact with respect to the healing process and moving forward. I do want to thank most honourable members opposite for their patience with respect to this matter. As I indicated, I hope that in the very near future I will no longer be the acting minister but there will be in place the Minister of Environment and Labour, and he will be participating in debates such as this.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution itself deals with the question of Twin Mountain and what has gone on there. Perhaps I could just get a sense of time.

MR. SPEAKER: Approximately six and a half, seven minutes remaining.

MR. MACISAAC: I am going to speak for just a few minutes, and then the honourable member for Kings South will also say a few words on the situation there, Mr. Speaker. I think it is appropriate for me to indicate to the House that the area surrounding this site has test wells located on it. Those test wells have been monitored on a regular basis, and tests have been conducted from samples taken from those wells. Based on the evidence arising

[Page 8844]

from those tests, the department is satisfied that there isn't any seepage moving away from that site that is a real concern at this time.

The department also, Mr. Speaker, has recognized that people living adjacent to the area or in proximity to it, have expressed concerns about their water supply. We have on numerous occasions made offers to test that water supply. To date, there has not been any take up on that offer to test those sites. The offer is still outstanding with respect to that. We will wait and see. I can tell you also that, well I better not say as we speak, but currently, that is in this month and at approximately this time of the month, other samples are being taken from that location and being tested. We will make those test results available.

Mr. Speaker, I just might, for the record, indicate that testing has been conducted by Matrix Environmental, and it indicates more than 99.9 per cent kill of pathogens, including faecal coliform bacteria. The metal analysis, the 14 samples passed Category B compost in all categories tested. So the testing is ongoing. To date, the department is satisfied that the area around the site is not contaminated. However, the department is sensitive to the concerns of the citizens living within the vicinity. (Interruption) I'm sorry? Yes. As I indicated, current testing is taking place, and there is an offer as well to test the water of local residents who are in that area.

Mr. Speaker, the matter is also before the courts. The proprietor today pleaded not guilty, so we are going to have to allow that process to take place. It would be premature for us to anticipate any court decision, so we are going to wait and see. Throughout that period, there will be continuous monitoring of the situation, Mr. Speaker. I will yield the floor for the rest of my time to the honourable member for Kings South.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings South.

MR. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for giving me this opportunity to speak today. While the community of Waterville is not in Kings South, there is an adjacent community which includes a place called South Bishop Road which has come up for discussion here in the House in the last couple of days and appropriately so. I would like to just speak for a couple of minutes on this.

But, before I do, I would like to point out that not too long ago, I got up to speak on health care. The first thing I started to talk about was groundwater, to which there was quite a response from the Opposition benches. I think at that time, they felt perhaps groundwater was not an appropriate subject for health care, but I persevered, and I must say I enjoyed the debate. I can see from the smiles across the way that some people remember that day. Anyway, I think that given the events of the past few months, particularly the sad events in Ontario, that there is probably not going to be much debate that groundwater might well fall within the realm of health care.

[Page 8845]

The South Bishop Road is an interesting situation. It is not that far removed from the Waterville site, Mr. Speaker. It has been a source of division, I am afraid, in the community. There have been some distractions here because it has not always been totally clear what the concerns were or maybe the intentions were, of the new owner of the property, whether it was that he simply wanted to build soils on the spot, mixing peat moss and sand. Also, there are concerns about the truck traffic, but more recently, the fact that he has transferred material from his former site in the Kentville Industrial Park to this site and we now understand that there was a possibility that somebody saw him bury it somewhere.

There has been certainly a cause for concern and when this was brought to my attention by somebody that claimed that he could locate this material on this site just this past Friday and then followed up on Monday, with a call from another concerned resident that pointed out that there were high levels of faecal coliform in the material that was alledgedly buried there.

I was very impressed with the response from the Department of Environment, very much so. The local area manager, Kim MacNeil, Adrian Fuller who is one of the inspectors, Bob Rowe, an engineer and indeed the acting minister and the deputy, when they were made aware of this they acted immediately. Indeed last night I was even speaking with them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I am pleased to rise and participate in this particular debate on Resolution No. 2463. To reiterate, "Therefore be it resolved that the Acting Minister of the Environment act immediately to have his department take over removing toxic contaminants and ensure that water quality in Kings County is not further endangered."

This is a very timely resolution because obviously it affects not just Kings County, but all parts of the province. But before I get into that I want to certainly take exception to the comments that were made by the member for Halifax Chebucto, referring to the fact that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's is off on welfare. I think that is very degrading and I think it shows a lack of respect for the honourable member at a very difficult time. We may have our opinions as to the fact that the job, you know, certain issues are not being addressed in the department, but whether that would be with that particular member or any other member is a different issue altogether. (Applause).

One of the things that makes Nova Scotia such a great province is the fact that we respect people even when the chips are down so I want to make sure I get that on the record. I thought maybe he just did not explain himself very well, but certainly for somebody from the legal community to use that type of description, I thought was very degrading.

[Page 8846]

However, let us get to the issue at hand - the fact that the Department of Environment is dragging its feet on a lot of issues. Maybe it is because of the transfer of responsibility from so many different honourable members in the government benches that they really are having a difficult time getting a handle on what is happening within this particular department. We went from the honorable member for Chester-St. Margaret's to the designated Minister of Environment, over to the Minister of Justice, over to the now Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, Minister of Transportation and Public Works. It is almost like, who is the minister today? And is it little wonder that people are losing confidence in what is happening in this government? Because it is like a chess board. They are moving everybody around and yesterday on the ATV news, they referred to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works as, in fact, the Minister of Labour on the six o'clock news and, little wonder, because they keep changing their titles and passing them around. I have never seen anything like it. It is like a game of poker over there, you know, who is going to have title on this particular property today.

[4:45 p.m.]

That adds to confusion in the public mind and there is a serious problem down in Kings County. There is no two ways about it. I appreciate what the acting minister has said with regard to the legal issue that is before the court. That is a process that we have to respect, but, as well, Mr. Speaker, the minister has the authority to order that site to be cleaned up and to bill that back to the respective parties or, indeed, that there is a delegated responsibility to the Municipality of Kings County to address that as well.

I was rather astounded to read the fact that some 5,000 tons of sewage sludge were shipped to the site from the Aerotech Park at the Halifax International Airport. That is a rather interesting scenario and I realize that some of these responsibilities transcend into different time-frames of different administrations, but there are processes in place and there are checks and balances that when it comes to light that something is missed or something is overlooked or somebody has not done what they are supposed to do, then those checks and balances would kick in, but since mid-1999 to the present date, the Department of Environment has been slow off the mark in addressing that.

Yes, they have been monitoring the wells. Well, they are monitoring the water quality in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, but they are not doing anything, whoop-de-do. I could go and get water tests and say this water sample A, B or C is good, good and bad, but what are we going to do to correct the problem? We do not need cheerleaders like the Minister of Environment standing and saying, well, you know, this is what the report says. We do not need that. We need action. What the residents are looking for in Kings County is to have the site cleaned up and that is not being done.

So far be it for me to state who essentially is the chief stakeholder here in terms of making sure that happens but, obviously, the Minister of Environment and the Department

[Page 8847]

of Environment have a responsibility, particularly after what happened in Truro, what happened in Doaktown, what happened in Walkerton. Aside from passing regulations and downloading responsibilities on municipalities and downloading the cost on the municipal units, school boards and individual citizens in this province, the province really has not done anything. It has washed its hands of its legal responsibility.

That is the scary part, Mr. Speaker, because all indications are these problems are not going to be just local to Kings County. They are not going to be just local to Cape Breton Regional Municipality. They are becoming province-wide issues, you know, the difficult situation that the farmers down the Valley faced last year during the dry season, there are a lot of complexities and there are a lot of issues on both sides, but the government is not doing anything but rushing down to the Cabinet Room and passing all these rules and regulations to download their responsibility on second, third and fourth parties.

That is not leadership. That is not accepting the true responsibility and the mandate of what the provincial Department of Environment is for. The people of Nova Scotia did not elect a bunch of cheerleaders to relegate and delegate their responsibility down to junior levels of government and to the citizens. They did not elect the government to start setting up task forces as smokescreens so that government can pull off some of these preconceived notions into a matter of public policy and then resist any notion of accountability.

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what is happening with the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and this is exactly what the minister, the acting minister, or the acting acting minister, or the acting acting acting minister - because we have three who have been acting ministers so far, with the real minister not in the House - tomorrow it might be the acting acting acting acting minister, and who knows what this particular individual will do. So let's not confuse the issue. Who is the acting, acting minister and who is the acting minister today?

Now that we have everybody completely confused, which seems to be the government's agenda - organized disorganization - that way they can continue to do what they weren't elected to do, and that is to pass off the responsibility on tough issues to second, third, and fourth parties.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is very discouraging because the Acting Minister of Environment has an opportunity to do something; he has an excellent opportunity to show some leadership down in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. It is proactive initiatives that really make the difference.

Now that this particular site in Kings County has been closed out, the minister hasn't indicated to the honourable members for Kings County where that sewage sludge from the Halifax International Airport is going. These 5,000 tons, where are they going? What is happening to those now? They are not stockpiling them out at the airport. These are the types

[Page 8848]

of issues that seem to be pushed under the carpet. The honourable member for Kings South, who is so concerned about water quality, I will bet that he doesn't have an answer to that. No, because he hasn't looked into the issue and he hasn't got an answer from the acting minister or the acting, acting minister or the acting, acting, acting minister. I don't know, it is quite an act over there, Mr. Speaker, but it is not about doing what they are supposed to do.

Where are those 5,000 tons of sewage sludge that are being shipped from Halifax International Airport? Perhaps the minister should stand in his place and tell us. Where are they being shipped? Are they being shipped to Colchester County? Queens County? Lunenburg County? Maybe out in Bedford, who knows? I don't think that would be allowed, though, with that particular minister.

So, Mr. Speaker, we noticed back in the latter part of July of this year that the honourable member for Kings North entered the fray, but once he got a quiet nudge from the acting minister of the day to kind of cool his heels, we haven't heard any more from that honourable member on behalf of his constituents. We haven't heard a word, one letter, raising the spectre of concern because 20 residents, 20 constituents, raised the issue. He hasn't told them what he has done, other than write one letter to the minister and then he went into hiding.

Is that the type of representation the people in Kings County voted for? I don't think so. I think those honourable members from Kings County have an obligation, a duty, to stand up, even if it means standing up to the acting minister or the acting, acting Minister of Environment. They are not doing anything; they are not doing a blessed thing, and that is what is making the residents in Kings County so upset.

Now, the Acting Minister of Environment, also has a unique opportunity with his portfolio. He is also the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, so he can exert his ministerial responsibility and make sure that the municipality is addressing the concerns of the residents in Kings County. He is not even doing that; he is not acting responsibly, in my view, Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Environment or as the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. That is most unfortunate.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate. I realize I have only 19 seconds left, but I could probably do more for the residents in Kings County on this issue in 19 seconds than those members have done over the last 19 weeks.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess debating this resolution this evening is certainly about as timely as we can get, considering that these issues have been in the forefront in the past few days, actually in this particular case in Kings County for the past few

[Page 8849]

months. I will start my talk this evening to notify all members, and they may not be aware, that many months ago our caucus sent our well wishes to the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, and we certainly hope that he is well and doing well and don't wish him unwell.

Mr. Speaker, that being said, I think there is absolutely no doubt that having a full-time Minister of Environment certainly might help the situation that we refer to this evening, but considering the fact that we have a number of full-time ministers and looking at the way the government is run, I am not sure if it would make any difference. If we consider that the record of the department under both of the acting ministers has not really dealt with the problem in Kings County, at either of the two sites, the Twin Mountain site or in the Coldbrook Industrial Park, the Mark-Lyn Construction site that is composting.

Mr. Speaker, I want to refer, for a minute, to a question in the House that was asked back in April to the honourable Minister of Justice, who was acting minister at the time, the question of the Twin Mountain facility was brought up. The question was around the problems that have originated at that site, and the minister's response at the time, "I do appreciate the honourable member's question with respect to the Twin Mountain facility. My understanding is that, as a result of departmental action, this site has been closed down. It is a site that is not operating within the terms of an approval. It has been closed down and that is the action that the department has taken to deal with this problem." It goes on, by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, to raise to the acting minister of the time, that the cuts that have occurred in the Department of the Environment, Resource Management, cut; Environmental Protection, cut; Environment Support Services, cut; Environment Regional Offices cut; and the statement is made that none of these cuts were proposed in the blue book.

Mr. Speaker, I have an example here, a copy of the terms and conditions of approval for the Twin Mountain site. It is interesting, the composting guidelines, it says that the proponent shall conduct its facility in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Act, et cetera, composting guidelines, Nova Scotia Department of Environment, and then it says, at the bottom, where the composting guidelines and terms of conditions of this approval conflict, the terms and conditions of this approval shall govern.

We have already set aside the composting guidelines so that the terms of this approval shall govern over them. It says that if the minister or administrator determines that there has not been compliance with any or all terms and conditions provided in this approval issued pursuant to Section 56(1) of the Environment Act, the minister or administrator may, in accordance with Section 58(2)(b) cancel, suspend, alter or reduce, subject to all rights of review on appeal under the Act the approval until such times as the minister or administrator is satisfied that all terms and conditions have been met.

[Page 8850]

[5:00 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would say it is clear there in the terms of this approval that the minister certainly has had lots of authority to come down hard on the proponent of the Twin Mountain site. He refers to it being in the courts. That may be so, but I can't see how that withdraws any of his authority to act on that individual. The proponent shall submit monitoring results required by this approval to the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment regional office. All monitoring results shall be submitted within 30 days of the month of monitoring. I believe it is every three months, or it might be every four, and the minister can turn and nod as to which that is, but no monitoring had ever occurred at the Twin Mountain site, and the proponent had never met any problem.

Actually, I think in a three-year period there had been no monitoring by the proponent which was part of the approval and one of the conditions of approval. The department had not stepped in to see that this individual was following the regulations of the approval. The minister could say some of these problems originated with the previous administration, and he would be absolutely right, but that doesn't mean they had to continue with this administration.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the only site. I would think that in light of what has happened with the Twin Mountain site, in light of what has happened with Mark-Lyn Construction in the industrial park in Coldbrook, the contamination that appears to be leaving the Coldbrook site to a bog close by, that the questions I raised in the House yesterday around the faecal coliform levels of 4,000 times - actually I was going to say 4,000 times what would be accepted - it is not even that, Mr. Speaker. Usually it is at 200 units per 100 ml of water. That is the level at which we shut down lakes to draw water from. We have gone 4,000 times to over 800,000 parts per 100 ml, and yet the department hasn't acted on this individual. The question has to be, how large a catastrophe do we need before the government will move?

Now the minister talked about the fact that they have made an offer to the residents to do testing. I applaud the minister if that is the case. The residents there said they had a difficult job trying to get anybody from the Department of the Environment to go down and test. Some of the wells around the Twin Mountain site, they actually tested themselves, and couldn't get the Department of the Environment to go down and test them. So, if the department has started to do that, I know around the Coldbrook site, the department has been testing, and the results I brought to the floor the other day are a result of that testing.

In February and in March of this year, both the municipality of the County of Kings and the Department of Environment brought to the attention of the Twin Mountain Construction Limited that their approval was hereby suspended, and it doesn't seem to have been able to make the individual comply with cleaning up that site. The minister has all the authority he needs, so whether we have a full-time minister or a part-time minister, I am not sure that the result would be any different.

[Page 8851]

I will also come back to this committee report, the review of the Environment Act. Certainly, the review has not been complimentary. It refers to a strategy that was proposed in 1991 and 1992, that even until 1999, was put on hold, so actually, it was instigated by the previous Tory Administration and then adopted again. I think another start was made up in 1995 for this water management strategy. As of yet, as of 1999, that was still put on hold and I do not see any initiative on the part of this government, or the previous government, to try to grapple with the water problems in Kings County. I think the people there deserve no less, and in light of the deaths in Walkerton, that should be a wake-up call to any government and yet what we have seen from this government is more downloading onto the municipalities for water monitoring and onto the school boards.

I think if the department is going to show the level of responsibility that is needed in this case that, first of all, they should take responsibility for that. I note that the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank last night, in the late debate, did not address the downloading that is occurring, and being a former municipal councillor, I am quite sure that he would not have approved of that when he was a councillor.

Mr. Speaker, I think the environment is something we cannot trifle with. We cannot say, well look, in six months we will think about environmental concerns. This is a day-to-day responsibility for everybody in this Chamber who have people who are near and dear to them, then we have a responsibility to ensure that they live in an environment that is as healthy as we can possibly make it. When people drop these concerns on your lap, it is one thing to go out and have to ferret them out, but when people are bringing them to you and dropping them on your lap, then you obviously have a responsibility to act and that is not what we are seeing.

Members, earlier in this House, have talked about the resource recovery and the fact that this province is up to 50 per cent recycling and that is the only issue of environmental concern they have actually put a deadline on. Air quality and water quality have gone by the wayside, a lot of platitudes, but nothing concrete and the people of Kings County deserve more than they have gotten from this government, Mr. Speaker. I think that all Nova Scotians deserve better, even if we look at what has happened in Cape Breton and Glace Bay, which has already been mentioned, and also the Balls Creek area. These situations will arise at any time and the government has a responsibility to deal with them.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for debate has now expired.

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3220.

Res. No. 3220, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/98 on): Deficit - Recognize - notice given Nov. 10/00 - (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

[Page 8852]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a resolution that the NDP caucus has been introducing on a regular basis in this House since the election of the John Hamm Government. I would like to briefly read it:

"Whereas every day in the Province of Nova Scotia six more children are born into poverty; and

Whereas since August 17, 1999, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 2,706 children have been born into poverty; and

Whereas this heartless Tory Government would prefer to talk about only one kind of deficit, a budget deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 2,706 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime."

Mr. Speaker, the reason we have been doing this is quite simple. There has been a significant increase in child poverty in the Province of Nova Scotia, not only in the past year, but in the preceding two years. Nova Scotia has the dubious distinction of having the most significant rate of child poverty of any of the provinces in the country. We have slipped further down the hierarchy of children in poverty in the last four or five years, and we need, I think, to ask ourselves why that has occurred.

I think one theory that probably has a lot of validity to it is that the Province of Nova Scotia has sustained 15 per cent of the federal Liberal Government's cuts to health, education, social programs, the closing of military bases, the gutting of the EI Program and what have you, where we only have 3 per cent of the population. This certainly will reverberate and it will have an impact on families and people in this region and, therefore, it contributes directly to the number of children who are living in poverty. I think that certainly is a reasonable explanation, but it may not be the total explanation for what occurred.

Mr. Speaker, everybody in this Chamber is fully aware that you don't have poor children without poor families. Children live with a parent, or parents, and it is clear from all of the information that children who are poor are living in families where the source of income is inadequate, regardless of whether it is from social programs like social assistance and family benefits, where the benefits levels are an absolute scandal, or from the working poor, people who are actively pursuing employment in the labour market, but quite often are in one of two scenarios: one working where they have minimum wage employment and the minimum wage levels are also a scandal; or the hours of work that people are able to get in

[Page 8853]

employment even above minimum wage is inadequate to provide a basic level of income to pull families above the low-income cutoffs, which we consistently think of as being the poverty line. These facts are very clear; these aren't in dispute. These are the sources of poverty, the inadequate income is the source of much of the child poverty, and this is something that we need to address.

We have had an extensive debate in this Legislature around Bill No. 62, and I am not going to get into that because we will have an opportunity to talk more about the restructuring of social assistance when that bill comes back, but interestingly enough I think in the debate that we have had around poverty, and specifically Bill No. 62, we haven't really touched on the problems in the enforcement of maintenance as a contributor to children's poverty and family poverty. I think that clearly, given some of the testimony that the Law Amendments Committee has heard with respect to the existing system, the maintenance enforcement program just fails.

It fails to bring the income and the justice that children in households where a parent, primarily a male parent, has absconded with the means of supporting children adequately, and has left women struggling to provide to put food on the table, to pay the rent, and children are also left in these situations where their income is entirely inadequate. Something I think the minister really needs to take a hard look at is to what extent is the current regulations and legislation, in terms of maintenance enforcement, meeting the very real situations of these families. What can we do to strengthen the legislation or to beef up the resources that are required to actually enforce the regulations in this legislation? It is a very serious problem.

Without going through a whole litany of what child poverty looks like and what family poverty looks like, because I believe that in the past weeks and certainly over the past months we have had an opportunity to lay out very clearly what the problem looks like, I think we would be better served if we spent some time looking at the strategies. What are the proper strategies that we need to be relying on, in terms of dealing with child poverty and family poverty? Would a strategy to deal with child poverty look like volunteer feeding programs? Churches, service clubs, charities and, in fact, school boards are now being forced into the situation of providing feeding programs.

[5:15 p.m.]

The municipality here, the HRM school board announced earlier this week that they are introducing a more comprehensive kind of feeding program into the schools around metro because the situation of hunger and poverty has become such that children are unable to learn and teachers are unable to teach. In fact, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union this weekend, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, is holding a very large conference that is focusing entirely on child poverty and education. If you look at the program for that conference, Mr. Speaker, you will see that they are profoundly concerned about this problem and about the

[Page 8854]

impact that has on their effectiveness in the classroom as a profession. After all, teachers are the ones who, every day, see these little people, these young children and these teenagers.

I took a tour last Friday, Mr. Speaker, of Halifax West High School with the principal. We went into one particular room in what was a very active high school, before the current environmental problems, the principal said, this room here was our food bank. I thought, isn't that tragic, that you have to have in a high school a food bank to ensure that the youth, the teenagers in that program have adequate food. I mean, what is more basic than coming to school and trying to learn. To be able to do that you can't be sitting there with hunger pains and thinking about how uncomfortable you feel because you haven't had supper, you haven't had breakfast, you have no food for lunch. There are kids in this province who are in that situation every day.

We need to say that food banks and furniture banks and clothing banks are not an adequate response to what has been a growing problem. We need to say that we need to have agreement from all people who are involved in politics and in the community, that there is a basic principle that the adequacy of income to families, so that they can feed and clothe children, regardless of their source of income, needs to be our starting point, Mr. Speaker. That means we need to look at minimum wage; we need to look at the social assistance rates; we need to look at the enforcement of maintenance; and we need to deal with community economic development in communities that have particularly high rates of unemployment and of child and family poverty. I am not sure, I would assume that perhaps my time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You have about 15 seconds.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I am finished. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity today to speak on Resolution No. 3220. I think one thing that the honourable member opposite did raise is that child poverty is a problem in Nova Scotia and it is a problem throughout the country.

Child poverty is a very complex problem and it requires a well coordinated and a long-term government approach and it requires a national approach. We have to recognize that child poverty is something we have to deal with in Nova Scotia, but it is truly a national issue and that we have to deal with it on a national basis.

I have had the opportunity of having a chance to sit with federal-provincial ministers responsible for social assistance and I can tell you that across this country, whether it be in B.C., Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, this issue is being discussed across the country. A lot of initiatives have started up in the last little while. Back last November, the federal government

[Page 8855]

initiated a homelessness issue to try to speak to people who were homeless, to try to address that issue, so, that area of poverty could be addressed and there could be resources made available. Just recently, in September, with the Minister of Housing in Fredericton, we looked at the options that we had in terms of housing. There is the whole issue of co-op housing, there is the issue of affordable housing, there are the issues of rural housing and northern housing. A lot of these issues tie into the poverty issues across this country. Those issues have to be addressed as we move forward.

But, I think one of the things that this government has said and one of the things as part of our bill that we have introduced is that we believe the best way to address poverty is to help people overcome barriers to employment and get them back to work. This is something that people have been telling us across the province over the last number of years as we have talked about restructuring, we have talked about moving forward. People have indicated that there are barriers to getting back to work, but clearly they want to get back to work.

Indeed, we have had some success in the last few years. We have had a number of people - some 8,000 - come off our assistance rolls in the last couple of years. People have taken training, they have gotten back to work, so the program has been working and what we sought to do this year is to increase the resources for the removal of those barriers.

As you are aware, we have introduced more assistance for child care and for transportation. We have indicated that we will cover people's Pharmacare costs up to 12 months and we have indicated that people on assistance can keep 30 per cent of their income, before there is any adjustment in social assistance. So that is to help people to help themselves, to help people get off assistance and to give them some ability to get around the barriers that are there.

But, we cannot overlook the fact that education is very important. Education is very important in this process and that is what will contribute to helping people get off assistance. Just yesterday, the Minister of Education announced that they are going to open up a new program to give people a chance to get their high school education. We anticipate that in Nova Scotia there is an estimated 31 per cent of people over 25 years of age who do not have a high school diploma. The fact is that it is difficult to get those people the basic educational upgrades they need. With this new initiative announced by the Department of Education, initially and from our social assistance and community services, at least 1,000 people will be able to take advantage of that and be able to upgrade their education and get them more job ready and help them to get into the job market.

From the Department of Community Services, we are going to put an additional $3.5 million into this program to help it go forward and to help people get the retraining and the educational upgrading that they need.

[Page 8856]

Also this time, we have announced the Integrated Child Benefit. The Integrated Child Benefit is a benefit that we believe will help address poverty. Starting next August, people, whether they be on assistance or low income working people, will receive $1,600 per child annually. That is changed from the schedule that used to be whereby one child, the first child, received a certain amount of money and the second child received less and the third child received less. We, along with the federal government, haved looked at the national child agenda. Additional monies were put in, the province came up with additional monies so we have come forward with that program. The clear intent is to help all low income families, whether they are on assistance or are working.

Mr. Speaker, outside of social assistance, parents receiving assistance will continue to be eligible for the shelter allowance and special needs for each dependent child, and the Integrated Child Benefit will allow families, if they are on assistance, to be more able to go into the workforce, as opposed to having some confusion as they move from the workforce or not. It will allow them to know that that benefit is available as they go forward. It will assist people coming off the income roll. One of the dynamics in this is the changing labour force, particularly in the increase of part-time work and self-employment, where families know that perhaps it is not as secure. This standard level of income for children will allow people on social assistance and the low income people to know that they are provided for and be able to plan their future.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned before that child poverty is complex and it requires a well-coordinated and long-term government strategy. Every year Community Services provides millions of dollars to our community-based agencies. We provided $12.7 million in 1999-2000 to 125 agencies. These agencies are agencies that support children and families. It is part of our partnership program that we work on. We have been establishing early childhood development agreements with the federal government and, indeed, the Canadian Premiers confirmed this, that they believe families and children play a primary role in supporting and nurturing our children. This agreement allows, the Premiers agree, child development and long-term commitment to the future of Canada's children.

Mr. Speaker, the Children and Youth Action Committee formed in 1996 includes the Ministers of Health, Education, Justice and Community Services and the Youth Secretariat and Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation. The role of this committee is to facilitate and encourage a coordinated approach to the service delivery for children. The committee is implementing an action plan for children and youth, and it will allow the coordination of policies and protocols to provide greater integration of children, and regional delivery for people.

Mr. Speaker, we are optimistic that progress is being made. We know that a report from Statistics Canada early this year suggested that the number of people 18 years and under who are living in low income situations is decreasing. The report suggests in 1998, the

[Page 8857]

percentage of children living in low income situations in Nova Scotia dropped to 18.7 per cent from 23.1 per cent. I am prepared to table that report.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today in the House. I am very fortunate to have, in the Speaker's Gallery, a very good friend of mine, the Reverend George Wawin, who was a former resident of the Town of Mahone Bay, a long time friend of mine, who is now the Executive Director of the Prince County Family Services Bureau in Summerside, P.E.I. He is in Halifax today as part of a course, and decided to take some time out at the end of the day to see good government in action. He has been fortunate in that regard, having been fortunate enough to see a Progressive Conservative Government in action. I would ask George to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I wonder if the Justice Minister is alluding to the fact that there is bad government in Prince Edward Island? (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Community Services, you have approximately two minutes left.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, by introducing that Statistics Canada report to indicate that the percentage of low income people is dropping slightly, I don't mean to suggest for a moment that the problem is resolved and I don't want to have anybody under the impression that I am suggesting the issue is solved. Clearly there is a lot more work to do, clearly we have to form partnerships. We have to work with people to develop and get programs made available to them so people can access them.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have undertaken major restructuring of social assistance with the intent that we want to help people get back to work. We want to be able to remove the barriers for people, to allow them to achieve their potential, whether it is through the education programs that were announced by the Minister of Education, whether it is through the programs that we are talking about in terms of Community Services income supports for child care and for transportation. We want to be able to assist people to achieve their potential and get back to work.

We will continue to focus on helping people to try to overcome poverty. We will continue to work nationally with the federal government and the other provinces to attempt to work out programs, whether it is in housing, social assistance or through the social union table, which will bring to the provinces more programs, more opportunities for people who want to avail themselves of those programs, who want to improve themselves, who want to

[Page 8858]

be able to get back into the work force. Clearly, through all of this, we must be sensitive and we must be caring to those people who are not able to work, to the disabled and the people who can't go to work, we must be very concerned about them. Our government will continue to show that care and compassion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and thanks for the opportunity (Interruptions) to speak on the debate relative to child poverty.

Realizing how it impacts on the social and educational development of children and particularly to nutrition and issues of shelter relative to child poverty, literacy and - perhaps as important as any, and probably more important than most - of personal safety. This, Mr. Speaker, is a challenge to any government in that addressing these issues generally crosses over several departments of government. Therein lies a bit of the problem that we have had with all levels of government addressing child poverty.

The NDP have been bringing this resolution forward, have several times brought this type of resolution before the House. The issue of child poverty is sometimes difficult to define and to set limits and definitions. Generally speaking, children are poor because they live in poor families. To deal specifically with child poverty may cause us to overlook the underlying causes of family poverty.

According to the Canadian Council on Social Development, almost half of Canadians who use food banks are under 18 years of age. If there is one child living in poverty in Nova Scotia, then that is one too many. It is not a problem unique to Nova Scotia, you only have to look across this country to see the scope of the problem. According to the Canadian Institute of Child Health, child poverty increased in every province in Canada between 1989 and 1995. In Ontario child poverty increased by 99 per cent in that period - that means that child poverty nearly doubled. Keep in mind that terrible record Ontario has on child poverty . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you. There is a little too much noise in the Chamber. Thank you. The member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

DR. SMITH: During that period in 1989 and 1995 when child poverty doubled in Ontario, it was under the Rae Government, it was under the NDP Government of Bob Rae and the Progressive Conservative Government of Mike Harris. It is unfortunate that the Tory Government is trying to be like its big cousins in Upper Canada. We see issues relative to the drug testing of those on social assistance today, which I am sure is going to provide lawyers many hours of debate and representations made before courts at all levels and probably eventually the Supreme Court if the government keeps up with that type of initiative to deal with those on social assistance.

[Page 8859]

Be that as it may, Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the level of drug use during any pregnancy or with parents relative to young children. We are speaking of children here today. Despite these problems with child poverty, the United Nations constantly reports that Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world, so it is shameful to all of us that this problem continues to be so evident, so widespread and destructive to our children and their social and educational development.

In the last few years, Mr. Speaker, we have seen more and more reports and better research about child poverty and the numbers are alarming. One year ago a report card was released from the coalition of anti-poverty groups, labour organizations and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. This report said that Nova Scotia's child poverty rate had gone up by 35.8 per cent in the past 10 years. Nova Scotia's rate was higher than the Canadian average for 9 of the last 10 years. By 1997, one in five children lived in poverty.

These numbers are sometimes hard to believe, but whether you believe these numbers or not, it is not a problem that can be ignored. Child poverty stems from family poverty and many poor families are single-parent families. These single-parent families are usually headed by single mothers. This Tory Government believes that the best way to help these people is to force single mothers off the social assistance rolls.

The previous government in Nova Scotia believed strongly in providing support for families and children and we were concerned about child poverty and the early social and educational development of our children. Our last budget contained important steps to address child poverty specifically, Mr. Speaker. It is too bad that the Tories and the NDPs voted against such a positive budget, attacking child poverty. The Tories are too busy listening to Nancy Radcliffe now, perhaps, who spoke at the Tory annual meeting in February and now is a paid staffer at the Priorities and Planning Committee - that is the information that I have.

When she spoke about balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, the Tories applauded that at the annual general meeting. Do you remember that being reported in the media, including the Minister of Community Services allegedly applauded Nancy Radcliffe for her attack on the poor. So the beat goes on, the story goes on. It is just that those who are delivering it seem to change.

In the last budget we brought before the House, more low income families would receive higher benefits under Part 2 of the National Child Benefit Program. Our provincial Liberal Government worked together with Ottawa to develop the National Child Tax Benefit Program. The National Child Tax Benefit Program is a federal-provincial program that helps low income families provide a better start in life for their children.

We were making it possible for more Nova Scotian families to receive the Nova Scotia child benefit. Our Liberals raised the income threshold so that an additional 9,000 families,

[Page 8860]

39,000 in total, could receive the benefits under this program. Families with incomes below $16,000 would continue to receive maximum benefits.

The Liberals also helped develop healthy child development initiatives. These included prevention, early intervention and child care. These innovative programs help give children at risk a better start in life. It helped children by improving benefits and services for their families. Our Liberals are very proud to have been part of an historic program to help prevent and reduce child poverty in Canada. Children's needs must be met in an environment which is safe and healthy and is designed to maximize a child's potential. That is why we strengthened and expanded early intervention programs and provided services for special needs children in under-serviced areas. Healthy child development initiatives added to what we already had in place, to help families and to help children.

We began a Healthy Start pilot project to help prevent child abuse and support healthy development. We also developed a child nutrition strategy. Investing in healthy children is an investment in our future. Children are our future but their needs are now and they need attention now. This government must support families who need help raising their children.

In 1999, former Premier Russell MacLellan helped launch a public education campaign to support parents and caregivers. Under the Liberals, Nova Scotia was the first province to develop a grassroots focus for Get Set for Life: Making the Most of Your Child's First Five Years. This was a national campaign to provide practical information to parents and caregivers based upon the latest findings in early child development.

In Nova Scotia in 1998, the former Liberal Government announced 80 new subsidized child care spaces in 28 non-profit licensed centres around Nova Scotia. Affordable, quality child care is important in making sure that our children have all the advantages they deserve. We know parents need support in raising their children, and families of any income can be overburdened. This past September, Prime Minister Chretien announced $2.2 billion in new funding for early childhood development. With the funding, the federal Liberal Government affirmed their commitment to children by providing new funding for early childhood development. The Liberal Governments sees this as an investment in the future of Canada, and Canada's future prosperity depends on the opportunities that are provided to children today.

Parents and families play the primary role in supporting and nurturing children. That is why the bigger problem of poverty in Canada must be addressed before the problem of child poverty can be eliminated. Communities, business, non-profit organizations, and government also make key contributions to the well-being of children. The Early Childhood Development Program Accord will provide more money for services and programs for children and their families.

[Page 8861]

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

DR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your kindness. The federal Liberal Government of Jean Chretien will invest $2.2 billion in early childhood development. This funding will be provided to the provinces over five years through the CHST, the Canadian Health and Social Transfer. Under the Early Childhood Development Program Accord, Nova Scotia has committed to work toward a number of key areas, and we will be monitoring these: to promote healthy pregnancy, birth and infancy; to improve parenting and family supports; to strengthen early childhood development learning and care; and strengthen community supports.

Thanks to funding from the federal Liberal Government of Jean Chretien, Nova Scotia is supposed to tailor its early childhood development services to meet the unique local needs of children and their families. The province knows these families. For Nova Scotian families, these investments will mean better access to services such as prenatal classes and screening, pre-school programs, child care and parent information and family support.

Other initiatives of the federal Liberal Government include: the National Child Tax Benefit which will reach $2.5 billion; parent leave is extended; the Aboriginal Head Start program for children and their families; and the community action program for children; and the Canadian prenatal program. It is important that the Minister of Community Services guarantees that this funding from the federal Liberal Government is invested here in Nova Scotia in the way it was intended and was agreed to and signed to, and not to continue to punish children and their families as this government does, and not to pit poor families on social assistance against the working poor and against each other as they have done against areas of this province, like pitting Sysco against hospital beds in Halifax.

That is a technique that this government is developing, and that is very dangerous and it is very cruel. It is not to blame families for being poor and to have poor children. It is not their problem, and this government, shame on them for blaming the families for being poor. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have a few moments to wrap up debate with regard to this resolution, one I put forward back on November 10th I believe it was, last Friday.

We have heard a lot of discussion today about child poverty, some of it rhetoric, some of it fact. I could take the time now to talk more about how government legislation that is going to eliminate potentially a family's home if they are in such a desperate situation they must go on social assistance, it is going to impact on children. We could talk about single

[Page 8862]

moms who are going to be forced off the welfare system without even basic telephone service to help them find work. I could talk about a lack of child care, while forcing people into a situation of failure, and how that lack of child care is really going to put children in a desperate situation, and is not going to help eliminate or even reduce the amount of poverty children suffer in this province. I could. I think those are all valid points that should be raised, and they have been raised, and they will be raised again, but I would like to take this opportunity to talk in a little more hopeful way.

[5:45 p.m.]

I am going to use an example from my riding, Mr. Speaker. I have a school in South Woodside. South Woodside, as many might know, is where the Imperial Oil Refinery is and it is a working-class community, one with a lot of people who are both working not working and living below the poverty line. It is a great community. But it is one in that I see on a regular basis the ravages of child poverty and how it impacts on children, how it impacts on families, and how it impacts on a community.

I want to take a couple of minutes while I have them, Mr. Speaker, to talk about how the people in that community have been able to provide some hope, a little glimmer of hope, for the children in that community. No thanks to this government, nothing this government is actually doing is helping them. I would suggest it is only hurting them. But the people in the community on the ground, on their own, are doing things. Despite what the government may try and do at the governmental level, on a ground level they are doing things to help eliminate and prevent poverty amongst children.

South Woodside Elementary is a relatively small school. It is an older school. It has about 200 students, maybe a little more, plus or minus. It has benefited from supplementary funding, something that I have always supported. That has provided them with smaller classes. It has provided them with more resource teachers. My understanding is that about 50 per cent of the children in that school need some form of resource teaching and that is quite high. That is a high-needs school. What has been done in that school to help deal with the poverty issues? Well, two particular things.

One, last June, the Principal, Anna Marie Sarto, and the community got together with a little seed funding and developed a breakfast program. That is not just a program for those who many might say, well, breakfast programs stigmatize, breakfast programs lead to some people being stigmatized as the ones who need a breakfast. Do you know the irony of it is, and I have heard this with other programs, but this one I have heard as well the program actually has a lot of middle-class people coming to it; parents, both working, can drop their kids off and they are able to go to work and know their kids are going to be safe in the school an hour before classes start. So a breakfast program does not have the stigma attached to it and it has enabled the children of that school to have a decent breakfast before they start. I

[Page 8863]

think it is about 33 per cent of the kids in that school who are using the breakfast program. It is free to them.

That has done wonders I am told, both by the teaching staff and the principal, in reducing discipline problems, increasing the ability of children to learn, and giving them a better opportunity to get a decent education. You can call it a fresh start. You can call it a head start, but what it does is it gives those children an opportunity from the time they enter school to be able to go out and actually get a good education, learn to read. Those first five or six years, Mr. Speaker, are so crucial. If a child can learn to read in those years, there is so much more opportunity for them to be able to finish high school, for them to be able to go on to community college, or university, and then be able to go on and get a decent full-time, long-term job and break the poverty cycle. It starts with a breakfast program and that is what that school is doing. A lot of the kids there are very appreciative of it.

I visit all the schools in my riding on a yearly basis, but in October I went over and I met with Anna Marie Sarto, the Principal. I was sitting in her office. She had another meeting or she was dealing with a child who had an issue. As we were sitting there - her door is always open - I think two or three kids came through and the same thing happened the year before. The kids are young and almost always the issue is they are hungry and she is able to have a little drawer in her office with snacks - Granola bars, raisins, other things that allow them to get that bite, to get that food that enables them to be able to go back to the class with something in their stomach which allows them to be settled down. It allows them to continue to learn. That is something she has done, something her school does. She and the staff also volunteer at the breakfast program.

It is that kind of effort at the ground level that has done so much to help children in those circumstances. It is too bad we cannot have that at every school. It is too bad all the schools in this province didn't ensure that the same opportunities were being provided so that those children had an opportunity to succeed.

I want to talk about something else that is going on at South Woodside Elementary, they recently got extra funding - it used to be called inner-city school status - it is not called that anymore and no one has been able to tell me what the new technical word for it is. South Woodside Elementary has been given designation that allows them to have other programs as well which include, which I think is very important, a 4-plus program. My colleague, the member for Halifax Needham will be aware of that, or the member for Halifax Atlantic, because I believe there are three or four schools between those two ridings. There is one in Dartmouth North and I believe there is one in the riding of Preston as well, Nelson Whynder, in North Preston. All those schools and now South Woodside Elementary have a 4-plus program.

What is 4-plus? Well, in Ontario they call it junior kindergarten. It is a program that ensures that at the age of four, children are going to go to school on a full-time basis so they

[Page 8864]

get that extra start, they are provided with that opportunity, that the school has an opportunity to assess them so when they start Grade Primary they have got a running start. It is proven to do wonders in ensuring those children are able to read, are able to do well in school and therefore they will succeed later in life. It is a program that every school should have in Nova Scotia.

What we have instead is a government that is not investing in those types of programs, is not investing in early childhood education, is not investing in breakfast programs, is not investing in ways to ensure children can learn. Let's face it, the best way to prevent child poverty is a good education for those children so we can break that poverty cycle. Yes, there are other things that need to be done, their parents need to have the opportunity to succeed, there need to be programs and infrastructure and transportation in place for the parents, but if we want to break that poverty cycle one of the key things is education - both for the parents and for the children - so that they can break that poverty cycle. That is for the working poor as well as for people on welfare, poverty is not something that only happens whether you have an income or whether you are on assistance.

Mr. Speaker, instead of this government taking the time to cut such programs, instead of this government waging a war on the poor, telling them they are going to take their houses, if they do want to apply for social assistance, instead of this government doing things that are only putting up barriers to people breaking through the poverty cycle, why don't they look at success stories like South Woodside Elementary School? That is a school where the Principal, Anna Marie Sarto; the staff; the home and school association; the local school board member, Grace Walker, have done so much to ensure that that school can succeed; that the children in that community have an opportunity to succeed. Every time I go in there I have hope. I know that those children have a better opportunity because every time I go in there I see what the people on the ground level are doing to improve that school and the opportunities for those children. It shouldn't be one school, it shouldn't be the initiative of one principal or one school board member or one president of a home and school association. It is about vision and it is about this government recognizing that its role is to ensure that those same opportunities are provided to every school in Nova Scotia.

That is what we are here for, that is why we were elected, I thought. Yes, they are about choices. Yes, we must deal with deficits and debts. I don't disagree, but if we invest now we can do so much more to ensure both our tax base is increased, that our spending is down on such things as welfare and the justice system, and we are able to ensure everyone has an opportunity to succeed. Let's not allow South Woodside Elementary School to become an exception to the rule in Nova Scotia, let them be an example, a beacon for the other schools and for this government to try and do something that will address child poverty. Let's not make it worse. I don't think you guys want to leave next time you have to go back to the polls and say, you know what, the child poverty rate is still very high in Nova Scotia, it may still be the highest in Canada and we have done nothing to address that. Take the opportunity now, look at examples like South Woodside Elementary and try. That is all we can ask from

[Page 8865]

this side is try, and do some things that can make it better for all Nova Scotian children. Let's break that poverty barrier. We can do it. There are examples out there. Let's not work against those people in those communities, let's work with them. Here is an opportunity and I suggest to you that you take it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: I thank the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for his comments and I want to ensure him that the school he is talking about is not unique. There are other programs that are happening in other schools. One of them that I would like to talk about for just a few minutes is the Glooscap Elementary School in the community of Canning. This school has had a breakfast program for years and it has been sponsored by the Canning and Area Inter-Church Council. I was fortunate enough when I was a minister in one of the churches that was a member of the Canning and Area Inter-Church Council to be part of this program. It has had wonderful leadership from community people, members of the various churches, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Canning United Baptist Church, Canning Trinity United Church, the Pro-United Baptist Church, and many, many churches in the area, by individuals such as Marlene Dykens of Canning who helped initiate the project, Dick Turner who took it over, and cooperation from the school. This program has been going for quite awhile, and has had enormous cooperation from many communities. So I want to commend the Glooscap Elementary School for this program.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for the debate has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I ask for the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

[Page 8866]

Bill No. 66 - Consumers Protection Act/Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 62 - Employment Support and Income Assistance Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and if time permits, third reading of Bill No. 64. That will be the order of business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn. The hours tomorrow will be 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North:

[Page 8867]

"Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the positive work that can be accomplished when a community rallies together."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

COMMUNITIES - COOPERATIVE EFFORT: OUTCOME - POSITIVE

MR. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to rise and speak to this resolution. To use as an example of the truth of this resolution that when a community rallies together wonderful things can be accomplished, the Aldershot Elementary School and community park project. This community school and park project has been in the works for about three years now, when a group of residents in the area, and also some teachers at the school, decided that the playground around the school could be revamped and upgraded and used both for the betterment of the school and for the community.

The old playground equipment in the school was pulled out because it was unsafe, so it was just empty space and a sort of derelict playground around this school. So about three years ago, several residents gathered together and with the help of the school board, with the help of the Aldershot Elementary School and community residents, they began to work towards revamping this area, upgrading it, getting new playground equipment. Finally, on November 5th, I had the privilege of being there at the opening of this Aldershot Elementary School and community park project. It was an exciting time, as about 200 people gathered together to celebrate what had been done, and to celebrate the sense of community and the accomplishment that a community can have when people get together.

I would like to read, Mr. Speaker, if I may, and I hope the names won't bore people, but there was a whole list of organizations that worked together to make this a reality. I think it is illustrative of this resolution that when various parts of the community come together and work together, that wonderful things can be accomplished.

The park was made possible through the generous support of the Aldershot Elementary School PTA, as I say, that helped initiate the project; the Millennium Bureau of Canada; the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission which donated some $36,000 towards this project, I believe; G. K. Morse and Sons; Ronald McDonald Children's Charity of Canada; Kings Tec Landscaping, which provided the landscaping for the project; Foodland Kentville; the Michelin Tire plant; Planters Equipment, where the good member for Kings West worked before he was elected to office; the Canadian Wildlife Federation; the Tree Canada Foundation; Maritime Landscape Services; Sobeys Incorporated; Kings Mutual; Clinic

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Pharmacy; Centreville Truck Repair; Sam's Bucket and Backhoe Company; Hicks Financial Solutions; Centreville Dodge; Valley Kitchens; Rosie's and Paddy's Pub in Kentville; the Dairy Queen in the area; W.K. Sharpe and Sons; Springvale Nurseries; H and R. Block; Absolutely Fabulous Bed and Bath and Linens; the Royal Bank and the W. C. Hiltz Funeral Home; J. G. Veinot Insurance and Allen Farms.

This is not to mention all the individuals who gave of their time for this wonderful project. People such as Mary Lou Oiseau, who has been active in the school for many years, whose children have gone to the school; Cathy Briggs, Christine Davis and the current Principal of the school, Sara Hines. So it is absolutely incredible what a community can do when they get together.

[6:00 p.m.]

I had the privilege, as I said, of speaking at the opening, at the dedication of this project, which is not just a playground for the school but, because of the Aldershot community, which is an under-serviced area, relatively speaking, compared to Kentville, so it serves also as a park for the entire Aldershot community as well. As I said, I had the privilege of speaking there and representing the province there. I spoke about how this was a wonderful example of what politics should really be about, using the Greek word polis, which comes, of course, from the city and from the Greek vision of the city states, working together, that politics wasn't about opposing camps hurling insults at each other, as we see in some places, but it was about the communities gathering together to do together what could not be done by individuals alone.

This was an inspiration to the community. In fact, it was such an inspiration to the community that the newspaper journalist who was there, Mr. Larry Powell, wrote a glowing article about how, when communities work together, wonderful things can be accomplished. In the November 6 edition of The Halifax Chronicle-Herald he has an article, I think it even elicited an editorial within The Halifax Chronicle-Herald which said much the same thing, that this was the true spirit of community at work and when communities gather together, they can do wonderful things.

I want to commend the Aldershot PTA, all the individuals and the various companies that I mentioned. As you can see, it is an impressive list of people. The project was somewhere in the range of about $200,000, so it was a fairly large project. It was not just for the school but also for the community which lacked a park facility. It is still in process, Mr. Speaker, and they will be finishing off the soccer field soon and doing some more landscaping, once this rain stops, and finishing up the project. Already it is quite impressive and quite exciting.

This theme of community is something I would like to speak on in another aspect as well. For me, it provides a bit of a focus for some issues that I have been wrestling with and

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thinking about, issues that impact upon my work as an MLA. The first issue that this theme of community brings to mind is the impact of globalization, the impact that it has upon our communities, our local communities, the community of our province and upon our country.

Now I am aware, as I am sure all members of this House are, of the furious debates going on in the media and in various books about globalization and its effects on society. There are some that claim that globalization undermines the ability of all political entities to exercise any sort of influence any longer. There are others, such as Linda McQuaig, who argued that globalization is really just a facade that is used in order to transfer money from the poor to the wealthy.

I think that probably the truth is somewhere in between. When you look at the genesis of the nation's state and the rise of the nation's state which coincided with the rise of the modern age, I think it becomes clear that as we move into something that is called post modernity - the post modern age, whatever that may be - that the institution of the nation's state is experiencing a lot of challenges and globalization is one of those challenges.

I refer to an article by Mark Kingwell called the Accidental Citizen in which he refers to this challenge to the nation's state of globalization and how it is affecting communities. I don't really have time to read his comments, but basically in this article he is talking about how it has undermined the nation's state and that we need some democratic communities in order to counter-balance the power of the global market place and of global national corporations. He does not feel they are bad, but he feels that they need to be balanced. I think they need to be balanced in two ways with a larger emphasis upon the United Nations, this global community, but also balanced by strong local communities such as the Aldershot community that worked together, such as the Province of Nova Scotia which can form a strong local community that can form a counter-balance to the power of global corporations.

The other issue that has been preoccupying me for some time, this theme of community brings to bear on is the Tory tradition that I belong to. It comes out of a strong social tradition, a social vision. I like to summarize it by the phrase, To whom much is given, much is required. I hope that we do not lose that vision and that tradition with the emphasis upon community.

The last thing, as I am running out of time here, is on the community that we have here in this House. It is a strange community with some very bizarre rules, which I would like to see made better if we could, but it is a community nonetheless and I saw that with Eileen's death how we form a community here. So, my challenge to all of us is to work together as a community in the midst of these rather strange rules that we have to make this world a better place. Because this world is too poor for anything but charity, this world is too broken for anything but peace. This world is too apathetic for anything but commitment. This world is too cynical for anything but truth and this world is too small for anything but love.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I thank the honorable member for Kings North for bringing forward this resolution. I think that certainly every member in this House represents a constituency that contains amazing communities within our constituencies and I think that we could be here for months talking about and paying tribute to people who live in our communities who have rallied around particular causes and situations. My own constituency, I can think of numerous examples. A tragic fire in a senior citizens' home where elderly people died and the entire community came together to assist the other seniors who were traumatically impacted by this fire, the involvement of the armed forces in the effort to move people in and out of this manor in an orderly and compassionate way. There were other senior citizens who provided support and food and encouragement to the residents and neighbourhood volunteers.

There are many examples that we can look at, five churches in my community that have formed an alliance and are now providing programs for young people. Across denominations with no thought to promoting any kind of religious agenda that is particular to their denominations. But really, looking at what the interests are of the community as a whole, so you have the Catholic church, St. Georges Anglican Church and the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, the Brunswick Street United Church and the Trinity Anglican Church all doing their important work. So there are many examples, as I say, of good work that is done at the community level.

I think it is important to pay tribute, as the honourable member has, to the efforts of people in communities for their work. I think we also have to be very careful that we do not go too far and romanticize the situation that exists in many communities. Sometimes these ideas, to me, are threatening and dangerous. I see this in this government, the idea that if people can just get together, we can do all of these things by ourselves, you know, let's get together and, oh, gee, you know, we need a highway, let's get together and build a highway. Well, this is why we have government, and while community organizations and the efforts of citizens in the kind of endeavours that go on every day are really important, the role of government is extremely important to provide and do things that citizens, even citizens working together, will never be able to accomplish.

Government has the tools to collect taxes. They have the tools to make laws. They have the ability to allocate massive resources, to define structure and how things will work, and provide services. This is something that we are seeing with this government being eroded under this rubric of self-reliance and returning everything to the community which is really meaning leaving communities on their own. This romantic notion that we live in a simple time and that every household is like the Waltons, on whatever that mountain was, with ma, pa, and John-Boy, and it is just not the case anymore, Mr. Speaker. We really need government that is strong and positive and that knows how to work with communities and can identify communities that are in trouble.

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Mr. Speaker, there are communities in Nova Scotia that are in trouble. In my own constituency we have a very healthy community that is self-reliant, that is able to get by very nicely, thank you very much, in lots of ways. We have a large African-Nova Scotian community in my riding, where the rate of unemployment is like 40 per cent in a metro economy that people say is thriving, in an economy where people say the rate of unemployment is like 5 per cent, or just under 6 per cent. So there is something wrong. This is a community, I would submit, that has been neglected and ignored by government, is invisible to this government, and this government acts like the policy it brings in here is neutral, that it is going to have an impact on everybody in an equal way, which is absolute baloney. It will not have a neutral impact.

Some communities will be even greater disadvantaged by the policy that this government is introducing, Bill No. 62, and other pieces of legislation. As will communities like Preston, I submit, like Dartmouth North, like Halifax Needham, and I see my colleague in the Liberal Party waiting his opportunity to speak, who will have a lot to say about Cape Breton, a place in our province with very strong communities, but communities that are faced with very significant problems that they on their own, without the power of government and the resources working with the community, not imposing on communities solutions, but working with communities and mobilizing the public resources to deal with the problems in the community, is very important.

So I think, yes, we need to stand in our places and acknowledge and recognize voluntarism and cooperative efforts at a community level, but let's not use this as a way to let government off the hook and to put our responsibility as members of government, as members of Opposition Parties, to make sure that we are very clear of the absolute fundamental requirement for a strong government with positive public policy that works with people in communities, and that takes its responsibility seriously, and doesn't hide behind this nonsense of self-help and self-reliance which means you sink and swim on your own, communities. You are not going to get anything from your government, so you better rely on the corporate sector and see if they can help you out, because we are not. We are getting out of the business of helping people and providing services to people. This certainly is what I have been seeing and what I think other members of this caucus have been seeing since the Hamm Government has been elected.

[6:15 p.m.]

We can talk about globalization and these things. There are interesting debates to be had in that area, but let's start looking at home. Let's look right here in our own government, our own government with their expenditure of close to $5 million a year. Let's look at how that money has been spent. Let's look at all the communities that are not benefiting from any economic development. I look at the Minister of Economic Development, his so-called plan, that blue print, that does not address communities in crisis in Nova Scotia. It does not address what this government is going to do about Cape Breton. It does not address what this

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government is going to do about the astronomical rates of unemployment in specific communities, like African-Nova Scotian communities. I watch the Minister of Education cut Education budgets that result in a greater stress on families in my community where, historically, people in parts of my constituency have been unable to finish high school. There is a whole generational cycle of people not having the additional supports that are required, let alone being treated the same as people who are quite advantaged. So we need to recognize that here, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my experience has been that communities, yes, can rally together to support something they view as positive. It is difficult for me to recall a time when that was so in my own lifetime, but I am told that during the time of the Second World War there was massive support in the community that I represent, not only for the war effort itself, but also for the victory bond drives that were under way. One of the characteristic features of industrial Cape Breton was that the subscription rate for those war bond drives in Cape Breton was among the highest anywhere in Canada, even though the people there generally did not have too much money.

Certainly in modern times, the thing that has caused the communities that I represent to rally together is not a positive thing, but rather a negative thing, and that is the fear of economic devastation due to irresponsible and cavalier attitudes by this government. We had an example today in Question Period of that. I asked the question of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works what plans did the government have for $230 million that they budgeted for environmental clean-up at the site of Sydney Steel? When would that work get under way? The cavalier answer of the minister was, when it is required, that is when it will get under way.

Mr. Speaker, anyone who knows anything about the environmental situation in the Sydney area would not say words of that type. They would agree that the work is needed immediately. There may not be a start-up schedule for the work to actually commence drawn up yet, but they would not say that it would start when it is needed, because it would know full well, they would have the sensitivity and the understanding to know that work is needed now, is needed yesterday. I asked, would the work be given to unemployed steelworkers? The answer was well, that is yet to be decided, and so on and so forth.

I have told the House before, that the community I represent, the principal core of my constituency is an area that has had the threat of the closure of the Sydney Steel plant dangling over its head since 1967, which is 33 years ago. For 33 years the underlying tension and stress that that creates in the community I represent certainly is a bonding force, it brings the people together, but certainly not in a positive way. I think it is a very negative way.

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The contrasts between the prevailing outlook in a community such as I represent, and most other parts of Canada, is perhaps best drawn out when people who have grown up in industrial Cape Breton and learned a trade, they have graduated, they have a diploma or a degree or a ticket or whatever they get after they have completed their education, they go to some other part of Canada and get work and report back home as to their impressions of the environment in which they are now working, as compared to what it was like in Whitney Pier or in New Waterford. The contrast is all the difference between day and night.

I was talking to a young fellow on the telephone who moved recently to northern Alberta. He couldn't get any work in Cape Breton of course, that was why he moved way out there. He immediately got a job, he arrived Friday and started work on Monday, and good money. He said out here the people are not worried about money, they don't worry about work; there is work, there is money. That isn't part of the picture. In the community I come from it is a day-to-day preoccupation.

I agree that no government has been able to solve that problem but I think there was a greater degree of sensitivity and of compassion under the previous government than there is under the present, I think as was demonstrated today in Question Period by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, they don't care. That is basically the problem, they don't care. If they have $230 million in their budget to address a very serious environmental problem that has drawn national publicity from coast to coast in Canada and they don't even admit the existence of the problem, that it requires urgent and immediate action and they feel it can get under way when it is needed, whenever that may be, you are dealing with a pretty insensitive crowd, Mr. Speaker. When you realize that people of that mentality comprise the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, it is certainly very alarming.

You can go into all the offshoots from that central thought as to how did they get there and who put them there and by what quirk of fate did they find their way to the Treasury benches. My explanations for those matters are well known, but the crux of the matter is that they are there, they are legally in power. There is no way they can be removed until the next election. I don't advocate the storming of the Winter Palace, others might but I don't. I am not going to advocate a coup d'état. I don't think that it could possibly even be contemplated, they are there, they are legally in power. But, having gained power, they don't propose to exercise it in a responsible and sensitive way.

That is the tragedy of this government. I think that is why they will not be judged very favourably by history, because given the opportunity to serve the community, they neglected to do so, they refused to do so. They were obstinate and stubborn in their ways and said, we will not help those people down in Cape Breton; we will not give them positive answers as to what our intentions are; we are going to keep them in a state of uncertainty; we are going to keep them in a perpetual state of dangling, like one might perhaps dangle a yo-yo and treat a community that way. After a while people get their backs up when they are treated that way because I think they all have the right to expect, of whatever government may be in power,

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whether it be the Tory Party or the Liberal Party or the Libertarian Party or the Flat Earth Party, that they have a right to expect from that government, when elected to power, a reasonable modicum of responsibility and sensitivity in their basic decisions.

I believe that government is an instrument to serve the people. It doesn't exist as an independent entity to make decisions in a vacuum, it is there to serve the needs of the people. Now, of course, it is an exercise in reason and in judgement as to how a government determines to set its priorities and carry them out. There is certain room for play, it is not an absolute exercise. But, there are some things that, as the United States Constitution says, we hold these truths to be self-evident. Certainly, the type of problems that the community I represent face and the response of this government to those problems, in my view, has been decidedly lacking.

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I can't join with the honourable member opposite and recognize positive work that can be accomplished when a community rallies together, but I present rather the reciprocal aspect that from the negative attitude and irresponsible actions of the government that he supports, the community that I represent has certainly been caused to rally together, but not in a positive way, in a very negative way. I suggest that if there are any qualms of conscience on that side of the House, if there are any people who are troubled in spirit or vexed in any way in their frame of mind, possibly they ought to focus on the actions of the front benches of that government, and ask them, why would you budget $230 million for environmental clean-up in Sydney and then sit on your hands?

Why would you allow the most serious known environmental problem anywhere in the nation - at least that is what the media claims - to just simply pass by day after day, month after month, and leave that money on the books but have no plans for activating it? Why would they leave the people who are impacted on by those things in a state of constant uncertainty and unrest and disquiet? That, in my view, is not ethical. Possibly the honourable member opposite might know something about ethics. I consider it to be unethical, by the government that he supports, to treat the people who I represent in so unscrupulous a manner.

Mr. Speaker, therefore, in what limited time remains, I would like to sum up by saying that I think that certainly this government has a great deal of room for improvement. If they would, perhaps, want to do something to improve that record, they might draw up a contingency plan for spending that money earmarked for environmental remediation in Sydney, get a plan drawn up, get some work under way, put some unemployed people to work and try to generate a sense of positive work, to quote from the resolution, in the community, rather than negative continued uncertainty and unemployment.

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MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all members for taking part in this evening's discussion and debate.

We stand adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

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

[Page 8876]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3310

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Acadia University has been recognized in the recent Maclean's Magazine ranking of universities as the best primarily undergraduate according to opinion leaders across the Country of Canada; and

Whereas Acadia University has been ranked in this same survey as the most innovative university in Canada; and

Whereas Acadia was ranked as the second-best overall undergraduate university out of a list of 21 universities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating President Kelvin Ogilvie, all members of the university administration team, members of the Board of Governors, faculty, students and support staff in their continued success both now and in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3311

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Up and Coming; and

Whereas nominated for this award were Tiyailia Cain-Grant from the constituency of Preston, along with Adrian Gough and Shane Colley; and

Whereas Tiyailia, a resident of North Preston, was the winner in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud Tiyailia Cain-Grant, Adrian Gough and Shane Colley, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

[Page 8877]

RESOLUTION NO. 3312

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Best New Artist; and

Whereas nominated for this award were Jamie Sparks and Cindy Cain from the constituency of Preston, along with Linda Carvery; and

Whereas Linda Carvery, a resident of Halifax, was the winner in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud Linda Carvery, Jamie Sparks and Cindy Cain, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 3313

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Best Live Performance; and

Whereas nominated for this award were Jeremiah Sparks from the constituency of Preston, along with Afro Musica and Impact; and

Whereas Afro Musica of Halifax was the winner in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud Afro Musica, Jeremiah Sparks and Impact, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

[Page 8878]

RESOLUTION NO. 3314

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Artist of the Year; and

Whereas nominated for this award were Gary James (Papa Grand), the Carson Downey Band and Jeremiah Sparks, all from the constituency of Preston; and

Whereas the Carson Downey Band of North Preston was the winner in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the Carson Downey Band, Gary James and Jeremiah Sparks, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 3315

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Best Album; and

Whereas nominated for this award were the Carson Downey Band, Jeremiah Sparks and Jamie Sparks, all from the constituency of Preston; and

Whereas the Carson Downey Band of North Preston was the winner in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the Carson Downey Band, Jeremiah Sparks and Jamie Sparks, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

[Page 8879]

RESOLUTION NO. 3316

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Best Gospel; and

Whereas nominated for this award were the Gospel Heirs, Jeremiah Sparks and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir; and

Whereas the Gospel Heirs of North Preston were the winners in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the Gospel Heirs, Jeremiah Sparks and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 3317

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas at the recent third annual ANSMA Awards, an award was presented in the category of Best Hip-Hop/R&B; and

Whereas nominated for this award were Cindy Cain, Gary James (Papa Grand) and Jamie Sparks all from the constituency of Preston; and

Whereas Jamie Sparks of Cherrybrook was the winner in this category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud Jamie Sparks, Cindy Cain and Gary James, and wish them all the best as they continue their careers in the music industry.

[Page 8880]

RESOLUTION NO. 3318

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the third annual ANSMA Awards were held this past weekend, celebrating the achievements of the African-Nova Scotian music community; and

Whereas in addition to awards being presented in seven musical categories, three honorary awards of distinction were presented recognizing those who helped build the African-Nova Scotian music community; and

Whereas Shelly Fashan of Lake Echo was presented the Black Business Initiative Development Award, recognizing her many important contributions to the African-Nova Scotian music industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud Shelly Fashan, and wish her all the best as she continues her career in the music industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 3319

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the third annual ANSMA Awards were held this past weekend, celebrating the achievements of the African-Nova Scotian music community; and

Whereas in addition to awards being presented in seven musical categories, three honorary awards of distinction were presented recognizing those who helped build the African-Nova Scotian music community; and

Whereas doo-wop group The Raindrops of Halifax were presented the Music Heritage Award, recognizing their many important contributions to the African-Nova Scotian music industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the members of The Raindrops, and wish them all the best as they continue their career in the music industry.

[Page 8881]

RESOLUTION NO. 3320

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the third annual ANSMA Awards were held this past weekend, celebrating the achievements of the African-Nova Scotian music community; and

Whereas in addition to awards being presented in seven musical categories, three honorary awards of distinction were presented recognizing those who helped build the African-Nova Scotian music community; and

Whereas vocal group Four the Moment of Lake Loon and Cherrybrook were presented the Pioneer Award, recognizing their many important contributions to the African-Nova Scotian music industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the members of Four the Moment, and wish them all the best as they continue their career in the music industry.