Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Nov. 23, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Commun. Serv. - Bill No. 17: Law Reform Commission - Refer,
Hon. P. Christie 2556
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 748, Women - L'École Polytechnique (Montreal): Tragedy
(06/12/89) - Remember, Ms. E. O'Connell 2558
Vote - Affirmative 2559
Res. 749, Women - Violence Against: Commitment (Gov't. [N.S.]) -
Work (Advisory Council) Acknowledge, Mr. R. MacLellan 2559
Vote - Affirmative 2560
Res. 750, Sports - Football (NSSAF Champs 1999): Cobequid Educ.
Ctr. Cougars - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 2560
Vote - Affirmative 2561
Res. 751, Fin. - Deficit: Source - Transfers (Gov't. [Can.]) Reduction
Recognize, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2561
Res. 752, Gov't. (N.S.) - Rural Needs: Attention - Demand,
Mr. D. Downe 2561
Res. 753, Province House - Christmas Tree: Lun. Co. Christmas Tree
Producers - Thank, The Premier 2562
Vote - Affirmative 2563
Res. 754, Premier - Misunderstood: Refrain - New, Mr. F. Corbett 2563
Res. 755, Preston MLA: Self-Serving - Stop, Mr. M. Samson 2564
Res. 756, Rec. - Landsdown Outdoor Rec. Dev. Assoc.: Bluenose
Achievement Award - Dave Leese (Westville) Commend,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2564
Vote - Affirmative 2565
Res. 757, Health - Care: Improvement - Record Thin, Mr. D. Dexter 2565
Res. 758, Lbr. - Occup. Health & Safety & WCB: Amalgamation -
Agenda Reveal, Mr. R. MacKinnon 2566
Res. 759, First United Church: Anniv. 239th - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 2566
Vote - Affirmative 2567
Res. 760, Fin. - Budget (2000-2001): Balanced - Cuts Poor-Caucus
(PC [N.S.]) Protest, Mr. K. Deveaux 2567
Res. 761, Health - Breast Cancer: Mobile Screening - Women (Clare)
Commend, Mr. W. Gaudet 2568
Vote - Affirmative 2568
Res. 762, Lbr. - Parrsboro Fire Dept. & Ladies Aux.: Dedication -
Congrats, The Speaker (by Mr. B. Taylor) 2569
Vote - Affirmative 2569
Res. 763, Environ. - Goodwood Compost Facility Odours - Address,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2569
Vote - Affirmative 2570
Res. 764, Premier - Transformation (Post-Election Cuts): Antidote -
Provision, Mr. D. Wilson 2570
Res. 765, Environ. - Ctr. Consol. School (Grade 5): Beach Sweep -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 2571
Vote - Affirmative 2571
Res. 766, Justice - Serv. (Rural [N.S.]): Centralization Plans - Review,
Mr. H. Epstein 2571
Res. 767, Educ. - UCCB: Gordon MacInnis - App't. Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 2572
Vote - Affirmative 2573
Res. 768, Fall River - Christmas Parade: Lions Club - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Christie 2573
Vote - Affirmative 2573
Res. 769, Educ. - Waycobah First Nations School/Whycocomagh
Consol. School: Conference Day - Brenda Dunphy (Skye Glen, C.B.)
& Students Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 2574
Vote - Affirmative 2574
Res. 770, Gov't. (N.S.) - Moral Fibre/Ethical Decisions: Absence -
Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 2574
Res. 771, Fin. - Deficit: Reduction - Downloading (Muns.) Avoid,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2575
Res. 772, Econ. Dev. - Unemployment: Increase - Realities Respond,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2576
Res. 773, Premier - Santa Gift: Change - Attempt, Mr. J. Pye 2576
Res. 774, Sysco - Sale: Chance - Retention (Post 31/12/99) Urge,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2577
Res. 775, Sports - Hockey (Old-Timers Tournament P.E.I. [20-21/11/99]):
Timberlea-Prospect & Col.-Musq. Valley MLAs & Players -
Best Wishes, Mr. B. Taylor 2578
Vote - Affirmative 2578
Res. 776, Health - Dr. Tim Snow (Kennetcook)/Dedication Applaud/
Dykeland Lodge (Windsor) - Anniv. 25th Congrats.,
Mr. John MacDonell 2578
Vote - Affirmative 2579
Res. 777, Fin. - Cuts: Thaw - Start, Mr. J. Pye 2579
Res. 778, Commun. Serv. - Social Progs.: Cuts - Fiddler (Tourism Min.)
Omen, Mr. K. Deveaux 2580
Res. 779, Culture - Sandy Cove Lighthouse: Future - Terence Bay
Commun. Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2580
Vote - Affirmative 2581
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 302, Exco - Dep. Mins./Senior Staff: Salary - Scale, Mr. J. Holm 2581
No. 303, Justice - Family Violence: Election Platform - Ignored,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2582
No. 304, Fin. - Budget (2000-2001): Balanced - Cuts (Employees)
Avoid, Mr. J. Holm 2584
No. 305, Justice - Family Violence: Women - Risks, Mr. R. MacLellan 2585
No. 306, Nat. Res. - Natural Gas: C.B. - Delay, Mr. F. Corbett 2586
No. 307, Environ. - Dumping Illegal: Eastern Shore MLA - Investigate,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 2588
No. 308, Status of Women - Restorative Justice Prog., Ms. E. O'Connell 2589
No. 309, Exco - Code of Conduct: Backbenchers (PC) - Application,
Mr. D. Wilson 2590
No. 310, Commun. Serv. - Poverty: Elimination (4 Years) - Commit,
Mr. K. Deveaux 2591
No. 311, Econ. Dev - Econ. Zones: Promise (05/07/99) - Fulfil,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2593
No. 312, Health - Nurses: Recruitment - Expectations (Jan. 2000),
Mr. D. Dexter 2594
No. 313, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Smoking By-Laws (HRM):
Municipalities (N.S.) - Follow, Dr. J. Smith 2595
No. 314, Health - Doctors: Recruitment - Strategy, Mr. D. Dexter 2597
No. 315, Gov't. (N.S.): Election Promises - Implementation,
Mr. R. MacLellan 2598
No. 316, Educ. - Sir John A. MacDonald HS: Busing - Plan,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2599
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:44 P.M. 2600
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 1:45 P.M. 2600
CWH REPORTS 2601
PUBLIC AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 24, Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited Act 2601
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 20, Emergency "911" Act 2602
Hon. J. Muir 2602
Mr. D. Dexter 2602
Dr. J. Smith 2603
Vote - Affirmative 2605
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. J. Pye 2605
Mr. J. Holm 2608
Hon. M. Baker 2620
Vote - Affirmative 2623
ARRIVAL OF THE ADMINISTRATOR 2624
BILLS GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT:
Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 7 2624
Nos. 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, and 25 2625
No. 19 2625
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again at the call of the Speaker 2626

[Page 2555]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, I would like to call upon the honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, members will note on their desk there is a map. It is taken 500 miles in the atmosphere, via satellite, and it is done by the Geomatics Centre at the community college in Lawrencetown, the College of Geographic Sciences. I thought I would be non-partisan and bring it to all members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

2555

[Page 2556]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we introduced Bill No. 17 this month in a sincere desire to improve access to adoption information in Nova Scotia. We took on this difficult issue with the knowledge that adoption information is a very emotional and personal issue. It is extremely difficult to find a balance in law that will meet the personal needs of all those persons affected by the release of adoption information. Stories told in recent weeks in letters, public debate and in the Law Amendments Committee, are testament to the wide range of opinion on this issue. These stories have reinforced the members of this Legislature and told them just how complicated this issue is.

Each adoptee, birth parent, adoptive parent or family members can make a compelling personal case for any number of options under the law. Some favour making adoption information completely open and others have a very good reason for not wanting information released without their prior consent.

Bill No. 17 attempted to strike the correct balance between the two, sometimes, competing rights. Where is the balance? That is the question the government wrestled with prior to introducing this legislation. It is the question the House has struggled with during debate and it was the focus of submissions to the Law Amendments Committee. The House has not yet achieved a satisfactory answer to that question. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I have asked my colleague, the Minister of Justice, to refer this issue to the province's Law Reform Commission for study and report prior to further debate in the House. The Law Reform Commission is a respected independent agency that is well equipped to review legislation of this kind.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work to improve access to adoption information, to make sure services are offered in a way that is sensitive to the needs of all Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will acknowledge the Minister of Community Services for recognizing the turmoil that his government has caused in the past two and one-half weeks with regard to those who were adoptees or those who were birth parents or adoptive parents, and what it has caused them. I will acknowledge that his government has finally recognized that it was important that consultation take place prior to a piece of legislation moving through this House in a way that it will affect all of those involved. I commend him for having the courage to recognize that Bill No. 17, in whatever form he was producing it, did not have legitimacy in this province for those who were directly affected. I applaud him for finally having the courage to withdraw that piece of legislation and to refer it back to the Law Reform Commission.

[Page 2557]

I want to take a minute to talk about where he has put us at this time. As I said on Friday in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills about this bill, I think it is important to remember this government felt that this was an easy check mark next to one of its promises in its blue book. It did not think, it did not consider the impact that this type of legislation would have on those who are so directly impacted by this legislation. Everyone in this House has heard and felt the emotional pleas of people on both sides of this issue.

For whatever reason, this government was blind and ignorant to that emotional turmoil, prior to introducing this legislation. The reason is that they did not consult, they did not listen, they moved ahead, again, trying in a paternalistic way to believe that they knew what was best without ever really listening to the people of Nova Scotia. Then after first reading, when we clearly knew that this bill was something that was very controversial, they continued to drive ahead. Then finally, in a final fit of reaction, last Friday we saw the amended bill which was gutted and changed things, again without further consultation.

I guess three times lucky for this government. They finally learned that after you don't consult or consult or consult, you better do something else. Hopefully now they have learned their lesson. What is most sad about this whole process is that there are some people out there, a carrot was dangled in front of their face with regard to Bill No. 17, they were promised changes. It is sad because I think it is worse to dangle a carrot in front of someone's face and take it away than to have never dangled it in their face at all. That is the problem we have with this government and what they have done.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I just want to say that I hope, I really hope, that this government has not only learned its lesson, but they will continue to pursue the issue of adoption reform. I hope that sending it to the Law Reform Commission is not double-speak for shelving this whole bill and this whole issue. There are too many people directly involved in this process that need to have resolution. This government has opened up big wounds with regard to it and they had better find a way to heal and not just put it aside. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to respond to the minister's statement here today. It is a sad day for this government, that you have a majority government fresh from an election, fresh from supposedly consulting with people, and they bring in a bill that fails on the House of Assembly floor.

Today we are still left with questions. Questions that are posed by the minister here even as he makes his statement, questions that were best posed prior to tabling the bill, questions that should have been answered prior to tabling the bill. There should have been questions asked and questions answered.

[Page 2558]

This bill, Mr. Speaker, was an attempt to keep a campaign promise. We heard the Premier again this morning, crowing early in the morning. I think I am out on the farm again. He crows every morning he gets on Information Morning about all the campaign promises he is keeping. Well, this is another one, but he will not be keeping this one to the people of Nova Scotia and to those people who want to see better adoption legislation. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, government is about choices and making balances between special interest groups and those people who are really seriously interested in freedom of adoption legislation. I could not believe when I saw this bill. I did not believe that this government understood what it was doing nor that the minister himself really understood what he was doing and I guess we are proved right, here today, because they did not know. I was concerned about fees and I was concerned about the lack of counselling built in. There was a lack of clarity in the bill and philosophy of the bill. None of that was evident.

The process was flawed, Mr. Speaker. We are still asking questions today and the question I would ask as well in bringing my comments to a close, has this majority government learned anything from this bill? Surely, they will, but they have, today, failed the test of good government. They have failed the test for compassion, they have failed the test for consultation and they have failed the test of being sensitive to those persons who are part of that adoption triad. The process was flawed and now it has failed.

The Law Reform Commission is a distinguished group of persons. I would just ask the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Community Services, that the layperson not represent specifically a special interest group that this government seems to be responding to. That is why they are in the trouble they are in today, for listening and not really consulting properly, having a process that worked. For that, they have failed and shame on the majority government to not be able to address the needs of adoption legislation in this province. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 748

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

[Page 2559]

Whereas on December 6, 1989, 14 women were killed in what has become known as the Montreal Massacre; and

Whereas on Thursday, November 25, 1999, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women will unveil a poster which will commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre; and

Whereas the event on Thursday will mark the start of 16 Days of Action on Violence Against Women;

Therefore be it resolved that for the 16 Days of Action all members of this House stop and remember the 14 women, who on December 6, 1989, had their lives cut short in one brutal, senseless moment of violence against women.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 749

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

Whereas November 25th marks the start of the 16 Days of Action leading up to the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas the Days of Action include the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre which took place on December 6, 1989; and

[Page 2560]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women will unveil its poster commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre on Thursday, November 25th at Saint Mary's University;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge and thank the Advisory Council on the Status of Women for all their hard work in assuring that government remains committed to dealing with the serious issue of violence against women.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 750

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 Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars won the 1999 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football Championship; and

Whereas the 1999 championship game against arch rival Queen Elizabeth High School Lions featured outstanding football skills and sportsmanship from both teams; and

Whereas it was the fifth Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football Championship the Cobequid Education Centre Cougars have earned in this decade, clearly establishing the Cougars as the Nova Scotia high school football team of the 1990's;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the players, coaches and support staff of the 1999 Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars for winning the 1999 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football Championship and also recognize the excellence of the Cobequid Educational Centre football program for truly being the best of any Nova Scotia high school in the 1990's.

[Page 2561]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 751

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

Whereas the Hamm Government has embarked on an extensive review of many, if not all, government services; and

Whereas the Premier has adopted an inflexible position that maintains that the provincial deficit is attributable to unnecessary public programs and services; and

Whereas students, teachers, public sector workers and health care advocates are exceedingly worried that this government is about to embark on another period of government cuts that can only further weaken the social fabric of our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize that the source of the provincial deficit is not extravagant and unnecessary spending on health care, education and community services, rather it reflects reduced federal transfers, coupled with failed economic development that consisted largely of million-dollar gifts to large corporations.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 752

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

[Page 2562]

Whereas a majority of seats won by this government were in rural Nova Scotia, based on the hope that the concerns of rural Nova Scotia would be put at the forefront; and

Whereas most rural voters have been sadly disappointed as rural concerns have been put on the backburner and rural enhancement measures, such as enterprise zones, have been cancelled; and

Whereas the Tory ignorance of rural Nova Scotia continues in several areas including good roads, accessible buildings for the disabled, and better rural medical services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand that this government pay attention to the needs of rural Nova Scotia, as they had promised, instead of catering to the needs of a few special interest groups.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 753

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

Whereas while the Chamber within Province House traditionally empties in time for the holiday season, the doors of this beautiful historic building remain open for all to view; and

Whereas Operations Manager Mike Laffin and his hard-working staff put a festive touch on the Legislature at this time of year to add some holiday cheer to the interior beauty of this House; and

Whereas the highlight of those decorations is the Red Room Christmas tree which is donated annually, thanks to the generosity of the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association as a gift to the people of Nova Scotia;

[Page 2563]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers for their kindness and generosity and invite Nova Scotians to view not only the beauty of this Nova Scotian grown tree, but also the wonderfully decorated halls of this historic place - open between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily - as part of their holiday festivities.

I request 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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 754

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

Whereas the Premier in this House was quick to point out to the Leader of the Liberal Party that his Tory Government will have fulfilled more than 40 promises it made in this summer's election campaign before this session ends; and

Whereas the Premier was singing under his breath at the same time, Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble; and

Whereas the Premier is also now experiencing communication problems as his government's message is not getting out to the people;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier's new refrain should be, Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2564]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 755

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

Whereas in his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne last evening, the member for Preston begged for the public's forgiveness for his involvement in the releasing of company names that did business with government, which was then used for Tory political fund-raising purposes several years ago; and

Whereas the member for Preston then continued on with his Address in Reply by bemoaning the fact the then Premier, Donnie Cameron, would not sign his nomination papers; and

Whereas the member for Preston has been strangely silent on such important issues as paramedics, 911 and adoption;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Preston stop taking his time to be so self-serving when he has the opportunity to speak and spend more time speaking to issues that are of vital importance to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 756

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

[Page 2565]

Whereas the Landsdowne Outdoor Recreational Development Association was recently presented with the Bluenose Achievement Award for work done at the seniors and disabled park; and

Whereas the park curator, Dave Leese, recently commented that 1999 was an outstanding year for the park, which incidentally, offers many services free of charge; and

Whereas the Bluenose Achievement Award identifies outstanding achievements for the improvement of recreational opportunities at the local, regional and provincial levels;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend Westville resident, Dave Leese, for his many hours of dedicated work and outstanding commitment to help others.

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 member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 757

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

Whereas yesterday the newly elected New Brunswick Government unveiled its detailed plan to end the shortage of family doctors in that province; and

Whereas yesterday the newly elected Manitoba Government unveiled a detailed plan to end hallway medicine in the Manitoba hospitals; and

Whereas 100 days after this misunderstood government took office, there are no plans to address the Progressive Conservatives' promised top priority health care;

[Page 2566]

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians really do understand this government when they compare its paper-thin record with the detailed, specific and immediate action taken by the other new governments to improve health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 758

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

Whereas in the infamous Tory blue book, promise number 87 states that the Tories will reduce the costs of the workers' compensation system by putting the Occupational Health and Safety Division and the Workers' Compensation Board under one board; and

Whereas the Minister of Labour has asked the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Panel to advise him if the amalgamation of these organizations is a good idea; and

Whereas it is clear, as a result of promise number 87 in the infamous blue book, the commitment to merge the two groups has already been made;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour stop this charade of pretending to consult with the people concerned and reveal the true agenda of the Tory Party, which is to cut and slash to keep their friends in big business happy.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 759

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

[Page 2567]

Whereas the First United Church in Truro celebrated its 239th Anniversary on November 21, 1999; and

Whereas as a part of that celebration a tree was planted on church property by the Good Neighbours Retired Citizens Association in honour of the International Year of the Older Person; and

Whereas the tree was dedicated by the Honourable Flora MacDonald;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the First United Church on its 239th Anniversary, and the Good Neighbours Retired Citizens Association for marking the International Year of the Older Person by giving the church an anniversary gift that should live into the 22nd Century.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 760

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

Whereas in the timeless classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future; and

Whereas the Premier has been visited by the ghosts of Christmas past in the figures of Donald Cameron and John Buchanan; and

Whereas the ghost of Christmas present is obviously symbolized by the needy in Nova Scotia who have been victimized by Tory cost-cutting;

[Page 2568]

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory caucus rise up as the ghost of Christmas future and tell the Premier to stop trying to balance the books on the backs of the poor.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 761

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 western region's mobile breast screening van was in the Municipality of Clare from June 21st to July 16th of this year; and

Whereas a total of 449 women were examined during this period with 30 of these women needing further investigation, and so far there have been no findings of cancer; and

Whereas the number of first-time screens, for example women who have never had a mammogram before, was 39, and that was 8.7 per cent of all women screened;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the women of Clare for taking the time to have this exam, which will help medical officers with the early detection of breast cancer.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 2569]

RESOLUTION NO. 762

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

Whereas the Parrsboro Fire Department continues to provide a very professional and much-needed service to the Parrsboro area; and

Whereas the Parrsboro Fire Department will hold its annual meeting and banquet on Saturday, December 4, 1999, at the fire hall; and

Whereas several firefighters will be honoured and recognized by the department for their service to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the members of the Parrsboro Fire Department and the Ladies Auxiliary for their dedication, community spirit and commitment to the people of the Parrsboro area which they serve.

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 member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 763

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

Whereas residents who live in the community of Goodwood on the Prospect Road continue to express concerns about odours from the nearby compost facility; and

Whereas these residents have been assured that this is a state-of-the-art compost facility; and

[Page 2570]

Whereas these unacceptable odours have had an adverse affect on businesses and residents in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment ask department officials to address immediately the complaints of these residents.

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 member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 764

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

Whereas the MLA for Pictou Centre was once known as a humble, milk-drinking country doctor and friend to all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas after a dose of an election the good doctor made a shocking Hyde-like transformation; and

Whereas the Premier has lashed out against seniors, the disabled, charities and Catholic nuns;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians are now desperately pleading for the antidote against, The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Premier Hyde.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2571]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 765

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

Whereas Centre Consolidated School's Grade 5s participated in the Moosehead Maritimes Beach Sweep; and

Whereas the Grade 5s collected 12 bags of trash, totalling 500 pounds, at Hirtles Beach, Lunenburg County; and

[12:30 p.m.]

Whereas the hard work and commitment of these students sets an example for all Nova Scotians on the benefits of a clean environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Centre Consolidated School's Grade 5s on their hard work improving our environment.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 766

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

[Page 2572]

Whereas centralization of the justice system is a major problem in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Justice Department is planning to move prothonotary and probate offices from Annapolis Royal to Digby; and

Whereas Family Court in this area is now being affected so that people sometimes have to travel to Kentville because no court or judge was available at the time in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that this government review its plans for centralization to ensure that services to rural Nova Scotia are not lost.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 767

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

Whereas Gordie MacInnis has recently stepped down as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in order to take a position with the University College of Cape Breton; and

Whereas Mr. MacInnis has many years of municipal experience, having worked for the Town of Glace Bay prior to amalgamation; and

Whereas Mr. MacInnis has made a very positive contribution to his community in every position he has held;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House thank Mr. Gordon MacInnis for his many years of public service and extend best wishes as he begins a new chapter in his career with UCCB.

[Page 2573]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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. 768

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

Whereas Fall River will hold its Christmas parade on Sunday, November 28th; and

Whereas the Lions Club of that area have provided valuable services with this Christmas parade, another service to Fall River, Wellington and Grand Lake;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Lions Club and the people of Fall River and Wellington on their Christmas spirit.

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 Hants East.

[Page 2574]

RESOLUTION NO. 769

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

Whereas the public doesn't always realize what special people teachers are and how demanding their job really is; and

Whereas Mrs. Brenda Dunphy of Skye Glen, Cape Breton, showed the right stuff by organizing a conference day between her students at Waycobah First Nations Secondary School and the students at Whycocomagh Consolidated School; and

Whereas this conference had led to plans for other shared community events between the native and non-native students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of Mrs. Brenda Dunphy, the students of both schools and all others who worked so unselfishly to bring down the barriers and to build upon mutual understanding.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 770

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

Whereas the Premier, to date, has kept but 4 of 62 Tory promises to be completed in their first year while daily claiming credit for 50 or more; and

Whereas at least 15 promises have been broken to date and 34 promises remain unfilled; and

[Page 2575]

Whereas this Tory Government has taken credit for more previously completed Liberal commitments than keeping their own;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize a lack of moral fibre and ethical decision-making of this Tory Government as they lurch through their first 100 days as of today.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 771

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have already paid a hefty price for years of Tory and Liberal mismanagement; and

Whereas part of this price has been a serious decline in the quality of public services from all levels of government; and

Whereas the practice of one level of government simply passing on its financial obligation to another level of government is all too apparent as a shell game;

Therefore be it resolved that in its quest for deficit reduction, this government not slide its deficit to municipalities who then cut important services such as policing, animal control, garbage removal and recreation.

I seek waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 2576]

RESOLUTION NO. 772

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

Whereas the latest labour statistics show Nova Scotia's unemployment rate rose 3.2 per cent since the election of John Hamm's Tory Government; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development's response to date has been, people have to look outside the box; and

Whereas the insensitive and arrogant attitude of this Tory Government is cold comfort to those individuals with no jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start listening and responding to the realities of what is happening in Nova Scotia before it, too, becomes totally boxed in.

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 member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 773

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

Whereas as the festive season draws closer, all members should be reminded that Santa knows whether you have been naughty or nice; and

Whereas Santa will be well aware of this government's treatment of the poor, the disabled and disadvantaged in this province; and

Whereas the Premier must surely realize that now he will receive a big lump of coal in his stocking;

[Page 2577]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier attempt to now change his Christmas gift from Santa by returning money to charities and the disabled.

Mr. Speaker, I do request 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. 774

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 December 31, 1999 deadline for the closure of Sysco is fast upon us without any indication of government plans beyond this point; and

Whereas the people of Sydney and area deserve to be informed about the fate of 700 jobs as we approach a very uneasy Christmas season; and

Whereas the Premier must make a decision based on the facts, rather than on a right wing election promise made with little concern for the workers and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge this Tory Government to keep Sysco open beyond December 31, 1999 if there is a reasonable chance of a sale by a truly qualified buyer.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 2578]

RESOLUTION NO. 775

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

Whereas both the Tantallon Over 45 Buzzards and the Don Fisher Cruise Missiles of Brookfield will be attending an old-timers' hockey tournament in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, this weekend; and

Whereas the honourable members for Timberlea-Prospect and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley could lace up and face off once more against each other;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature wish the hockey players and their teams well and hope they enjoy fellowship, camaraderie and have a safe journey.

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 member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 776

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

Whereas quite often, those who give so much are recognized so little; and

Whereas Dr. Tim Snow practised medicine in Kennetcook for 40 years and was a councillor in East Hants for 35 years, as well as warden for 18 years; and

Whereas Dr. Snow was a Director of Dykeland Lodge in Windsor since its inception 25 years ago and now at age 75 is a resident of the seniors' home he has worked so hard to establish;

[Page 2579]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud Dr. Tim Snow for his dedication to his district in East Hants and congratulate him and those who have worked closely with this vision and commitment as Dykeland Lodge celebrates its 25th Anniversary on November 27th.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 777

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

Whereas, in spite of El Nino, a frigid blue wave swept across Nova Scotia this past summer; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is now frozen in a Tory ice age where Neanderthal men rule with clubs; and

Whereas in this frigid climate only the strong survive while the most disadvantaged will be frozen in time;

Therefore be it resolved that the thaw of the Tory cost cutting should start now to improve the climate for those who are less fortunate.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 2580]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 778

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

Whereas the Premier has turned his back on "special interest groups" like the disabled, charities and nuns; and

Whereas Roman Emperor Nero also turned his back and allowed the destruction of his own people; and

Whereas while Nero fiddled, Rome burned;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier's choice of a fiddler as the Minister of Tourism is proving to be an omen of the Tory plans to burn down Nova Scotia's social programs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 779

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

Whereas the citizens of Terence Bay and area held a public meeting on Monday, November 22nd, in the Terence Bay Fire Hall; and

Whereas this meeting was held to discuss the future of the Sandy Cove Lighthouse and to address the problem of access to that light; and

Whereas a committee of interested volunteers was formed at that meeting to investigate the situation and to report back to area residents at another public meeting in the year 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the community of Terence Bay for its foresight and send best wishes to the committee in its work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2581]

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: This will be the last Question Period of the millennium. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

EXCO - DEP. MINS./SENIOR STAFF: SALARY - SCALE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as members put it, that is an assumption. As I begin my question, I would like to table the current list of deputy ministers along with their salaries. The list shows that the four most senior deputies are earning just under $105,000. That is 72 per cent less than the rich pay package the Premier gave to the new Deputy Minister of Health. The Premier also hired his brand new chief of staff at the same pay level as the most senior deputy minister earns. My question to the Premier is, what salary scale is the Premier using to hire new deputies and senior staff and when will he share the salary scale with Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows there is a salary scale and those who are hired for permanent positions, not in contract positions, will be hired and that salary scale will be followed. That is the short answer. The long answer is, the member opposite knows that the previous government had a series of deputy ministers in place and that didn't work. This government has taken strong action. I believe we have found a deputy minister who can allow the process of streamlining the Department of Health to allow the kind of service in the health care delivery system that Nova Scotians are looking for.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am asking the Premier to answer for his government, not the former government. Mr. Speaker, this government said that it is hell-bent on reducing administrative costs but instead it has pole vaulted over the records for the administrative salaries. At the same time as it is setting new salary records, this government is looking for new Deputy Ministers of Education, Transportation and Public Works, and Housing. My

[Page 2582]

question to the Premier is this, what upper limit have you set for the salary offers to the new deputy ministers, like to the new Deputy Minister of Education?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member for Sackville-Cobequid that this government has displayed an openness which heretofore has not been part of the process here in Nova Scotia. When those contracts are signed, the information will be made available.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Premier's editorial comments, however, I would have preferred an answer.

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, up until the hiring of Dr. Ward, the new deputy ministers' salaries were, as the Premier himself acknowledged, set in accordance with a pay plan approved by Cabinet, but that seems to have been thrown out the window and people can already see what the new one looks like. My question to the Premier is, what signal does the Premier think Nova Scotians and other civil servants are getting from a government that takes money from the food banks but is ready to open up the piggy banks for new deputy ministers and senior political staff?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I believe that Nova Scotians are anxious about their health care delivery system. I believe that Nova Scotians understand that not having a deputy minister in place who can make the long-term commitment that the job requires will mean a health care delivery system that continues to spend more money delivering an inferior service. We have put in place, I believe, a deputy minister who has the capability to get the job done and is prepared to make the long-term commitment that the job requires.

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

JUSTICE - FAMILY VIOLENCE:

ELECTION PLATFORM - IGNORED

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, in the past decade 60 women have been murdered in Nova Scotia, 40 of whom were killed by men; this is an alarming statistic even in this day and age. In the government's blue book, during the election campaign, there is not one mention of the Progressive Conservative's concern about abused women and children, and violence against women. I want to ask the Premier, why is he so unconcerned about this terrible tragedy that is taking place throughout our society, violence against women and children, that he did not even have a mention of it in his election platform?

[Page 2583]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that this government has adopted the policy of zero tolerance for violence against women. We have adopted the policy that had been established by the previous government. We have as well indicated that law and order issues will be an important part of the agenda of this government and we will be following those law and order initiatives over the next 1,827 days.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, those generalizations are going to be of cold comfort to the families of women who are abused and perhaps even killed during that period of time to which the Premier refers. I want to say that in Bryony House, for the last 10 years all 24 beds have been occupied by abused women and children during that period of time. The Premier and his government have made cuts to charities and to groups who help others in times of need. I want to know, where is the money going to come from for the ever-increasing need to house and help abused women and children, considering the fact especially that this government has cut back on charities and help to groups that want to help others?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know that the member opposite, the Leader of the Liberal Party, has a genuine concern about the disadvantaged in Nova Scotia, as I believe all members of this House do, but I would simply remind the member opposite that, for example, if we had the $1 billion that has been frittered away in an inappropriate introduction of the oil and gas industry here in Nova Scotia, we would in fact have the money to adequately address today the issues that you are bringing to the House in Question Period.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I just cannot frankly understand the Premier. I think that is an extremely callous point of view to take when he should know, and the government should know, that the safety of women and children in this province has to be paramount. No matter what trite comment he may want to make about where money has been spent - and we could all do that concerning other governments and certainly concerning this government - it does not erase the need, that the Premier of this province and this government has no plan for the safety of abused women and children in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: No plan whatsoever, and no plan to reduce these horrendous crimes that are taking place in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the member opposite that this government will be providing the programs that are required for the disadvantaged in Nova Scotia. What we have simply said to the people of Nova Scotia is that before we start any new programs, we have to rationalize the programs that are in place. I believe that is a sensible place to start. I believe it is going down a road that will result in a stronger Nova Scotia, a Nova Scotia that can financially address, far better than it can today, the necessities

[Page 2584]

and the requirements of disadvantaged Nova Scotians, the same way as it will provide better health care and a better education for our young people. (Applause)

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

FIN. - BUDGET (2000-2001): BALANCED -

CUTS (EMPLOYEES) AVOID

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, over the weekend we heard the Premier complaining that he was being misunderstood. He complained about the unfounded, as he said, comparisons being made between himself and Mike Harris, yet the Premier is threatening the public sector in this province with very much of a Mike Harris agenda, complete with expenditure restraints, program cuts, lay-offs, privatization, wage freezes and roll-backs. I want to ask the Premier, if you are really not Mike Harris east, will you commit that the province's budget will not be balanced on the backs of the workers and the Public Service?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member for Sackville-Cobequid that the budgetary process that we have already initiated is looking at programs that we have to deliver, looking at programs that the people of Nova Scotia indicate that they want us to deliver, and that we will formulate our budget around the sensible delivery of those programs.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, so the short answer was no, he won't give that commitment. Another hallmark of the Mike Harris Government is secrecy and disinformation. Our Premier, on the other hand, says that he promised that truth and openness will be the hallmark of his government, but yesterday the Premier said that he will not be releasing the results of the internal program review, the results will become obvious when we have a new budget.

Mr. Speaker, when the budget comes down, it is too late. I want to ask the Premier, who promised to be open and accountable, why won't you commit, today, to release the internal program review when it is completed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we will be, as the member opposite has indicated, doing an internal review. That internal review is to rationalize the services that we provide as government. I believe that the member opposite understands that going down the same road that we have been travelling over the last six years won't work. What I can say to the member opposite, is that it is the first time in this province that an organized, sensible approach has been taken to the budgetary process of this province.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if people would agree that the Mike Harris approach is a suitable approach here in Nova Scotia. That seems to be the route that this government is going, and it is totally contrary to what this government promised - open and accountable government. The Premier wants Nova Scotians to believe that they are being

[Page 2585]

consulted, but he doesn't want to tell anybody which review counts; the secret internal review or the window dressing public review process that is supposedly under way.

I want to ask the Premier, quite simply this question, will you tell Nova Scotians once and for all who you are listening to? Is it the backroom bureaucrats with their secret review or is it going to be ordinary Nova Scotians? Which review is taking priority for this government?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite asks very general questions. On one hand the member opposite is criticizing this government for not being open and more accountable. In 100 days we have introduced improvements to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which that member opposite was asking for. We introduced a code of conduct which that member was asking for. We introduced consolidated accounting which that member was asking for. We have only been around for 100 days. We have a considerable length of time to go and we will, over that period of time, address all of the concerns of the member opposite.

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

JUSTICE - FAMILY VIOLENCE: WOMEN - RISKS

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it may only have been 100 days, but I will tell you, it seems like 100 years. This government has expressed through this Premier so little concern for women and children in dangerous situations in this province that they have completely ignored the question. We have just read about a murder-suicide in the Annapolis Valley and I want to ask the Premier, while he dithers over this question, how many more women's lives will be at risk in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will defer that question to the Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable Premier indicated in answer to the member's question, this government is committed to zero tolerance for family violence. We are absolutely committed to stopping family violence. The terrible tragedy that occurred in the Annapolis Valley is beyond measure for the family involved, but I think it is very inappropriate for members to take advantage of that in the House.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it is not zero tolerance that comes across from this government, it is the zero concern and the zero action on the welfare of women and children in Nova Scotia. It is as if it doesn't care. It is ignoring the problem. There has to be action by this government. What are they going to do? What initiatives are they planning? What conception, even, have they got in their minds about what they are going to do for the safety of women and children in Nova Scotia?

[Page 2586]

MR. BAKER: Thank you, I wasn't sure whether the honourable member was addressing the question to me or the Premier. I guess, as the Premier indicated earlier, we are absolutely committed to stopping family violence. Family violence is intolerable in this day and age. What you do to make sure of that is to encourage the police authorities to pursue every case of family violence vigorously. We are committed to this issue. We continue to be committed to this issue.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier talks about his initiatives regarding the budget: his in-house initiatives, his Voluntary Planning initiatives, his request to the business community initiative but nowhere do we have any initiative for the safety of women and children in this province, the very children upon whom we are looking and depending for the future of Nova Scotia. It is no good to say that there is zero tolerance.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. BAKER: What there has to be is initiatives. I will ask the Premier, what are the initiatives in this province by this government to enhance the safety of women and children in Nova Scotia?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the honourable member's question, I can indicate that the charge rate in this province has gone up from 44 per cent to 72 per cent in cases of family violence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: What have you done?

MR. BAKER: I can also indicate in response to the member's question that the police have been instructed to pursue all these cases vigorously with the primary interest of protecting the victims. Those are tangible things that this government is committed to, however, even one tragedy is one tragedy too many. Until we can eradicate this, we will continue to work towards improving safety for all Nova Scotians.

[1:00 p.m.]

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

NAT. RES. - NATURAL GAS: C.B. - DELAY

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Under the Liberal natural gas plan, a plan your government seems to be signing onto, industrial Cape Breton will not get the benefits from natural gas for at least seven years. Premier, will you

[Page 2587]

confirm that your government is content to see this part of Cape Breton go without natural gas for the next seven years?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite from Cape Breton Centre, I can assure you that we are doing the due diligence on the report that has come from the URB, and we will be reporting on that deliberation in the very near future. The member brings a good point to the House of Assembly.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, seven years, and everyone in this province is supposed to be treated as equal. Since we are not going to get help with the offshore natural gas, I will ask you about the coal miners. The Premier stated that they will not use the coal leases to ensure Cape Breton miners get a better deal. Premier, will you tell us today what you are doing to ensure Cape Breton coal miners and their families get a better deal from the federal government this winter - not seven years - this winter?

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

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the honourable member that we have had, myself as minister, a discussion with the federal minister in trying to enhance the program on behalf of the families and the miners. As well, we have committed $3 million a year over the next four years as an economic package.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, answers like that will have the people of Cape Breton dancing in the streets, I am sure. The lack of concern for economic development in Cape Breton by this government is just disgusting. They bought into the Liberal plan of not re-doing the Winter Works Program, a Winter Works Program that helped the unemployed in Cape Breton. They took it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CORBETT: They are not concerned about natural gas; they are not concerned about coal miners. The only job that this group . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: . . . created in Cape Breton was for Alfie MacLeod. My question is, what is your government going to do to help Cape Bretoners this winter, Mr. Premier, this winter?

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

[Page 2588]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we are working towards improving the economic climate in Cape Breton. There are 900 proposals within the Department of Economic Development from straight across this province. If good business plans come forward, creating employment, they will be supported, as has been the past practice. There are job creation programs under way now in terms of business plans that are within the department.

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

ENVIRON. - DUMPING ILLEGAL:

EASTERN SHORE MLA - INVESTIGATE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Last week, following the revelation that the member for Eastern Shore was illegally dumping garbage on his property, the member initially told the media it was merely construction waste that he was keeping until he could properly dispose of it, but the pictures that were produced on the television revealed the presence of much more than construction waste. Since then I have been advised that the member, in order to avoid a $100 per ton dumping fee, has buried considerably more garbage behind a barn on a property owned by his business partner. My question to the minister is, will the minister have his officials investigate this latest revelation of garbage storage, with a view to proper recourse?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge of what the member has brought forward to the House; however if the facts are substantiated by a complaint to the department, it will be looked into.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is to the Premier. If the officials of the Department of the Environment were to discover that there is further illegal burial of garbage by the member for Eastern Shore, is the Premier prepared to ask for the member's resignation from his caucus?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is a hypothetical question, I believe, but the honourable Premier wishes to answer.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that all members of this caucus will be obeying the law in Nova Scotia and the member to which the member opposite referred, has obeyed the law. If the member opposite has any evidence to suggest otherwise, I would ask him to table it here.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will table location to assist the Minister of the Environment in his activities on site number LRIS 40029332. I believe you may find the answers to the question. So my second supplementary is to the Premier. The Premier recently introduced, what I consider to be a weak code of conduct for his Executive Council. Could

[Page 2589]

the Premier please assure this House that he will examine the possibility of instituting a code of conduct for his Tory backbenchers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe all of us in this House understand that a certain level of decorum, a certain level of behaviour, is required. This government, unlike the previous government, has in less than 100 days, delivered a commitment on a code of conduct, something that the previous governments had talked about for a period of six years, and we are moving on. I cannot make a commitment at this point to the member opposite's question, but I believe all of us must subscribe to a code of conduct here in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

STATUS OF WOMEN - RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROG.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say how sad I feel today, that on the very day that this House unanimously passed two resolutions condemning violence against women, the Premier has the gall to get up in this House and suggest that it is because of the Liberal bungling of the offshore oil money, that they cannot do anything more about violence against women, and I am ashamed.

So, Mr. Speaker, on a related matter I want to go to the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. I want to table two documents. One is the formal response of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre to the Department of Justice Restorative Justice Program, and I want to table with it the Restorative Justice Coordinator's reply to the centre when it raised its concerns.

My question to the Minister responsible for the Status of Women is this, she should know that the Justice Department has launched Phase I of this Restorative Justice Program and groups who work with victims of domestic and sexual abuse have serious reservations about using the repentance and forgiveness model in these cases. I want to ask the minister, what steps is she taking, has she taken, will she take, to educate the Minister of Justice on the problems associated with this approach?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, I was aware of the Restorative Justice Program and I can assure the honourable member that all the information as related to violence against women and women's responses will be brought to the attention of the Minister of Justice. Thank you.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, when the Avalon Centre wrote its brief, the reply that came back from the Coordinator of Restorative Justice said, and I quote, "We look forward to working with Avalon Centre in the development of a service delivery protocol . . .". In other words, they were both co-opted and brushed-off at the same time. When will the

[Page 2590]

minister and the advisory council meet jointly with the Department of Justice to assert these women's concerns with the use of restorative justice in cases where it doesn't belong?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I was actually unaware of the reports that the honourable member has brought to my attention so I commit to speaking with the Status of Women officials and setting up an appointment with the Minister of Justice.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my final question is again to the Minister responsible for the Status of Women and since she hasn't seen these reports, I want to tell her, there are four sane, clear and sensible recommendations at the end of this report that the government has totally ignored. I want to ask the minister what assurances she will give us that restorative justice will not be used until and unless these recommendations which are in the tabled documents have been followed?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can assure you and the honourable member and this House that we will look at those recommendations and if they make sense to us, we will ensure that they are followed but I cannot commit to following recommendations that I have not yet seen.

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

EXCO - CODE OF CONDUCT:

BACKBENCHERS (PC) - APPLICATION

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. After 100 days, we finally got to see the long-awaited code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers and I hope that every Tory backbencher who aspires to sit at the Cabinet Table is committed to conducting themselves according to this code, even though it doesn't apply to them now. The code says, "Ministers must avoid situations where a conflict of interest or a reasonable perception of such a conflict of interest could arise . . .". My question is, can the Premier explain what steps are being taken to make sure that backbenchers avoid the reasonable perception of a conflict of interest?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a difficult question to answer. The issue of members being in conflict of interest is a very difficult one. We certainly have addressed it in our code of conduct which applies to the members of the Executive Council. We have not yet turned our attention to the issue that the member brings to the House. Should there be a code of conduct for all members of the House which would apply to members on the government side as it would to members on the Opposition side, in the performing of their responsibilities as representatives at the local level? I must say that it is not something that was in the blue book but the member brings an interesting concept to the floor of the House and the government is listening.

[Page 2591]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for his comments. We all agree the perception of a conflict does serious damage to the public confidence. As long as companies that are operated by Tory MLAs continue to receive contracts that are funded by this government, that perception will continue to exist. Let me table an article from the Tuesday, November 9th edition of the Vanguard where yet another contract, a provincially-funded program, has been awarded to R. Hurlburt Construction to the tune of over $200,000. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to suspend and review all contracts to companies owned and operated by a member of this Legislative Assembly until the perception of a conflict of interest is finally removed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite has any information that the tender that was awarded to R. Hurlburt Construction was in any way flawed, was in any way improper, was in any way unfair, let him table that information because unless he can do that, the member has done nothing wrong.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, as I started out my questions here, I was dealing with a reasonable perception - if the Premier didn't hear me - reasonable perception was the phrase that I used. I tabled the article that the Premier can certainly read. The Premier has told the media that he is misunderstood, Mr. Speaker. Let me ask the Premier again what he is doing to make sure that Nova Scotians understand that his Tory Government will treat the perception of a conflict of interest as a very serious violation of public trust?

[1:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: I believe that all reasonable Nova Scotians can read the regulations that govern this particular issue. I believe that all reasonable Nova Scotians will come to the conclusion, as I have, that the member has done nothing wrong. I would ask the member opposite to reread those clauses that apply to this particular situation and I believe that he as well will come to the same conclusion.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - POVERTY:

ELIMINATION (4 YEARS) - COMMIT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the 10th Anniversary of the Canada-Nova Scotia agreement to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. What we have seen in that last 10 years has actually been going in the wrong direction. The number of children in poverty has tripled and there is no proof that since the Tories came to power 100 days ago that they are going to do anything to lower that rate. So my question is to the Premier.

[Page 2592]

Since that year 2000 deadline that was agreed to 10 years ago is not going to be met, can the Premier commit to this House today to end child poverty by the end of his government's four year mandate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings a very serious issue before the government, before the members of this House. The whole issue of how we have growing child poverty in a province that has a growing economy is something that boggles the mind and it is something that this government is working to solve.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, platitudes are one thing but let's look at the record in the first 100 days of this government. Let's look at what the Premier and his government have done. They have cut money from the elderly, they have cut money from charities, they have cut money from the disabled and I could go on and on and on. Community groups are scared stiff about what is going to happen in the spring budget, the one that you seem to be preparing us for. What we really have are the Tories attacking . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: . . . the 40,000 children in this province who are poor. So my question to the Premier is, is the Premier willing to commit that his spring budget will not result in cuts that will dramatically affect poverty for children in this province and will not affect their ability to get out of poverty?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite can be assured that every day of our mandate we are working to solve the problems like the problem that was brought by the member opposite to the attention of the House. There is nothing that I believe that is sadder in this province that we have a province that in some ways, by some measurements, is doing so well and by that measurement is doing so poorly.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hope the Premier and the rest of his caucus, after we leave this House in the next few days, when they are sitting down to enjoy their Christmas dinner remember this, there are going to be 7,000 children in this province who are going to have to rely on the food bank to get their Christmas dinner. There are going to be 7,000 children, I hope you remember when you are talking about picking on special interests. So my question to the Premier is, is the Premier willing to commit to consult with community-based groups and individuals before the spring budget is developed to ensure that he does not increase the ranks of poor children in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again to the member opposite, we will be doing the consultations to ensure that the policies of this government as it moves down the road to fiscal responsibility will not be disadvantaging the communities that you bring to the attention of the House.

[Page 2593]

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

ECON. DEV. - ECON. ZONES: PROMISE (05/07/99) - FULFIL

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, we have got to, somehow, get the Premier a Rosetta stone to let him know that he has already disadvantaged those communities. On a campaign stop in Sydney, for instance, on July 5th, the Premier stated, my government would provide tax incentives for special economic zones where regional disparities must be addressed in the short term. During the election campaign, the Premier was in love with economic zones. Since the election he has abandoned them. Why has he taken a different attitude since the election than the one he took during the election, thereby putting the economic future of rural Nova Scotia in jeopardy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that question to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of how best to address the problem of rural economic development is one that this government is grappling with, as has past governments. What we have indicated is that the programs within the Department of Economic Development are under review with an eye towards how best to ensure that areas in this province that are affected and disadvantaged economically have a chance to grow, and that doesn't preclude strategies aimed specifically at rural Nova Scotia, so those are under review.

MR. MACLELLAN; Mr. Speaker, it is not about mumbo-jumbo, as the minister has talked about or as the Premier has alluded to, it is about the fact that the Premier was in favour of economic zones during the campaign; after the campaign he is opposed to economic zones. It is almost as if there is a time warp there in the Premier's thinking. Why would the Premier go out and bolster and support economic zones for rural Nova Scotia during the election and then completely abandon the whole concept after the election? It is not about future activities, it is about already a conflict in the thinking of this government. Why is that conflict there?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member opposite could let me in on the secret as to what day he perceived that I gave up the concept of economic zones, because I certainly haven't come to that conclusion. I am just wondering where the member opposite perceived that I had a change of heart on that issue. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the first clue was the fact that it was in the June budget. The Premier on July 5th supported that concept, even though he voted against the budget, giving the indication that he voted against the budget for other reasons, not the

[Page 2594]

economic zones. There has been no mention of economic zones and the fact of the matter is why has the Premier intentionally abandoned the concept of economic zones for rural Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the members opposite are running out of material when they are starting to ask questions about things that haven't happened in the first 100 days of what will be a 1,827-day mandate.

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

HEALTH - NURSES: RECRUITMENT - EXPECTATIONS (JAN. 2000)

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, today the President of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union has reminded us that the nurses in this province are dangerously overworked and that the government hasn't kept its promises to attract new nurses. The blue book made a commitment to hire 100 new, full-time nurses within six months. Well, tick, tick, tick . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the clock, tick, tick, tick.

MR. DEXTER: Only two months left, and 100 nurses to go. Does the minister really expect Nova Scotia's nurses to believe that after four months with no improvement that the minister will somehow manage to attract 100 new, full-time nurses in the next two months?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour does recognize the great strides that we have made in the short period of time that we have been in government. (Applause) I am pleased to report, from the latest notes that I have, that in excess of 130 full-time-employment opportunities have been created in the nursing profession in the province, and there are some of those who used to work only on a casual basis, and the information that we have had from some of the nursing organizations is that the steps that have been taken have been very positive.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is living life on the other side of the looking-glass because they haven't created a single solitary new full-time position in this province. That is a fact. Following New Brunswick's announcement on health care yesterday, Manitoba also announced a $12 million five-point plan to end hallway medicine. That government recognizes that the plan's success depends on the strength of front-line professionals, especially nurses. Recruiting and keeping nurses is one of the key points in the Manitoba strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 2595]

MR. DEXTER: I want to ask the minister, why has Nova Scotia, after months of study and input from experts, still not announced its strategy to compete with other provinces to attract nurses?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I can review a few of the things, and inform the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour of the steps that we have taken in the short period of time that we have been in. For example, in addition to the 130 full-time employment opportunities that we have created - and I have to take issue with his statement that there have been no full-time jobs, that is simply not correct, it is inaccurate and it is misleading on top of all that - I can also say that we are in the final stages of hiring the nurse advisor that was committed in the platform. We have additionally added 75, nurse training seats, to the universities in the province. Those would be some things.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Manitoba is developing a comprehensive human resource strategy for nurses to aggressively address education, relocation, retention, recruitment and training. Can the minister tell us, if the government has the money to compete for call centres, where is the money and the strategy to attract new nurses?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, a considerable amount of money went into acute care facilities, additional money, about $150 million this year. We committed $6.1 million for the attraction of new nurses this year, and we are fulfilling that. I could remind the member that there is the Nursing Action Group on Education to consider the whole issue of recruitment, and secondly, the Nursing Action Group on Employment, which will address some of these other things that the member has brought forward today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - SMOKING BY-LAWS (HRM):

MUNICIPALITIES (N.S.) - FOLLOW

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. We have learned today in the media that Health Canada released tobacco industry documents that show that a Canadian-based tobacco company assessed smokers as young as nine, and they fortified products to increase the addictive qualities. This has been well known. We also know that additional costs are added to the health care system as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. As a result, the Halifax Regional Municipality is having a meeting on December 7th, with a view of adopting by-laws that require a number of facilities to provide designated non-smoking areas. I have the notice of the meeting.

My question to the minister, particularly regarding his Premier's concerns about smoking is, will he make the commitment today to contact all municipalities in the Province of Nova Scotia and encourage all of them, if it is applicable, to follow the lead of the Halifax Regional Municipality?

[Page 2596]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question, a question which is very important. (Interruptions) Well, if the honourable members want an answer, I am prepared to give them one but I am not going to compete with them. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs has the floor.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the honourable member that we will watch very carefully the actions of the Halifax Regional Municipality and we will be in consultation with them. It is a matter which we will take very seriously, and as I indicated, we will observe what happens with respect to that.

[1:30 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister cannot compete, I do thank him for his answer seriously but I hope he can compete. To the Minister of Justice, if I could, on a similar issue regarding British Columbia, it has taken the provincial lead in suing the tobacco companies for past and future health care costs attributed to tobacco-related illnesses. There is an informal agreement and I think the minister would be aware of agreements between provinces to assist British Columbia, but to the Minister of Justice I would say, regarding your Premier's concern for smoking and cutting health care costs, will you commit today to whatever financial and human resources may be required to ensure that British Columbia is successful in their lawsuit and which will then set up a precedent that can be used here in Nova Scotia?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: This is a very important issue, Mr. Speaker. I understand the member's concern, but I would defer the question to the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Dartmouth East is absolutely correct. There were some materials and information released yesterday that did not make the tobacco companies look too good in regard to the initiative by British Columbia. As you know, Nova Scotia is only one of two provinces in the country that has a very strong anti-smoking program. We will continue working on that and we have not ruled out any option in regard to how we are going to address our relationships with some of the actions in the tobacco company.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that answered the question that I was asking about, support for the action in British Columbia, and it was the Ministers of Justice, I believe, that met and made a commitment on that.

[Page 2597]

My final question on this issue is for the Minister responsible for the Youth Secretariat. It is well known that statistics have proven time and time again that cessation programs developed by the youth themselves particularly have been the most successful. My question to the minister is, given your Premier's commitment against teen smoking, will the minister commit today to meet with the Youth Secretariat as soon as possible . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber.

DR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and charge them with the responsibility of developing teen smoking cessation programs, seeing as those programs work better? This could in turn be funded by the Department of Health through the tobacco control unit.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member for the question. The member can be assured that whatever programs come forth and whether it is already done in the Health Department or not, any new ones, our Youth Secretariat will be there to work within government and to be assured that we take anything to do with smoking very seriously and we will move forward with that.

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

HEALTH - DOCTORS: RECRUITMENT - STRATEGY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday New Brunswick unveiled a $6.8 million and 12 point strategy to attract and keep doctors. Nova Scotia has no such plan. During the election campaign the Premier made a feeble promise to establish $125,000 for bursaries and to give doctors a meaningful voice to government. That would make doctors and big businesses the only ones to get a voice with this government. My question for the Minister of Health, how does the government intend to compete with other provinces to attract doctors without a competitive strategy?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed, we are in the process of finalizing our strategy and for the honourable member's information, I am meeting with some students this afternoon representing medical schools, including the Canadian president and the Canadian vice-president who represent the medical students in Canada, and that will be one of the topics.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in April a New Brunswick report complained that the doctors graduating from Dalhousie Medical School are not prepared for the realities of a rural practice. This complaint has been echoed in many Nova Scotian communities where new doctors have been overwhelmed by rural practice and had left the community after only a few weeks. The new strategy to attract doctors to New Brunswick includes adding 10 new seats at Memorial University's Medical School and no new seats at Dal. I ask the Minister of

[Page 2598]

Health, what steps has the minister taken in the past 100 days to ensure that Dalhousie Medical School improves training in the rural family practice?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that I have met with the people from the Dalhousie Medical School and we have had ongoing discussions about a number of issues, and the recruitment and training of family physicians across Nova Scotia is among the topics that have been discussed.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when this government was in Opposition, it acknowledged that the shortage of doctors and nurses was one of the most pressing concerns in our health care system. Now, 100 days into its mandate, nurses and doctors and those in desperate need of medical care seem to have been dismissed as just another special interest group. My question for the minister is, when will the government do its job and act in the best interest of Nova Scotians? When will it announce the details of a comprehensive plan to attract and keep health care professionals?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised. I can tell honourable members of the House that we have been pretty successful here in recruiting doctors in rural Nova Scotia in the past year, and in particular since the three months which we have been in office. I look forward to that. One of the things that we have in Nova Scotia is an alternative payment scheme that is available to people who will go out and practice in rural areas and that rural incentive program . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MUIR: . . . is probably as good as it is in Canada. The number of general practitioners' seats at the Dalhousie Medical School has increased from 29 to 41.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. MUIR: To be quite frank, the first of the new GPs will be graduating this spring and we are optimistic that a number of those people will stay in Nova Scotia. As the honourable member may be aware, there were some - what I would term as a layman - things about the medical education program that need to be restructured and they have been restructured, which does make it attractive to increase the supply of general practitioners in Nova Scotia.

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

GOV'T. (N.S.): ELECTION PROMISES - IMPLEMENTATION

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I see the Premier is reading his highlights of 100 days of strong leadership.

[Page 2599]

AN HON. MEMBER: That shouldn't take long.

MR. MACLELLAN: No. Mistitled but, nevertheless, a document that has been distributed. I would like to table another document that we have compiled in the Liberal Party and it says, "TORY YEAR ONE PROMISES". I would table that in the House now, but I would like to read from it first. "Out of 62 promises 'first year' commitments, Premier John Hamm has only kept four . . . At least 15 promises have been broken . . . Thirty-four promises remain unfulfilled. The Liberal Government actually implemented more first year Tory commitments (7) than the Hamm Government." (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: I just want to ask the Premier, why is it taking him so long to implement the 62 first-year promises that he said he would implement in the first year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Liberal Party was reading from a document that has the heading, Nova Scotia Liberal Caucus. I thought he perhaps had come up with something a little more objective. (Laughter) What I would recommend that the Leader opposite do is that he perhaps study the blue document that has been circulated in the House. (Applause) It has a somewhat better flavour than his document.

MR. MACLELLAN: Yes, I would be glad to read it, Mr. Speaker, and once I have read it I would be pleased to pass it along with a nomination for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. (Laughter) I want to thank the Premier for submitting this and we will let those who will read both documents discover for themselves. I wonder whether it was an omission or maybe there is a page missing. I ask him, what happened to that?

THE PREMIER: No, we did not want to steal the thunder of the Liberal Party.

MR. MACLELLAN: I just want to say, too, in the spirit of not stealing thunder and in the spirit of the season - and this may be the last opportunity that I will see some of the members in this House and even though this is blue and not red or green - I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday and a safe trip home, and may they have a good holiday season with their families. (Applause)

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

EDUC. - SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD HS: BUSING - PLAN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Perhaps that round of applause could be added to my time, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: No.

[Page 2600]

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question is to the Minister of Education. Rumours persist in the community I am fortunate enough to represent, that soon the students who attend Sir John A. Macdonald High School will be involved in a split shift to J.L. Ilsley. I would like to confirm with the minister that the Halifax Regional School Board has made these arrangements for busing. I am thoroughly interested in what your plans are, immediately, to assist with Sir John A. Macdonald's continuous problems.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite knows well that the plan for split shifting of students at Sir John A. Macdonald is a contingency plan, in case the students have to be moved from the school.

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

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on an introduction.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to introduce two women sitting in the gallery opposite, who came here today to listen to Question Period. I don't know how happy the Premier will be to know they are here, with his good comments, but we have with us today the Executive Director of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, Irene Smith; and Board Chair, Shelley MacKenzie, also from the Avalon Centre. I would hope that the members would give both of these women, when they stand, a warm welcome and, with that, some sense of assurance that the problems they deal with will be dealt with by this government. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[1:44 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[1:45 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

[Page 2601]

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

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

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

Bill No. 24 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited Act.

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

MR. SPEAKER: When shall these bills be read a third time?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

Bill No. 24 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 24, an Act to Incorporate the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 2602]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20, the Emergency "911" Act.

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I move Bill No. 20, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency "911" Act.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a few minutes to comment on this bill in third reading, because you may remember that through the lifetime of this bill that it stood in stark contrast to what the government had said over the course of its election campaign. They campaigned virtually that they would not add a new tax burden to the people of Nova Scotia. You must remember that the manner in which this bill was introduced; the bill was introduced in the House, there was no bill briefing, there were no communications on the bill whatsoever. It was only in the middle of Question Period that we realized in the analysis of our bill that, in fact, there was a taxing provision within it.

We were left at the end of that Question Period to bring to the attention of this House and indeed to the attention of the people of Nova Scotia that this was the intention of the government, to bring forward a tax measure on the distress of the people of Nova Scotia. We did that and we did that forcefully, not only in this caucus, but I must say that we had assistance from the members of the Third Party. In that respect, this was an opportunity for us to bring to the attention of the government and the attention of the people of Nova Scotia a wrong that was being foisted upon people by this government.

[Page 2603]

We decided at that time that we would move the hoist amendment, and that we were going to fight that unfair tax on the people of Nova Scotia. As a result of the work of the members of this caucus, we were able to make the government see the light of day and to delete the offending clause. As I have said before, we are the test against which the legislation is always put. In this particular case, it worked. It worked because the members of this caucus were able to point out to the government that they were breaking their word to Nova Scotia, and they deleted the offending clause as was appropriate.

Mr. Speaker, in this instance, democracy has worked, the House of Assembly has done what it should do which is to point out when the government has made a mistake and to correct them in their course of action, which they did. We are now pleased to see the bill come before the House in the form that it is. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Victoria on an introduction.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the House, seated in the press gallery, Mike Myette, who is Manager of the Emergency Measures Organization for Nova Scotia and Louise MacDonald who is the education officer with EMO. I had the great fortune of working with these two individuals for the last couple of years, prior to July, and I want to welcome them to the House today. I would like the House to give them a good round of applause. They are two great individuals. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 20, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency "911" Act. This short bill had an interesting journey through the House. It tried to sort of sneak in the back way and it got caught part-way through and the vote with our caucus and the fourth Party - I have dropped them back a notch - you might notice we are leaving it blank for any other alternatives, Parties that may want to rise. I thought possibly the member for Preston would announce his candidacy now that we are so blessed that he has arrived, as he would say - that there might be some other caucuses.

Whatever number of caucuses there may be, Mr. Speaker, it shows that the British parliamentary system is alive and well and is working in this province in this particular bill, as well. The idea that at the end of the bill, 7(ea), we sort of snuck in, " . . . any matter necessary or advisable for the establishment of fees to recover costs for any services or materials provided in the course of the administration of this Act or the regulations;". I guess the big question we had with this was, why? Why, at this particular time was this brought in, in this particular way? It certainly wasn't brought in with much fanfare and announcements. That was mentioned, as well.

[Page 2604]

The whole issue of the bill, the extended liability, one doesn't have much of an issue with that particularly, especially as it is now given to one particular party affected by this bill, MTT. Also, some questions are asked, why are we so careful about some of the industries and business when other people who do our business, volunteer boards, are open to liability issues. We have seen that that truly is a concern across this country. However, we support this in its measures, except for that clause on the new tax.

Again, the government did not take the time to explain to those persons who would be making a decision on how to vote on this particular bill, how this bill would find its way through the various committees and readings within the House. It was just there and to this date, we, on this side of the House do not have a clear understanding of who would be impacted by that particular cost, and I think it is because of that. So you can talk about all the consultations you want - when it doesn't happen - but also with the explanation of where you are going to go. I expect that we will see this $750,000, whatever the fee was - I think it was in that range - in the budget next year. The Minister of Health indicated that when he said the fee, if we had passed this bill and included it, would not have been dealt with and wouldn't see anything before five months. I am sure it will come back in another form in another way.

I think it just goes to show you the types of legislation that is brought forward. I hope this bill, along with the adoption legislation, has been a bit of a lesson, not only for this minister - not that he needs a lesson, he has been in education and he knows sometimes you have to repeat things over and over. Well, they have had two good runs at a bill here and they have failed in both endeavours in the House to get them through, even with their majority government.

Mr. Speaker, I won't take any more time of the House. I just want to speak from our caucus. We appreciate your fairness in matters of this legislation, giving us a chance to speak. We have spoken and the government has seen fit to respond to that. I want to thank my colleagues for the initiative in bringing this forward within this House and the result today. We have seen 7(ea) removed and we will not see at this juncture, at least, taxes on 911 calls in this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West, on an introduction.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform members of the House that in the west gallery we have friends of mine from Kings County, Greg and Claudia Colwell. Greg was a Past President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. They are farmers in the Valley and they have done a great job. We want to welcome them here and I would ask the members of the House to join me in welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Greg Colwell. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 20. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 2605]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the amount of time remaining but I am not going to be much longer anyway. When I adjourned the debate, I was speaking about the contributions that charitable organizations and non-profit organizations make to Dartmouth North. I want to continue on that path and enlighten this Legislative Assembly on the remaining number of organizations within Dartmouth North.

Mr. Speaker, the Freedom Foundation is a non-profit organization that operates a transition home for male individuals in early stages of recovery from alcohol, drugs and, now, gambling.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. It is much too loud in here and the honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor. Thank you.

MR. PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The many clients that have multiple addictions, basing success on a one-year-clean-addiction time the foundation continues to run at a success rate of 23 per cent which, in the opinion of many professionals, is a high success rate for this type of addiction. Their clients come from all areas of the province, however, due to limited resources the Freedom Foundation has been only able to scratch the surface in offering programs of hope for addiction, as well as cost-effective options for government in its battle against addiction. I know the honourable Minister of Health has had the opportunity to meet the Executive Director of the Freedom Foundation and members of that organization and see their great contribution to this Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2606]

Mr. Speaker, other organizations that provide an invaluable service to their clients are the Lake City Woodworkers, which is operated and managed by Executive Director, Chris Files; DASC Industries and the Dartmouth Work Activity with its Executive Director, Frank Gibson.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak briefly about the Dartmouth Work Activity as well. Dartmouth Work Activity is a long-standing organization that helps rehabilitate individuals, through an educational program, back into the employment field. I believe about 11 years or 14 years ago I had the opportunity of engaging the services of Dartmouth Work Activity when I was an alderman on Dartmouth City Council. A couple of individuals had called me with respect to wanting to have an opportunity to get off the welfare roll and back into the workforce. I want to tell you that as a result of the hard work that was done by Dartmouth Work Activity that both of those individuals today - and this is some 14 years ago - are now no longer on the welfare rolls and those individuals are productive, working citizens of Nova Scotia and each and every one of them continue to keep the job that they had some 11 to 14 years ago.

Mr. Speaker, it is now obvious to this Legislature that the strength of the Dartmouth North community is within the many organizations and agencies that work together for the common good of its citizens.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am told there are more organizations, agencies and volunteers than any other constituency within the boundaries of the Halifax Regional Municipality. Because of this, many charitable organizations and agencies in Dartmouth North are dependent upon the government for funding to deliver programs, which is all the more reason for me to be watchful of what this government does with respect to their program and audit review. The significance of the Premier's statement of special interest groups was inhaled like a large sucking sound by those organizations and agencies wondering how much of their funding will be cut and if they will ever be able to survive under this Tory Government reign.

Mr. Speaker, I would caution the government to tread carefully in its quest to erase its $500 million deficit in one year. The consequences may be more than what we have bargained for.

Mr. Speaker, during this past year and three-quarters many issues have arisen. For instance, the issue of a secure treatment centre. This facility was promised in 1995 and, to date has yet to become a reality. Although there is mention of this in the budget, there still needs to be some questions answered. It is my opinion that this centre may have been placed on the back burner if it had not been for the persistence of families and guardians of the children with emotional and behavioural problems. I want to pay particular attention to the

[Page 2607]

Kids in Need Association and the Guiding Youth Society. They have contributed immeasurably.

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

MR. PYE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to introduce a friend of mine, a constituent of Kings West, Gerry Fulton is with us today. (Applause)

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, in meeting with representatives from the Persons With Disabilities, they have expressed a need for a team effort and cooperative agencies and governments on employment training program strategies. They are interested in having the government establish small pilot projects that will provide for persons with disabilities by setting up technical aid programs. This will have a tremendous impact on enabling disabled persons to leave hospital at an early time. At present the disabled individuals are having to remain in hospital longer because there is a shortage of technical aid equipment. As a result, this is costing the taxpayers $400 a day.

Accessible housing is another issue. Although much residential development has taken place over the years, little emphasis has been placed on housing accessibility to persons with disabilities. As a point of information, many disabled persons cite the Park Victoria, which was built some 25 years ago, as the best building in metro that meets the needs of those who are disabled. They believe that there should be a partnership with the disabled community and the government towards enforcing Nova Scotia's building codes to aid those with disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, the concerns of the disabled community had only been heightened most recently by the government's decision to withdraw $700,000 of funding from the accessible program. That community considers this to be a backward step and hopes that after the government's review this will be taken into consideration and it will be placed back in the government's budget.

Mr. Speaker, another important issue is that of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat. The seniors have serious concerns that the Secretariat is no longer autonomous nor serving the best interest of the seniors. The staff has been reduced and there have been no replacements for the executive director who resigned more than a year ago and then it was only a part-time position. The seniors' organizations have expressed their concerns about the lack of support for the Senior Citizens' Secretariat and request that this government restore the Senior Citizens' Secretariat now during the International Year of Older Persons. I agree.

[Page 2608]

Mr. Speaker, during the 57th sitting of the Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee on Community Services struck an all-Party committee that toured the province seeking public input into welfare reform. There have been many great presentations and recommendations by Nova Scotians to this committee. I suggest that this government revisit the work done by that committee and request a report back to this Legislature on its findings and then act upon many of those findings.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, this government has the opportunity to shift course and provide Nova Scotians with the kind of government they can be proud of. I, along with the Party that I am part of, will be watching. I want to thank this Legislative Assembly for giving me the opportunity to speak on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and speak in my place on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. As I begin my fifth term in this House, and I guess, really my 16th year, I am being encouraged by some members of other caucuses to go the limit and speak my full time. However, I do not necessarily expect that today I will need my full hour, although I could very easily use that full amount of time just talking about the wonderful community of Sackville.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that sitting in this House, as I have over the last number of years, no matter how many times I come into this Chamber, I must admit that every time I come in, I feel extremely honoured to have been given the opportunity to represent the residents of the community of Sackville. I must say that it is also extremely humbling that the community decided - and they say that the voters are always right - that at least on this occasion I am pleased that they have honoured me by returning me the number of times that they have. It is extremely humbling - that is the only way one can put it - in terms of the generosity and the kindness that the residents of Sackville have given to me by returning me to this House on yet one more occasion.

I am certainly pleased, Mr. Speaker, when I take a look at the basic commitments that I make to the residents of Sackville, and that is that I will try to continue to work with them, and for them, for the betterment of the community, and that I will do my best.

From my experience, residents really do not ask much more than that. Constituents do not expect that you can solve all of their problems or that you can meet every wish or every need immediately, but what they expect you to do is to be open, accessible and to work with them for the betterment of their community and for their family life. That, I think, is the underlying responsibility of all members of this House, and certainly it is a commitment that I am prepared to continue to make to the residents of the community of Sackville; to work with them and for them, and to speak out on their behalf.

[Page 2609]

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to bring to you greetings of the community of Sackville; I should be saying of Lower Sackville, because really the community of Lower Sackville now constitutes the riding of Sackville-Cobequid and I know that my colleague, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, had already brought you the greetings from the residents in the other portions of the greater Sackville community.

Mr. Speaker, as I am beginning my pleasantries in my opening remarks, I would also like to extend my congratulations to all members who were elected to this Chamber, regardless of what side of the House they sit on. I would also congratulate all of those who may not have been successful at the polls but who came forward and allowed their name to stand for whatever political Party was their choice. Each and every person who agrees to step forward to assume the responsibilities of elected office, they are all winners, whether they are elected or not, each and every one of them who will stand up for their principles, regardless of their political stripe, each and every one of them are winners and they all deserve to be saluted for their efforts. (Applause)

That having been said, Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay particular thanks and congratulate my two opponents in the last election, Mr. Wade Marshall and Mr. Kevin Perkins. They both ran good, credible campaigns. They were both worthy opponents and I know I appreciate the kind of campaigns that they ran and their willingness to come forward to stand for the principles and beliefs that they believe in. So I want to add my words of congratulation and thanks to them.

I can't say that I am disappointed that at the end of the day they were not successful, Mr. Speaker. The same as when I congratulate members opposite on the other sides of the House who were elected and congratulating them on their election, that's not to say that - and I hope that they don't take this personally - they weren't necessarily my first choice but certainly they ran good campaigns and they deserve to be congratulated on their winning.

We know, of course, that - and I am sure if people didn't know before they got elected, they certainly know it now and that is - politics is not a game. It is often referred to as a game but politics and elections are not games. It is very serious business. You do not win a trophy, you do not take something home that you set on the mantel. What you win is the right to represent your constituents and that is one heck of a responsibility. We are all going to be judged, new members and old members, on how well we actually listen to our constituents and how we try to address the very real issues and concerns that affect them in their daily lives.

They hear some discussion about special interest groups. Well, I say to all members of this House, everybody in Nova Scotia is a special person. When we are talking about programs and services, we have to remember that everybody is special. We also have to recognize that some special people have less abilities than others to address their particular needs and their particular concerns. Some of those people are more vulnerable. As elected

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representatives and as a society as a whole, we have a responsibility, a duty I would suggest, to make sure that those special people who need our help and protection receive that help and protection, Mr. Speaker, and that not only those very special people who have the financial means and the ear of the government have their concerns addressed.

Mr. Speaker, before I leave a few of the opening remarks, I also want to pay my thanks and gratitude to former colleagues in this Chamber, members from all sides of the House. Certainly, I know that I miss many members of the NDP caucus who had sat in this House over the last number of months and who were not successful in the last election. The voters in those ridings had made a choice and the voters are never wrong. However, I will say that many of those, certainly in our caucus who have left, I would suggest, were excellent MLAs and they served the province very well, as did, I will readily concede, some members of other caucuses who either chose not to re-offer or were not successful at the polls. So I think that we all should remember those who have come before us, we should remember that they have all made tremendous sacrifices in their personal lives and the commitments that they have made. We also should all remember, quite humbly, that we are but one election away from joining those former members of this House. That having been said, I think that we also should thank them for the contributions that they have made to the public life and the public policy in the province because, Mr. Speaker, as you know, with your years of experience, they have all made tremendous sacrifices. Win or lose, they have stood in their places to be counted, on all sides, so they deserve the congratulations and appreciation from all.

[2:15 p.m.]

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would be very remiss if I didn't thank two special groups, very special to me; certainly my family, my wife Diane, and my children for the support that they have given to me over the years. Often, I can be very trying. I am not only trying sometimes to members of this House, sometimes in here on purpose - and I hope I have the opportunity to be quite trying to the government on occasions in the future - but they certainly have been extremely supportive and I am very grateful to them.

The other group, Mr. Speaker, they have to be, what you call, some of the best sales people going. I am referring to my campaign team and workers, because some might suggest that I am not necessarily always the easiest product to try to sell. But I was very fortunate that I had a goodly number of Sackville residents who were prepared to work very hard on my behalf. I cannot begin to mention, and I won't attempt to mention into the record, the several hundred people who were of assistance during the last campaign. Some of them, even repeat offenders, you might say, people who have been willing to work for the New Democratic Party, on my behalf, over a number of elections.

But I would like to mention specifically that my campaign manager, Christina Gillespie, who also serves as my riding president, did a fantastic job and certainly kept me in line during the election campaign and made sure that I stayed out of her hair and got out on the

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doorsteps while she actually managed the campaign. My sign chair, Willie Falconer, who cannot be beat; people call him the sign king. Tom Fullerton, who was my election planning committee chair, and Bob Collicot who served as my official agent. Ron McKinnon, who was my fund-raising chair, and as I say, the many others. We all know that we are elected, not just because of our efforts, but we are elected because of the team of people who are willing to work with us and on our behalf.

To all of those who knocked on doors, who made telephone calls, who helped to prepare the brochures and lay them out, those who were involved sitting in the polls on election day, driving people to and from the polls, all of the many, many tasks that have to be done, I want to extend to each and every one of them my extreme gratitude. Of course, most of all, again I want to extend my gratitude to the people of Sackville whether they happen to be supporters of mine or not. I want to say that regardless, I pledge to do my darnedest on behalf of the residents of that community, for or agin me at the last election. They are all residents of the community and I believe my job is to serve them all equally.

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of important changes over the last number of years. The community has worked very hard on a lot of issues. I cannot, in the amount of time - and I am not sure who is going to be coming this afternoon to dissolve the House, I am not sure whether it is going to be the Lieutenant Governor or the Chief Justice go into everything. But I want to mention, at least, a few things. Even as I am doing this, I am certainly not going to try to take by any stretch of the imagination all of the accolades to myself, because that would be, not only a little bit egotistical, but quite truthfully, it would be extremely unfair.

AN HON. MEMBER: And it would be wrong.

MR. HOLM: And it would be wrong. Mr. Speaker, we have had a number of important changes over the last year in commitments. One, of course, is something that has been dear to my heart and which a group of citizens within the community has been working very hard for quite a number of years to secure, and that is the lands around the Second Lake area, to have that secured for future park development.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the former Premier, Mr. MacLellan, and to the former Minister of Housing, who is no longer here, that I very much appreciate the fact that the department or the government did agree to transfer, as the community had asked, 665 acres of land from the department to the Department of Natural Resources so they could be protected.

Mr. Speaker, we don't always have something on paper, and sometimes things on paper aren't as meaningful even as somebody's word, but I will say to the former Premier that we had a discussion and I remember, actually we had a number of them, we had some right on the floor, we were chatting over his desk, and another time outside on the steps, where I asked the Premier, do I have your word - and this was back in November 1998 - that the lands will be transferred? The then Premier said to me, you have my word.

[Page 2612]

Mr. Speaker, when somebody gives me their word face-to-face, to me that is solid. He was true to his word and I want to thank him for that. I know that the generations and generations of people (Applause) for time to come - and not only residents of Sackville but from all around - are going to be extremely grateful that that pristine jewel is being protected so that it can be developed in a sensitive way for the enjoyment of all.

To the current Minister of Housing who, has told me that a certain piece of land that did not have a clear title, that that quieting has been done, I look forward to the piece of paper that he said will be coming on that particular little piece of land as well. It is great to see that kind of cooperation, and I know that residents will certainly be very grateful for them on that.

Mr. Speaker, also another very important development over the last year is a commitment that there will be a new replacement of the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. That again is a matter that the residents within the community have been working on for many years. Fund-raising is under way for the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre Foundation and they have had walkathons, they have had fairs, they have had a number of things, and they have been putting money forward to be involved so that the actual development and planning can begin, to have that Cobequid Multi-Service Centre actually proceed.

Mr. Speaker, the Cobequid Mutli-Service Centre provides excellent service, but it is tremendously overtaxed. It is overtaxed in part because of the cutbacks in some of the other health care facilities and people are being referred to it from Halifax and Dartmouth, from Windsor, from Bridgewater; from all over, they are coming in for testing. The staff in the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre does a superb job, but the facility is just not capable of handling the demands that are being placed on it. It also needs to be open 24 hours a day. I say that to the Minister of Health, and it is not only Sackville residents who depend upon that, but it is also the residents in Bedford, Fall River, Windsor Junction, Mount Uniacke, up Timberlea-Prospect, and certainly my colleague from Sackville-Beaver Bank can tell you about the residents in his riding who use it as well.

It serves a catchment area of probably about 70,000 people, plus all of those who are referred to the facility from other areas to have a lot of the blood work and x-rays and other kinds of testing done. It is an extremely heavily used facility. The facility was once a liquor commission. That may be why some people remember it, it is on Memory Lane. That is the name of the street that it is located on. It has been expanded a couple of times, but unfortunately it has passed the point where it just simply cannot meet the current growing needs.

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased and I thank the former Minister of Health under the former government for the announcement that he made that the facility will be replaced and that funding and a process is in place. I thank the current Minister of Health, during the estimates debates when I was asking him whether or not the government's commitment for

[Page 2613]

the funding was in place, because of course the foundation that is putting up the initial monies - and they are even going to be advancing up to, I think it was about $240,000 for the planning process, on the understanding that much of that money will be coming back - the minister gave the commitment that the money is in the budget, for this fiscal year, for that. So, again, I thank him for that.

There are some other important developments. The Sackville Sports Stadium is undergoing a major expansion, as we speak; the ground has not only been broken, but most of the foundation is in place. Some of it has gone up and a lot more of it is going up on a daily basis. We talk about fitness as being one of the major initiatives in health and health care wellness and, certainly, the facilities that are being expanded have been identified by the community as a top priority for a number of years. So, like those who have worked on the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre and the Cobequid Community Health Board and for the foundation, also those who have worked so hard within the community to see that the Second Lake area is going to be protected for future passive recreation development, so too do all of those who have worked to ensure that the Sackville Sports Stadium and the needed facilities are being expanded, deserve not only the gratitude of residents within the Sackville area, but they also deserve the appreciation and applause from all members of this House.

A couple of other things have certainly been going on. The Sackville Rivers Association continues to make major strides in restoring the Sackville River and the waterway and the fish habitat. We have new trails being developed and the communities of Bedford and Sackville are now being joined together by a trail which, of course, is following the Sackville River. There are many others that are being planned as well.

Mr. Speaker, we continue, within the community of Sackville, to be one which is very blessed and very rich in terms of its citizens, and the many volunteers who are working to improve life within the community. We have those who are working to assist seniors' groups, like the seniors' council, Silver and Gold, the 50-plus clubs. We have groups that are providing assistance for shut-ins with Meals on Wheels and others. We have groups that are working with young people, like the Boys and Girls Club of Sackville, plus many others; there are too many to mention.

Certainly we are a community that, in terms of economics, is not necessarily the wealthiest, but we are certainly very rich in the quality of the people who will step forward to help their fellow citizens in need. Certainly it is not possible to mention them all but I think a special congratulations should go to the 1999 volunteer of the year, who was Carollyn Harvey who, almost any time you turn around within the community, where there is something going on, like the Patriot Days or involvement with heritage, or with Second Lake or First Lake, you can normally find Carollyn Harvey working behind the scenes very hard and was an excellent choice for the volunteer of the year, this past year, and she has joined a very distinct group of community-minded people who have worked hard on behalf of the community.

[Page 2614]

Mr. Speaker, that having been said, there are, of course, other needs within the community. We have schools that unfortunately do not have all of their resources, particularly the special-education type of resources that are needed. You continually hear of children with special needs who do not have access to the resources that are needed to assist them to overcome their learning disabilities and their special challenges; lack of resources, in terms of basic materials; we also certainly have class sizes that are often too large.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges for this government certainly has got to be, if they are truly talking and going to be doing more than providing the rhetoric, if they truly believe that the foundation of our province's future is in our youth, I would suggest that the Minister of Education and the government should have a very hard look at the basics that are required for our young people in this province.

I am one who uses a computer a great deal and computers are important tools, but they do not take the place of the instructor, of the teacher, in the classroom. They cannot take their place. They cannot feel the child's pain. They cannot hear the child's concern. You can push a button, Mr. Speaker, on a computer, but the computer does not hear and see into that child's eyes and understand that child's frustration and talk to that child about their personal situation and know what the real needs are.

Mr. Speaker, education is our children's future and our province's future. It is not necessarily all the bells and the whistles. I hope, on behalf of the children who live in my community and, in fact, I would say all across the province, that the government listens to and does not only just pay attention to those who are out there trying to sell widgets and gadgets, but are actually those who understand the fundamentals of education and the need for that interpersonal relationship between a child, a teacher, and their parents.

We also, certainly, in the community have other needs. There is a need for long-term care beds within the community. Mr. Speaker, we have many within the community who are in need or will soon be in need for such facilities and within the community there are none. That had been a commitment of the former government that there were going to be an additional 170 such spaces provided. Of course, that did not come about. I am not at this point in time going to try to single out any particular proposal. I think, however, that the government should recognize that that need exists in the community. It is one that has been recognized by the community at large, certainly by seniors' groups, by the Cobequid Community Health Board, and many others. I would be happy when we have some time to sit down with the minister and to explain how I think proposals can be called for so that we can actually get on with meeting what is going to become an ever-growing need as the community continues to age.

[Page 2615]

I will say, however, that I think that whatever facility is being built, it should be a not-for-profit facility, Mr. Speaker, and not one which is aimed at giving some money to a developer who wants to come in and set something up to make money on it, but rather it should be a facility where it is either going to be publicly owned and run or privately run and owned but as a private non-profit so any of the monies that are so made are actually going back to improving the quality of care that is provided within the facility.

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to keep an eye on the clock and to move forward, but I want to move off Sackville for a little bit at the present time, although there are many other things that I could say and probably should say. I will be kicking myself when I conclude that there are a lot of groups that I have not mentioned. There are groups, like Northwood which has an adult day care within the community, providing valuable services. The list goes on and on and on. I hope that none of them feel affronted that I have not mentioned each and every one of the particular groups.

Let me just sum up this way. The residents of the community don't all realize, nor do I, and I don't claim to be knowledgeable of every single individual group, whether those be the church groups, other community groups that are actually working within the community to enrich the lives of their fellow citizens, and as the case with volunteerism, people do it not for what they are going to be receiving in recognition, they do it because they just feel they have something to give and they are doing it out of kindness and generosity to others, a dedication to serve. They aren't looking for applause or public recognition, but I think that they should all know that they are very much appreciated by their community and by this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I want to touch briefly on just a couple of other things. We are concluding today, I assume, but one should never assume because we know if you break it down what that makes each and every one of us when you do assume something. However, one might conclude that it is possible we could conclude our business here today. We in the New Democratic Party had come into this session of the Legislature with a view that we were going to be a kinder gentler Opposition force this fall, and we have done that.

It has not always been easy, but we certainly have tried to be a kinder, gentler Opposition, recognizing, of course, that the government is new, that they are going to put their foot in their mouth more than once, which they have done, and that they are going to make some mistakes. But all of those things, of course, have come true, but we also came forward with a view that we are going to be as cooperative as we possibly can and that we will be trying to make suggestions as to where things can be improved, which of course we did.

[Page 2616]

As we are finishing the first sitting of this session, I say at the very beginning and one of the things that concerns me about what this government may be trying to do, it almost looks like they might be trying to decide who their friends are and then trying to identify who they may consider to be their enemies, and then determining that they will govern accordingly.

Earlier I had talked about the fact that we represent all Nova Scotians, and all Nova Scotians have got to have their concerns addressed. No doubt, as we are leaving this session, if you are going to be, whether it is the blue or the red or the orange score sheet, we are going to be looking at what promises have and haven't been kept. I think that what we should also take a look at are who have been the winners and maybe who have been the losers, because we are going to be judged collectively.

We certainly know that Scotiabank has come out about a $3 million winner. We know, of course, that Britex has come out a major winner, $750,000. We know Scotia Rainbow has come out to be a multimillion dollar winner, from the first 100 days of the government. We know of course that certain deputy ministers are coming out as winners, other deputies are not quite winners. I don't know, Mr. Speaker. We know of course that there are certain friends of the government, like Alfie who is going to be running the $700,000 Cabinet office in Sydney, might be considered to be a winner. You might even say that the Cabinet, who now only have 12 down from the 14, but who have kept the same salary budget for their operations and expenses, that they might be considered to be the winners.

Then we could take a look at who might be considered to be some of the losers, like Nova Scotian charities, $2.2 million that was intended, and I hear the government saying that oh, we couldn't put any money in because these programs weren't there. Those charities across the province may not have gotten their hands on the money, but they knew what programs and services, one-shot deals, that they needed and they wanted, and that they knew would be helping the citizens from one end of this province to the other. It is not a matter of creating new programs, it was simply a matter of distributing the money that had been set up, that money, that fund was not a new program. That money was an old program. The only thing is, the government wouldn't allow that old program to distribute the money in accordance with what it had been designated for.

We know, of course, that people from the disabled community were not winners when they lost the $700,000 that had been scheduled to provide funds to make public buildings more accessible. We know that the minority law students, when the government took away the commitment to employment equity, and we know that the unemployed who lost the Winter Works Program certainly couldn't be considered to be winners. We also can't say the problem gamblers who lost money that would have been there for treatment programs, never accuse them of being winners under this either. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, both sides from the Shelburne School for Boys, whether former employees or former residents, you can't say that they were winners when this government refused to keep the promise for a public inquiry.

[Page 2617]

Mr. Speaker, paramedics lost the right to free collective bargaining and they were forced into a strike. Nurses were promised 100 new nursing positions, but despite what the minister says, they haven't been created. What they have done is they have converted casual positions or part-time positions to full-time, but there aren't more persons, more nurses, providing the care. Certainly I don't think that Cape Breton and rural Nova Scotia would consider themselves to be winners from the first 100 days of this government because we have seen virtually nothing in the way of any kind of substantive government action towards trying to develop the economies of either area. In fact, the government seems to have forgotten about them altogether.

When we came in this session, we said we would try to be cooperative and we would try to be effective. To their credit, the government has been willing to listen to some of the suggestions brought forward from members of our caucus. They have acted upon them. Some of them were rather glaring problems that we discovered. For example, I was pleased that the Minister of Finance agreed to amend the Financial Measures (1999) Act when we pointed out (Interruption) Yes, I was the one who pointed it out with the assistance of my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: A good member.

MR. HOLM: He is an excellent member who noticed the fact that under the way the legislation was written, the government would not be required to bring forward a resolution if they over-expended. Well, Mr. Speaker, we were pleased to see that that was amended.

We were pleased to see that there have been amendments made to the municipal Act following suggestions coming from this caucus. We were quite proud, and I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am extremely proud and honoured to be a member of a caucus such as the one that I belong to. We have a very strong team in the NDP. We have, in this caucus, members who do not hesitate, whether it be in this House on the floor or, quite honestly, in the caucus office, to stand up and speak their mind and express their opinion. We are able, through that process, to share our ideas, to enrich ourselves, to educate ourselves and make it even better in terms of what our job is. So I want to salute all of my colleagues, my Leader for the leadership that he has provided, and all my caucus colleagues, because I think that they have worked extremely well as an efficient team.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, the opposition that colleagues were able to bring forward, I believe, was instrumental in getting the Minister of Health and the government to agree to delete from the bill that we passed here earlier today the hidden tax grab under the 911 bill. So I think that my colleagues certainly deserve a lot of congratulations for that, as well as standing up on behalf of the paramedics in this province and fighting against very Draconian back-to-work legislation that was introduced by this government.

[Page 2618]

Mr. Speaker, there were many other progressive bits of legislation that have been introduced. I see others watching the clock and I think that there must be a time scheduled, that somebody is coming, so I am going to be reducing my remarks slightly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aw.

MR. HOLM: Perhaps if somebody wants to tell me what time our guest is expected?

[2:45 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: At 3:00 p.m.

MR. HOLM: At 3:00 p.m. Okay. Well, you will have a few minutes.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few other final closing points that I would like to make. We have also brought forward other suggestions on the floor of this House. I was pleased that the Government House Leader on behalf of the government agreed that they will bring forward legislation in the spring - now it is going to have to be - to register the lobbyists. That commitment was made.

There are a number of things that in our caucus we have been attempting to do this fall session. We recognize that the government is new but, new or not, the government has been trying to send out quite clearly certain messages. They talk about special interest groups and they talk about big interest groups. You tell me what the Chamber of Commerce is if it is not a special interest group? It is made up of many special interest groups.

Mr. Speaker, the debt and the deficit problem of the Province of Nova Scotia did not begin overnight. We have seen over a number of years a tax being made on essential programs and services. We have seen the public sector workers in this province being attacked both with wage roll-backs and massive lay-offs, and the debt has not gone down; those solutions have not worked. We have some who will tell the government to cut and to slash and to hack; at the same time they are saying contract that work out to us. Some have benefited, thank you very much, over the last number of years. Some of those who would be advising the government in the back rooms to cut and to slash and to privatize have done very well, thank you very much, from those kinds of practices in the past.

I say to the Premier and I say to the government, Nova Scotians - and I truly believe that they do - recognize the financial straits of the province. Nova Scotians also have a sense of optimism. They know if we start to do things right, we can grow the economy. We know we have tremendous opportunities here. Look at our location. We have the location for the port which can attract many new businesses and many new jobs. We have a resource in the ground that is extremely valuable and it is wanted. You tell me, Mr. Speaker, do you think

[Page 2619]

those companies that invested hundreds of millions of dollars and who desperately need our gas and resources for the New England market are going to walk away?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no way.

MR. HOLM: Not on your life. They say that we can spend our money elsewhere; we can invest it in Australia, or South America, or elsewhere, but let's see them build a pipeline to Boston from there. We have the location, we have the resource and, Mr. Speaker, we must build upon those natural advantages. We have the educational facilities here. In this province we have men and women who are very hard-working, who are entrepreneurial, who have the skills and who want the opportunity. We can grow this economy and through growing the economy and getting a fair rate of return for our resources, we will be tackling the debt and the debt will be shrinking as a percentage of our growing GNP.

We do not need to go in and cut, slash and destroy because those kinds of services that some would have cut and slashed, whether it be health care or education or other essential programs, those are also the kinds of programs that improve the quality of life in this province and which are those same kind of things that will be attracting businesses to this community that our young people need. They are good investments.

Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General would like to have a few minutes to speak, so I am going to conclude my remarks a little sooner than I would like.

We have much that we can do, and we have much that we must do. We were all elected not just to serve special interest groups - meaning those in our own political Parties - the true special interest group in this province is the people of this province regardless of where they live, regardless of their economic background, regardless of their education. Each and every citizen in this province is as worthy as every other citizen in this province, whether they happen to occupy a high-priced tower office in downtown Halifax or whether they live in a small community in a very humble home. Each one of them is worthy of our attention.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the Premier, through you, and to the Minister of Finance and to those who occupy the front benches, don't only listen to those who are giving you advice in the back rooms, they are a special interest group, and you can be darn sure whose interests they are looking out for.

Mr. Speaker, with those brief remarks, I will conclude my comments this afternoon and say that I also want to echo, on behalf of my caucus, to each and every member of this House, because I assume that if we do rise today we won't meet again before the Christmas season begins, I want to extend to all, certainly to all members of the House and their families and to all communities, the very best wishes for a very safe and a very joyful holiday season. I hope that the spirit of the holiday season and what it stands for, all the good thoughts of the holiday season, are carried through by this government, carried forward as they are

[Page 2620]

considering what programs, what services they will be cutting as they are doing the program review and preparing the next budget. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I know that brevity is the soul of wit and in that spirit, I will try to keep my comments particularly short this afternoon. (Applause) It is my great pleasure to rise in response to the Speech from the Throne, something that I have not yet had an opportunity to do as a result of a rather shortened opportunity to do that with respect to the last election.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to take an opportunity to congratulate you and the Deputy Speakers on their election. We have instituted in this House the habit of electing Speakers now for the last two times. It is a vast improvement over the previous method of selecting speakers, and I think it has been a credit to our House that we have had two fine selections for that office.

I would also like to take an opportunity to thank the people of Lunenburg. I have been blessed with the great honour to represent the people of Lunenburg in the House of Assembly. I must tell you that it inspires a sense of history in anyone when they are elected to this House; there is a tremendous history to responsible government and representative government in this province, and I am truly humbled by the honour that the people of Lunenburg have bestowed on me.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Lunenburg struggled over from Europe in the 1750's to face a very daunting task, and that is to settle what was to them a new world. The people of Lunenburg, primarily of German, French and Swiss origin initially settled at Halifax and lived there for upwards of three years before they finally moved to Lunenburg County. The people of Lunenburg County have, I think, an outstanding history of accomplishment in dealing with our nature in a time when it must have been very difficult to be a Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I want to say that it is with a great deal of pleasure that the people of Lunenburg County have recently rediscovered their pride in their heritage, a heritage which for too long was, I think, a bit suppressed. People all over Nova Scotia are now taking greater pride in their heritage, where they came from, whether they came to Nova Scotia in the 1750's or whether they came to Nova Scotia last week. People are very proud of where they came from and rightfully so.

I also, Mr. Speaker, have to thank my family. Like all members of this House, it would be impossible to be here without the support of our families. I particularly recognize that it is the contribution of our families, our spouses, our significant others, that makes it possible to be here. I would like to thank them for all their support. There is nothing more gratifying to anybody running for public office than when your family gets involved in assisting in your

[Page 2621]

election campaign. I can tell you that I truly appreciate the work they did, as did, I am sure, other members who have spoken in this House, where they have commented on how their family members have nailed together signs, gone door-to-door for them, done those kinds of things. Running for public office can be a very lonely experience and I think I speak for all members of this House when I say we truly appreciate the contribution that our families have made.

I would also obviously like to thank those people who worked on my campaign, the many people who showed their confidence in myself and in our Party and who worked in the election campaign so tirelessly because these people are doing it for nothing other than the love of their province. They have no other gain in mind. They simply believe in democracy and without them, democracy would be impossible. We can look to other countries where democracy has become big business and where it takes millions of dollars to be elected to a seat in the House of Commons or Congress, where it becomes not an option for average people. I think our system is far preferable, Mr. Speaker. It allows for ordinary men and women to become involved in the democratic process. So I think that we all owe a debt of gratitude to those people who, back in our constituencies, contributed to our campaign.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a particular word about those three individuals in the House who are Leaders of political Parties. I am speaking of the honourable member for Cape Breton North, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic and the honourable member for Pictou Centre. I cannot imagine how difficult their jobs are. They represent their political Party as well as their constituency. I know they all work tirelessly in carrying out their duties as they see them best. I think all members of the House deserve to show their gratitude to them. (Applause) Certainly although all the families of all members make a tremendous contribution, I think it is fair to say that their families, more than others, have made a tremendous contribution by the loss that they have suffered in their loved one being away.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take a moment just to talk very briefly about my riding and in particular about the communities that make up my riding. Mine, as other ridings, is obviously a composition of many communities. I have within my riding, two incorporated towns, the Town of Lunenburg and the Town of Mahone Bay. There are also a number of other communities which are a significant part of my riding. I won't try to enumerate them all, but there are communities like New Germany and Riverport, large communities that form a very important part of my riding. There are numerous other rural communities which create a fabric of a riding which is perhaps one-third town dwellers and two-thirds rural communities. But they all have one thing in common, as rural Nova Scotians, and that is a feeling that government has to do a better job for them, that rural Nova Scotia has not done as well as urban Nova Scotia has done in addressing the new millennium.

[Page 2622]

One of the goals I think we should all commit ourselves to as members of this House is to ensure that rural Nova Scotians enjoy the same benefits of prosperity that their urban neighbours have perhaps taken for granted for quite some time. I think much has been said about rural Nova Scotia, but I honestly can tell you that rural Nova Scotians are not looking for handouts from government. What they are looking for is opportunity, the opportunity to raise their families in their communities, to do as I was lucky enough to do, Mr. Speaker, which was to be able to finish my education and move back to my community. Unfortunately, too few of the people with whom I went to high school had that opportunity and I think it is fair to say that even fewer of the young people who are graduating today from high schools in this province have the same opportunity for employment in rural Nova Scotia that I had. That is a great tragedy and it is something that we all have to work harder to do.

[3:00 p.m.]

I also think, Mr. Speaker, that it is important to realize that the bedrock of all Nova Scotian communities, and that applies to urban and rural, is family life. One of the issues that I think led many members of the House to run for public office is the distinct desire to make sure that after we leave this place, Nova Scotia is a better place than when we came. I guess as a parent I am going to wax a little maudlin for a moment and simply say that I look at the opportunities that I have been blessed to have and I hope that my children and other people's children have the same opportunities; the same opportunity to have a good education, the same opportunity to have parents who are dedicated to their family, and I think that those things are goals that we have to set for ourselves.

They are not partisan goals, they are not political goals, but they are the fundamental reason that brings us to run for the Legislature of this province. Whether you ran for the Progressive Conservative Party, or for the New Democratic Party, or for the Liberal Party, I think those are values - the importance of our children, the importance of our future - which motivate all Nova Scotians and all members of this House.

I must say, Mr. Speaker, that that is one of the reasons that I am so proud, in particular, of our budget because the budget that we brought down is about indicating where we are. We have to move towards ending deficits. That is a self-evident truth because it is, frankly, a mortgage on my children's and other people's children's future. Without ending deficits, there cannot be the long-range prosperity that we all seek for our families, for our children, for our grandchildren and for our neighbours. (Applause)

We simply must do better in developing prosperity, but the root of prosperity has to be to control government expenditure. I can indicate, Mr. Speaker, that I think this government has a fine record of being transparent because one of the accomplishments that I think many members of this House can agree is a true accomplishment was the budget which at least demonstrated quite clearly, according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the financial situation that Nova Scotians face and that is a step forward.

[Page 2623]

We will, I am sure, be engaged in vigorous debate on how to best deal with those realities, but I think at least now we know the magnitude of our challenge. Mr. Speaker, I believe that perhaps I might be the last speaker from the government side with respect to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and I am going to quote just a couple of paragraphs from the Speech from the Throne because I think they set a tone which is the tone that Nova Scotians voted for in the last election and that Nova Scotians are demanding.

I quote, "Government must be there in times of need. Government must meet the highest standard in delivery of certain vital, well-defined public services. But government must also know its place. Government must respect the right of Nova Scotians to direct their own lives and chart their own futures.". "Government must live within its means and ensure that Nova Scotians get the maximum benefit from every tax dollar spent. Government must also respect the right of peaceable, law-abiding individuals to go about their lives. Government must recognize the right of legitimate enterprise to go about its business. This government believes that in the final analysis self-reliance and personal responsibility are the keys to building strong families, strong communities, and a better province.".

Mr. Speaker, I believe that sets the clear course for this government, it sets the road that we must go on to improve our future. So in closing, with respect to this matter, I would like to encourage all members to (Interruptions) and I recognize by the way that the duty, the actual duty of the members opposite is to point out flaws in the government's program. (Applause)

That is your duty, but the criticism should be constructive and not destructive. So I would encourage all the members opposite to be constructive in their criticism, to remember that what we are doing here is about a conflict of ideas and not of personalities. I find it is my right to challenge the members' ideas but their integrity has to be beyond question. I think that is a fundament issue that sometimes gets lost.

On behalf of myself and my caucus and my family, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the members opposite a very happy holiday season. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That concludes the Debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

[Ordered that the Address as a whole do pass. Ordered that the Address be engrossed. Ordered that the Address be presented to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor by such members as are of the Executive Council.]

[Page 2624]

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, yesterday when I was in the Chair during second reading of Bill No. 20, the Emergency "911" Act, the member for Cape Breton West raised a point of order relative to fees versus taxes. I indicated to the minister that I would take that point of order under advisement and render a decision at a later date. I also used an illustration that was both inappropriate and uncalled for. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid rose on a point of order regarding the matter, and in retrospect he was well within his right to do so.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I do apologize and will try to refrain from such comments in the future. Thank you. (Applause)

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Her Honour, the Administrator, is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let Her Honour, the Administrator, be admitted.

[The Administrator, the Chief Justice, Hon. Constance Glube, preceded by her escort, and by Mr. Peter Theriault, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Administrator then took her seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Murray Scott; Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C. They took up their positions at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of Her Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 1 - Gemstone Emblem Act.

Bill No. 2 - Costs and Fees Act and Probate Act.

Bill No. 6 - Maritime Life Assurance Company.

Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1999) Act.

[Page 2625]

Bill No. 8 - Municipal Elections Act.

Bill No. 9 - Ground Ambulance Services Act.

Bill No. 11 - Foresters Association Act.

Bill No. 12 - Mineral Resources Act.

Bill No. 14 - Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Bill No. 15 - Public Prosecutions Act.

Bill No. 16 - Provincial Mineral Act.

Bill No. 18 - Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act.

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

Bill No. 21 - Pharmacy Act.

Bill No. 22 - Chiropractic Act.

Bill No. 24 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited Act.

Bill No. 25 - Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act.

THE ADMINISTRATOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Your Honour, having been graciously pleased to give your Assent to the Bills passed during the present Session, it becomes my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her faithful Commons of Nova Scotia to present to Your Honour a bill for the Appropriation of Supply granted in the present Session for the support of the Public Service and to request Your Honour's Assent thereto.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 19 - Appropriations Act.

[Page 2626]

THE ADMINISTRATOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I thank Her loyal subjects, I accept their benevolence and I Assent to this Bill.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Administrator left the Chamber.]

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, I move that the General Assembly be now adjourned, to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[3:15 p.m. The House adjourned.]