Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-119

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Nursing Homes: Care - Cover, Mr. D. Dexter 11021
Justice - Electoral Boundaries: Lun. Co. Communities -
Changes Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 11022
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Tourism & Culture: New Arts and Culture Partnership Council
for Nova Scotia - Report and Recommendations,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11022
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Tourism & Culture - Arts and Culture Partnership Council,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11022
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4445, Nat'l. Down Syndrome Awareness Wk. (10/01-10/07/02) -
Recognize, The Premier 11026
Vote - Affirmative 11027
Res. 4446, Donohoe, Howard - Fellow CIMM: Induction - Congrats.,
Hon. T. Olive 11027
Vote - Affirmative 11028
Res. 4447, Commonwealth Games (2002): Participants (Can.) -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11028
Vote - Affirmative 11028
Res. 4448, Giles, Gail: Champion of Spirit Award - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 11029
Vote - Affirmative 11029
Res. 4449, MacMullen, Joe: Death of - Tribute, Hon. T. Olive 11029
Vote - Affirmative 11030
Res. 4450, Tourism & Culture - Highland Council of Scotland
Agreement: Importance Acknowledge, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11030
Vote - Affirmative 11031
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 146, Municipal Government Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 11031
No. 147, Volunteer Fire Services Act, Hon. R. Russell 11031
No. 148, Securities Act, Hon. D. Morse 11032
No. 149, Taker Estate Subdivision Act, Mr. D. Hendsbee 11032
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4451, Commun. Serv. - Child Protection Workers: Vacancies -
Replace, Mr. D. Dexter 11032
Res. 4452, Joseph, Fabian - Sports Hall of Fame (N.S.): Induction -
Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 11033
Vote - Affirmative 11033
Res. 4453, Cormorant Helicopters - 14 Wing Greenwood: Delivery -
Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 11033
Vote - Affirmative 11034
Res. 4454, Reflection on Hope, Peace & Community - Day of,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 11034
Vote - Affirmative 11035
Res. 4455, Amero, Anthony: Lumber Grading Champ - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 11035
Vote - Affirmative 11035
Res. 4456, Women, Status of - Advisory Council: Measures - Commend,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 11036
Vote - Affirmative 11036
Res. 4457, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas Dev.: Gov'ts. (Lib./PC) -
Negative Example, Mr. J. Holm 11036
Res. 4458, Deveau, Louis - NSAC: Honorary Deg. - Congrats.,
Dr. J. Smith 11037
Vote - Affirmative 11038
Res. 4459, NovaKnowledge - Report: Comments - Commend,
Mr. K. Morash 11038
Res. 4460, Educ. - MacDonald Complex: Problems -
Resolution Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 11038
Vote - Affirmative 11039
Res. 4461, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Shore Rd. (Dingwall):
Work - Prioritize, Mr. K. MacAskill 11039
Res. 4462, Truro Kiwanis Club - Service Congrats: Cessation - Rue,
Hon. J. Muir 11040
Vote - Affirmative 11041
Res. 4463, Commun. Serv. - Child Protection Workers: Retribution -
Lack Assure, Mr. J. Pye 11041
Res. 4464, PC/NDP Coalition - Admonish, Mr. P. MacEwan 11042
Res. 4465, Sackville HS/Sir John A. Macdonald HS - Sharing:
Efforts - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 11042
Vote - Affirmative 11043
Res. 4466, Hansen, Adrienne - Air Cadets: Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 11043
Vote - Affirmative 11044
Res. 4467, Prem. - No New Taxes: Pledge - Breach Explain,
Mr. Russell MacKinnon 11044
Res. 4468, Barkhouse, Steve: E. Passage-Cow Bay Athletic Assoc.
Vol. of the Yr (2002) Award - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 11044
Vote - Affirmative 11045
Res. 4469, Hfx. Chebucto MLA - House of Assembly: Purpose -
Recognize, Mr. D. Wilson 11045
Res. 4470, Cole Hbr. Parks & Trails Assoc. - Salt Marsh Trail:
Development - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 11046
Vote - Affirmative 11046
Res. 4471, Gov't. (N.S.): Borrowing - Effects, Mr. D. Downe 11047
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1205, Health: Nursing Home Fees - Policy, Mr. D. Dexter 11047
No. 1206, Gov't. (N.S.): Priorities - Source, Mr. Manning MacDonald 11049
No. 1207, Health - Nursing Home Entry: Policy Change -
Delay Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 11050
No. 1208, Gov't. (N.S.) - Rumsfeld's Rules: Author - Identify,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 11051
No. 1209, Health - Seniors: Long-Term Care - Charges, Mr. D. Dexter 11052
No. 1210, Health - Blueprint Plan: Priorities - Seniors' Exclusion,
Dr. J. Smith 11054
No. 1211, Health - Long-Term Care: Plan - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 11055
No. 1212, Fin. - Tax Cut: Proposal - Options, Mr. D. Downe 11056
No. 1213, Educ. - Dominion Sch.: Mine Shaft Presence -
Awareness, Mr. F. Corbett 11057
No. 1214, Commun. Serv.: Budget Cuts - Effects, Mr. W. Gaudet 11058
No. 1215, Energy - Heritage Gas: Proposal - Acceptability,
Mr. J. Holm 11059
No. 1216, Educ. - MacDonald Complex: Gov't. Actions - Details,
Mr. D. Wilson 11061
No. 1217, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Tendering Process:
Internal Audit - Order, Mr. W. Estabrooks 11062
No. 1218, Energy: Oil & Gas Opportunity - Management,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 11063
No. 1219, Tourism & Culture - Arts & Culture Partnership Council:
Legislation - Details, Mr. Robert Chisholm 11065
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 142, House of Assembly Act/Elections Act 11066
Mr. H. Epstein 11066
Mr. B. Boudreau 11074
Mr. W. Estabrooks 11085
Adjourned debate 11093
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Educ. - MacDonald Complex: Plans - Gov't. Advise:
Mr. F. Corbett 11094
Mr. D. Wilson 11097
Mr. D. Hendsbee 11100
Mr. P. MacEwan 11102
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 6th at 2:00 p.m. 11103
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4472, Yorke, Lyle - Business: Anniv. (40th) - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11104
Res. 4473, Dormiedy, Julie: Archery Medal - Congrats., The Speaker 11104
Res. 4474, Tanner, Mitchell: Awards - Congrats., The Speaker 11105
Res. 4475, Anderson, Ross, Pharmacy - Springhill Community Ctr. Proj.:
Fund Raising - Congrats., The Speaker 11105
Res. 4476, Thurber, Randy - Hole in One: Springhill Golf Course -
Congrats., The Speaker 11106
Res. 4477, Teed, David - Special Olympics: Accomplishments -
Congrats., The Speaker 11106
Res. 4478, Rhodes, Rick/River Hebert Raiders: Soccer Champs -
Congrats., The Speaker 11107
Res. 4479, Smith, Sgt. Kenneth: NATO/Peacekeeper Medals - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11107
Res. 4480, Parrsboro Reg. Elem. Sch.: Thanksgiving Food Drive -
Congrats., The Speaker 11108
Res. 4481, Bowden, Melanie - Can. Cancer Soc.: Fundraising -
Congrats., The Speaker 11108
Res. 4482, Agric. & Fish. - Anna. Valley: Apple Producers - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 11109

[Page 11021]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

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

Therefore be it resolved that this government meet immediately with families, students and teachers of the MacDonald Complex to advise of their future plans for the education of students in the area.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition containing the signatures of 18,589 citizens from one end of this province to the other, the operative clause which reads, We, the undersigned, hereby ask the Premier, government and Legislature of Nova Scotia to end this unfair treatment of nursing home residents and their families by agreeing that the Department of Health will cover the health care provided in nursing homes just as it covers health care provided in hospitals and in home care. I table this and I have affixed my signature. (Applause)

11021

[Page 11022]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by in excess of almost 200 people. The operative clause is, "We the undersigned support the residents of the communities of Italy Cross, Middlewood, Crousetown, Petite Riviere, Broad Cove, Cherry Hill and Voglers Cove who oppose the proposed boundary changes in the final report of the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission Report dated August 2002 and request they go back to the original boundaries set forth by the Nova Scotia Legislature Assembly (1992) or allow a plebiscite to be carried out in the communities, similar to the one the Premiere approved for the residence of the Village of Chester after the Board of Public Utilities submitted their . . ." final report.

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to this, bringing it to a total of over 500 signatures of residents of the areas that are affected.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report and recommendations from the culture sector team on a New Arts and Culture Partnership Council for Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, earlier today I released a report and recommendations on the formation of a new Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council. I have accepted all of the recommendations in this report and have started the process of calling for volunteers to sit on the new council. This made-in-Nova Scotia arts and culture council is based on partnership.

[Page 11023]

As the report points out, there are a number of significant benefits to a partnership approach. The council will have access to the resources and expertise of the Department of Tourism and Culture. It will work with the department to address the challenges and opportunities that face the arts and culture community in this province. We will plan together and make decisions together.

The council will have greater involvement from the arts and culture community in this province. It will have 15 members, 13 of them from the arts and culture community and two from government. Regional representation on the council will be ensured.

The composition of the council will strike a balance between the arts and cultural industries and between artists and arts organizations, so that all areas of this diverse sector are represented.

The council will gather ongoing input and involvement from the arts and culture community in developing long-term planning. That planning will be focused by the council's vision: To foster a healthy environment for Nova Scotia artists, the arts and culture, through processes that are inclusive, equitable and accountable.

This report recognizes the need to be accountable; there must be accountability for any type of public funding. The council will develop an annual culture sector development plan that will be tabled here in the Legislature.

At the same time - and this is important, Mr. Speaker - the council will be guided by the principles of artistic autonomy and independent assessment. It will oversee the peer review process to ensure the independent decision-making process remains intact for assessing artistic merit.

Mr. Speaker, there is movement already on some of the recommendations in the report. The Department of Tourism and Culture has reinstated the Purchase Program of the Nova Scotia Art Bank and will now invite applications. Artworks from this program will now be placed in locations outside of metro, throughout our province. Featuring these works in public spaces helps to create awareness and educate Nova Scotians about visual arts. I will be asking the Department of Finance to review the performance of the endowment fund. The fund was established about six years ago for arts and cultural purposes, and it began with an initial contribution of $575,000 from the province.

As I mentioned earlier, we are beginning the process today of setting up the new council. We are making a public call for volunteers and will make applications available. We hope to have the new council up and running early in the new year. At this time, I want to pay tribute to the staff at the Department of Tourism and Culture. Through their efforts, all programs that had been offered through the former Arts Council continue to be available. All

[Page 11024]

application deadlines were met, funding was awarded and the independent peer review process for assessing artistic merit remains intact.

I also want to thank the members of the culture sector team for their hard work and dedication in producing this report. The team was Eva Moore from Halifax, who served as chair; Mike Ardenne from Seabright; Linda Carvery from Halifax; Don Ferguson from Glace Bay; Dale MacLennan from Halifax; and Amy Melmock of Paradise. They have done a remarkable job in a short period of time. Mr. Speaker, again, we had the opportunity to put forward the report, and I look forward to what the Opposition has to say. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this is another step in the minister's drive to bring funding and funding decisions around arts and culture in the Province of Nova Scotia directly under his thumb and the thumb of government. Just like it's always been in the Province of Nova Scotia, to make sure that the politicos, the people in power are able to stick their dirty fingers into the business of artists and people involved in the arts and culture sector . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame on you.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: . . . in the Province of Nova Scotia. Each one of those backbenchers want to be able, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that their pet little project in all parts of the province get the funding that they want. What this minister has done is he destroyed an arm's-length Arts Council that was established in 1997, that was set up on the principle of peer assessment and review, Mr. Speaker. People within the arts and culture sector who determined how funding was going to occur made sure that the programs went out to communities throughout the province to promote arts and culture in this province and then it was not based on political interference, but it was based in fact on merit.

[2:15 p.m.]

The minister ended that and what he has done today is just continue the process of making sure that those decisions are brought once again, just like the good old days back when John Buchanan and others, Gerald Regan and others, ran the roost in this province where they could make sure that these decisions were based on political interference, on the whims and the willies of some of the men and women in the backbenches of the government caucus, Mr. Speaker. It's wrong and I've said this to the minister, as hundreds of Nova Scotians, thousands of Nova Scotians have said, it's wrong.

What we're looking for from this minister is the re-establishment once and for all, Mr. Speaker, of an arm's-length funding body not controlled by his department, not controlled by the Premier's Office, but controlled by people in the arts and culture industry.

[Page 11025]

We want to ensure that there is peer assessment and review, in other words that funding decisions are based on merit, are based on the decisions made and the experience of people within the industry and finally we want to ensure that we don't again fall into the trap of not showing members of this Legislature and not showing Nova Scotians where the funds are going and where the funds are coming from because what this minister did with his decision last Spring was to choke off funds and everything now has become clouded so nobody knows what kind of money is going out, what kind of money is available for arts and culture funding in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would say on behalf of this caucus that this is not a positive day in terms of decisions around arts and culture in the Province of Nova Scotia and that this young minister who should know better is taking us back further and further to the old days where political influence ruled.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I attended the press conference the minister put on today with regard to the proposed partnership change or the new change in the so-called independent arts council and as I said after the presentation by the minister that this is no more than smoke and mirrors because when he uses the term independent arts council and at the same time points out that two members of that council will be direct staff of government and the other 13 will be hand chosen by the minister himself to sit on that board, how could he possibly say that it is an independent board?

If the minister is saying by his choice it will be independent, it will be independent to the front benches and the backbenches as to who will be rewarded for the arts community and who will not. That's not independence. That's not an arm's-length process. That is a controlled environment by the minister himself and by that Tory Government, Mr. Speaker. He's making a joke out of the arts community and the cultural community in the Province of Nova Scotia. If you do it the way we want you to do it, then we will reward you, but otherwise pure art and pure culture does not get recognized in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Then you will have an advisory council. A major part of our cultural community in Nova Scotia is our Acadian people. Were they consulted? No. How about our aboriginal people? Were they consulted? How many other areas of our community were or were not consulted in developing this strategy that they brought forward? Let it not be mistaken, this is a backroom Progressive Conservative, Tory plot, of how they want to manage, control and manipulate the arts community in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

This government has not designated a specific amount in the budget for that new arts community. How much money are they going to be able to have? The minister referred to his $5-some million in his overall budget, but out of that how much will actually go to the arts community? We don't know.

[Page 11026]

Last but not least let it be very clear in this House, as the previous speaker, the member for Halifax Atlantic, talked about the arts council proposal as being wrong and being a manipulative process that the Tory Government likes to do, let it be very clear in this House, as I stand here on behalf of our Liberal caucus, it was the John Savage Liberal Government that brought an independent Arts Council to the Province of Nova Scotia and it will be a Danny Graham Liberal caucus and Government that will bring an independent arts council back to Nova Scotia, as we promised and we will continue to keep that commitment. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on an introduction.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, with your permission and through you and to all members of the House, I would like to introduce a Page to honourable members. To the left of the doors coming into the Chamber is Miss Stephanie Murray. Stephanie's grandfather, the late Raymond Smith, was an MLA in this House through the 1970s and he represented Cumberland County. Welcome Stephanie to this House and I would ask all members to extend a warm welcome to Stephanie. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly want to welcome Stephanie here on behalf of all the members. I know her grandfather would be very proud to see her here today.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 4445

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 November 1st to November 7th has been proclaimed National Down Syndrome Awareness Week by the Government of Canada; and

Whereas the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, affiliate groups and those who are affected or have loved ones affected by Down Syndrome have launched a public awareness campaign as of November st; and

Whereas as a result of medical advances, people with Down Syndrome are living longer than ever before; they can and do contribute to society in many valuable ways;

[Page 11027]

Therefore be it resolved that this House, on behalf of all Nova Scotians, recognize the week of November 1st to November 7th as National Down Syndrome Awareness Week and do commend its thoughtful observance to all citizens of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4446

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

Whereas Howard Donohoe, a senior geologist with the Mineral Development and Policy division of the Department of Natural Resources was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIMM) at their 2002 annual meeting; and

Whereas this fellowship was established in 1986 to recognize members who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the mining, metallurgical and petroleum industries; and

Whereas the CIMM recognized the long outstanding service to the Mining Society of Nova Scotia and the mineral industry in Nova Scotia by Dr. Howard Donohoe;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House congratulate Mr. Howard Donohoe on this professional achievement and on his years of dedicated service and work as a geologist, educator and promoter of the province's mineral resources.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11028]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 4447

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

Whereas the 2002 Commonwealth Games took place in Manchester, England, this past July; and

Whereas Team Canada placed third overall in the medal count, finishing with an impressive 116 medals in total; and

Whereas the delegation from the 2010 Commonwealth Games Halifax Committee was also present as observers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all the Canadian athletes who participated in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester for their tremendous showing and wish the 2010 Halifax committee the best of luck in preparing for its bid for the 2010 games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 11029]

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 4448

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

Whereas Gail Giles has received a Champion of Spirit Award for people living with multiple sclerosis; and

Whereas this Nova Scotian helped to open a special clinic at the IWK Health Centre for women with physical disabilities; and

Whereas Gail Giles sits on the hospital's advisory committee for women's health and works tirelessly for women living with disabilities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the work of Ms. Giles and congratulate her on receiving this great honour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4449

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Cape Breton Development Corporation and the Province of Nova Scotia have recently lost Mr. Joe MacMullen, current Chairman of the Board of Devco and active member of many other volunteer boards; and

[Page 11030]

Whereas both the government and many Nova Scotians alike have benefited from his professional and knowledgeable participation in our work and communities over the life of this fine man; and

Whereas Mr. MacMullen was a retired chartered accountant and partner in the Halifax office of KPMG and since 1994 was the Chairman of Devco;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our condolences to the MacMullen family for their loss and express our sadness for the loss of a long-time friend and colleague to many Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 4450

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

Whereas on October 17th, the provincial government signed a memorandum of agreement with representatives of the Highland Council of Scotland; and

Whereas this agreement serves to boost Gaelic language and culture in Nova Scotia by leaning from the knowledge and expertise of Gaels in Scotland and their innovative strategies to renew the Gaelic language and culture in their country; and

Whereas Nova Scotia and the Highland Council will initiate and coordinate cultural exchanges, language development, tourism and other economic development activities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the importance of this agreement in preserving and promoting a part of Nova Scotia's living heritage.

[Page 11031]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's on an introduction.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate this opportunity to introduce some people from Chester-St. Margaret's. I have the honour of introducing them today because this is a very important day for anybody who lives in Nova Scotia, but specifically in Chester-St. Margaret's because I understand the minister will bring forth the introduction of a bill that many people, especially in Chester-St. Margaret's, are very glad that it's being introduced. This group of people very much appreciate all three provincial Parties in this House supporting this introduction of a bill and support this bill in this situation. These people are sitting in the east gallery and I would like them to all stand up. Anybody who belongs to the Citizens for Fairness, please stand up. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, their chairman is Eric Hagen. Also, I do notice, of course, the warden of the municipality is here, as is one of the municipal councillors from the area, Gail Smith. I would like to basically name them all, but I don't think . . . It's a very important day, it's a very good day. I very much appreciate this opportunity. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today.

[2:30 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 146 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998, the Municipal Government Act, and to Require a Vote to be Taken with Respect to the Incorporation of the Town of Chester. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

Bill No. 147 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 13 of the Acts of 2002. The Volunteer Fire Services Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

[Page 11032]

Bill No. 148 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 418 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The Securities Act. (Hon. David Morse)

Bill No. 149 - Entitled an Act to Permit the Subdivision of Lands Contained in the Will of the Late Roy Lindsay Taker. (Mr. David Hendsbee)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4451

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services claims Child Protection Services have been strengthened with the addition of more child protection workers; and

Whereas the reality is that six workers were transferred from provincial offices to the Halifax Children's Aid Society earlier this year and the positions left vacant in Dartmouth, Sackville and Cole Harbour have never been filled; and

Whereas the result of this has been to increase already staggering caseloads for remaining staff in these provincial offices and a potentially dangerous reduction in their ability to protect children in the communities they serve;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Minister of Community Services to do his duty to ensure the protection of children and immediately replace the six vacant child protection workers reassigned from the provincial offices in Dartmouth, Sackville and Cole Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 11033]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 4452

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

Whereas on November 1, 2002, Sydney native Fabian Joseph was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Fabian Joseph has had an exemplary career in both amateur and professional hockey, culminating in two silver medals as part of Canada's Olympic Hockey Team in 1992 and as Captain of the 1994 Olympic Team; and

Whereas Mr. Joseph continues to be active in Nova Scotia sport as Head Coach of the Dalhousie Tigers men's hockey team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia congratulate Fabian Joseph on his induction to the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame and his contribution to both regional and national sport.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4453

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

Whereas the brave men and women of 14 Wing Greenwood have been flying Labrador helicopters on search and rescue missions for over 40 years; and

[Page 11034]

Whereas the first of the Cormorant fleet that will replace the aging Labradors was unveiled Saturday at Greenwood; and

Whereas Air Force officers declared the new helicopters bigger, faster and better, with more safety features and a longer range;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate members of 14 Wing Greenwood on the delivery of the new Cormorants and thank them for their dedicated service to our province and country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4454

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

Whereas today a gathering of different faiths was organized by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and November 5th was proclaimed a day of reflection, by our Premier; and

Whereas reflections of hope, peace and community were presented by men and women of faith to affirm our desire to better the human condition;

Therefore be it resolved that on this day of reflection, hope, peace and community, Nova Scotians consider our challenges and reaffirm our commitment to building peaceful, tolerant communities as a shining example to all of those who would look our way.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11035]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 4455

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

Whereas in September, the second annual Atlantic Lumber Grading Championship took place in Amherst, bringing together the 21 top softwood lumber graders from across Atlantic Canada for a friendly competition; and

Whereas Anthony Amero of Weaver Settlement has, for the second time in two years, won the competition which included 125 theory questions and grading 100 pieces of lumber; and

Whereas with 11 years experience the head grader at J.D. Irving spent many weekends and evenings studying to defend his title;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate Mr. Amero for his success in this competition and wish him every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 11036]

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 4456

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

Whereas all representatives of this historic Chamber would like to see an increase in the number of women running for political office in the next provincial election; and

Whereas according to the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the number of females active in political life in Canada is disconcerting; and

Whereas the advisory council recently travelled to Port Hawkesbury and held a workshop on politics designed to address the lack of representation of women in politics, on boards and in government agencies;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the advisory council on their proactive measures that will hopefully see a dramatic increase in the involvement of women at all levels of government.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 4457

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

Whereas the Regan, Buchanan and subsequent governments promised that offshore oil and gas would make us rich, is a variation on Huey Long's election motto of "a chicken in every pot"; and

[Page 11037]

Whereas the current meager proposal by Heritage Gas to hook up 1 per cent of Nova Scotia homes to natural gas surely doesn't inspire Nova Scotians who watch our gas being piped through Nova Scotia for use in New Brunswick, Maine, and Massachusetts; and

Whereas Liberal and Tory Governments have succeeded in providing few benefits from the offshore, a miserly royalty scheme, and no prospect of reasonable distribution agreements;

Therefore be it resolved that this House asserts that Liberal and Tory Governments in Nova Scotia have set a shining example to the world of how not to develop offshore oil and gas.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4458

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

Whereas on October 23, 2002, Mr. Louis Deveau, Chairman and founder of Acadian Seaplants Limited, was awarded an honourary degree from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College; and

Whereas Mr. Deveau was honoured for pioneering innovative applications of technology in order to develop linkages between agriculture and marine life; and

Whereas Acadian Seaplants Limited operates four major manufacturing facilities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick from its corporate headquarters in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature congratulate Mr. Louis Deveau on his honourary degree from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and wish he and his family all the best in the times ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 11038]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 4459

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

Whereas NovaKnowledge's fifth annual report released yesterday shows Nova Scotians have a strong optimism towards wanting to start new businesses while not being afraid of taking the risks involved; and

Whereas the NovaKnowledge report praised the current government for new technology adoption, citing the fact that investment in machinery and equipment rose from $1.7 billion in 2000 to $2.1 billion in 2001; and

Whereas the report also praises the government for improvements in a number of areas including research and development, lifelong learning, venture capital investment, innovation in new firms, and standard of living;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the comments in NovaKnowledge's annual report which are encouraging for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 4460

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

[Page 11039]

Whereas the dangerous conditions at the MacDonald Complex in Dominion mean that its students must receive their education elsewhere until the school's situation is resolved; and

Whereas the Breton Education Centre in New Waterford will graciously accept the Dominion students to share their facility during this troubling time in their community; and

Whereas the students, teachers, parents and communities involved have come together in typical Cape Breton fashion to ensure their children receive the best education possible;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the communities in the New Waterford-Dominion area for being good neighbours in resolving the problems caused by the closure of the threatened MacDonald Complex in Dominion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 4461

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

Whereas well-maintained road infrastructure is one of the key ingredients to a good solid tourism industry; and

Whereas Alex and Susan Dunphy, owners of the Hide Away Campground and Oyster Market located on the Shore Road in Dingwall, Victoria County, have worked hard to build a solid tourism-based business; and

Whereas the Shore Road is a poorly maintained gravel road which has been the source of complaints by many tourists frequenting the area;

[Page 11040]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works review his priority list to ensure that the Shore Road, a road that is the source of a cluster of tourism-based industries, receives the attention it deserves.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 4462

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

Whereas on September 20, 2002, the Kiwanis Club of Truro formally ceased operating after 71 years of outstanding service to its communities; and

Whereas throughout its 71 years the Kiwanis Club of Truro supported activities for youth including Air Cadets, the Kiwanis Youth Centre, 4-H, public speaking, minor sports and early childhood programs; and

Whereas throughout its 71 years the Kiwanis Club of Truro contributed to the broader community, for example, by carrying out charitable and welfare cases in the days before children's allowance by initiating the building of the Kiwanis Park and by providing a bathhouse at Truro's outdoor pool;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate and thank the Truro Kiwanis Club for 71 years of exemplary service to the community and express sadness that the club has given up its charter.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 11041]

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. 4463

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

Whereas child protection workers protested at this House earlier this year to draw attention to the cutbacks in their numbers at provincial offices, increased caseloads, and the potential that more children would be at risk as a result; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services rewarded those workers for expressing their deep concern by docking them a day's pay; and

Whereas child protection workers, overburdened with large caseloads and in fear of the minister's wrath, declined to appear at today's press conference to air the concerns they still hold that child protection is at risk in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House request the Minister of Community Services to stop claiming that child protection services has been strengthened, listen to the views of the child protection workers and assure them he will deal with their concerns with no fear on their part of retribution.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 11042]

RESOLUTION NO. 4464

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

Whereas the Tories and the NDP are getting all primed up for an election; and

Whereas we hear that some Hammites are all geared up to present their man to the voters as a reincarnation of , Ivan the Terrible, overcoming those who thought it might be better to present him as reminiscent of Kaiser Wilhelm die Sekunde; and

Whereas we can at least be thankful that they have not gone all the way, as was advised by the NDP, to portray their Leader as another , Queen Catherine the Great;

Therefore be it resolved that while this may be the first time in the history of this Legislature that the PC/NDP coalition has been admonished in three different languages, the voters of Nova Scotia will resort to a lot more than that to deal with them at election time.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 4465

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

Whereas Sackville High School students and staff are sharing their facilities with the students and staff of Sir John A. Macdonald High School; and

Whereas the community of Sackville has again shown flexibility with another split-shift arrangement; and

Whereas Sackville High School Principal, Debbie Sutherland and Sir John A. Macdonald High School Principal, Muriel Tupper and their teachers are working together to provide an excellent education for their students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank and congratulate the students, teachers and respective communities of Sackville and Sir John A. Macdonald High Schools for their exemplary efforts in coming together to achieve a common goal, quality education for their students.

[Page 11043]

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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4466

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

Whereas 18-year-old Adrienne Hansen of North River, winner of the Top Junior Cadet award in 1998 and the Outstanding Leader award in 2000, has returned from France where she took part in the 60th Anniversary of the Dieppe Pilgrimage; and

Whereas Ms. Hansen, an air cadet for the past six years, with plans to make the air force her career, is a member of the Truro-based 77 Arrowhead and was the only representative from Atlantic Canada making the trek to France; and

Whereas she is also working towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award, one of the highest accomplishments a cadet can receive, something she expects to complete as early as next year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Adrienne Hansen on her outstanding achievements in the air cadets, and wish her the best of luck in all her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 11044]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4467

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

Whereas on February 28, 2002, the Minister of Environment and Labour announced a new paint recycling program that the minister said "has no charge-back to the consumer"; and

Whereas despite the minister's public statement to the contrary, Nova Scotians now pay an eco-tax of $2 per gallon of paint and 50 cents per quart of paint, plus HST on this eco-tax;

Therefore be it resolved the Premier explain to Nova Scotians why his pledge of no new taxes has now become only the words of a politician that the people of Nova Scotia do not trust.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4468

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 Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Athletic Association has been actively supporting and providing sports and recreational services in the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay area for almost 40 years; and

Whereas each year the Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Athletic Association presents one active member of the organization with its Volunteer of the Year Award to recognize the efforts made to provide athletic activity in the community; and

[Page 11045]

Whereas Steve Barkhouse has been prominent in supporting the development of soccer in Eastern Passage-Cow Bay for many years, including as a coach and referee, as a creator of the Soccer by the Sea Tournament and as President of the Eastern Passage Soccer League;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Steve Barkhouse as the winner of the 2002 Eastern Passage-Cow Bay Athletic Association Volunteer of the Year Award and Barry Frank and the other members of the association for another successful year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 4469

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 NDP have spent most of their time in this Chamber opposing every issue and challenging every decision by quasi-judicial bodies; and

Whereas in a 180-degree turn, the member for Halifax Chebucto said we should simply rubber stamp the report by the Electoral Boundaries Commission; and

Whereas the great defender of HRM has given up on representing the citizens of his region by suggesting MLAs should not raise concerns about the electoral boundary report;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the member for Halifax Chebucto should recognize that this House of Assembly is more than an academic debating club, but rather a forum for representative democracy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11046]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4470

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 Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association has created and maintained the Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour for the use of all residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas the trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail and is the result of the conversion of the former Canadian National Railway; and

Whereas the Salt Marsh Trail was recently noted in the Fall 2002 edition of the American magazine, Rails to Trails, and is the first Canadian trail to be highlighted in the magazine;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association in promoting healthier living for Nova Scotians and developing the Salt Marsh Trail as a new tourist attraction for foreign visitors.

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 Lunenburg West.

[Page 11047]

RESOLUTION NO. 4471

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

Whereas the Tory blue book contains the following promise: "Eliminate deficit financing and restore fiscal openness and accountability by keeping one set of books"; and

Whereas despite this promise, we now have both an operating set of books and another dedicated to capital projects; and

Whereas the neat little arrangement allows the Tory Government to continue to borrow money, thereby adding to the debt and the tax burden of future generations;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize that increased borrowing by the current government is condemning future generations to deal with an ever-growing mountain of debt.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:54 p.m. and end at 3:54 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: NURSING HOME FEES - POLICY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is for the Premier. The Premier's Government has the regrettable policy that forces nursing home residents into poverty. They make people pay the value of their farms, savings, gifts and virtually everything else they've owned in the three years before making an application for nursing home care. They make people pay for health care that is freely available in hospitals and home care. The Premier

[Page 11048]

admits this is wrong and he says that he has a secret, new policy. My question for the Premier is this, is your government committed to a new policy on nursing home fees and if you are, why does your Health Minister continue to say the government is already paying as much as it can?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have been very much concerned with long-term care and continuing care in the three years that we have been here. We have taken a number of initiatives which have placed us among the leaders in the country in terms of the continuing care efforts, and I should also mention - just to set the record straight - the honourable Leader of the Opposition, when he was an alderman in the City of Dartmouth, was on the other side and he was among those responsible for implementing many of the policies that are in place now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on your first supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know when public health care policy and the administration of the public health care system in this province got handed off to the municipalities of the province. I challenge the Minister of Health to go outside and show us one place where that ever happened and then maybe he could ask his backbenchers, who were the wardens and the municipal councillors, what they were doing. My question for him is this, will the Premier tell Nova Scotians why seniors should live one more day with a system that drives them into poverty, just because they are so ill they need care in a nursing home?

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

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I must say I do take offense to the line of questioning of the Leader of the Opposition. We understand that the four eastern provinces have a different policy than the others, but to suggest that the policies of our department, or the policies of the City of Dartmouth when he was an alderman there implementing those policies, were forcing people into poverty, that is not correct.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the government wants to have it both ways. They pretend they are solving the problem, but what they want to do is they want to squeeze every last possible cent from nursing home residents before their policy is changed. This shouldn't happen to anyone, not for one more day. Will the Premier tell Nova Scotians why he is making people live with the harsh and relentless financial assessment of the Health Department, day after day?

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

[Page 11049]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that the policies that are currently in place are far less harsh than they were in the City of Dartmouth when he was one of the people who was implementing them. One of the things that's unfortunate with this - and we do recognize it's an issue and we are very serious about it - some of the information (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

GOV'T. (N.S.): PRIORITIES - SOURCE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I wish to open the question with a quote, and the quote is simply this, Control your time. If you're working off your in box, you're working off the priorities of others. Be sure the staff is working on what you move to them from the Premier, otherwise the Premier will be reacting, not leading. My question to the Premier is, does the Premier believe that his government should be run off the priorities of Nova Scotians or off the priorities of the Premier?

THE PREMIER: I thank the member opposite for a good question. Over the last number of summers, I have spent my time travelling from one end of Nova Scotia to the other, talking with literally thousands of Nova Scotians, and through that process, Nova Scotians have established with me their priorities. Those priorities are very simple: health, education, economic development, children and roads. (Applause)

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Very interesting priorities, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table a document entitled, The Corporate Plan, which was presented to senior government officials on September 19th, secretly I might add. Government MLAs have probably not even seen this plan. I will table this plan for the benefit of the House. The plan contains the previous quote that I just alluded to and clearly states throughout the document that this is the strategy of government, it makes civil servants no more than pawns in the Premier's plan for re-election.

Mr. Speaker, that quote that I gave this House a few moments ago was plagiarized from none other than Donald Rumsfeld, United States Secretary of Defence, in that strategic report. It's called, Rumsfeld's Rules, and it's the rules that this particular Party is going by in that document. My first supplementary to the Premier, if the Premier believes the concerns of Nova Scotians should be addressed by government, how does he explain this document, which makes the Premier's Office solely responsible for what is in the best interests of Nova Scotians?

[Page 11050]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question because it does give me an opportunity to talk about a government that is organized, a government that told the people of Nova Scotia in 1999 exactly what it would do if it became elected, which it did. It also told the people of Nova Scotia we would be organized and we would have a plan. We do have a corporate plan. It's unfortunate that when the members opposite were government they had no plan.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that plan was so good that it was a secret plan up until today, until we got hold of it and tabled it here in this House. That's how good that plan was to the senior civil servants of this province. This government is following a poll-driven agenda of spin and empty public relations gestures that ignore the real needs of Nova Scotians. This document clearly outlines the plan, political polluting of senior public servants in this province; the plan, political polluting of deputy ministers and senior public civil servants. My final question, again, to the Premier is, how long will Nova Scotians be consigned to the in box of this government, and why won't you put people ahead of politics?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the member opposite for his question, because what this government has done is it has put the priorities of Nova Scotians ahead of all else. It has provided a plan whereby those priorities will be addressed. It is fortunate that the people of Nova Scotia have a government, finally, that was prepared to listen to them and continues to listen to them.

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

HEALTH - NURSING HOME ENTRY:

POLICY CHANGE - DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Mary Ann Denny lives in North Sydney, and I've been asked to bring her case forward to illustrate a point for this government. When her husband died in 1999, she gave her six children $61,000 that he wanted them to have. Right now the province is denying her entry to a nursing home until the family repays that money, money they no longer have. As a result, she is forced to stay in hospital and the family is billed $205 a day, more than any nursing home per diem. Mr. Premier, how can you continue to delay action when it places families like the Dennys in such a terrible bind? How can you continue to stall when the solution is so clear?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that I cannot comment on individual cases on the floor of this House. It would not be appropriate to do so.

[Page 11051]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table a letter to the Denny family by the Department of Health. It says that if they don't agree to repay the money within five days, it will and I quote, ". . . result in the hospital charging you an overstay charge of $205 per day or discharging you home". The message is simple - pay up or get out - over money that has been targeted to pay for health care that would be covered in any other setting. I would ask the Premier, why is your government threatening to throw this senior out of a hospital because she can't pay for her health care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am unable to comment on a specific case, but on the other hand we are acknowledging there are problems in the system and step wise, and logically, we are going to solve them.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Denny family is waiting for an answer. Thousands of Nova Scotians who signed our petition are waiting for an answer. Each day this government delays it is costing seniors in this province more than $68,000 in unfair health care charges. I ask the Premier, how much longer are you going to allow seniors to be unfairly penalized because they have fallen ill?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government will, as I've already said, logically and progressively address a serious problem.

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

GOV'T. (N.S.) - RUMSFELD'S RULES: AUTHOR - IDENTIFY

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again my question is to the Premier. Today we see there is an official blue book of this government, that the Hamm Government got elected on. Now we have witnessed another book in this House today, the secret book called Rumsfeld's Rules which the government has tried to be secret about which is now a public document and the real plot is unfolding with the information tabled here today. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier tell this House who wrote this document, who it was presented to and why was it not made public?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the member seems concerned about is that the government is in fact planning its work, working closely with people in the Public Service to make sure that this government is effective in addressing the priorities of Nova Scotians. We have a plan, we are working our plan and will continue to do that.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what you have to do here is translate what the Premier just said into political indoctrination because that's what this government is doing, with that secret document, to its most senior public servants in this province who would wish to remain above politics, but are not allowed to do so by this government. We understand that the document was prepared by the most senior staff in the Premier's Office

[Page 11052]

and was presented to the province's most senior public servants in a session on September 19th or thereabouts. My question for the Premier is, does he believe that it is appropriate for his closest political spin doctors to turn public servants into Tory spin doctors for the sole purpose being political survival at any cost?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has been successful where the previous government has failed. The previous government talked about balanced budgets, but never did deliver one. The previous government promised there was a balanced budget when, it fact, there was a $500 million deficit. This government has achieved something because of its planning and its attention to detail that the people of Nova Scotia were looking for for 40 years and that is a balanced budget. This government delivered. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Premier that the debt of this province is still growing. The planned political pollution of the Public Service of this province continues and I can tell you that Mr. Jamie Baillie in the Premier's Office and other politicals in that office have had their hand in trying to pollute the Public Service of this province for some months now.

Mr. Speaker, this document tells us as much about what is important to this government as it does about what is not important and my final supplementary to the Premier is, will the Premier confirm that this document was approved by all members of his Cabinet and all members of his caucus?

THE PREMIER: Yes, the government is very proud of the way in which it has planned the future of Nova Scotia. Because of our planning, our province, in fact, does have a future.

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

HEALTH - SENIORS: LONG-TERM CARE - CHARGES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I would like to table a Department of Health brochure that talks about nursing home fees. It says, "If the Department of Health had to find $30 million from its existing budget to match Ontario's program, it would mean closing between three to five small rural hospitals in Nova Scotia or taking every second ambulance off the road or offering only one-third of the current home care program." I want to ask the Premier, why is your government continuing to try to scare seniors into believing there's nothing you can do about long-term care charges?

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

[Page 11053]

HON. JAMES MUIR: This government has put considerable monies into continuing care the last three years and will continue to do so. As a matter of fact, the whole continuing care field, we have made that a priority. The issue which the honourable member raises is certainly not something new, it has been around for a long time, but our concentration in that first three years has been on care for people and that's what this government has been about. It has been about care. There are a large number of steps which we have taken that have made care for residents in the long-term care sector, for Nova Scotians who are affected in the long-term care sector or use the long-term care sector, much better than they ever were before.

MR. DEXTER: What they're doing is taking every penny they have. That's what they're doing. This brochure is the worst example of fear mongering. The truth is, the government has the means to cover the health care portion of nursing home costs without disrupting any of its financial plans. It's the right thing to do, it's what Nova Scotians want, so my question to the Premier is, what is stopping you from doing what the people of Nova Scotia want and covering health care costs associated with long-term care?

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

MR. MUIR: I was just looking at the piece of paper to which the honourable member was referring. The whole issue of long-term care is something that this government has been carefully and methodically addressing. For example, in April 2000, to make it better for residents of Nova Scotia, all continuing care programs and services were brought in under the Department of Health. That means they had one agency rather than three that they used to deal with, which actually made the system more user-friendly.

MR. DEXTER: What they're doing is carefully and methodically picking the pockets of seniors of every penny they have. It's hard to believe the Premier's plan to fix long-term care, when you read this brochure and others published by the Department of Health, it's hard to believe, when the Minister of Health writes opinion pieces stating the government is not ashamed to charge seniors for their health care in nursing homes. I want to ask the Premier, why is he sending Nova Scotians mixed messages about his Party's intentions with respect to nursing home costs?

THE PREMIER: In the course of the questioning of the government by the Opposition, they continue to fail to realize that we have made significant improvements in the health care delivery system over the last three years. I would like to quote something that I will table if members opposite haven't seen it and it's under the heading of a document which was issued by the Greater Halifax Economic Development Partnership and I will quote four sentences. "Greater Halifax is home to one of the best health care systems in North America. According to the Places Rated Almanac we have the fifth highest-rated health care service in North America and the highest in Canada . . ." and I would like to congratulate the Minister of Health.

[Page 11054]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - BLUEPRINT PLAN: PRIORITIES - SENIORS' EXCLUSION

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. We are now aware of a corporate plan, perhaps it's called the new blueprint plan if you will, of the Premier's priorities. On Page 8 of the corporate plan of government, the government states its priorities in health care. There are five priorities listed in health care. Interestingly enough, seniors are not listed among those five priorities of this government and my question to the Minister of Health is simply, how long has the minister been working on his new plan for long-term care for seniors when clearly it is evident that according to his corporate plan, seniors are not even among his priorities?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it may be that he's looking in the wrong part of the plan. I can tell you that providing and improving services and other things for seniors has been a priority of this government and of my department since we assumed office in 1999.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the plan of the minister, should speak to the future, not to the past and a plan for the future should not be just a list of all the band-aids that you have applied to the health care system. I recognize how complex the long-term care sector is despite the fact that others believe that there are very simple solutions to this complex issue. My question to the minister is, given that seniors were not a priority on September 19th, how comprehensive will your plan be to deal with additional pressures on the long-term care system that you're proposing?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, let me repeat: seniors' issues have been a very strong priority of this government since it assumed office and it will continue to be. As a matter of fact, I think if they would check with the seniors' groups, they will find that this government's relationships with that particular community is better than any government previously. I want to tell you that our submission to the Romanow Commission talks about health services as not just being medical services which are known as physician services and hospital services, but we have suggested the Canada Health Act be broadened to cover all medical services for Canadians.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the minister on his last comment because I think that was very comprehensive and is what Canadians are looking forward to. My final supplementary is very simple. This government has five priorities in health care. Seniors are not in the top five priorities of government. My question is why, Mr. Minister, when you and your government list your priorities for health care, have you totally neglected seniors? Why have you done that.

[Page 11055]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we continue to make issues surrounding our senior citizens a priority for this government and will continue to do so. I think if you would take a look at the document to which the honourable member for Dartmouth East is referring, you will find that seniors use or are involved with quite a number of those things that are listed as priorities. We do have responsibility for all Nova Scotians, seniors and younger people as well.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: PLAN - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier would like people to think that they intend to fix long-term care; so far their plan has been short on details. The NDP has a plan, and over 18,000 people have signed a petition supporting the plan - pay for the health care portion of long-term care. I ask the Premier, does your government solution for long-term care include covering the entire health care portion of nursing home fees, yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government, in due time, will unveil its plans relative to the long-term care sector.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health says he's not impressed with our proposed legislation to cover the health care portion of those entering a nursing home. Well, that's troubling, since over 18,000 Nova Scotians have signed our petition saying that's the very thing they want. My question to the Premier is this, why should Nova Scotians trust your government to address the injustice in the long-term care system when they have treated them so unfairly and unjustly up to this point?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the achievements of this government and the advances for Nova Scotia in terms of health and health care in the past three years, I think, have been great. What our Premier has done is we have moved ahead in a slow, deliberate fashion to make sure that the decisions made are the best ones for the people of this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there has been nothing slow about this government's stripping of seniors' assets. They've done it as fast as they can, at a breakneck pace. The truth is that this government has had ample opportunity to address long-term care, but instead it comes up with lame excuses as to why our seniors should continue to suffer needlessly. My question to the Premier is this, why did you first criticize the NDP solution for this issue, and why do you now stall, when you know that every day you delay is costing seniors tens of thousands of dollars?

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

[Page 11056]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am dismayed to hear the honourable Leader of the Opposition talk about the lack of care, because clearly this government has a record of improving care in the continuing care sector during the last three years, which we will stack up against any jurisdiction in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - TAX CUT: PROPOSAL - OPTIONS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in the document that has been revealed today and tabled in the House by our House Leader, it indicates that polling was done for the Progressive Conservative Party showing that Nova Scotians care more about health and education than they do about tax cuts. Because of this polling the government is now considering "multiple options" with regard to their proposed 10 per cent tax cut. My question to the minister is, will the minister share with Nova Scotians what specific options are being considered for the promised 10 per cent tax cut?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we're in the process of doing our budgets. We're in the preliminary facets of that. The Opposition member knows full well that the details of budgets are known on the day that they are tabled and read in this House.

MR. DOWNE: Maybe Rumsfeld would know.

I guess the issue here, Mr. Speaker, is this minister has had three years. They made a promise three years ago about a 10 per cent tax cut. He's had three years on the job, and he still doesn't understand how they're going to be able to deliver the 10 per cent tax cut. We have a document here that is a spin-doctoring document trying to weasel their way out of their promised 10 per cent tax cut.

During the least election they released the blue book and the Premier has been flip-flopping on this issue ever since. The Premier said prior to the blue book that Nova Scotians wouldn't believe a tax cut was doable. I table that document that he said it in. Five or six days later the Premier then goes on to deliver the famous blue book and then he says that they will promise, they will promise a 10 per cent tax cut. Now the minister is flipping again by using the term, a modified 10 per cent tax cut. My question is to the Minister of Finance, are you or are you not going to live up to your promise to implement a 10 per cent tax cut before the next election? Yes or no?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find this line of questioning sometimes confusing because we have the Leader of the Liberal Party in early Spring saying that we should have matched the tax cuts in Ottawa and we should have given tax relief. Then the gentleman who doesn't come to this House goes out and says he doesn't want to give tax relief. Which of the

[Page 11057]

two does the Liberal Party want? Do they want ordinary Nova Scotians to have tax relief or don't they? Which side is Danny on? (Applause)

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, just for the record and for the Minister of Finance's recall, he is the Minister of Finance, it was his government that promised, it was his Premier that promised, and we are going to hold them accountable to that promise they made to Nova Scotians. The Premier promised to fix health care. The Premier promised there would be no more additions to the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia and the Premier promised a 10 per cent tax cut to all Nova Scotians. Well, the results are that the minister is still borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars since they've taken office. They've spent $300 million in health care and it's still a mess and now the minister is looking at modifying the promise of a 10 per cent tax cut. The minister either cannot or will not live up to his commitment. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain to Nova Scotians why he and his government are now backtracking on yet another blue book commitment and that is the 10 per cent tax cut to Nova Scotians?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it's really nice to get back to the House. This is the same member who told us that he had balanced the budget, when, in reality, we had a half a billion dollar deficit. It's the same member opposite who said that we couldn't balance the budget. Well, this government did. (Applause) We believe in tax relief for ordinary Nova Scotians, you're darn right we do. Obviously, your Leader doesn't. (Applause)

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

EDUC. - DOMINION SCH.:

MINE SHAFT PRESENCE - AWARENESS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. As all Nova Scotians are no doubt aware, the terrible conditions and problems that face the Dominion high school complex in Dominion. Sometime early last week, cracks started showing in the building and on Friday, staff were busily emptying that building of its contents. Last night I attended a public meeting in Dominion with parents, teachers and students. The feeling at that meeting was unanimous - they wanted some answers and they wanted them now. Clearly, every indication is that this is being caused by subsidence. I want to ask the Premier, in this province's investigation, have they uncovered the fact that that school was built over a former mine shaft and why was that allowed to happen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the member bringing this to the attention of the House. This is indeed a stress for the children and the parents of children in the Dominion area. We are assessing the situation. We will receive an engineer's report, and we will make the appropriate decision based on good, sound engineering principles.

[Page 11058]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, last night at this general meeting, conspicuous by its absence was the provincial government. What the important thing here, as the Premier had said, is the children's education, but he failed to answer the question. Was that actually built over a mine shaft? We've seen this government mishandle school situations before. In particular what we saw last year was foot-dragging on Sir John A. and all the problems related to that that it caused the students and the parents. I want to ask you today, Mr. Premier, will you commit to the parents, the teachers, the staff and indeed the students of MacDonald Complex that if that school cannot be repaired, it will be rebuilt?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite and through him the people he represents that the government will act responsibly on this issue, we will go through the engineering analysis and then we will make the right decision based on what the engineers tell us.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier is worried about the look of perplexity on my face, it's because we've heard this all before. It was exactly what you told us about Sir John A. We went through all these hoops until we finally said, we were telling you all along to act decisively. We're giving you the chance now, Mr. Premier. Will you tell this House whether the government has now embarked on testing all schools in the communities that are involved with the Cape Breton coalfields; will you inspect all of those schools to see if they are built at or near mine shafts and what the propensity is for subsidence around those schools?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all our decisions will be based on good engineering analysis, and we will do what the analysis indicates that we should do. I think that should give the member opposite sufficient confidence that the government will do the right thing on this issue.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: BUDGET CUTS - EFFECTS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The government's corporate plan of September 19th starts with poll results that show that Nova Scotians believe that this government cares more about budgets than they do about people. Then it goes on to prove that point by ignoring the interests of vulnerable families and children at risk. My question to the minister is, can the minister provide us with hard data to assure Nova Scotians that budget cuts have not resulted in increased caseloads and declining service levels for vulnerable families and children?

[Page 11059]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the honourable member asked the question, because it gives me an opportunity to point out that this government has been doing caseload reviews. It gives me an opportunity to point out that this government has initiated the PRIDE program for foster parents, and it gives me an opportunity to point out too that this government hired 70 new social workers to deal with just that problem.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this minister forgot to include what this government has also done, putting gag orders on their own employees. Today we finally understand why this minister refused to take the question of rising caseloads and workloads for child welfare workers seriously. Vulnerable families and children at risk are not included as a priority in this government's so-called corporate plan. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain to vulnerable families and children why they are being ignored by the government's corporate plan?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, perhaps, didn't hear the Premier when he indicated what his discussions with people throughout the province were this year. What the Premier indicated is the priorities that people have been saying to him are the care and protection of children. That is why we do caseload reviews; that is why we have asked senior staff to meet with those people on a continuing basis, to carry on another caseload review, and that's what we will continue to do.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, all the members here this afternoon heard the Premier list his priorities. He talked about children before roads. When you look through this plan, children are not even mentioned. So that's technically how valuable children are to that government over there. It's clear that any initiative that is not included in the government's corporate plan is not a priority for funding or for attention by that government across the floor. My question to the minister, will the minister confirm that he has seen and approved a plan that makes no mention of his department or, more importantly, the vulnerable of Nova Scotians that is supposed to be served?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, what I have seen is this government taking action on secure care for children. What I have seen is this government taking care and moving forward to provide more foster care, to provide resources to them. What I have seen is this government putting more money into Children's Aid to provide that care. This government cares for children.

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

ENERGY - HERITAGE GAS: PROPOSAL - ACCEPTABILITY

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, Heritage Gas has a plan and their plan would see 4,000 Nova Scotia residences hooked up over 10 years. That plan is completely unacceptable and even the Premier has described that plan as very disappointing. I obtained a copy of the

[Page 11060]

province's closing submission to the URB and it states and I will quote, "Clearly a more aggressive development proposal would have been preferred by the Province. However, . . . the Province accepts that the proposed approach is reasonable in the circumstances." I want to ask the Premier through you, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you maybe as well, but I will ask the Premier through you, why it is that his government is now saying that a distribution plan that he described as very disappointing, why his government is now saying that that plan is reasonable?

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, certainly we were disappointed when Sempra's proposal was abandoned and we were disappointed there weren't a great number of companies that were interested in distributing gas, but the reality is it's a very difficult market to bring forth. This a market-driven solution. They will move forward and we will have gas distributed in the province.

MR. HOLM: Yes, there will be some gas distributed in the province, Mr. Speaker, a little bit. They're burning our gas in New England. They're burning our gas in New Brunswick. Now you're telling Nova Scotians your government finds it reasonable that it will take 10 years to hook up a mere 4,000 homes in Nova Scotia; 10 years, 4,000 homes.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to direct this question through you to the Premier. He may deflect it, but it's going to him. I would like the Premier to stand up right now and commit that his Cabinet will not approve a distribution system that plans only to hook up a meagre 1 per cent of Nova Scotian homes over a 10-year period? Will you make that commitment?

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

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, if we followed the strategy being put forward by the member opposite, no one in Nova Scotia would ever have access to gas. He often mentions New Brunswick - 55 per cent of the people in New Brunswick have access to gas and there are only 400 residential homeowners who have chosen to convert. The reality is that the plan put forward by the current proponents is reasonable in light of the current prices and the current market situation.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course, the minister will also know that Heritage Gas hasn't even committed to hooking up 4,000 homes. They may do it. This government, like the Liberals before them, failed with the royalty regime. They, like the Liberals before them, have failed to get proper amounts of benefits for Nova Scotians and now, like the Liberals, this minister is admitting that he cannot get a fair and proper distribution system in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 11061]

Mr. Speaker, our office was in contact with officials from New Brunswick gas distribution system, their company, and Enbridge Gas expects to have 40,000 to 50,000 homes, 40,000 to 50,000 residential customers, hooked up within 10 years. I want to ask the Premier, through you, why it is your government is willing to accept so much less for Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible for energy.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it's good to have high expectations, but it's also good to have realistic expectations. In the current market situation Enbridge Gas has about 400 residential homeowners. They have a long way to go to get the 25,000, 30,000, 50,000 people. The proposal put forward by Heritage Gas will see gas flowing in this province in a market-driven model and that's something that is reasonable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - MACDONALD COMPLEX: GOV'T. ACTIONS - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The MacDonald Complex in Dominion has been closed as cracks have appeared throughout the structure and the building is sinking. This has devastated a community. Last night over 400 residents attended a meeting to voice their concern. The local MLA was there. I attended that meeting. Unfortunately, no one from this government bothered to show up at that meeting. My question for the Premier is, would he tell this House please what the government has done to date to help the students of the MacDonald Complex and ease the concerns of parents and teachers in that area?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member for Glace Bay. One reason I appreciate it is it does give me an opportunity to correct this information that the member for Cape Breton Centre had. There was a representative from the Department of Education there last night - Mr. Burton. He was there and so the department is very aware of what went on at that meeting. I can reassure the member for Glace Bay that, in fact, the government is taking this issue seriously.

We understand and appreciate the fact that parents in Dominion are concerned about the interruption in the education of their children, but we need engineering reports, the same way we delayed in making our decision on Sir John A. Macdonald, until we have the appropriate engineering reports telling us what is the most appropriate thing to do. We did the right thing for Sir John A. Macdonald and we will do the right thing in Dominion.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to impress upon the Premier the urgency of a school that is sinking into the ground inch by inch as every minute passes. The Premier knows that a school is more than just a building. This community has lost a part of its

[Page 11062]

history. It has lost a part of its soul and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and surrounding communities are now pitching in to do what they can. Students are being relocated for now to New Waterford's, Breton Education Centre. Would the Premier let us know what the long-term plans are for MacDonald Complex and tell the people of Dominion and surrounding area what the future holds for their school?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Education what I can say to the member opposite is as soon as the proper evaluations are done, we will put together the appropriate plan to make sure that the education needs of the children of Dominion are looked after.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, it appears that this has turned into a case of subsidence in the area. It is quite apparent that the school is going to be condemned. I would suggest to the Premier that if he's looking for information on this, he contact the former Tory Government that put the school there in the first place and knew very well what was underneath that school. It was known by the government of the day that there were old mine workings underneath that school. That has been confirmed by a Department of Education official outside of this House, this afternoon.

[3:45 p.m.]

My final question for the Premier is, will the Premier now commit his government to provide what is needed for a smooth transition for students and staff at MacDonald Complex, a smooth transition to a new school for their area?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite and I can assure the people of Dominion that, when the engineering studies are done, we will take the appropriate action.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - TENDERING PROCESS:

INTERNAL AUDIT - ORDER

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Nearly two weeks ago I wrote to the minister asking for an internal audit of his government's procurement practices to ensure that Nova Scotian companies an even playing field. Since that time a multinational computer company has once again been awarded a lucrative contract, while Nova Scotian companies have been left in the dust. I want to ask the minister, when will you order an internal audit to ensure that Nova Scotia companies get a fair shake in the tendering process and are not steamrolled by big multinationals, again and again?

[Page 11063]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, our tender process in the Province of Nova Scotia is transparent and it's fair, and it certainly does not react to the outside markets unless those other outside markets conform to our purchasing practices.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister should sit down with the Minister of Economic Development and have a chat about the importance of small business as the lifeblood of the economy in our province. I have heard from a number of businesses who are tired, they're frustrated, they're disillusioned. Every time they lose a bid, they meet with the procurement staff and change the tenders to make them compliant, and every time a different reason is found to give the contract to one of these big multinationals. So will the minister tell this House why his government does not recognize local small businesses in the procurement policies of this province as a priority?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is a base canard and it is absolutely opposed to what we actually do in practice.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, staff in the public tenders office have told us that tender cancellations are "rare", and that in particular they had "a lot of trouble with the way the $600,000 tender for Halifax North Mainland High School computers was carried out". The tender was cancelled, bids were made public, and local companies who were among the low bidders lost out in the end to a multinational who brought all their new six bids down by an average of $46,000 after seeing the original bids from the competitors.

My question to the minister is, will this minister commit today to an audit of that particular tender of the Halifax North Mainland computers program for that new high school?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's very interesting that the material the honourable member is speaking to was supplied by the department and supplied by the procurement division. We have nothing to hide. We are, in this province, probably the fairest in Canada insofar as the operation of public tenders is concerned. I know that that honourable member would be pleased, I presume, if we opened our tenders in secret. Is that what he's implying?

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

ENERGY: OIL & GAS OPPORTUNITY - MANAGEMENT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Energy. The spin doctor Rumsfeld/Baillie, in The Corporate Plan tabled earlier today, it states clearly, "NS needs to be convinced we are managing the oil & gas opportunity well." The translation for that is, tell them anything to satisfy their curiosity while we're marching down the road to the next election. My question to the Minister of Energy, if the oil and gas

[Page 11064]

opportunity is truly being managed well, why would the people of Nova Scotia have to be convinced?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the oil and gas industry in this province is a major part of the economy and will be a major part of the economy into the future. We have $1.56 billion in work commitments in our offshore, the industry is spending $1.4 million a day. It employs roughly 4,000 people directly and indirectly, so it's being well managed. It's an important part of the economy.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's clear that the Minister of Energy is not convincing anybody in this province, so now they've resorted to this corporate Rumsfeld plan to go out there and try to convince Nova Scotians everything is all right. That's what's happening here, that's the reality of it, because the minister's failed in his role as Energy Minister. The fact remains, the offshore opportunity is not being managed well by the minister, the Deep Panuke project is still in question and even if it goes ahead, Nova Scotia benefits will only be 18 per cent compared with 29 per cent for Sable. In two places in this Rumsfeld corporate plan it mentions something called the back-in rights. In November 2001 I asked the minister whether or not the province would exercise its right to the back-in provision on Deep Panuke. The minister at the time said a decision had not been made. My question to the minister is, in light of the document released today could the minister indicate whether or not the minister is exercising that back-in provision for 50 per cent of the Deep Panuke pipeline?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, those would be the same back-in rights the previous government gave away for nothing. So we are continuing to look at that in determining the go-forward in terms of what's in the best interests of the province and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, continuing with Rumsfeld and Baillie, either this back-in provision has value or it does not. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and my question to the minister is that it does not in the eyes of this minister. This minister has no intention of doing anything other than trying to convince Nova Scotians that everything is okay in the oil and gas industry in this province when it's not. The spin doctors are heavy at work until the next election. Why won't the minister simply come clean and tell Nova Scotians what he's up to?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we've already determined that the previous minister in the previous government thought that the back-in rights had no value. This government feels that it does have a value and we're trying to determine how to maximize that potential for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

[Page 11065]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

TOURISM & CULTURE - ARTS & CULTURE PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL: LEGISLATION - DETAILS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: My question is to the Minister responsible for the new Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council. The beauty of the former arts council, which the minister personally decapitated last Spring, was that it was set up by legislation which ensured its arm's-length nature and its transparency and its accountability. Will there be legislation equally setting up this new council?

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

The honourable member for Clare on an introduction.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the House, I would like to introduce four constituents, four good friends from Clare who are joining us here this afternoon to watch Question Period. We have joining us, Shirley Deveau and her husband, Gilbert Deveau, from Salmon River. We have Tina Sweeney and her mom, Edna Sweeney, from Church Point. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker and members of the House, I would like to draw your attention to some visitors in our gallery today from my constituency. I would like to introduce Joan Gilroy, the former director of the Maritime School of Social Work, Matthew Dubois and my new constituency assistant, Bill Matheson, who have all joined us here this afternoon and I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond on an introduction.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me privilege to introduce to the House a native of Richmond County and a current resident of Richmond County who lives in Petit-de-Grat. He is a retired civil servant who worked many years with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and who had a specialty, in fact, in tuna and travelled around the world, especially in developing countries, assisting them with their tuna programs and the proper maintenance and handling of the product. I say he's retired, but he has a hard time finding his retirement as there's always something for him to do. He especially has a

[Page 11066]

tremendous political mind and, in fact, he is batting a thousand when it comes to managing provincial campaigns. I would like to introduce Mr. Clem Benoit who also happens to be my campaign manager in Richmond. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 142.

MR. SPEAKER: Just before I do, the honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to draw the attention of members of the House to the President of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party, Marilyn More, who is sitting in the west gallery and we should welcome her with open arms. (Applause)

Bill No. 142 - House of Assembly Act/Elections Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has approximately 39 minutes left.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, when we left off our discussion of this bill last night, we had arrived at the point of reminding ourselves exactly why it is that we ought to show respect for the work of the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission. At its core the reason is simply this. The reason is that all of us in this House are partisan. All of us represent political Parties. All of us have particular interests in how the electoral boundaries in the province are drawn.

I would like to put on record, Mr. Speaker, a statement from a recently published study of how it is that electoral boundaries are redrawn in Canada. This comes from a book by a Professor John Courtney who is in the Political Studies Department at the University of Saskatchewan. This book was published in the year 2001. The book is called Commissioned Ridings, Designing Canada's Electoral Districts. After I read the sentence, I will table the extract. In a fairly masterful sentence when it comes to understatement, here is what Professor Courtney has to say. "By definition, constituency boundary readjustments

[Page 11067]

will be treated differently by politicians with electoral interests to protect than by appointed commissioners." I will table this.

Now, the essence of that, Mr. Speaker, is that Professor Courtney is reminding us in his very understated way that politicians have particular interests to protect or advance when it comes to the redrawing of electoral boundaries and it is precisely to avoid the potential for that kind of interference with the drawing of electoral boundaries that commissions were invented, arm's-length commissions, independent commissions, non-partisan commissions and that is the method that we have in this province. That is the method that prevails in this country and it prevails for the very good reason that we do not wish to taint the process of the drawing of electoral boundaries by partisan political interests. Now, that's as far as we got last night was to remind ourselves that this is the essence of what it is that we did when we set up an Electoral Boundaries Commission this past year and a decade ago when we did it for the first time. We did it so that we wouldn't be tainting the process by redrawing the lines ourselves.

It's important to note that when we said that we are prepared to vote in favour of the recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, we are prepared to do that even though we might have some differences with the way they drew the lines. We're prepared to do it, even though we might have wished for some slightly different results.

[4:00 p.m.]

I would like to indicate some of the problems, questions, observations that we have to make about how it is that the Electoral Boundaries Commission did its work. There are one or two problems with what happened in the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. Although I am about to point out some points on which I personally, and others in my Party and others I know in the public, might have hoped for different kinds of results, nonetheless, I emphasize again, we are going to support the final results given to us by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

I would like to start out, if I may, with a very partisan observation about the lines that have been drawn by the Electoral Boundaries Commission. I don't think this is the most important criticism that can be made, and I will get to what I think is the most important criticism in a moment, but to start off with a partisan observation, I think it's important that people here and the public understand the different weights that attach under even these redrawn lines to the new constituencies because there's a wide range. There is a wide range above and below the provincial average.

What I have seen, when I have done the calculations, by looking at the constituencies that my Party represents and comparing them with the constituencies represented by the other two Parties, is interesting. When you look at - and this is overall - the overall constituencies represented by the government Party, they do average out at the average. So although there

[Page 11068]

are variations among those individual constituencies, overall the seats that are represented by the governing Party are at the average. But the 11 seats that are represented by my Party are at 110 per cent, almost 111 per cent of the average.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's very hard to hear the speaker. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I was observing that the seats that are represented in the Legislature as now configured, by my Party, under the redrawn lines, which approximate to the constituencies that we're looking at here - in fact there's not a lot of difference - are at 110 per cent, 111 per cent of the average. What that means is that in order for an NDPer to have been elected or be elected under the redrawn lines, they have to get more votes on the whole than the government Party, for example, has to and certainly more votes, and we represent more people than do those who have been elected in the Liberal seats.

If you look at the Liberal seats, in fact, they're at 90 per cent, 91 per cent of the average, smaller. On the whole, they represent smaller constituencies in terms of the numbers. It takes fewer votes to elect a Liberal at the moment, it takes more votes to elect a New Democrat, and it takes the average number of votes to elect a PC member. Well, I look at that and I'm not happy with that result. I would have liked it if, in fact, when you take a grouping of seats and you analyze them by Party that everyone was a lot closer to the average, a lot closer to the 100 number, not at the 90 number, not at the 110 or 111 number.

Even though our Party is the Party that is disadvantaged by that, we are nonetheless prepared to vote for the boundaries as redrawn by the Electoral Boundaries Commission. It's the right thing to do. It's the process that we set up. It's independent. It's fundamental to democracy that that be the case. So although it's worth observing, it's worth remembering, it's worth noting that there are these differences, nonetheless that is not such a fundamental problem that it should erode our support for the findings of the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission.

What I do think is the main problem, of course, is the huge variation, the wide range that the constituencies, as recommended to us by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, do represent. At the smallest end there are seats that are 50 per cent or 55 per cent of the average size of a constituency in Nova Scotia. At the highest end, we are almost at 120 per cent of the average. Indeed, my colleague, the member for Hants East, represents the largest seat in terms of the new proposal. Now, that's quite a variation, and we have to look at this variation and ask ourselves whether it's a desirable result.

[Page 11069]

I have to say that this question of the variation has concerned me greatly. When, in the end, directions were given to the Electoral Boundaries Commission, it was told that the fundamental principle that ought to apply was relative parity of voting power. Then there were certain add-ons, there were certain subsidiary principles that could guide the thinking of the commission as it did its work. When it came to variations, because of course no one expects that every constituency will have exactly the same number of electors - that's an impossibility - what the commission was told was that it would be acceptable to have variations above or below the average within a range of plus or minus 25 per cent. That's a large number; that isn't a number, I have to say, I was happy with.

In Saskatchewan the number, the percentage variation, is plus or minus 5 per cent; that's all that's acceptable. It's quite possible to draw electoral boundaries so as to meet that target. Federally, for the 301 seats in Parliament, plus or minus 5 per cent, possibly as high as plus or minus 10 per cent for a few, is in fact the prevailing number.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not always.

MR. EPSTEIN: Now, there are exceptions - I've just heard an honourable member say there are exceptions. There are places, for example, like Prince Edward Island that have constitutionally-protected minimum numbers. They are exceptions, but that's built into the Constitution of this nation that they get a minimum representation of four and the Northwest Territories, each territory gets one. There are few exceptions around the margins and it's worth noting that, but the vast majority of federal seats, it's plus or minus 5 per cent. It's not impossible to do this. Indeed, I think the next time this Legislature sits down to give directions to an Electoral Boundaries Commission that they should be looking at a number that is much smaller than plus or minus 25 per cent. Plus or minus 5 per cent, plus or minus 10 per cent, those are the kinds of numbers that ought to be looked at. It's achievable and it doesn't lead to the situation in which, if you compare something that's 25 per cent over the average with something that's 25 per cent under the average, that you get something that's twice as large as the other.

I'm not talking at this point about the special designated, protected seats, I'm saying compare two constituencies where one might be 25 per cent above and one might be 25 per cent below, and the result is an enormous range of difference. Something could be at 75 per cent and something at 125 per cent; that's an enormous difference. It means two-thirds of the size of the smaller constituency has to be added to reach the size of the larger constituency. That's a disparity which is built into that direction which is implied by that plus or minus 25 per cent direction that's really not acceptable.

Let me point out that on an international basis, to give us an international comparison, that that kind of variation is three times what's acceptable in Australia. Australia does not accept such a huge variation in size. So there are many precedents, including in our country, that indicate it is very practical, indeed, easy to achieve.

[Page 11070]

The result of this kind of variation is that some parts of the province end up with constituencies that are, on the whole, well above the average in their size, in terms of their population, compared with other parts of the province that have constituencies that are well under the average size. It also means, of course, that as the population moves around the province, seats shift. I am going to make some observations about what the result has been in the metro area.

Let me first say what the metro area is: the metro area is not central Halifax, the metro area is not just central Halifax and central Dartmouth, it's not even the central municipal core, it isn't even really HRM - although one could look at the HRM boundaries and consider that. Where people have been moving in the province, of course, is to the central metropolitan area, which means the area within about an hour's drive of downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth. So it means: an hour up the Eastern Shore to Middle Musquodoboit; an hour along Route No. 102 to Truro; it means an hour along Highway No. 101 to about New Minas; and it means about an hour down Highway No. 103, along the South Shore, to Bridgewater. That is the area into which people have been moving, whether they come from internal migration - that is from other parts of the province - and move into metro, or they come from outside the province and move to metro; that's the area into which people have been moving. That is where the great bulk of our population is now located.

It is, unfortunately, that area which, under the plus or minus 25 per cent guidelines, has resulted in its finding itself under-represented in the Legislature. I haven't run all the numbers for that total, broadly defined metropolitan area. I did run the numbers, as the Electoral Boundaries Commission did for HRM. HRM, let us remember, is co-extensive with the boundaries of Halifax County; everything within Halifax County is now HRM.

If you look at the total population in that area, according to the Electoral Boundaries Commission - and this isn't a question of projecting ahead, they're saying look at the numbers now - that area would probably be entitled to 20.4 seats in a 52 member Legislature. If you look at the total number of seats actually in that area, including the special designated and protected Preston seat, there are 19. So that means there is under-representation in HRM by one to one and a half seats, 1.4 seats, and indeed, it's quite possible to look at some of the largest of the constituencies proposed by the Electoral Boundaries Commission and discover that four of them are contiguous to one another, in central Halifax, or just off the peninsula. It might be possible that they could be reconfigured as five but, of course, this raises a problem - and this is undoubtedly what caused difficulties for the Electoral Boundaries Commission - of where, if anywhere in the province, there might be a corresponding offset, a corresponding reduction.

Clearly they decided at that point in their deliberations they were not going to continue to redraw the lines - and I'm not about to recommend some other reduction elsewhere. That is the business of an electoral boundaries commission on a future date. It is not for us to interfere, certainly now, with anything the Electoral Boundaries Commission

[Page 11071]

has done. When I speak here today, I'm speaking so that the public understands what it is that has occurred and I'm speaking, I hope, so that the next time this Legislature - a decade from now perhaps - sits down to redo this process, that we think in detail about what kinds of instructions we might want to give to the Electoral Boundaries Commission. It may be that we want to think about instructions that are not the same as those that were given this time.

We know and we have heard from many people, who come from parts of the province where there have been reductions in seats, how regrettable they find this. We've heard, frequently, for example, from members who come from Cape Breton how much they regret that the total allocated number of constituencies in Cape Breton has been reduced. I think this is unfortunate. There's no doubt about it. It is unfortunate. But, of course, what it does is it tracks population movements. If that's regrettable, as we hear so frequently that it is, and if we agree, then we have to ask ourselves, why is it? Why is it that people have left Cape Breton in such great numbers?

[4:15 p.m.]

There's an obvious answer to why it is that the population numbers have changed in Cape Breton. People have left Cape Breton because they didn't see that there were sufficient economic opportunities there for them. People left Cape Breton because they didn't see that they had enough of an economic future. I have to say that when you look at who was in charge of the economic policies that have cut off opportunities for people in Cape Breton Island, one does not have to look far to realize that it's been the federal Liberal Government, it's been the provincial Liberal Government, and it's been this present Tory Government. Their economic policies have resulted in loss of population on Cape Breton Island. The predecessor government, the predecessor Liberal Government had exactly the same failing.

When people look around and they say, oh, Cape Breton has lost seats, they have to also follow up by asking themselves why it is that those seats have been lost. They've been lost due to depopulation, and depopulation is tied to failed economic policies. Everyone knows this, and those who criticize should recognize it and admit to it right away.

Now, one of the results, of course, of attempting to achieve relative parity of numbers of voters is that there will be geographically large constituencies. There already are a few geographically large constituencies. Under the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, some of those constituencies will grow again in size. The commission said to us that we should look at the possibility of adding staff or adding offices to those MLAs to help them do their job. I agree completely. This makes eminent sense, and it's exactly the kind of thing that the Internal Economy Board ought to turn its mind to right away. It should be looking at aiding those constituencies in particular, with additional staff.

[Page 11072]

But let me say that that's something that should be looked at with respect to all MLAs. We all know, at the moment, that in our constituency offices, the monthly allocation for receiptable expenses is not sufficient to allow very many of us to have full-time constituency assistants. This Party has long favoured full-time constituency assistants in all MLAs' offices. So when the Internal Economy Board turns its mind to this recommendation of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, to assist the large constituencies, it would be the perfect opportunity to think about all MLAs' offices and whether the time has not come to actually extend the amount of support for the offices to the point where those positions could become full-time. That would be entirely appropriate, and we would be looking for that when the Internal Economy Board meets next.

Again, even though one might have criticisms, even though one might have hoped for a different configuration of seats, it's our obligation here to support and adopt the recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. Indeed, federally and in the Province of Quebec, as I understand it, both those jurisdictions have essentially taken away from their Legislature, any even theoretical, power to make changes once an Electoral Boundaries Commission has reported. Of course, the practice here and in the other provinces that have adopted Electoral Boundaries Commissions is to adopt without changes what it is that is recommended by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Does this leave members, like the honourable member for Lunenburg West who spoke last night about his concerns, with no options? Well, I don't think that it entirely does, but there's a very small possibility. Let me explain immediately what I think that is. We know that we will be treating this bill, Bill No. 142, although I believe it to be in a special category, it will go through the same process that any bill will go through. We'll debate it here at second reading, it will go through to Law Amendments, it will come back for third reading.

At Law Amendments, there may be representations made by some who think that the boundary lines should be different than the Electoral Boundaries Commission has recommended. As I understand it, the Electoral Boundaries Commission, although it's done its work, will be asked to think about everything that is said to us at Law Amendments. If it turns out that there is something that they feel they haven't heard before, something new, something that they think might represent a better take on boundary lines than they have done, that they can accommodate overall, they might recommend back to Law Amendments that there be some changes. But I have to say immediately that I would be very surprised if there were many, if any, changes in that category.

The reason for that, of course, is that by this time the Electoral Boundaries Commission has gone through a two part public hearing process. They've heard these submissions before. I don't think there was anything in the remarks of the honourable member for Lunenburg West that the Electoral Boundaries Commission hasn't already heard.

[Page 11073]

If some error were to be picked up in the text of the Electoral Boundaries Commission and it were drawn to their attention, it might be that some small error of wording we might fix, with the input of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, but not otherwise.

What I'm emphasizing is that unless the Electoral Boundaries Commission itself were to say back to this House, during the process of consideration of Bill No. 142, that it was prepared to consent to some change, we ought not to do it. It is not our job to do that.

So, with that observation about how it is that there might, at least theoretically, be some change in Bill No. 142's adoption of the comments of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, I think our obligation is simply to accept what they've said. We accept it even though there might be parts that we ourselves might have done differently. I've suggested some in which we might have wished for a different result. I don't know that I'm very happy with the size of the constituencies in Central Halifax just because they're so large in terms of population. I think there was an opportunity there to do other things, but that doesn't mean I won't be voting for this bill. I and my colleagues will, for exactly the reasons I have set out.

There is one final topic that might be considered and that's the question of the special designated and protected constituencies. There are four of them and the Electoral Boundaries Commission did turn its mind to whether they ought to continue. Those four are Argyle, Preston, Clare and Richmond. Those four seats are noticeably well below the average size and they're well below the minus 25 per cent limit that was recommended to the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The Electoral Boundaries Commission asked us to consider, to what extent we want to continue in the future to have those special protected seats.

At this point, all we can say is that the next time we do this process, we have to take seriously the comments of the Electoral Boundaries Commission this time, their observation that we turn our mind specifically to those constituencies and ask ourselves whether it does make good social policy sense for those constituencies to continue. They might be reconfigured, although I have to say I'm very envious, as many of us must be, of the size of some of those smaller constituencies. Many of us would enjoy the opportunity to be more regularly in touch with a smaller number of electors. The question, however, was raised by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, and the next time the process is done, we will have to turn our minds to that specifically.

That said, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and my colleagues for the opportunity for having made comments about this. The essence of it, I think, is very clear. We went through the process, it was an independent process, it was a process that gained credibility, it wasn't a perfect process, many of us will have criticisms of it, but in order to demonstrate our dedication to this manifestation of fundamental principles of democracy, we have to vote in favour of it.

[Page 11074]

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, today I rise in my place and I'm certainly not excited about the topic I'm about to speak on today. Basically, I have to admit I have some mixed feelings about this whole process. I have to express my disappointment for the final result. However, I do want to take the time to thank Mr. Colin Dodds and all the commissioners on the committee. They put forth a lot of time and effort into the process, and they travelled all over the province. I'm sure that they're very happy with the point that they have at least seen our great province. I want to first pay tribute to them and thank them for their commitment and their effort.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to rise here today and suggest that any political mischief took place here, or anything like that. I know the honourable members across the floor would never suggest that there was any political mischief here. I'm a little confused over the previous speaker, the member for Halifax Chebucto. Obviously from last night until today, he actually took one of the biggest flip-flops I have ever seen in my life. Yesterday he said you couldn't debate this in here, or it shouldn't be debated in here. (Interruptions) Today he says it should be debated and it should go through the process. That's not exactly what I would suggest should come from a legal professor, as I understand, who teaches young people in school, in university in fact. I don't know exactly which university he teaches in and I don't want to know, just in case one of my children want to attend. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to pay tribute to the people I represent. As I indicated previously in this Chamber, we really are a diverse community, and the people I represent are strong and they know that this is really not the end of the world. In fact, personally, I want to go on record as saying that this is basically an occupational hazard, as I indicated when the interim report came out. We have to realize that since 1867, representation by population has been the cornerstone of democracy in Canada. I don't necessarily disagree with that, however, being a rural representative, it presents some problems and although I don't feel very excited about winning anything in here, you know we've already heard from our friends to the right. There are 11 of them over here and 31 of them over there propose to vote for this legislation so I'm not going to get up here and cry and whine. For the last three years I've learned not to trust this government with anything from the debt, health care, job creation, you know, anything. You can basically bring up any topic and I think the majority of Nova Scotians would agree with me that we have a government here that we can't trust and I, personally, don't have much faith in the fact that they would pay any attention to anything that I would say. I must have hit a sour chord there or something. In any event, I do want to go on record (Interruptions)

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

[Page 11075]

MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to begin with I would like to indicate to the members of the House that the problem - and we're all aware that Cape Breton The Lakes has been eliminated with this final report - but I want to go on record as indicating very early that the problem is not in Cape Breton The Lakes. In fact, there is a clear indication that the population increased in Cape Breton The Lakes over a 10-year period. In fact, the population has increased from 16,700 to 17,035 in Cape Breton The Lakes in the 10-year period since 1992. This means that 335 additional people have moved into my riding over the last 10 years. This is a significant amount of people.

As I indicated when I first stood, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the good people in Cape Breton The Lakes. I want to remind the electorate out there, of course, that regardless of what the member for Halifax Chebucto said, I did have more votes than the NDP candidate in the last general election. That's why I'm here today and not her. I would also like to indicate that she had the same opportunity as I had to obtain the voters (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, I could whine and cry and stand up here, it's not going to happen because I know there are 42 people in here posed to eliminate Cape Breton The Lakes because they don't know the community. Is it because they don't know the community because they're not aware, you know, they're listening to the commission? It's interesting to hear some of the NDP members. Some of them I don't think even stepped foot on Cape Breton Island. However, they obviously know all the answers. For instance, the member for Halifax Chebucto indicated that he wants more staff to represent his people. So more staff, you know, what does this all come down to? More money. So if the people in Halifax Chebucto believe the taxpayers' money should be spent for things like that, perhaps they should indicate to him in the next provincial election whether that may be or may not.

As I said at the beginning, this does pose a problem and it poses a major problem for rural Nova Scotia. I could get up and argue the difference between an interim report and a final report and why there were no Tories in town the day that the final report came in. It's a mystery although they were quite aggressive on the day the interim report came in; the day the final report came there was no one in sight. They weren't interested.

Now, I wouldn't suggest that they had prior knowledge to what was in the final report, although there are some rumours and I'm not going to repeat rumours in this Chamber, I'm going to try and stay above that, but there are some rumours that this government did, in fact, interfere with the process. If that is true, perhaps the government members, particularly one minister, if he would indicate to all members of this House that he was hands-off, then I would feel a lot more comfortable standing in my place today. I really don't believe that was the case.

[Page 11076]

When you look at the interim report and the difference between that and the final report, it just doesn't add up. Nova Scotians should check their arithmetic on this themselves, not accept what I'm saying. They should check their arithmetic and see the difference. The whole theory was thrown out the door on the final report. I don't want to stand here in my place and say, for instance, the Eastern Shore, well, they got their MLA back. What's going on here? I recognize that it's important for the people in Guysborough and the Eastern Shore to have representation. Yes, they live in a rural area, yes, but they are and do deserve the same level of representation in this House of Assembly as the people in Halifax Chebucto or anywhere in Halifax.

This final report, Mr. Speaker, leaves 20 Tory-held ridings completely unchanged. All of them but one outside Halifax. Is that suspicious? I will leave that up to the electorate. Are there other constituencies left unchanged or intact that perhaps should have been looked at? Perhaps there was. I just want to explain one area, Pictou, for instance. We all know the Premier is from Pictou and it doesn't look very good. Really and I will tell you why in a few moments.

Four more PC members, after you add in the 20 unchanged constituencies, four more PC members lose none of their electorate and only in a few adjoining areas. One more loses a very small number of people, Halifax Citadel. Only seven Tory ridings will be disrupted in any way out of 31. Perhaps there's a corporate plan at work here, I'm not sure.

Mr. Speaker, several members have expressed concern with regard to the effect of redistribution on Cape Breton Island. and especially the loss of a seat. I may be holding this seat at the moment, but it's certainly not my seat, I don't own the seat. The people choose, at every election, who they wish to represent them. I'm asking that all the members in here, just in case somebody over there decided to target little old me personally, that they should revisit that decision because it's not my seat. As far as standing here whining that I'm going to lose my seat, Mr. Speaker, there are opportunities in the future for me. I would suggest that as I look across the hall, the majority of people in Nova Scotia are going to recognize the shenanigans from that government and there are a lot of them over there, sitting in those unchanged seats who think they're going to back in this House that I would suggest will not be back in here and will be very disappointed after the next election.

Mr. Speaker, I don't believe Cape Breton should lose any more voices in this House - none. Each region of this province has difficulties and one of the major difficulties in Cape Breton is that we don't feel we can get accepted here in Halifax, on the mainland. Heaven forbid, I can't figure out what the problem is, I really can't.

When I look at the contribution that Cape Bretonners, over time, have made to this great province - for instance I will just refer to one. There are many Nova Scotians, many, who have contributed, and I don't know if it's fair for me to pick out one, but I will pick out one - the honourable member for Inverness used to be the Deputy Prime Minister of this

[Page 11077]

country, the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen who, basically, singlehandedly, through the development of Devco, provided a subsidy for power rates in this province, right across the board, to everyone who obtains power in this province. This government turned around and destroyed it in one turn. No other province in Canada enjoyed the benefits that we did as a result of the hard work and determination of Allan J. MacEachen - no one and there are many more Cape Bretonners.

Mr. Speaker, it's about time we put an end to this mainland versus Cape Breton.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's right. No more postcards.

MR. BOUDREAU: Although the NDP think it's funny, I don't; I don't think it's one bit funny. People in Cape Breton, they work hard, they contribute, they pay their taxes, they're involved in their communities, and they're among the finest people this country has seen. They're not looking to be treated any differently than anybody else, they just want to be treated fairly and in the same manner. That's all they want, at least the people I represent. They want to be treated fairly, and they want the same attention or benefits that other Nova Scotians enjoy and I really don't understand what's wrong with that.

For many in this House it's okay to just say the heck with Cape Breton The Lakes, it's only a Cape Breton voice. It's only another voice down there in the wilderness. We don't have to be concerned about one other voice. But there is a lot more to be concerned about than just losing a voice. For instance, the new riding of Inverness - is it manageable? I know the honourable minister from Inverness - I'm not picking on his abilities or anything like that, obviously he's in the front row and we will let the people in Inverness judge that - I'm not questioning his ability here today, however there is life after the Honourable Rodney MacDonald. There are members coming behind him, and we really do, as elected people . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member that it's unparliamentary to use names, regarding the members, and he should refer to them with their constituencies, please.

The member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you for reminding me, Mr. Speaker. I do apologize to the honourable member if I did offend him. Anyway, it's time to put this mainland versus Cape Breton behind us and let's get on with creating a province that can benefit each and every Nova Scotian, something that each member of this House can be proud of.

[Page 11078]

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, declining representation in Cape Breton, it continues to shrink in this House. At Confederation the Island elected 21 per cent of the members of this House. The percentage reached its peak in the 1930s when Cape Breton occupied 27 per cent of the seats in this House. The number dropped to 24 per cent in the 1950s, 23 per cent in the 1960s, 22 per cent by the 1970s and to 20 per cent in the 1990s. Now, with this change, it drops below the 20 per cent down to approximately 19 per cent of the seats in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important for me to go on record, to state very clearly that I strongly endorse rural constituencies and I'm not here suggesting for one minute that Guysborough, Eastern Shore or other areas in the province - there were four constituencies in the interim report that were basically gone, that were mysteriously put back in with the final report, I'm not going to whine about that, and I will tell you why. I do feel very strongly, as well as my colleagues, that those areas deserve representation and they require representation. I, personally, do not agree with the type of representation from those areas at the moment. However, residents decide that from time to time, not I, and we're willing to accept the fact that those members represent those communities today. What is important is that those communities are represented and that they have a voice here in this House that can be heard.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record, very clearly, to support Argyle, Clare, Richmond and Preston as ridings that are vital to the overall make-up of the House of Assembly. So I don't want to get into this, that I'm against these ridings, because I'm not. We totally support that these ridings should be represented.

Geographically, the large ridings that come from some of the Cape Breton ridings, they are really scary for those of us who know how to represent a rural riding, or try to represent a rural riding as best we can. The Halifax Chebucto member should really perhaps - I know we have these days when we have students come in and they sort of shadow a member for a day, well, perhaps some of those urban representatives should try to follow a rural counterpart for a week and see what type of difficulties a rural politician has in communicating with his community and, particularly, with the people who have issues. It's no easy task. You don't walk 20 minutes from the end of my line to the other line; you drive three to three and a half hours. I can get in my car today and drive and be home probably in four and a half hours. For me to run from one end of my constituency to the other end of my constituency, it would take me approximately three hours. So if I have a meeting on one end and a meeting on the other, then it eats up a lot of time. It does not take 10 minutes to walk down the sidewalk to get to the meeting.

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day if this bill is passed, the Inverness constituency will be 169 kilometres long, compared to the largest mainland riding, which is Guysborough-Sheet Harbour at 156 kilometres. You tell me what's wrong with that picture. The Inverness

[Page 11079]

constituency alone will stretch further than Yarmouth to Chester - nearly the distance from Halifax to Moncton.

Rural areas must be represented in this House. I would agree that the Commission this time had a very difficult chore, given the conditions that we provided to them, they were to set the boundaries by population. I hope that every member in here now recognizes that is really a very negative policy towards rural Nova Scotia. It was the Honourable John Diefenbaker - and I will go on record as saying one of the better Prime Ministers of his time that we had here in this country - but it was that Tory Prime Minister that instilled into the House of Commons that the Maritime Provinces in particular would have ample representation in the House of Commons despite population numbers. He recognized the importance of the rural areas throughout the Maritimes, that yes, in Nova Scotia, that Nova Scotia would be guaranteed a certain number of seats in the House of Commons regardless of population. He recognized the need for those areas to be represented and to have a voice on issues that are important to their communities.

I look at the House of Commons - Prince Edward Island is a smaller mass of land than Cape Breton Island. In fact, it has less population. They are guaranteed four seats in the House of Commons. These leaders recognized the need for rural areas to be represented. It's okay for the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto to get up in the morning, brush his teeth, put his shoes on and walk to work, walk to the store and the grocery store, everyday, living in Halifax. But you can't do that in rural Nova Scotia. It's impossible.

Mr. Speaker, in order to understand this, in order to really understand you have to be part and parcel of a rural area and that's where a lot of the members, particularly from the NDP, who can't identify with rural areas. There's a lot more than getting in your car on a Sunday afternoon and wanting to take your family out for a quiet country drive, there's a lot more. I will just explain to you. In my riding, on a Sunday afternoon, you can head out to the most beautiful countryside in this province. It's comparable to any scenic area in Nova Scotia, in fact, in Canada, it is in the Boisdale, Christmas Island, Iona area. We have a group up there in the Boisdale area, a community group that works alongside the fire department and the ladies auxiliary for the fire department. I know the honourable minister from Inverness knows this and I'm sure he has had the opportunity to enjoy a meal, but in Boisdale, at this fire department, these community people, community volunteers who are committed to their community promote the local economy in their local community and they attract people in and out of the community every weekend during the summer months, Fall and winter, all year long.

Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto believes there is nobody living in those rural areas or if there is no effort put into these organizations and people don't care about where they live and how people who visit regard their community, they better pinch themselves and wake up, because people take pride in their community, they take pride in their families and they take pride in their ability to build their community.

[Page 11080]

Mr. Speaker, Halifax is busting at the seams. In fact, I chastised the government just last week for having no plan here for the highways, no plan for the highway system here in Halifax despite the explosion that is occurring in Halifax, no foresight to see or to plan forward. They can't see any further than their nose. All those people who live today in Halifax didn't come here overnight; they didn't come here overnight. This great country has been built (Interruption) The catcalls over there, does that honourable member want to get up and speak?

Mr. Speaker, all these people just didn't land here overnight, they just didn't land here overnight. This great country has been built upon the cornerstone that people gather together in a community and as they grow and expand, that's how they grow. If you listen to the NDP over there, Victoria County, for instance, doesn't matter to them. The heck with those people who live in Victoria County. Just take those people and drift them off. Well, some of the most important infrastructure in this province is located in Victoria County. Don't we have some type of consideration for this infrastructure in this community? It may only be 5,000 people, electors in Victoria County, but given the vast makeup of the community geographically, it's like the same circumstances inside that boundary as in Halifax Chebucto. There are water issues, there are infrastructure issues, there are jobs, health care, education; those issues are all alive and well in Victoria County.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, if I went with the theory from the right over here, those people don't count. Well they do count; they count with me and they count with my colleagues. That's one of the reasons I'm not up here criticizing the fact that the Eastern Shore got their MLA back in the final report - we recognize that that area requires representation as well.

When Victoria is built - and it will be built, because the people there are our greatest asset. There are members on that side of the House, over there, who know the people in Victoria and in Cape Breton County, and they will prevail. They are the type of people who aren't going to cry and whine forever - yes, they're disappointed, they all have mixed feelings and yes, they want representation in this House, and I believe that they deserve that representation. Well, they really are in touch with reality and have watched this government for the last three and a half years - promise after promise broken. The Hamm book of broken promises. So do they have much faith that this government, that the member for Halifax Chebucto would turn around and support their cause to have representation in this House? Do they really believe the people in these areas are going to believe that this government cares about them and the community in which they live?

Mr. Speaker, it is rather unfortunate that my riding came back eliminated, because as I indicated at the beginning, the people I represent - and I've said it here before in the Address in Reply - our community is a very diverse community and its people are unique. I have all kinds of confidence in the people I represent and they will adapt if need be, but that

[Page 11081]

does nothing. We can vote on this bill, pass it, put it into reality - and there's no doubt that's going to happen with at least 42 members in here posed to vote for it. There's no doubt about it, it will happen, I recognized that very early on. I didn't run out and get petitions and try to create a whole mindset of false hopes, because it's not there; it's just simply not going to happen. I know that as the member standing here and so do those members sitting over there.

They couldn't care less about the member who is here now, as long as they're protecting their own seats; that's all they're concerned about. I just hope that they aren't over there looking over this way and saying, well, it's only one member. It's a little more than just one member. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, just to refresh everybody's memory in here, the Province of Newfoundland also protects Labrador's interest. That interest is protected by four provincial seats being allotted. If you took the formula and applied it to Labrador, they would only have two seats in the House of Assembly in Newfoundland, but the Newfoundland Government recognizes the need to have rural areas represented in their House of Assembly in Newfoundland. They enshrined in legislation that Labrador would be guaranteed a minimum of four seats. Let's look at the Senate of Canada. The Senate has long guaranteed New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Senate seats. As I indicated before when I mentioned the Honourable John Diefenbaker, he carried the day for rural Canada, he carried the day with a plan to keep smaller provinces from losing any seats in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, let's continue to see what it does with the other ridings. I've indicated Inverness isn't manageable. It's not for me to say if it is, but I know one thing, the honourable member who will be representing the new riding of Inverness will have their hands full. They're not going to be able to put their shoes on in the morning and walk down to the meeting, that's for sure, not down the sidewalk. It will be up and over hills that are unplowed because this government hasn't plowed roads on a regular basis since the snow started falling after they got elected. I don't expect that to improve much in the future.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at northern Nova Scotia. Let's leave Cape Breton alone for a moment. Let's look at northern Nova Scotia. Currently Pictou, Colchester and Cumberland Counties elect eight MLAs. Their combined population should only entitle them to seven. In Cumberland, the Amherst riding which is Cumberland North is 18 per cent bigger than Cumberland South. Pictou County - now who represents Pictou County - was left untouched. Pictou County, untouched, even though Pictou Centre remains 19 per cent larger than Pictou West. That's really intelligent. (Interruptions) It's a dandy. This is a dandy.

Let's talk a little bit about the Queens problem. Perhaps the honourable member for Queens won't want me to speak up, but Queens County, I'm not sure but I think I recall the Queens County in question with the interim report. It has only 67 per cent of the population required to have a seat.

[Page 11082]

They leave that seat there and they take mine away. Mine is a growing community, population, infrastructure. They eliminate mine with the population rising - the numbers were there to justify a member for Cape Breton, the seat, and they eliminate it and they leave Queens County with a representative with 67 per cent of the population. Now, do I say that's wrong? No, I'm not saying that's wrong because I recognize the need for Queens to have representation in this House. It's important and vital. Was that wrong? No, it wasn't wrong. I wouldn't suggest it was wrong to put a representative back into Queens. Not at all, but this is one of the deficiencies of this report.

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that aside from exceptional cases, constituencies must not be less than 75 per cent. So the law professor over there on the right hand side, if he needs a lesson on the Supreme Court, his other colleagues over there can tell him to give me a call.

Queens deserves a riding, Queens deserves a voice in this House. I'm not going to get up and say this is dirty pool here - they put Queens back but they take mine away. I'm not going to get into that because I recognize the need for Queens to have a voice in this House and they have real issues there. They have a community there that is contriving to build upon what they already have contributed to over the years. They really are - they're committed to building upon their communities to grow and prosper. Isn't that what we require? Just because it has 67 per cent of a riding in population is not a reason not to have a voice - at least in my opinion.

As I said when I first stood up, I do have some mixed feelings on this issue. It's not that I'm going to lose my job or anything like that because that's yet to be determined. In fact, I have other opportunities so that's not foreseen as yet. So I'm not standing here whining and crying because I lost my job. I do represent Nova Scotians the same as any honourable member on that side of the House or over there on that side of the House. They're all Nova Scotians and they all deserve the same attention as each and every Nova Scotian deserves.

As I indicated before, we're not looking for any special attention or special privileges. We just feel that we've been snookered. Simple. We've been snookered. You know Lunenburg centre and Chester-St. Margaret's, really, (Interruption). For Queens, I've already indicated very clearly that the commission accepted or adopted a half measure.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we, as elected representatives of the people we represent, must recognize rural areas; we have to. I know mine is not the only rural constituency in here. I know there are many more and there are many over there. I know I've picked on some of them the odd day, but there are some good representatives over there from rural Nova Scotia. The problem is they won't speak up. They won't speak up and they haven't. I've said this

[Page 11083]

before in this House, I have a lot of respect for my former municipal colleagues who are over there on that side of the House. As municipal politicians they were really aggressive, but since they've come into this House - with the UNSM conference going on here in Halifax this week, I've already bumped into some of my former colleagues this morning, actually, who are arriving in town early for meetings today. The first thing two of them mentioned to me this morning was, can you believe those Tories, those guys who used to have coffee with us and they all fight the fight, we're municipal politicians and we're the closest to the people and we really know what these communities need and what people want and we're the guys who tell John Hamm, you tell us. Well, well, did they ever let their electorates down.

Mr. Speaker, I don't expect too many of them over there to speak on this particular bill because, as I said before, they're all sitting there protecting their own seats.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would like to point out for the honourable member and I share some of the concerns that the honourable member is bringing forward here today, but I think it bears pointing out that the Select Committee on Electoral Boundaries was represented by all Parties of this House. I had the privilege of serving on the Select Committee on Electoral Boundaries and several times we met and deliberated and subsequently, all members signed the terms of reference off, so to speak, and the terms of reference were indicative of a resolution that unanimously was passed in this House.

It seems as if perhaps, unintentionally, the honourable member is implying that somehow the Tory members on that standing committee stand to benefit or gain, Mr. Speaker. I don't believe that's the case and I don't believe perhaps that's the implication, but it does appear that that's what's coming across.

Mr. Speaker, it's important that the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes understands that we worked in the spirit of cooperation, collaboration and in the spirit of fairness. I think it's important to point out that the member for Cape Breton South was on that committee and the member for Cape Breton Nova. I just want to point out that all members worked hard and travelled around the province and did, as far as I'm concerned, a darn good job. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's obviously not a point of order but a clarification of facts by the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I don't disagree with anything the honourable member just said and he's absolutely right. Everybody signed off on it, but table what they signed, honourable member, and tell me why Queens, with 67 per cent of the population obtained an MLA?

[Page 11084]

It's like I said when I got here, Mr. Speaker, we're not looking for any special attention in Cape Breton The Lakes, we want the same fairness as everybody else receives. That's all we look for. We don't want anything special from anybody. As far as building communities, we have people back there who know how to build communities just as well as anybody on the mainland. I don't have a problem with what the honourable member just stood in his place and said, if that had been adhered to from one end to the other. But that honourable member won't stand in his place and admit that that did not happen. He's quick. Lots of times they're quick at standing up and saying it's an all-Party committee, well, they should count the numbers. There were two . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I've been listening to the debate of the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, and I want to clarify something. All three Parties appointed people who went out to have hearings. I want the member to clarify something. He appeared to say that the results of that committee were to basically favour certain people over others. Are you accusing the committee of doing that or not? I just want a clarification. I, as a member of the select committee who gave the terms of reference, want to know, clearly, what the member opposite is inferring, because I think the members who served on that committee deserve no less. Clarify your comments, because those people volunteered their time to go around this province to hear from the people of Nova Scotia. You may not agree with the decision. That's fine. Don't infer motives to the people who served on that committee. You should clarify your comments.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I must have hit a sour chord or something over there, but I didn't say that. It's in Hansard, what I said. (Interruptions) I must have hit a nerve with somebody over there, because the catcalls are coming now. I want to make it very clear, as I said at the beginning, I did appreciate the effort and the commitment by those committee members and those commissioners. I said that very clearly. It was the honourable member who got on his feet and suggested that they were provided with a provision from this House, which they were. There's no doubt about it. It was to be 52 members, based on population, plus, of course, one Aboriginal, which to my knowledge to date they have declined.

After having said that, perhaps the government should stand up and tell us why this report - or the member for Halifax Chebucto should just stand up and tell us why - we just heard what he said, last night and this evening. He's all based on population and everything else. Well, what's fair is fair, Mr. Premier or whoever wants to listen over there. What's fair is fair. That was not and did not happen right across the board. It didn't happen. Why that didn't happen, I have my own suspicions but I have no proof of any interference. I'm not suggesting that there was political mischief imposed by this government. I'm not suggesting that for one minute. Those honourable members over there should recognize what their

[Page 11085]

member, who stood in his place on a point of order said, and then look at the report. Let them tell me that was followed through in every instance in that final report. (Interruptions)

I don't seen anybody jumping to their feet over there, and I'll challenge them right now to stand up and tell us if what the honourable member for - oh, I would only waste my breath explaining that, he doesn't understand finances, let alone communities.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't make much sense to me to turn around and provide - you've taken away representation in this House - for instance, the new Victoria-The Lakes, you're going to have one MLA, two constituency assistants, a deputy returning officer, two returning officers. Now, apparently that's in place because . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I want all members to know that, of course, I represent the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect. The business I was in prior to what I'm in now was a school teacher and in 1988 I ran against Jerry Lawrence. The riding went from the Bedford town limits through to Lucasville, all the way to Hubbards, and if that population was today, it would be a representation of about 35,000 people. Now, it's impossible in this situation, as an MLA, to represent that number of people with the resources that I have at hand in my constituency office in Lakeside. Now, since 1992, and there was a very important review at that time, a review that I appeared in front of, a review that I agreed with, that there was a new riding of Timberlea-Prospect created and the Timberlea-Prospect riding represents a group of communities - and I want the previous speaker to know this - of rural Nova Scotia.

When you represent the Prospect Road from Goodwood, around the loop as far as West Dover, you're in rural Nova Scotia. And I have an appreciation for what the member is talking about, because when you give your two days a week when the House isn't sitting, it would be a great advantage to have another office down in Terence Bay, another office in Dover. So when I hear that member start to talk about the NDP only represents metro Halifax, urban Halifax, I say to that member that you have forgotten Timberlea-Prospect.

In an ideal, perfect world, if I had my way - well maybe every April or May Bobby Orr would present the Stanley Cup to a Bruin, that's an ideal, perfect world. In an ideal, perfect world, I would have the continuing opportunity to field calls from people from Black Point who call me about the problem with the ATVs on the Rails to Trails. In an ideal, perfect world, I would continue to handle calls from people in Seabright and their concerns about the Peggy's Cove Road. In an ideal, perfect world, I would handle calls from people who live out further, on the Hammonds Plains Road, who are no longer part of my constituency, about their concerns about the expensive arena and some of the demands for

[Page 11086]

recreation. But that doesn't happen. Those people who live in those areas are, since 1992, represented by other members of this Legislature, of whatever political stripe really makes no difference.

[5:30 p.m.]

The current member for Chester-St. Margaret's and I are often in contact with each other. The member who represents - and I believe Sackville-Beaver Bank should be more appropriately called Sackville-Beaver Bank-Hammonds Plains, but that's another issue - that member and myself are in regular contact on issues that we all have to solve. In an ideal, perfect world, yes, it would be wonderful that in my growth area of Timberlea-Prospect I would not be losing some of the friends and, yes, some of the supporters, some of the sign locations.

I want all members to know that when I appeared, both times, in front of the commission, the reception that I received from Professor Dodds, the professional approach that I saw and witnessed, that I saw in the community of Timberlea and in the community of Clayton Park, reassured me that there was a professional, unbiased, objective approach. With a constituency of the size that I represent, something had to be done.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that I know, and I have heard from people who live along the ocean, from Nine Mile River through Blind Bay, Big Lake, McGraths Cove and, of course, over to East and West Dover. When these boundary changes come through, and I presented a petition on their behalf, the 162 people who don't want that change to take place, when I speak to those people and point out to them that out of a sense of fairness and a sense of representation by population, it is only fair that we have a constituency of this size as opposed to the growing size that it is. It is unfair in some ways. The community of interest from Nine Mile River over to West Dover is no longer going to be part of Timberlea-Prospect. I want you to know that's divisive and it's hurtful in some ways. There are people, for various reasons, who believe that they should continue to belong in Timberlea-Prospect.

There are some boundaries that I do question, but I had my opportunity. I made the case in front of Professor Dodds. I had the opportunity to present the case and show the maps, as the sitting MLA. I want the member for Argyle to note that we talked about this previously. Was it appropriate for an MLA to appear? Was it appropriate for an MLA to go in and say, this is what I believe? In my case I did believe that. I know the member for Argyle is a member who I respect and who has experience in this House. He said, you know the community better than, probably, some of the people on the commission, so you're obliged to go, you're obliged to have your say, to make sure that the people who are making these tough decisions, objectively and fairly, those decisions will be based on some of the information that, hopefully, I can provide to these learned officials.

[Page 11087]

Mr. Speaker, the reception that I received was nothing more than professional, but in that world that I talked about earlier, that ideal, perfect world, I can tell you that parts of the constituency that I am no longer going to represent will have to make the decision when the time comes, when the writ is dropped, how they will vote in the next election. Many of them will say, well, I know I can still call you when the snowplow doesn't arrive in Westwood Hills, and it will be a problem in Westwood Hills because of the fact of the expanding subdivision.

I've heard members talk about the fact that they have had subdivisions grow or they've had constituencies grow by whatever amount. I have a subdivision in my constituency called Haliburton Hills, 700 homes. I want you to know I have a valuable book and I'm not going to table it, please don't ask me to table it. This is literally my geographical bible, given to me by the RCMP, because when I want to know where there's a new road, I look it up in this book. I want you to know that there are new streets and new streetlights and new books that I have to constantly keep in touch with the RCMP so that they can tell me what the name is of those three new streets that have just been paved, because of the new policy incidentally, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, because of the agreement after amalgamation.

This summer I took the occasion to visit some of those subdivisions. When you go into some of those roads in Haliburton Hills and Westwood Hills, you realize those people have made a conscious decision to move into this growing area. To the previous speaker's credit, I want him to know that many of them are Cape Bretoners. Many of them have decided, for reasons that are not all within their control, that they are going to move to the HRM and for whatever reasons have decided they're going to move into Timberlea-Prospect. We have a growth problem. The growth problem that we have in this growing constituency is based upon the fact that many of these young couples, for reasons of employment, have decided to move to the HRM and they live in Timberlea-Prospect.

Many of them, I'm proud to say, welcome the fact that their MLA would take some time in the middle of a summer's afternoon to make a point on new streets to drop by and say I'm so-and-so and here's some information; if you ever have to get hold of me, this is how you do it. That's part of the obligation that you have as the MLA for a growing community.

Over the last number of months, subsequent to these reports, I've heard from constituents who have been asking how it affects them. How do these changes affect them? Will they, after all, receive less service? In no way is that a reflection on the neighbouring MLAs - they might not be currently to the Party which I belong, but I know that conscientiously the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's or the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank will be in contact with many of the people that I formerly represented. These people will be expecting that their new MLA, after that next election is called, will continue to respond to them. I have no doubt that whatever political Party, that these people, these new MLAs,

[Page 11088]

maybe re-elected MLAs - we'll wait and see - we will see whether they will supply that particular part of service.

Let's talk about a couple of areas of concern. The point is that there's debate in this House and after that we go over to the Law Amendments Committee. I sit as a member of the Law Amendments Committee - a committee of which you have heard me speak of many times in this House - it is a committee that means a great deal as to how we do business in Nova Scotia. There will be an opportunity for people again to come in front of the Law Amendments Committee and have their say. I can almost assure you that the Law Amendments Committee will hear from people from the constituency that I currently represent.

There are some changes which they would like to suggest, some changes that are not of a major nature, but I am under the impression that at the Law Amendments Committee, the Electoral Boundaries Commission will have representatives there. They certainly will receive a copy of the Hansard, a copy of the presentations that are made, but out of a sense of fairness I think it's of crucial necessity that we recognize the fact that this piece of legislation is going to leave this House after those members wish to speak, and it will go to the Law Amendments Committee, where there will be another opportunity for citizens to come forward and have their say.

Citizens have had the opportunity through participation, through presentations and now through petitions to have their say of what they think of these boundaries. I am not in complete agreement with every one of the boundary changes, but I want you to know, I'm far from an expert on the geography of this province. Under no circumstances do I believe that I should have been subjected to a history lesson the other day, that all the Loyalists live in Queens County and all the German-Dutch live in Lunenburg and for that reason, the toe of Lunenburg - those are particular difficulties that I, in my experience in this House, I really can't comprehend. But I would imagine the commissioners who were part of this subjective group fairly looked at the representations that were given to them.

When we go to the Law Amendments Committee, I'm sure that we will hear from other Nova Scotians who will want to come forward and have their say about a particular concern. That's that terminology called a community of interest. A community of interest has to be served. Do these communities go to the same churches, do their children belong to the same Boy Scouts and Guides group? Do they go to the same high school? Well, I can tell you as an MLA for a growing area that's a convenience which I and we, if I can put it that way, as constituents, no longer have. I am going to have a community that is going to have two high schools serve it, numerous junior high schools and elementary schools that are shared among bordering constituencies. That community of interest has been considered. I listened and I watched as the commissioners weighed the information that was given to them in the community that I represent and there were a number of presenters on both occasions, well-

[Page 11089]

thought-out presentations, presentations that reflect the growing population shift in this province.

Now that population shift, of course, is contentious but then again, Mr. Speaker, what are we to do about it? People have for various reasons, and we can point fingers at previous governments and perhaps this government because of certain economic decisions that have been made, the population of this province continues to be centred in one metropolitan area. Now, Mr. Speaker, knowing where you come from and where I'm originally from, I know how important small towns are all over this province. Small towns, Springhill in your case, sir, Liverpool as in the case of Queens, those are important lifeblood communities in this province, but what is happening is that growing suburban areas such as some of the subdivisions that I mentioned continue to spring up and because of that they live within currently the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has, of course, many of its other problems - services to match some of the growth that's in communities such as the one that I represent in Timberlea-Prospect or the new riding of Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville. I don't think we should get into pointing fingers. I don't think that we should be saying that there's a sinister plot here. These people, as we all agreed and signed off, or the representatives of the committee, the all-Party committee signed off on, agreed on what the principles were, agreed that this committee was going to hold these hearings and then independently they were going to make their decision. This is divisive, as I've said. It is hurtful. It is after all what people have said, as a community of interest they are not being listened to in certain cases, but eventually I hope that with the good representation that will follow that the people of the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect will understand that the best possible decision is a decision based upon fairness. It's based upon population and it's based upon the theory of representation by population.

Now, there are concerns geographically. Let's be clear that there must always be designated Acadian seats in this province. Let's be also clear that if I had my particular druthers, and it's a personal one and our caucus necessarily hasn't been able to discuss this, it would be interesting to hear how our Aboriginal communities feel about this, another designated seat of that nature, but those are all things which we will look at in the future. You know I heard the learned member for Hants West say the other day that when the next boundary review is around in 2012, you know, I'm well assured he could be in his place still, it could be possible, but let's look at the fact of what we have learned from 1992, what we've learned from 2002 and what we will learn 10 years hence. We have learned very valuably the results of having an independent group that all Parties signed off on with representations that we agreed to that this would be a necessary and important service to provide every 10 years. We've learned lessons from 1992 and now we have the lesson of 2002.

[Page 11090]

Mr. Speaker, I have particular concerns about some of the things involved in the boundary review, but I want you to know that because of the independence, because of the professionalism, because of how this has been handled, I believe that Dr. Colin Dodds has done an exceptional job. I believe that they very seriously considered and looked over all of these changes. Let's not forget they had to take extra time to make sure that they were going to get the considerations and the evidence correct. They took their time and, by and large, they did it right. Did they do it absolutely correctly like the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect wants it to be? Of course not.

[5:45 p.m.]

I would be remiss to say that I would love to have the community of West Dover continue to be part of the constituency that I represent. The Lanteigne family and the Young family who worked so hard on that petition, I would like to say I would like them to continue to be part of Timberlea-Prospect. The growing families and the young men and women who live in Westwood Hills, just in back of the St. Margarets Arena that incidentally is badly in need of an expansion, minister for sport and recreation, I'm going to miss the Jakemans. I'm going to miss some of those young families because they will no longer be in the riding of Timberlea-Prospect. But there has to be a line drawn on the map, not a line drawn by Governor Gerry.

We heard the story earlier, it wasn't a story, it was a very important point brought up by my learned friend the member for Halifax Chebucto, who gave us a quick history lesson on gerrymandering. He knows the issue. He didn't get up and point fingers and talk about the Loyalists in Queens County. He looked at what Governor Gerry had pointed out and that he had done it incorrectly in Massachusetts, and that gerrymandering is not what we should be doing in this province. It should be an arm's length, it should be an independent, it should be an objective group that makes those decisions.

Mr. Speaker, we've heard and we will continue to hear from various members. One of the concerns is the geographic base of these larger constituencies. I see members opposite, so at times I know they want me to speak on certain things which they, for various reasons, can't stand and speak in their place. I think there has to be a real serious provision look forward to the fact that there should be a couple of constituency offices. Funding should be put in place, particularly for some of the larger geographical ridings. It just can't be based upon population, we understand that.

When we look at the size of some of these ridings, how long it takes to go from one end to the other - and I want the member for Cape Breton The Lakes to someday come out and tour my riding. There's no walking around in Timberlea-Prospect. I don't put 60,000 kilometres on my vehicle every year for constituency work by driving back and forth to this valuable House here in Halifax. I put it on going up and down through fishing villages that are part of the rural riding of Timberlea-Prospect. I will agree, Mr. Speaker, it is not of the

[Page 11091]

size of some of the new ridings that are being created. It is not of the size of some of the ridings that are in mainland, rural Nova Scotia and a couple of the new ridings that have been created in Cape Breton, but all the ridings, there has to be that geographical factor which has to be considered.

It has to be considered so that people can have a toll-free number so they can know they can drop in to a constituency office in a particular part of the province where maybe the MLA gets to once in a while, every other Friday or whatever schedule he or she is going to keep. Those are some of the types of things that we must continue to look forward to in this report as it's brought along through debate.

Mr. Speaker, the population of this province has made a major shift. It's not one that the NDP - I don't remember this plot, I wasn't part of it anyway that suddenly said we're going to have them all move to the Halifax-Dartmouth-metropolitan area. That, under no circumstances, is what I would believe as a member who represents a growing suburban area and a rural area along the Prospect Road. But it has happened. It's a fact. Now we must deal with that issue. We must deal with that issue as these commissioners have gone forward and dealt with them. They have done it in a fair and a conscientious way. Out of service to them and the good time that they've put in I believe that we follow the process of debate here, go over to the Law Amendments Committee and look at what can happen there, and if there are some changes, some changes that have all-Party agreement, some changes of a minor nature, I would assume, Mr. Speaker, those are the sorts of things that at the Law Amendments Committee, under the leadership of the Minister of Justice, we might consider as members of the Law Amendments Committee, but it's not cut and dried, it's not decided. This is up for debate.

There is an issue here. This isn't a rubber stamp that we shouldn't debate. I question the fact that members of the Third Party said earlier that my learned friend, the member for Halifax Chebucto, is just going to rubber stamp it, put it to the Law Amendments Committee and bring it back here and get it through the House. The member did not say that. The member said that he had concerns and he brought some of the concerns forward to this House. He participated in the debate. He, along with my learned friend, he paid me to say that, the member for Cape Breton Centre, they were part of that all-Party committee. They signed off and agreed that this would be the choice of people who were on that committee and I think it's of real importance that members understand that's the process that all Parties agreed to.

There was no plot. There was nothing there that was going to end up pointing fingers at anyone in particular but instead, Mr. Speaker, it was a question of fairness. It was a question of openness. It was a question of us having our say as the members of the Official Opposition when we were asked who would we recommend. The member for Cape Breton Centre and the member for Halifax Chebucto reviewed those names and eventually signed off saying that is an objective, fair group that will listen to Nova Scotians in this very tough

[Page 11092]

decision. That's the precedent that was created in 1992. That's the one that is being followed in 2002 and that will be, hopefully, the one that will again be followed 10 years hence in 2012.

Mr. Speaker, the independence of that committee should not be questioned. We, as elected officials or our representatives as elected officials, signed off on that particular group. We agreed they would do the job and they have conscientiously, over an extended period of time, if you recall, come forward with two reports, the first report and then they go back out again and have another round of consultations at which time again they listened to Nova Scotians until they come forward with the final report which Dr. Dodds has brought to our attention in the form in which we see it now. It is in my opinion under no consideration to question the independence, to question the objectivity, to question the fact that these commissioners professionally listened to the presentations from one end of Nova Scotia to the other.

Now, did they do exactly what this caucus wanted? No, they didn't do exactly what this particular MLA for Timberlea-Prospect wanted. They didn't specifically deal with some of the issues in my constituency as I might have wanted to see them, but they made the decision and, Mr. Speaker, I'm prepared to live with that decision. I'm prepared to live with the fact that I no longer will have one of the largest, in way of population, constituencies in this province, that I am now going to lose some areas that I have been involved with over the years as a school principal, as an elected official, and that I must tell you is sad in some ways because of the time invested personally as an MLA but also, of course, because of the commitment that I received from the people in those communities. I'm sure that those people who will no longer be part of Timberlea-Prospect will feel comfortable with the fact that if they don't receive the service which they expect, they can always call the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect and, hopefully, we might be able to help them out with one concern or another.

You know, Mr. Speaker, change is threatening. Change is threatening and when a change happens, people go automatically on the defensive, but we have to be open to this change. We have to be aware that there are certain considerations and certain decisions that are made because of the fact that they are the right decisions and when you look at the principles, when you look at the parameters that were given to this committee, when you look at the decisions that eventually came forward that that committee and those committee members did a fair job. They did a fair job because they listened to Nova Scotians. They listened to presentations and eventually they had to make some tough decisions within the fact of 52 MLAs, they had to make those tough decisions.

If the parameters were different, if the principles were different, if the ideas given to them were different, perhaps there would have been a different report. But that is not the case. There's no use pointing fingers, there's no use accusing members on that side of the House or members on this particular side of the House for one way or another having undue

[Page 11093]

influence and getting exactly what we want in the report. I want it clearly said and on the record, that in a perfect, perfect, ideal world, the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect would love to have those fishing villages from Nine Mile River to West Dover. I would love to continue to represent Westwood Hills, part of Highland Park and Kingswood, but out of a sense of equity and fairness and because of the fact of the size and growth of the constituency that I represent, it seems fair - and it is fair - that my constituency is reduced in numbers.

Those parts of the constituency that will be served by other MLAs - those other MLAs in future years will have to make sure that they provide that level of service. I'm sure that they're going to do that. In a perfect, ideal world we would all have these cookie-cutter sized ridings geographically and, of course, population-wise of the ideal size. That isn't going to happen in this province because of population trends, because of the problems with geography and some of the other concerns that we have.

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

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would move adjournment of debate at this time. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

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, I would direct you to the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. It's NDP Opposition Day tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on tomorrow's hours and orders.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we hope to deal with Bill No. 145 and

if there is time, Resolution No. 4385. We've already had the indication that the government is going to be very co-operative on the bill, so maybe we will have time for the second one. With that, I move that we do adjourn to meet tomorrow again at the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

[Page 11094]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have now reached the moment of interruption, but go ahead.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: I just wanted to inform members of the House that we have a habit of mentioning individual's birthdays when they happen. Yesterday, the member for Glace Bay was unable to be here as he and a colleague from Cape Breton Centre were up with their public reviewing a school that's sinking in subsidence. But yesterday was Mr. Wilson's 47th birthday and I just wanted everybody know when he was actually born. Happy birthday. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly wouldn't want the House to adjourn before that important information was brought before us. Congratulations to the honourable member for Glace Bay. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Needham.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5 (5)

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

EDUC. - MACDONALD COMPLEX: PLANS - GOV'T. ADVISE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be able to rise in my place at this time and speak about this very serious situation that's befallen the community of Dominion and its surrounding areas.

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

[Page 11095]

MR. CORBETT: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Thank you. In the east gallery I would like to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Ron Jones from Bridgetown. I understand it's their first visit to the House and Mr. Jones is a town councillor with the Town of Bridgetown. He's here for the UNSM conference and I would like the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you. I want to talk about this very serious issue that's facing the families in and around Dominion, which is the MacDonald Complex and the problems it's facing today. To give you a bit of background, the MacDonald Complex houses students from Grade 6 to Grade 12. Last summer, the MacDonald Complex celebrated 50 years - not the particular building itself, but the school had celebrated its 50th year of existence. More particular to what's going on today in the building that was housing today's students, it is 15 years old. That building was constructed under the former Buchanan Era.

We have to ask ourselves a few questions around what's going on in the MacDonald Complex, not the least of which is, why was this building allowed to be built over a mine shaft? Why would you take that chance, and that's the only way you can describe it, Mr. Speaker, as a chance, and risk the health and safety of, obviously, most importantly, the students and the faculty and other employees of that building? Why would you do that? I think these were questions that were put to government today, but were not answered. Government gave us veiled assurances that they would take this situation seriously, as they should. The Minister of Education's position on this could be summed up as her silence is deafening.

We have to look at the severity of subsidence. If we want to go there, certainly all indications point to the direction that what's happening at the MacDonald Complex is subsidence. Is subsidence something new to industrial Cape Breton? Absolutely not. Subsidence has been a part of industrial Cape Breton as long as there has been coal mining. It's just the reality of if you dig something under an existing structure or build a structure over an existing tunnel, things are going to happen. That's the reality, that at some point earth is going to give away due to flooding, due to rotting timbers or whatever.

What can we do? Well, Mr. Speaker, we tried to ascertain from the government today two things. We wanted them to do two very positive things. One was if reports prove that that building, that complex, can be repaired that they will do it. Failing that, if that school cannot be repaired it will be rebuilt on another site. Two very simple requests. Those requests, I think, maybe using different words, were put forward by myself and by the

[Page 11096]

member for Glace Bay today to the Premier. The Premier, again, was, I would refer to it as, evasive in his answers. We couched the questions very carefully, I believe, if this were the scenario, would you do that? If the school cannot be rebuilt, would you rebuild? The Premier's position was, we're getting engineers to look at it. We all know the engineers are looking at it. We didn't say, will you rebuild the school. We asked them - we're not taking a giant leap here, we're taking a very small step forward - if this happens.

Mr. Speaker, I've asked this Premier, on at least two occasions, about subsidence and how it affected residents in my constituency. One of those times, the Premier said quite directly to me when I asked him if he would go and visit those people, he assured me he would, and, to my chagrin, he has not and I would suspect to the chagrin of those residents, too.

This is a very simple thing. We're asking to give these people the assurances, Mr. Speaker, think back on the devastation by a fluke of nature that visited your own constituency, your arena. We all know that it was through the heady work of a couple of employees at and around that arena, and I would suspect more by the grace of God, there were no serious injuries. I think we were all very relieved. It was traumatic that you lost your arena, but it's looking positive, it's going to move forward. I think what we think of is not the structure but what goes in that structure; and what goes in, obviously, is what I'm talking about, people. This is what we're worried about now.

We've come past the idea that we were fortunate enough to get by without injury to person, but it's now the anxiety, probably more succinctly put, on a mental side, of what's going to happen. Myself and, again I will attribute it, the member for Glace Bay, were at a public meeting last night, and everyone is willing to work together, but we also know - the best way to put it was, I think one of the students said this, it's like if your house burns and your neighbour takes you in, you're really helpful and you're thankful that the neighbour has taken you in, but you yearn and long to get back into your own house. I thought, wow, what a great example. That just spoke volumes of what those people were willing to do.

Now, we have these kids ready to come forward and to do their share, Mr. Speaker. We have the school board doing the best they can do with what they have. We have the parents ready and willing to support their young children going to a school outside their community. Now what we need is the last piece of the puzzle, and that last piece of the puzzle, I would submit, is the willingness of government to say, without fail, very clear, very direct, that we will do two things, we will do two very simple things that the community wants. If that school can be repaired, we will repair it. Failing that, if that school cannot be repaired, we will rebuild it on a site in Dominion that's safe for students to go to, that the heart blood of that community can be rebuilt and there will be a gathering place for those students, an education centre for those students, a focal point for that community to rally around.

[Page 11097]

Mr. Speaker, all we need now in Cape Breton is another disaster. What we need is positive, go-forward projects. Rebuilding, repairing the MacDonald Complex would be one of those, and I say to this government, do it, do it post-haste.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me point out that it's been the accepted tradition and procedure in this House during late debate that the Party that has put forward the resolution goes first, followed by the government, followed by, in our case, the Third Party. I think that's been accepted tradition.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe I've seen it done all different ways since I have been in this Chair, honourable member for Glace Bay. I don't think there's any written rule. I've seen lots of times where members will get up and want to leave early. I don't think there's any set precedent in this House in regard to that.

MR. WILSON: I will certainly give way to your knowledge and wisdom, Mr. Speaker, on that matter, and many other matters for that matter. We will leave it at that. Let me get on with the subject and the resolution that was put forward. Again, myself and the member for Cape Breton Centre attended a meeting last night of over 400 residents of the area. This is an area that although it's known as Dominion high school, it services a large portion of surrounding areas of Gardiner Mines, Reserve Mines and area, and takes in a catchment area more so than just the actual former Town of Dominion. Of course, all of them being part of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

What we apparently have here is a case of subsidence. For those of you who are not familiar with subsidence, if you live anywhere in the industrial area that is a mining area in Glace Bay and surrounding areas, you know what subsidence is because in the past, all of a sudden huge holes have appeared in roadways. All of a sudden houses are tilting and sinking into the ground and it happens after old mine workings, usually, in the case of the mining communities, old mine workings finally give way. What you have here, when you drive by - and this is the eerie part - when you drive by the MacDonald Complex right now, it looks like a perfectly good, 15-year-old brick structure. You would have no indication whatsoever that you cannot go into that building. But, if you go inside the building, then you will see - and the member for Cape Breton Centre knows that, he toured the building himself - cracks on every wall, you'll see cracks in some instances three-quarters of an inch wide, you'll see cracks wide enough to stick your hand through.

In one corner of the building, it has sunk 14 inches. It sunk 2 inches according to the architectural expert for the school board, it sunk 2 inches from Saturday through to last night's meeting alone, so you know the problem is serious. The problem is serious not only structurally, the problem is serious from a community aspect because this school is more than just a building to that community. As the member for Cape Breton Centre mentioned,

[Page 11098]

MacDonald high school celebrated 50 years, last year. There were over 700 people, I'm told, at a function that they had last year honouring MacDonald high school celebrating its 50th Anniversary. So you can see how far that reaches out into a community and how many people it's touched over the years.

This was a school that ran from Grade 6 to Grade 12. That's practically unheard of in this province these days that you have a school that encompasses Grade 6 to Grade 12 so you get the feeling and you know that this is ripping out a piece of the community's heart right now to see this happen. But what you saw last night was amazing. On Monday night, you saw a number of communities come together offering to help each other through the school board and what you saw were no loud protests or hollering or screaming, build this school, we demand this, we demand that. You saw over 400 people concerned about their children, about the students in that school and what was going to happen, number one, in the interim, that their education was taken care of.

Fortunately, Breton Education Centre in New Waterford has available space to house the MacDonald Complex as one entity. What it does in this case is it allows the MacDonald Complex to maintain its integrity. It stays as the MacDonald Complex, all 300 - I'm not sure of the exact total that will be going to BEC, it will be 200, it's about 340 students in total in the MacDonald Complex, including Grade 6.

What we're left with - and the member for Cape Breton Centre has already touched on this - is now what the community is looking for, they've solved and in a very good fashion, they've solved the immediate problem of where the students go and how we continue their education. Co-operation. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has taken care of that problem.

Now, the long term. What happens? What happens to the school? It will be condemned - I don't think there's any doubt in my mind that's what will happen with that school. I don't see how it can be repaired, but I'm no architect. We'll hope for the best. If it is condemned, what's going to happen? The community is fairly clear about this - the community says we would like another high school built in Dominion. That's the fairly clear consensus that came from last night's meeting.

[6:15 p.m.]

I guess what worries me is, number one, the commitment of this government towards that goal. Number two, I'm also worried about further existing structures in Dominion, Glace Bay, New Waterford and surrounding areas especially public structures that could be facing the same situation. Very easily it could be a school in Glace Bay, a school in New Waterford, a school in other areas and the member for Cape Breton Centre raises a good point. I'm sure as the Speaker knows, subsidence is no new issue to his own riding as well. So we are faced with a problem that perhaps what should be done now is that first of all we should identify

[Page 11099]

the possibility of this happening elsewhere. Let's test, let's find out if this is a possibility. Let's also put in place an immediate action plan so that the MacDonald Complex will be rebuilt.

Mr. Speaker, I have to raise a rather contentious point here and that is one of who's responsible. The responsibility, if indeed it is proven to be subsidence, where does that responsibility lie and, believe me, there has been a lot said in the past about who's responsible for subsidence, who owns the workings underneath? Are they responsible? There would be legal battles I'm sure that would ensue that would last for years to determine the responsibility of who is going to pay, who is going to rebuild.

Mr. Speaker, that community doesn't have that sort of time and I think it would be incumbent upon this government to take the responsibility now for what has happened, not the blame but the responsibility that that school has to be rebuilt at some point in time - the sooner the better. That's what the community, that's what the parents and that's what the students of that facility are now asking, they're demanding. They deserve it, there's no question about it.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I can't impress upon you enough, the sense of community that surrounded us when we were at that meeting. You have, 13 kilometres away in another community, students who we were told last night who are preparing to welcome the new students from the MacDonald Complex and the MacDonald Complex will fit into this facility. It will have its own bell system. Hopefully, eventually it will have its own bus system to bus students back and forth. All of this stuff, as the member for Cape Breton Centre referred to correctly, one student said last night, that it's as if you've had a fire and your neighbour takes you in and it's very nice and it's very comfortable, but it's not home. The students at MacDonald Complex realize that they'll be going and they'll be taken care of in the interim, but it's not home. It's not their school. It's not their gymnasium that they had. It's not the industrial arts facilities that they had at MacDonald high. As one basketball coach pointed out last night, where are they going to practice now for their junior high basketball team at MacDonald high. They have a proud history of a school and students and of a community.

So having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would again call upon the Premier, as we have today, to find out exactly what is happening in this situation, to make a commitment and, most importantly, let's not keep the students and the people involved here hanging. Let's not leave them in limbo for months on end. Let's tell them once and for all what we're going to do to rebuild their school in that community.

[Page 11100]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, it's indeed a pleasure for me to rise here this evening to discuss this motion that has been put before us. I thought as a courtesy that I should allow the other two members, the two local members for Cape Breton, which this issue particularly affects, to speak first for the record.

Mr. Speaker, the families of Dominion are in shock and that should come as no surprise to any of us. Last week their school was closed because of cracks appearing throughout their building. The expansion joints have separated. Pressure points have caused tiles and heaves to split and cracks to occur in all corners in the grout lines and the major concrete blocks. Subsidence so far today has been measured at 14 inches. The Cape Breton Regional School Board cancelled the MacDonald Complex on Thursday and the school remains closed because of safety concerns. Last night the media reports explained that even further. The MacDonald Complex has the proud reputation of being a close-knit community school where the teachers and students promote an environment of mutual respect and a strong spirit of co-operation. Teachers and students identify closely with their school and the schools.

Mr. Speaker, that's simply one of the great Nova Scotia schools and all community schools across this great province do endure a good community spirit. Last night, the two honourable members who were present at that meeting - the member for Glace Bay and the member for Cape Breton Centre - saw for themselves that over 400 concerned people from Dominion attended that public meeting regarding that particular school. At that meeting there were parents, there were students, there were community leaders, there were school board members, municipal representatives, and as well, the two MLAs previously mentioned. They all know what is going on with this particular situation, the school had to be closed because of the environment, in particular, the structural integrity of the building.

The Department of Education has been working with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, to put together the pieces of this particular puzzle, as to what is causing the problems. Subsidence is very quickly the answer but the problem is to what degree does the subsidence occur.

They have heard from Jim Burton, the regional representative of the Department of Education, who was also at that meeting. The school board has brought in experts who are now on the scene to evaluate the rest of the safety of the building, to determine if there is any more risk of subsidence. Right now the area has been taped off and secured to prevent the entry of any unauthorized personnel.

I'm sure they will be doing lots of different geological measurement, trying to see what kind of stability there is to the soil underneath. I'm sure all of that work will be done by the engineers but to date, it has not yet been determined, but they have to get to the degree

[Page 11101]

of severity on where the subsidence might possibly occur. We hope to learn more when they come back with their report by this Friday. This report will also help the board and the Department of Education to make a decision about the future of the facility. What is more important, is that the students are now safe and will continue to learn because of the generosity of their neighbours. Fortunately, the school board was able to find room in the neighbouring schools.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has made arrangements for the displaced Grade 7 to Grade 12 students to attend the Breton Education Centre in New Waterford, on a temporary basis, starting tomorrow. Also, I would like to point out that the resolution that was read today by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, acknowledges the great community support that has endeavoured through this particular experience. They should get a good reception, as the member for Glace Bay has mentioned, that they will be welcomed with open arms. I am very pleased to report that the BEC students are excited about welcoming the displaced students, to try to make their temporary home as comfortable as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I can also speak from personal experience with this particular type of situation, when Graham Creighton Junior High School Cherry Brook-Westphal had to be closed because of environmentally sick buildings. They, too, had to displace their students from the community. They had to attend one year on split shifts at the local high school and then another year in the Gordon Bell Annex. They, too, were a school without a home. They had to wait until the Department of Education came up with a reasonable solution.

These solutions are not easily found and I'm sure when they are found, they will be acted upon quickly. I won't get into a discussion about the construction list and renovation list because I know priorities will shift, when emergencies such as this occur. I'm sure the Department of Education will take all of this in hand, when all of the reports come forward.

Many questions still need to be answered. No one can say what can be done with this building until we know more and those reports will come in very soon, as I have stated earlier.

No one can say yet where the displaced students will take their classes. We know where they will be right now, but in the near future, for next year, what will the arrangements be? Will the arrangement be the same as they are today or will they change to other facilities that may be available in other neighbouring communities. The school board needs more information and the department needs more information but when all the information comes together, I'm sure they will make the best, reasonable decisions that are possible.

I know the members have asked the Premier and minister to attend and see first-hand the situation at Dominion. I'm sure when schedules permit, they will be there as soon as possible. One thing I can say for sure, the education of these students from Dominion is assured and that is the key, that continuing education doesn't stop because the school is

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closed. Education can continue at another facility; even though it may be temporary, it will continue and that is the best thing we can have, to make sure that the education never stops. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much time is left but I did welcome the opportunity to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: A little over four minutes.

MR. MACEWAN: Fine. I would like to agree with all the previous speakers and I would like to say that I, too, share their concern about the situation that is developing in Dominion and hope that it can be satisfactorily addressed. Four and a half minutes does not give you enough time to get into a great lecture on the theme of subsidence, but I can tell you that when I was in Glace Bay during the by-election that elected my friend to my left, I renewed many old friendships at that time. One family I met was the Nightingale family who, at that time, lived at 5 Ryan Street. I read in the paper after the by-election was over that their house had fallen into the ground right up to the eaves. It was buried and everything in it. I don't know if it was lost or not, but their house went down a story or two into the ground. Since that time they've relocated. The house has been dug up out of the ground, moved to a vacant lot at 4 Timmerman Street, which is nearby, and has now been mounted on a new foundation, landscaped with nice grass and a new driveway and so forth. It looks practically like a brand new house, I thought it was a new house, it was so much improved.

That kind of thing can happen in a community where under the ground there are all kinds of old mines, some of which are legal and some of which are not. Perhaps it's the ones that are not legal that create the greater hazard because they're relatively shallow, they're not mapped and nobody really knows where they are until their house falls into the ground.

I'm not wanting to incite any panic of what's happening at MacDonald high. I don't know if it's been scientifically established yet that's the root cause of the problem or not. We know there is a problem, we can say that. It's a very serious problem, and whatever it is I see that the ranks opposite are perhaps not - well, I see my honourable friend, the member for Preston, over there. I'm glad to see you there. I'm glad to see he's interested in this matter. I hope he can take the word of the subject to his colleagues and they can respond in a meaningful and generous way because, no matter what Party is in power, it's the government that is in power that we look to for action on this type of problem.

So, if that's my four and a half minutes, I just wanted to add my general endorsement and there might be another speaker or two who might want to consume whatever time remains. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in this very important debate this evening, a very serious matter.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:27 p.m.]

[Page 11104]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4472

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Lyle Yorke from Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of his furniture/appliance store in Parrsboro that he started in 1962; and

Whereas Lyle Yorke has built House of Yorke Home Furnishings from the ground up as a family business as it still remains today as a friendly and well-known business in Parrsboro; and

Whereas Mr. Yorke has not only built and run this business for 40 years but is also a valued member of the Parrsboro Town Council and has been honoured by the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Lyle Yorke on his 40 years in business and wish him continued success in all his endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4473

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Julie Dormiedy of Oxford, Nova Scotia, is a Canadian champion winning a silver medal in a national 3-D archery shoot held at Osprey Archery Club near Peggy's Cove; and

Whereas Julie's husband, Steven, also competed, placing 38th in a field of 200. The national meet drew over 300 shooters in different classes. Julie competed against 50 other women in her class capturing the silver medal; and

Whereas the Dormiedys enjoy the competitiveness and camaraderie of the sport, they hope to establish an archery club in Oxford hopefully with an indoor range;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Julie Dormiedy for winning a silver medal.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4474

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mitchell Tanner, who will be entering Grade 10 at Parrsboro Regional High School in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, received an award for Honours with Distinction for the school year; and

Whereas Mitchell Tanner has also received this same award for Honours with Distinction for the past two years, making this his third consecutive year for this honour; and

Whereas the friends and family of Mitchell Tanner would like to congratulate him on receiving these awards at Parrsboro Regional High School for the past three consecutive years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mitchell Tanner of Parrsboro for his third consecutive Honours with Distinction Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 4475

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ross Anderson Pharmacy is selling the gift version of the 2003 Old Farmer's Almanac to raise funds for the Springhill Community Project in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the staff of Ross Anderson Pharmacy said that the store's efforts are a means of showing appreciation for the community support it's received over the years; and

Whereas the store has bought 250 books to be sold and all the proceeds are going to the Community Centre Project to help build Springhill's new arena;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ross Anderson Pharmacy for their generous help in raising money to build this new community centre in Springhill.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4476

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Randy Thurber from Oxford, Nova Scotia, shot a hole-in-one at the Springhill Centennial Golf Course in September 2002 on the number three hole at about 125 yards using an eight iron; and

Whereas Mr. Thurber has only been playing the game of golf for two years and has a 36 handicap and was therefore very surprised and excited to sink the hole-in-one on this day; and

Whereas Mr. Thurber claims that the hole-in-one has vastly improved his game and that he enjoys the game even more now and the friends made at the course;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Randy Thurber on his hole-in-one at the Springhill Centennial Golf Course in Springhill, Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 4477

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas David Teed of Kolbeck, Nova Scotia, competed in the 2002 Canadian Special Olympic Summer Games in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; and

Whereas David competed in the 400 metre track event as well as the 200 metre, the shot put and the long jump events in the Canadian Summer Olympics; and

Whereas David has also participated in the Nova Scotia Special Olympics and proudly wears the two silver medals and a gold medal that he won at that event;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate David Teed on his accomplishments in the Nova Scotia and the Canadian Special Olympics and wish him all the luck in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4478

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the River Hebert Raiders captured second place in the annual Scotiabank Classic soccer tournament on their home field in River Hebert being edged out only by Lockeport; and

Whereas their coach, Mr. Rick Rhodes, said he was pleased with the boys' effort, saying that they played a great game and they accomplished what they wanted to do in the tournament; and

Whereas Rhodes said that he was impressed with the competitiveness of the tournament saying that all teams were evenly matched and that three of the teams had to travel far to play;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rick Rhodes and his River Hebert Raiders for their second place win in the annual Scotiabank soccer tournament.

RESOLUTION NO. 4479

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Sgt. Kenneth Smith (retired) was presented the prestigious NATO and Peacekeeper Medals for his tours of duty in Germany and Cyprus; and

Whereas Mr. Smith served in Germany with NATO between 1964 and 1968 and two tours in Cyprus, December 1970 to May 1971 and April 1974 to September 1974; and

Whereas Mr. Smith joined the forces in London, Ontario, in 1963 and retired in 1994 and has received his Peacekeepers Medals from Chief Warrant Officer David Rushton of the Royal Canadian Navy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sgt. Kenneth Smith for receiving the prestigious NATO and Peacekeeper Medals for his tours of duty in Germany and Cyprus and thank him for serving and protecting this country.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4480

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Parrsboro Regional Elementary School students saw Thanksgiving as an opportunity to collect non-perishable food items and donate them to the Parrsboro and Area Food Bank; and

Whereas the students were thoughtful and thankful for all that their families had and took it upon themselves to think of others less fortunate than themselves; and

Whereas the students of the Parrsboro Regional Elementary School volunteered their time and effort over the Thanksgiving Day weekend to collect food from others to better their community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students of Parrsboro Regional Elementary School for their volunteer efforts on Thanksgiving Day weekend and wish them the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4481

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Melanie Bowden and the Parrsboro Regional High School Students Council raised funds for the Canadian Cancer Society by selling Lifesavers candy in the school lobby during lunch hour; and

Whereas Melanie felt a need to do something to honour the memory of her Aunt Jennifer Berry who passed away from cancer earlier this year in Parrsboro; and

Whereas with the help of teacher Cheryl Johnson, Melanie and the student council came up with the idea to sell Lifesavers and have the buyer's name printed on a cardboard Lifesaver and placed in the lobby window of the high school to help raise over $300 for the Canadian Cancer Society;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Melanie Bowden and the members of the Parrsboro Regional High School for their dedication and effort and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4482

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley is noted worldwide for its apple production; and

Whereas each year apple growers work hard not just on ensuring the current year's crop is a good one but also on investigating new additions for their markets; and

Whereas Honey Crisp is a new variety offering a different taste and texture which, while developed in Minnesota, performs well in our climate and is bringing Nova Scotia growers such a premium price, a welcome addition to any farm;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish this province's apple growers all the best as they strive for excellence each year with a product signature to our Valley area and congratulate those in the business who are always working to expand on a good thing.