Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-124

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

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Electoral Boundaries: Lun. Co. Communities -
Changes Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 11516
UNESCO - Biosphere Reserve: Col. Co. - Inclusion Oppose,
Mr. W. Langille 11516
PRESENTING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:^
Tourism & Culture - NSLC Agency Store Review,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11517
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4688, Seal Island Bridge - Project Team: Efforts - Acknowledge,
Hon. R. Russell 11517
Vote - Affirmative 11518
Res. 4689, NSAC - Autumn Assembly (2002): Scholarships/Business -
Recipients/Donors Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 11518
Vote - Affirmative 11518
Res. 4690, Tourism & Culture - Tourism (N.S.): Success - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11518
Vote - Affirmative 11519
Res. 4691, Agric. & Fish. - Farmers (N.S.): Progress - Recognize,
Hon. E. Fage 11519
Vote - Affirmative 11520
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4692, Agric. & Fish. - Pork Producers: Cash Flow Crisis - Resolve,
Mr. D. Downe 11521
Res. 4693, Lunenburg Foundry - Kinley Fam./Employees: Involvement -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 11522
Vote - Affirmative 11522
Res. 4694, Enfield Vol. FD - Anniv. (45th): Organizers/Participants/
Award Recipients - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 11522
Vote - Affirmative 11523
Res. 4695, Hyslop, Donald: Caring Can. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 11523
Vote - Affirmative 11524
Res. 4696, Pictou Co. Firefighters Assoc. - Fire Prevention: Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. J. DeWolfe 11524
Vote - Affirmative 11525
Res. 4697, Commun. Serv. - Seniors' Complexes: Non-Seniors -
Placement Cease, Mr. J. Pye 11525
Res. 4698, Fowler, Barbara Adelaide: Caring Can. Award - Congrats.,
Dr. J. Smith 11526
Vote - Affirmative 11527
Res. 4699, Third Party Leader - Plan: Nova Scotians - Expectations,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 11527
Res. 4700, Luke, Grace - Art Promotion: Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 11527
Vote - Affirmative 11528
Res. 4701, Bartlett, Dr. Cheryl/Research Team - Research Chair:
Grant - Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 11528
Vote - Affirmative 11529
Res. 4702, DeCoste Entertainment Ctr.: Anniv. (200th) - Congrats.,
Mrs. M. Baillie 11529
Vote - Affirmative 11530
Res. 4703, NSTU: Golden Leaf Awards - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 11530
Vote - Affirmative 11530
Res. 4704, Gandy, Bruce: Highland Soc. of London Gold Medal -
Congrats., Hon. T. Olive 11530
Vote - Affirmative 11531
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1266, Health - Nursing Homes: Entrance - Ins. Policies Seizure,
Mr. D. Dexter 11534
No. 1267, Educ. - Millennium Scholarship Prog.: Plans - Details,
Mr. D. Wilson 11536
No. 1268, Environ. & Lbr. - Sparkling Springs: Purchase - Details,
Mr. H. Epstein 11537
No. 1269, Educ. - Post-Secondary: Funding/Tuition - Status Explain,
Mr. D. Wilson 11539
No. 1270, Health - Nursing Home: Entrance - Asset Seizure,
Mr. D. Dexter 11540
No. 1271, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses/Women's Ctrs.:
Reform Prog. - Details Table, Mr. W. Gaudet 11542
No. 1272, FOIPOP - Fees: Increase - Reasons Explain, Mr. K. Deveaux 11543
No. 1273, Health - Authorities: Funding Reduction - Benefits Explain,
Dr. J. Smith 11544
No. 1274, Econ. Dev. - N.Y. Trip: Accommodation - Explain,
Mr. K. Deveaux 11546
No. 1275, Agric. & Fish. - Pork Ind. Crisis: Assistance - Refusal Explain,
Mr. D. Downe 11547
No. 1276, Environ. & Lbr. - Chisholm, John/Nova Const.:
Site Cleanup - Time Frame, Mr. H. Epstein 11549
No. 1277, Health: EHS Billing - Details, Mr. K. MacAskill 11550
No. 1278, Environ. & Lbr. - Harrietsfield: Concerns - Plan Details,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 11551
No. 1279, Health - Nurse Practitioners: Physician Recruitment - Effects,
Mr. M. Samson 11552
No. 1280, Environ. & Lbr. - Tobeatic Wilderness Area:
Quartz Mine/Kaolin Mine - Damage Differential, Mr. H. Epstein 11554
No. 1281, WCB - Dorsey Report: Recommendations - Status,
Mr. P. MacEwan 11555
No. 1282, Educ. - Loan Remission Prog.: Rescission - Explain,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 11557
No. 1283, Immigration - Prog. (N.S.): Details - Release Time Frame,
Mr. B. Boudreau 11558
No. 1284, Environ. & Lbr. - Butler Lands: Containment Cell - Details,
Mr. G. Steele 11560
No. 1285, Fin. - N.S. Pension Plans: Losses - Details, Mr. D. Downe 11561
No. 1286, Agric. & Fish. - Boudreau, Stan: NISA Account -
Adequacy, Mr. J. MacDonell 11562
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 141, Freedom of Information and Protection of
Privacy Act 11563
Mr. M. Samson 11563
Hon. J. Muir 11567
Mr. B. Taylor 11569
Mr. K. Deveaux 11570
Mr. G. Steele 11573
Mr. D. Wilson 11574
Hon. P. Christie 11575
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 4532, Remembrance Day - Statutory Holiday:
All-Party - Comm. Form, Mr. D. Downe 11578
Mr. D. Downe 11578
Mr. W. Langille 11581
Mr. R. Hurlburt 11583
Mr. W. Estabrooks 11584
Mr. Manning MacDonald 11587
Hon. D. Morse 11590
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Communities (N.S.) - Strengthen: Measures - Support:
Mr. M. Parent 11594
Mr. W. Estabrooks 11596
Mr. P. MacEwan 11599
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 14th at 12:00 noon 11601
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4705, Pennell, Pastor Larry/New Life Church: Anniv. (25th) -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 11602
Res. 4706, Davis, Mark - REALbasic developer: Publication -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 11602
Res. 4707, Richards, Michelle - Can. Surfboard Championship:
Accomplishments - Congrats., Mr. M Samson 11603
Res. 4708, Telile - Staff/Bd.: Isle Madame - Dedication Congrats.,
Mr. M. Samson 11603
Res. 4709, Macdonald, Ronald St. John: Order of Can. (Companion) -
Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 11604
Res. 4710, Southampton Vol. FD - Service Award (20 yrs./25 yrs.):
Recipients - Congrats., The Speaker 11604
Res. 4711, Wheaton, Vivian: Dutch Medal of Remembrance
(G.E. Wheaton) - Congrats., The Speaker 11605
Res. 4712, Reid, Ralph/Mills, Craig: Dutch Medal of Remembrance -
Congrats., The Speaker 11605
Res. 4713, Boon, Mark - Stained Glass: RCL - Donation Congrats.,
The Speaker 11606
Res. 4714, Scopie, Larry - PSC: Long-Service Award (25 yrs.) -
Congrats., The Speaker 11606
Res. 4715, Leger, Douglas - PSC: Long-Service Award (25 yrs.) -
Congrats., The Speaker 11607
Res. 4716, MacDonald, Valerie (Ruddick): Queen's Golden
Jubilee Medal - Congrats., The Speaker 11607
Res. 4717, Springhill Elem. Schs. - Remembrance Day Services:
Efforts - Congrats., The Speaker 11608
Res. 4718, Westchester Vol. FD - Medal Presentations: Recipients -
Congrats., The Speaker 11609
Res. 4719, Westchester Vol. FD: Anniv. (30th) - Congrats., The Speaker 11609

[Page 11515]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The point of order is of particular historical significance to the people of Nova Scotia and of Canada and the world, I believe. Today at noon hour, I attended the book launch of a book called Hockey's Home - Halifax Dartmouth - The Origin of Canada's Game written by Martin Jones. I would not want this to appear as being divisive in Cabinet but I have a copy here signed, To Ron Russell, Regards from Hockey's Home by the author, Martin Jones. I would like to present this to the honourable House Leader and also advise you, Mr. Speaker, that I have placed a copy on behalf of the government in the provincial Legislative Library for anybody to peruse. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I mean the new chum on the block with Hockey's Home - Halifax-Dartmouth, the puck stops here. (Laughter) I don't know if you've read that book but I will make sure you have a copy. (Laughter)

11515

[Page 11516]

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, neither points are points of order but certainly well received by the House. The record will show that the honourable Government House Leader did receive the book.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 160 residents of Lunenburg West. 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) . . ."

Mr. Speaker, this brings a total of over 1,086 signed petitions in regard to this position, and I have affixed my signature to these petitions as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition of 337 citizens of Economy, Bass River, Five Islands, Upper and Lower Economy. The operative clause reads, "We the residents of . . .", the places I mentioned, ". . . oppose being included in an UNESCO biosphere reserve. We ask our elected representatives, of all levels of government, to oppose having a biosphere in our part of the country. We, the residents, demand that . . .", the mentioned communities, ". . . be excluded from the proposed UNESCO biosphere reserve."

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has signed?

MR. LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, I haven't signed the petition, but I will.

MR. SPEAKER: Note the honourable member has affixed his signature to the petition.

The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

[Page 11517]

PRESENTING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation Agency Store Review.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 4688

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

Whereas this government is investing $13 million dollars over three years to replace the entire deck of the Seal Island Bridge in Victoria County; and

Whereas this project will be completed next year thanks to the professional efforts of department staff and private contractors; and

Whereas the Seal Island Bridge deck project was recently featured as a success story on a national construction industry Web site;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the hard work and professionalism of the project team, especially those in Cape Breton, for their efforts. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 11518]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 4689

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Agricultural College rewards students for leadership, academics, involvement in activities, and many other accomplishments during its annual Autumn Assembly; and

Whereas during the 2002 Autumn Assembly held on October 23rd, the college gave out more than $700,000 in scholarships and bursaries to 235 students; and

Whereas these investments in the next generation could not be possible without the generous donations of private corporations, individuals, governments and other agencies;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Agricultural College students who strive for excellence in academics and college life, recognize the generous donors who make these bursaries and scholarships possible, and commend the Nova Scotia Agricultural College for its ongoing support for teaching and supporting tomorrow's leaders.

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. 4690

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

[Page 11519]

Whereas Nova Scotia's tourism industry is a major economic driver in this province, contributing $1.22 billion in revenues last year; and

Whereas this year visitation was up 4 per cent to the end of September, and room nights were also up 4 per cent; and

Whereas all players in tourism work very hard to make this $1 billion-plus industry the success that it is;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the continued success of tourism in Nova Scotia and congratulate the province's tourism industry for working together to grow tourism for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 4691

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

Whereas local, national and international food consumers are becoming more and more concerned about the conditions under which their food is produced and the impact that food production has on their environment; and

Whereas a group of 10 apple growers in the Annapolis Valley are voluntarily using an orchard management system called integrated fruit production to limit the impact of apple production on the water, soil and air; and

[Page 11520]

Whereas the guidelines for using the integrated fruit production model includes such things as better pest monitoring, using biological methods to eliminate pests, and conducting more regular soil and leaf analysis, which has proven to reduce pesticide use and costs and increase food quality;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the progress Nova Scotia farmers are making to become better stewards of their environment through better management methods resulting in consumers being more confident in the way their food is produced.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

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

Whereas the Hamm Government ran on the pledge that "Our seniors are those members of our community who have contributed to making our Nova Scotian society the wonderful place it is and who now have a right to live their remaining years in comfort, security and with the best possible health and quality of life."; and

Whereas the draconian policies employed by this Minister of Health to wring every cent out of every senior to pay for their long-term care are merely a fine tuning of policies brought in by the previous Liberal Government, a government equally caring of Nova Scotia seniors; and

[Page 11521]

Whereas seniors who seriously want these harsh measures removed should be very careful then of Liberals who coo sweet pledges in their ears that all will be well if you elect us;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Liberal and Tory benches in this House that pledges to care for seniors are more than mere words mouthed at election time, but a trust to do what is best for them, such as ending the unfair seizing of their savings to pay for their long-term care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion was a bit long.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4692

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

Whereas despite thoughtful presentations and concrete proposals from our province's hog producers, the Minister of Agriculture refuses to listen; and

Whereas despite trying to spin a positive message, the current government has done very little to assist the agricultural community, including the 1,500 Nova Scotians who rely on the pork industry for employment; and

Whereas some government backbenchers and Cabinet Ministers have been silent on the issue and have only spoken when they have been forced to in an emergency debate;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House encourage the Agriculture Minister and those Tory backbenchers to work with the Nova Scotia pork industry to resolve the current cash flow crisis in the pork industry.

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.

[Page 11522]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 4693

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering Limited has been servicing the fishing industry in Atlantic Canada since 1891, with a widespread reputation for products fit to withstand the perilous North Atlantic; and

Whereas Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering Limited was an early pioneer in the development of a marine internal combustion engine and, in 1921, was the first industrial marine company in Canada to incorporate a diesel engine into a fishing schooner; and

Whereas the Honourable J. James Kinley compiled a history of the Lunenburg Foundry in the late 1960s as part of another celebration of Lunenburg's heritage, and the history of the foundry was celebrated on October 30, 2002, with the release of the book entitled Casting a Legend - The Story of the Lunenburg Foundry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Kinley family and all of the employees, past and present, of the Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering Limited for their involvement with the foundry, and Karin Cope and Marike Finlay-de Monchy on their recent publication.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4694

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

[Page 11523]

Whereas Nova Scotians have long been known for their hospitable spirit, their compassion for others, and their history of giving; and

Whereas on Saturday, October 19th, the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department held its annual awards banquet celebrating 45 years of service to the residents of Enfield and surrounding district; and

Whereas recognition was paid to Mr. Borden (Bordie) Oakley of Enfield for 40 years of commitment to the Enfield fire service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the organizers, participants and the award recipients of the 45th Anniversary of the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department, and in particular congratulate Mr. Borden Oakley for his 40 years of commitment to the department and his community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 4695

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

Whereas while touring Nova Scotia, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson presented Donald Hyslop of Kingston with the Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas the Caring Canadian Awards are given to Canadians who see the need for something and fill the void without being asked; and

Whereas Mr. Hyslop had spent 25 years contributing to the extracurricular activities at his school, in addition to founding a Gaelic choir, organizing concerts and fairs, volunteering with minor sports for 30 years, and serving the Kinsman Club for 20 years;

[Page 11524]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate Mr. Hyslop for receiving the Caring Canadian Award and thank him for giving so much of his time to community involvement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4696

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

Whereas the Linacy and Trenton Fire Departments in Pictou County are just two of the county departments who have taken a new step in fire protection, this one designed for the hearing impaired; and

Whereas the two departments have ordered a total of three visual smoke alarms, which provide a bright strobe light when activated instead of the normal piercing sound emitted by a regular smoke detector; and

Whereas the new visual alarms cost approximately $300 apiece and are the first three for hearing-impaired residents of Pictou County after the Pictou County Firefighters Association was briefed by the Adaptive Technology and Innovation Centre of Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature recognize and applaud the Pictou County Firefighters Association for its continued efforts in fire prevention and its members' willingness to assist the hearing impaired.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11525]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4697

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

Whereas seniors throughout our province have worked hard and long to make this province what it is today and are more than deserving of living their remaining years in an environment that affords them safety, comfort, and the companionship of people their own age; and

Whereas this government is placing non-seniors in seniors' facilities because it has made cutbacks in and downloaded services and closed facilities, never minding that seniors' facilities were not designed to be a suitable replacement for those non-seniors' abandoned programs and facilities; and

Whereas seniors who share these buildings with non-seniors face disruption and stress in their everyday lives and have asked this government to end the practice of forcing non-seniors to live in inappropriate facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier acknowledge his duty to the seniors of our province by instructing the Minister of Community Services to abandon his housing policy of inappropriate placing of non-seniors in seniors' complexes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 11526]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4698

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

Whereas while touring Nova Scotia, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson presented Barbara Adelaide Fowler of Truro (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber and it is very difficult to hear the speaker.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East, would you start over again, please.

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

Whereas while touring Nova Scotia, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson presented Barbara Adelaide Fowler of Truro with the Caring Canadian Award; and

Whereas the Caring Canadian Awards are given to Canadians who see the need for something and simply go out and do what needs to be done; and

Whereas Ms. Fowler has served on the Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester, has spent 20 years working to help people with disabilities, volunteering at fundraisers for disabled; seniors bus service; purchasing technical aids and medication for those in need;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate Ms. Fowler for her Caring Canadian Award and for giving so much to her community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 11527]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 4699

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

Whereas the Leader of the Third Party described the government's business-like approach to the rail issue as fluffy ideas; and

Whereas this is the same Leader who stated that Nova Scotians should wait up to 40 years for prosperity under a Danny Graham Government; and

Whereas this is the same Leader who refused his own Party's offer for him to represent the people of urban Cape Breton in the House of Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the seatless Leader of the Third Party that although Danny can wait 40 years to put forward real solutions, Nova Scotians expect a real plan now.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4700

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

Whereas Grace Luke, a resident of Cole Harbour is a local artist who is committed to promoting the work of other local artists; and

Whereas Ms. Luke has operated the Grace Art Gallery on Durham Way in Colby Village for several years and has used the gallery to highlight the works of local artists; and

Whereas Ms. Luke is committed to exhibiting the work of local young people in the gallery;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Grace Luke on her efforts to promote local artists and on the opening of the Fall Art Show at the Grace Art Gallery on Saturday, November 16, 2002.

[Page 11528]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 4701

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

Whereas the prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair has been granted to Dr. Cheryl Bartlett, Professor of Biology at UCCB for Integrative Science Research, this is the first time UCCB has received an award of this magnitude; and

Whereas Dr. Bartlett and the Integrative Science Research team, including Associate Chair Bernie Francis, Rod Beresford, Thomas Bouman and Michael Milburn conduct research combining information from both Aboriginal and western sources which is globally unique; and

Whereas Dr. Bartlett's abilities to entice young minds and encourage her students towards scientific careers by combining traditional scientific methods and research with the cultural awareness of the planet;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate Dr. Bartlett and her team for this accomplishment and wish them success in their studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 11529]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4702

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

Whereas the culture sector, one of the fastest growing sectors in Nova Scotia, valued at more than $800 million a year, is a vital part of our economy, as well as an important part of the lives of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Pictou's deCoste Entertainment Centre is celebrating 20 years as a leader in the cultural community, providing a venue for local performers and internationally . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MRS. BAILLIE: . . providing a venue for local performers and internationally renowned entertainers to exhibit their talents; and

Whereas Rita MacNeil, kd Lang, the Rankin Family, Frank Mills, the B.B.C. Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Mamas and the Papas, the Barra MacNeils, Ashley MacIsaac, John Allen Cameron, Mr. Dressup, Valdy, and Natalie MacMaster have all graced the stage of the deCoste Entertainment Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the deCoste Entertainment Centre on its 20th Anniversary and express our appreciation for its continued efforts to provide a venue for and to promote culture in Pictou County. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 11530]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 4703

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

Whereas the Canadian Educational Press Association recently held its annual meeting in Vancouver; and

Whereas CEPA has set the standards for educational publishing for over 40 years, providing the opportunity for networking as well as professional development; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Teachers Union was the recipient of two Golden Leaf Awards for its "Afghanistan Return of Learning" campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Teachers Union on this recognition and wish it luck at next year's Canadian Educational Press Association annual meeting.

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. 4704

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

[Page 11531]

Whereas since 1781 the Highland Society of London's gold medal awarded in Inverness, Scotland, has been regarded by bagpipers worldwide as a most prestigious honour because of its history and because it is one in which a piper is allowed to win only once in a lifetime; and

Whereas Dartmouth resident, Bruce Gandy, who is also principal piping instructor at the Halifax School of Piping and Drumming and a member of the 78th Highlanders Halifax Citadel Pipes and Drums, has been competing for the coveted medal for 20 years; and

Whereas Mr. Gandy recently returned from competition in Scotland with the honour of winning the society's gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud and congratulate Mr. Gandy for persevering towards this esteemed honour, which has also been bestowed upon Nova Scotia, and for upholding what the Scottish say is a Nova Scotian tradition of "being better at being Scottish than the Scottish themselves".

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.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I am rising on a point of privilege. Mr. Speaker, as I take a look around at the government benches, I see that approximately 50 per cent of the Cabinet Ministers are not in this House. This House meets very infrequently and the amount of work that is actually being conducted in this House, last year, last Fall, we had the shortest session ever; this fall plans to be even less. When I take a look at the government benches and I see the ministers who are absent, who are supposed to be here to be held accountable, sometimes often without even being notified, it makes it impossible for this House to operate in a proper efficient manner.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you to rule on whether or not the ministers, the numbers of the ministers who are absent, that that really is a breach of the privilege of this House and surely to heavens, when we meet so infrequently, they can arrange their schedules in such a manner that they can be here for a few weeks to answer the questions that Nova Scotians deserve to have answers to. It is, as a colleague points out, three days a week for a

[Page 11532]

few short weeks. This is an affront to have this many benches - I'm not supposed to mention who's absent so I won't list the names of all of the individual Cabinet Ministers from the Premier on down, but this is an affront to democracy and to the way this House is supposed to operate.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on the same point of privilege, the member for Lunenburg West, yesterday, brought this matter to your attention, and you suggested that perhaps if we felt strongly enough about it that we would bring the matter here today. I guess the Leader of the NDP must have been listening to the conversation, but he is right. I can only tell you that we are extremely disappointed. Since this House started there have been ministers regularly absent from Question Period, and it points out the contempt that this government has for the democratic process in this country and in this province.

Ministers are out, all over country, in the last couple of weeks, going here and going there for every conceivable reason, so they won't have to be in the House. Again, I believe the Premier has been out two or three times, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, our Party is fed up with trying to put an agenda together for Question Period and finding out at the last minute that ministers aren't going to be here. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the business of government must go on whether the House is sitting or not. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the business of government must go on, and unfortunately this year it seems there have been an unending number of out-of-town commitments by ministers. (Interruptions) There are, I know, three ministers on their way here at the present time. Hopefully they will be here shortly. The Opposition were made aware of the absence of the ministers, so therefore for the House Leader of the Liberal Party to say that you had to set your agenda without knowing who was going to be here, I would suggest that he was aware of which ministers would be away on what dates.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, a couple of points that the Government House Leader made just have to be responded to. First of all, he said the business of government

[Page 11533]

must go on. Well, that is implying that this Government House Leader and this government don't consider this Legislature as important government business. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, being accountable to the people for your actions is some of the most important, if not the most important, business of government. Secondly, the minister points out that members of the Opposition are informed that ministers are going to be absent. That is often the case, but the point is, they are informed, they are told that the ministers are going to be absent from the House. That doesn't mean that we then have an opportunity to ask questions of those ministers. Simply saying that you're not going to be here is a great way to duck responsibility to answer your questions.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. I would just like to say that the past practice here in the Legislature has been that when a minister was out of the province, there would be an acting minister appointed in his position or her position by Order in Council. The acting minister would be identified to the House and prepared to answer questions on behalf of his or her minister who is absent. That is the past practice here, sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, further to the point made by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, that is still the practice and it is still being observed by this government. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. It is my understanding that past practice of this House has been that when a minister will be absent from the House that both Opposition Parties and the Speaker will be advised of the absence of that minister from the House and, I believe, as well, in that person's absence, who is appointed in their place. It does make it difficult to carry on the business of the House, particularly Question Period when questions are deferred for another answer, for another time. My understanding is the honourable Government House Leader says there are two issues. One is that there are replacements named, and the second is that there are three ministers on their way here. Is it the wish of the House to (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable Government House Leader indicated there are three Cabinet Ministers on their way at this time.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there are ministers on their way here. I don't know what time they will be here exactly. There is one out in the lobby at the present time, being scrummed. Another minister is on his way here from Truro, automobile and another minister is flying in - he's been out of the province and he will be flying in this afternoon. I don't know what time he will be here exactly, but he will be in the House some time this afternoon.

[Page 11534]

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I can help the Deputy Premier out in that regard. We did get a notice from the Premier. He will be here after 5:00 p.m. today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

Order, please. Are there any other ministers on their way here now who will be here for Question Period?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: The other ministers . . .

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs is not here this afternoon. As the critic, I was not notified if anybody would participate . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader, are there any other ministers on their way here who will be here for Question Period? Or is this what we have?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I can't answer that question, Mr. Speaker. I do know that one minister was at a conference this morning in Truro and he's driving back to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He's here.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Oh, he's here now. Okay. The rest are away and the Opposition has been duly notified.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:42 p.m. and will end at 4:12 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES:

ENTRANCE - INS. POLICIES SEIZURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is for the Minister of Health. The Premier has assured Nova Scotians that last Spring the Conservatives began working to change the financial assessment of nursing home residents because it is wrong to make vulnerable

[Page 11535]

seniors pay for their own health care. Yet, our office has learned that government officials met very recently with the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors to make sure it is absolutely clear that the government becomes the beneficiary of whole life policies held by people entering a nursing home. Nova Scotians want to know whether or not the Premier's assurance was just empty words. My question is, will the Health Minister explain why his officials are spreading the word that his government will seize the money saved in life insurance policies by those who must enter a nursing home?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I want to assure everybody that there's one person who sits in this House whose words are not empty, and that is those of our Premier.

MR. DEXTER: It's disgraceful when a minister won't reply to a question asked so very directly. This goes directly to the credibility of this government. The Premier has given his word. He said what the Conservatives are doing is wrong and that they're going to change it. Now we want to know whether or not they are just stalling for time and fostering a false belief in the seniors that they will no longer be forced to spend their life savings to pay for health care they receive in nursing homes. I want to ask the minister, why were your officials at the Westin Hotel on October 31st telling the industry that life insurance proceeds will be confiscated?

MR. MUIR: Continuing care has been a priority of the Department of Health for the last three years and I want to tell you there's no more way that's been evident, the fact that since 1999-2000 the home care budget has increased by $34 million or 40 per cent. Since 1999-2000, the long-term budget has been increased by $56 million or 38 per cent.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, government officials were very clear, if nursing home residents have a whole life policy, they must turn it over the government. If the residents have a term life insurance, they are told to stop paying the premiums. Insurance agents say they now have a responsibility to advise their clients of this situation. Will the Health Minister explain how the Premier can say this is wrong when the machinery of government is grinding away, making sure they get every last cent?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the home care budget is $121 million annually and the long-term care budget is $204 million annually. The advancements that have taken place in the continuing care sector for the past three years have been exceptional and we are very proud of them.

[Page 11536]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - MILLENNIUM SCHOLARSHIP PROG.: PLANS - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister continuously promises that she has a debt relief plan for post-secondary university students but the students in this province know better. The same minister is now ignoring the Millennium Scholarship Foundation's contract by not reinvesting displaced student financial assistance dollars back to our post-secondary students. Instead, the minister scrapped the Loan Remission Program. Because of this, the students in this province fear that the federal government will pull out of that program now, leaving students even more financially burdened. The foundation is indeed considering pulling out of this program in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, has the Millennium Scholarship Foundation indicated to you or your department that it is contemplating pulling the program out of Nova Scotia?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, unlike what the member opposite just said, we did not lower financial assistance to students when we came into office. The budget for student assistance continues to go up. That aside, he's correct, we did end the Loan Remission Program and we do have plans for a new student debt relief program.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well we've been hearing that same answer for the last two years. The minister has an obligation under this agreement to report to the foundation how they plan to reinvest provincial student assistance displaced by the foundation's bursaries. Nova Scotia is the only province that refuses to report that information. Instead, the minister put the millennium foundation in a position where it has to go to the students of this province and explain that it wants to help the students and work with them. For a minister who says she's concerned about the students of Nova Scotia, she sure has an interesting way of showing them that she cares.

My question to the minister is, the longer she waits to meet with the executive director of the millennium foundation, the more stress she places on the students of the province. Can the minister explain why she is refusing to meet with the executive director to address this situation?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge I have not refused to meet with this person. The deputy minister and officials in my department are in relatively frequent contact with members of the Millennium Scholarship Foundation and if what the member opposite said is true, then certainly I will find out and do what I can to correct it. To the best of my knowledge, at this point, what he is saying has no basis in fact.

[Page 11537]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, indeed from the executive director of the millennium foundation himself, this government, that minister, has refused to meet with them regarding this issue. The minister can say all she wants about this government helping students. What this government has actually done for the past three years is used the Millennium Scholarship Fund as an excuse to eliminate its own much-needed bursary portion of the Provincial Student Assistance Program. As a matter of fact, this minister, over the last three years, has picked the pockets of students in this province to the tune of $6.8 million.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay, that is unparliamentary and I ask you to withdraw it, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will retract that comment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay on your final supplementary only, please.

MR. WILSON: The fact is over $6 million has been taken and the minister has not reported where the money has gone. My final supplementary to the minister is, where is that $6.8 million? Will the minister commit here today to give the students of this province back their $6 million, so that they can get the education they deserve?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this has been discussed in estimates for the past three years. Where that money has gone is into money that is not spent, it is not hidden anywhere, and it is not hiding anywhere. The member opposite is right, we have tried to make savings and we have tried to make priority investments, and we will continue to do so. For so many universities to appear in the top 10 list of Maclean's, the students in Nova Scotia are receiving an excellent education. I wish tuition were not so high. The quality of education is not the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - SPARKLING SPRINGS: PURCHASE - DETAILS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Environment and Labour, yesterday Sparkling Springs was purchased by a French multinational company, Danone. This French company now has access to freshwater resources in Nova Scotia. Freshwater resources are a very valuable commodity; in fact, that company had $100 million in sales in North America last year. It has come to light, due to the focus on that sale, that the province charges Danone just $50 per year in royalties for access to this valuable resource.

[Page 11538]

Mr. Speaker, what I wish to know from the Minister of Environment and Labour is this, why are you charging just $50 per year for a valuable resource that contributes so significantly to generating more than $100 million in revenues? Is that your version of a fair return for Nova Scotians?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as with any natural resource - and water is definitely a precious one and that is why we came out with the drinking water strategy - Nova Scotians benefit by the creation of jobs. In this case, I understand there are 120 jobs that have been created by Sparkling Springs, and that is truly the dividend that's enjoyed by Nova Scotians.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this whole subject seems to come as complete news to the minister who, just 15 minutes ago, had to call his departmental officials to find out if what he was being told by the press was in fact accurate. Let me give him some other statistics that he might like to know. HRM, which in fact has a water system, pays $17,000 a year for the water it extracts; Nova Scotia Power pays $784,000 per year for the water it extracts; and LeFarge pays $335,000. Yet Danone, and several other water bottling companies, pay just around $50. What I want to know is, doesn't the minister think that it's time he created some new categories for fees for extraction of groundwater in this province?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. In essence, there is a recognition in the fee structure that those water consumers, such as the large ones as the Halifax Regional Water Utility, also places like Nova Scotia Power, and some of the large pulp and paper companies that withdraw more than 23,000 litres per day, do pay a larger fee. What the member is suggesting is that we should perhaps look at more thresholds by which to charge an incremental fee for smaller consumers. It's nice to see the member opposite feel that we should be increasing these fees, and we will take it under advisement.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is struggling not only with his answer, but he's struggling to put in place a comprehensive water strategy for the Province of Nova Scotia. Indeed, I am suggesting to him that it is time to put in place a different fee schedule. That's exactly what I said. The 23,000 litres per day is 8.3 million litres per year. That's a lot of water to extract in a time when water is indeed a much more valuable commodity. What I want to know from the minister is whether he's going to deal with this question now and put in place fair rates as part of his revision of Nova Scotia's water strategy, is he going to do it now?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it's nice to hear that the member opposite recognizes the importance of our drinking water strategy. It would have been nice if he had showed up for the announcement in Antigonish on October 17th. With regard to, in essence, the royalties that are paid on this particular resource which is a precious one, one that we have recognized by the introduction of the drinking water strategy, the question becomes should we be looking at a different royalty regime? Right now, for instance, in the offshore we have a

[Page 11539]

royalty regime. Ottawa gets to keep the royalty. Is that right? Well, I'm not sure that's correct and that's why we had the Campaign for Fairness, but we get a lot of jobs from that and we get jobs from the water, from bottled drinking water (Interruptions) This is the dividend that Nova Scotians receive from this business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - POST-SECONDARY:

FUNDING/TUITION - STATUS EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad that my first question sparked the Minister of Education to say that everything is fine with the millennium fund and student debt load in this province. I think we've all heard by now about the government's corporate plan and how it's supposed to be working. Post-secondary education is a good example because this government says it has a plan for the student debt level in this province. Funding to universities in the province has not increased in two years and by taking into account rising costs, that represents a significant decrease in provincial support for universities in this province under that government. This government's attitude to post-secondary education funding comes at a cost to the students who now have the highest debt levels in the country.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, if this government has a plan, can it explain how Nova Scotia has the distinction of having the highest post-secondary tuition and the lowest rate of provincial government contributions in the country?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can give a long answer or a short answer and my short answer is too many years of Liberal Government in the 1990s.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, that is another prime example of the arrogance that that minister shows the students of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is a fine example. It's that minister's Tory blue book and the Progressive Conservative Government that lists 10 promises for post-secondary education, but virtually all of them have never been implemented or they have simply been ignored by that government - further proof that the government and that minister don't have a plan for the students. We need only refer to the corporate plan again. Post-secondary education gets only a passing mention. It's even included as part of their five priorities for education.

My second question to the minister is, since they say that they have a plan and that it's working - the minister is quite flippant about that - can this minister explain how this government has improved the situation for students who are trying to access a post-secondary education in this province over the last three years?

[Page 11540]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, if you talk to anyone who knows anything about accessibility at universities, you will know that the accessibility at the universities in Nova Scotia is still very high. Yes, we do have the highest tuition in the country and that is not something to brag about, but our quality of education is very fine. Only 50 per cent of students attending the universities do have student loans at all and, yes, there are some with very high levels of debt and we have a plan to address it. I never said that it was working levels of debt and we have a plan to address it. I never said, Mr. Speaker, that it was working because we haven't introduced it yet, obviously.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. WILSON: So, Mr. Speaker, what the minister is saying is that that ship has just been drifting for the last three years. Absolutely no plan whatsoever. The minister can say she has improved the situation for students but it's the facts that speak louder than the minister ever will. Under this minister and this government, we find that Nova Scotia now has the highest tuition in the country. Students attending universities are graduating with the highest debt loads in the country. Those are the facts. The Tory Government said it had a plan that would see our young people have full access to higher education without having to mortgage their futures to do it.

Mr. Speaker, my final question for the minister. Can the minister explain how exactly it is that this government's plan has ensured that young people will have full access without having to mortgage their futures?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have spent the last three years balancing the budget and doing what we have to do precisely so that the people of this province, including the students, do not have to mortgage their futures.

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

HEALTH - NURSING HOME: ENTRANCE - ASSET SEIZURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health's refusal to answer questions on long-term care is insulting to seniors and their families. So let's make this crystal clear. My question for him today is about policy, not about a specific case.

The minister is unequivocal that cars are not counted as assets for seniors entering a nursing home, yet one senior reports to us that his car was indeed identified as an asset to pay for his wife's care until he eventually got officials to relent. I ask the Minister of Health, isn't it true that your real policy is that you will take all you can get until seniors and their families fight back?

[Page 11541]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the people of Nova Scotia that this government has a priority in continuing care and we've put a considerable amount of money in it over the past three years. In addition to that there were some things in the continuing care spectre (Laughter) sector - let's try it again - that's for the media people, thank you.

We increased the continuing care budget by 39 per cent over the last three years, the long-term care budget by 38 per cent. Mr. Speaker, we've made numerous improvements. I would also go back, Mr. Speaker, he's talking about policies and we had a technical briefing for people the other day about some of the policies. As I explained - I didn't say then but I did say in the House last week, that the policies that are there, rightly or wrongly, were certainly ones that were in place when the Leader of the Official Opposition was an alderman in Dartmouth and had a chance to do something about them.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, another senior had his 1988 vehicle included among his assets. He didn't have to fight because he decided to put off receiving care because of the assessment process. He didn't realize that according to the minister, he's not supposed to be asked to contribute the value of his car towards the cost of his care. No Department of Health official told him that. My question is, if cars are not considered assets, why does your financial assessment form contain a section where the vehicle is to be listed as an asset regardless of whether or not there is a spouse who needs the car?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the things about the process that was explained - I just want to make sure that people understand this - is that the continuing care sector did over 900 assessments last year, there were 15 appeals; there are three levels of appeal and four of those went past the second level.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the message to seniors and their families is clear - make sure you know your rights because this government will take everything they can get unless you fight back. This government is about budgets, its not about people. I ask the Minister of Health, when will you admit that your policy is to grab whatever you can from people, whether or not you're entitled to it?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there have been a large number of improvements in continuing care since 1999, when we came into office. In April 2000, all continuing care programs and services for seniors were moved to the Department of Health to reduce the complexity of the system and to make programs for seniors more accessible. We strengthened the staff of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat. The Health Facilities Review shows that access to nursing home beds is better now than it has been in some time. In order to improve access to nursing home beds, we introduced a single-entry process, and that's been deemed a great success.

[Page 11542]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I just want to remind the honourable members again that the questions and answers do infringe upon other members' ability to ask the question and have an answer. I would ask the honourable members to shorten the questions, please, and the answers.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES/WOMEN'S CTRS.:

REFORM PROG. - DETAILS TABLE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. As the result of community outrage over this government's decision to jeopardize the lives of vulnerable women and children at risk by cutting funding to transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs, the minister was forced to consult with stakeholders on his so-called reform program. My question to the minister is, can the minister table with this House the details of that process and the status of that implementation?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question because it does give me the opportunity to indicate that we did have a meeting with the department and the sector back toward the end of October. If what he's asking for is the date and place and the people who are on that invitation list, I'm certainly happy to get that for him and table it.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I was asking the minister for the details on the process and the status of that implementation program. Quite frankly, it was this minister's ill thought-out decision that has led to a climate of distrust between the community and his department, a climate that if this minister was concerned about vulnerable women and children wouldn't even exist today. My question to the minister is, can the minister please confirm for members of this House whether his department had to hire, at a considerable cost, an outside facilitator to manage this consultation process?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, yes, I can confirm that in agreement with the representatives from the transition houses, the men's centres and the women's programs, we did hire a consultant for that meeting.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his answer. My final question, again to the minister, is simple and one that deserves an answer, can the minister please explain how much he has authorized in expenditures on this process at a time when his department is cutting back on the provision of direct services to women and children and those most in need of comprehensive support?

[Page 11543]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, there are two things I would like to say to that question. The first is there have been no cutbacks in the money going to women's centres, transition houses and men's programs. As we agreed, as we worked through the process, there would be no changes in the funding level, and that's carrying on. I'm not able to give the honourable member the answer to his question, how much have we spent, because the process of the consultation is still ongoing. We've made commitments for future meetings, and when that is finalized, when we finish the program, then I will be able to give them to him. We are working with the sector, and we are working with them as part of the process.

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

FOIPOP - FEES: INCREASE - REASONS EXPLAIN

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to table a couple of cheques that my office had to write with regard to freedom of information applications. One is for $500, it's for information relating to expenses for the Premier's senior staff. Another is for $355 for information related to the disbanding of the Arts Council. My question is to the Acting Minister of Justice, will the minister admit what we all know, he jacked up information fees under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to limit the release of politically-damaging information?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise here as the acting minister. We will take that under advisement. (Interruptions)

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, maybe I will go to the Deputy Premier; maybe he might have a little more information with regard to this. These cheques are stall tactics - plain and simple. The Premier's office and the Minister of Tourism could simply bill the office of the Official Opposition, but they wanted the cheques before they would disclose the information. This delays our request for several weeks and it also creates the very ridiculous situation where we have to write cheques from the Minister of Finance to the Minister of Finance - and that's all tabled, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask the Deputy Premier why he won't put an end to this red tape and direct the co-ordinators of freedom of information to simply invoice the Opposition office?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Actually, this is a tempest in a teacup because, in essence, if the Opposition would not take the political route, but take the common sense route of phoning up and asking for information, they would get the information much more speedily than they do through the Freedom of Information Act. (Applause) And at no cost to them.

MR. DEVEAUX: This government will do anything to delay and withhold information, including requiring the Minister of Finance to write cheques to himself. The Freedom of Information Act and its applications are down across government because of

[Page 11544]

these stall tactics and because of the higher fees imposed by this government. So I want to ask the Deputy Premier one last time, why is he keeping up this charade? Admit that there's a problem and that he's willing to do just about anything to delay and withhold information about his Tory Government.

MR. RUSSELL: The problem is the Freedom of Information Act applications that the Opposition put in are so wide-ranging that we have members and staff full-time - their whole job is just supplying information to the Opposition. That wasn't the intention of the Freedom of Information Act when it first came in. It was to provide to the Opposition or to provide to anyone of the public, the information they required that they could not access through normal process. I'm telling you, Mr. Speaker, that if the Opposition would come forward with a request for information about any part of government operations, they . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Your nose is growing.

MR. RUSSELL: My nose is growing? No, Mr. Speaker, my nose is not growing. If I had sufficient time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL: If I had sufficient time I would give them a prime example of a FOIPOP for the amount of money that was, for the amount of money and the actual inspections carried out on bridges. If they just simply ask for the last inspection on a particular bridge, when it was done and what the results were, we can add to that, but we have 3,800 bridges in this province. We have bushels and bushels and bushels of documents.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - AUTHORITIES:

FUNDING REDUCTION - BENEFITS EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is to the Minister of Health. Recently this Minister of Health announced a total three-year reduced funding package for all district health authorities. While having information on a multi-year basis is helpful for them, the increase for district health authorities won't address many of the financial changes that they are now and will be facing. My question to the minister is, in light of the government's commitment to reduce health care anxiety, as outlined in the Hamm/Rumsfeld plan, can the minister please explain how his reduced funding announcement will actually help reduce wait times and help avoid cuts to the health care system?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I'm afraid I missed something in the honourable member's question, because the announcement was that there would be an increase of 7 per cent over the next three years for the district health authorities, and what it enables them to do, not to

[Page 11545]

reduce - you used the word "reduce" twice and I think maybe it was just an error, was it? - it's an increase and the salaries, of course, were on top of that. Salary and commission will be on top of that and if people can plan in advance, they can bring stability and they can put into effect cost savings and to bring programs in. They can be sure that the funding is going to be available over a long period of time. We all know that long-term budgeting is much more effective and efficient than short-term budgeting.

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this minister knows that that $6.3 million, over three years, nothing addressing this year for the deficits of the capital region and all the others, is a reduction really as to what has been going on in the health care funding in this province. The district health authorities have attempted, with insufficient resources, and then we know that down the road things will unravel and it will be the district health authorities' fault because government had a plan. Well, it's this minister who's ultimately responsible for health care and it is this minister who is responsible for the delivery of service.

My question, given that the Hamm-Rumsfeld health care play book stated that the government will "focus on service delivery", how can this minister be assured that the district health authorities will, in fact, be able to deliver services with these reduced resources?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again I'm somewhat puzzled by the honourable member's question. He talks about $6.3 million being given out over a three-year period and we know that's just not the case. So I can only conclude that the honourable member, who is speaking on behalf of his Party, is objecting to an increase in funding for the district health authorities.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the minister can play with figures here, but a $63.5 million addition into the health care system is nowhere what this government has been dumping in this health care system without a plan. It's a plan that we're looking for and not the playing with figures. The corporate book goes on to say that all previous health initiatives would be repackaged and presented as a plan. Now the minister is saying that his three-year funding arrangement does, in fact, represent a plan. Well, what it represents is a band-aid on ad hoc programs that have largely been funded by the federal government. My question to the minister is, can the minister reveal his health plan for Nova Scotia given that $63.5 million does not make up and will not make up (Interruption) He could put that much into the capital health . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to hear the honourable member recognize that there are many needs in health and he of all people should know that it is sort of, in some ways, a bottomless pit when you're trying to satisfy health needs financially. I just want to

[Page 11546]

tell the honourable member that he may wish to speak to the CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority or the CEO of the AnnapolisValley District Health Authority, or to the Leader of the Liberal Party, to find out what they thought about the multi-year funding announcement.

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

ECON. DEV. - N.Y. TRIP: ACCOMMODATIONS - EXPLAIN

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Premier just said in his last answer that there's no need to file a freedom of information application as his government is open and accountable and we should just ask for the information. So let's try that. My office learned today that when the Minister of Economic Development travelled to New York last week, he stayed at the luxurious New York Marriott Marquis. This hotel describes itself as "Fifty stories of modern luxury." It's the place, "Where the dazzle of Broadway meets the exhilaration of Times Square . . ."

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Can he inform this House why he felt it necessary to stay at, ". . . one of New York's most exceptional hotels."

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia was part of a Team Canada Atlantic Trade Mission that was coordinated by the representatives that do that. All delegates stayed at that hotel and if that member would like to have the receipts, I will be happy to provide them to him.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the dazzle of Broadway and the exhilaration of Times Square is a long way from the hard times in Sydney Mines. I think the people of Sydney Mines would be very interested to know that those rooms range from $450 Canadian to $800 Canadian, depending on whether you get a view of Times Square. I will take up the minister's offer. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development if he will fulfill the Deputy Premier's commitment, release information with regard to his receipts to his trip to New York without us having to file a freedom of information application today?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I didn't have a view of Times Square, as the member would like to list from the brochure. More importantly, I would be happy to supply him not only with the receipts but a full itinerary of the 22 Nova Scotia businesses we were there supporting as part of an Atlantic Canadian effort to grow our economy, because they don't speak for the economy of Nova Scotia and in the interest of prosperity and progress.

[Page 11547]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the minister might be pleased to hear that the Marriott Marquee is expected to be a five-star hotel any day now, which will put it in the same range as the famed Waldorf Astoria. Just three miles down the road is another Marriott, the Marriott Financial Center. It does not have a 37-story atrium in its lobby, and it's about 30 per cent cheaper. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development why he didn't search for cheaper accommodations while he was travelling to New York?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, what this member obviously doesn't know, of course his Party doesn't know, is we were part of a Team Canada Atlantic Trade Mission, working as a team with everyone else. I went and was part of a process, and joined my colleagues. I didn't book the hotel rooms. I will commit to putting those numbers forward, as I have stated we will. Maybe they could get on to real issues about the economy of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

AGRIC. & FISH. - PORK IND. CRISIS:

ASSISTANCE - REFUSAL EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Last night the hog producers from throughout Nova Scotia confronted the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in the hallway, imploring the minister to listen and act upon their concerns, to be their representative in the Legislature and their representative around the Cabinet Table. Instead the concrete actions that they presented to the minister fell on hollow words with no help. Last month the minister was presented with a plan to assist the pork industry through a cash flow crisis they are currently facing in the industry today. It is basically a short-term loan, a short-term loan which the minister knows the industry is guaranteed to pay back on a check-off basis. The minister is aware of the plan, and so far he has refused to assist. My question to the minister is, why does the minister continue to ignore their concerns with regard to this crisis that the pork industry is currently under?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously myself as minister and this government have not ignored the hog producers. We have responded, first of all by issuing a cheque for $3.5 million to the association, to aid each individual member's cash flow, by repaying a loan which is hugely significant. We have also, with the bridge funding that was signed with the federal government, been one of three provinces that allocated the 40 per cent, a double share, $1.1 million has been committed to the individual hog farmers in this province, and as well we've signed off on the CFIP program, which is a disaster program with the federal government to make dollars available there. We have reacted. We have taken the resources, we have taken those monies and committed them to the hog industry and those producers.

[Page 11548]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about things that the federal government has provided to him to provide to the pork industry, but yet the bottom line is there were 30 producers in the audience last night telling this minister they're going broke, listen to their concerns, and do something about it as the Liberal Government did three years ago.

Pork Nova Scotia, I met with them three weeks ago and discussed this issue. They indicated that they were meeting with backbenchers in the Tory Party - leave it alone because they felt it could be resolved through their own political process. Yet producers today are still losing $65 a hog, and one of the producers last night indicated they're losing $25,000 a week; family farms are going out of business. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister do the honourable and just thing by instituting a loan program to assist pork producers in their cash flow crisis today?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we have reacted and been proactive. Those are provincial dollars, not federal dollars, as I remind the member opposite. We are dealing with a situation where the market has not been as dramatic as projections. To give a concrete example to the member opposite, which is a good thing for the industry and certainly the government is pleased, the marketplace has not tracked those figures. The COP, or cost production, for hogs is approximately $150 in this province. The projection that the member is basing his figures on would have said it was $86 - the actual market price last month, October, documented is $124. That's a serious situation, but it's not $50, it's not $60 a hog, it's a much smaller figure, and we've put monies in place to help bridge that for those producers.

MR. DOWNE: I will table today in the House numbers from Pork Nova Scotia showing that the producers' price after the indexing and feed costs is $114, not $150, and they're losing in excess of $50 a ton. The question was asked of the minister last night by the producers: Did he or did he not bring forward to Cabinet a request for financial assistance, a loan guarantee or a loan to the pork producers of the Province of Nova Scotia? My question - he didn't answer it last night - to the minister today on behalf of the farmers of Nova Scotia who are going bankrupt is, did you, Mr. Minister, or did you not bring forward a loan plan to Cabinet that would help producers in the province? Did you or did you not bring that to Cabinet, yes or no?

MR. FAGE: Unlike the member opposite and the previous government, we dealt with programs and built programs over the last three years with our hog producers. We took requests that allowed for a doubling of income support from provincial funds to our hog producers so that there would be monies in place when a situation of market-depressed prices occurred.

[Page 11549]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - CHISHOLM, JOHN/NOVA CONST.:

SITE CLEANUP - TIME FRAME

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: To the Minister of Environment and Labour. Yesterday the minister stood up and proudly said that his department likes to work with violators, that he prefers to give second and third chances. Well, in Inverness, his buddy-buddy system is threatening the community. Instead of forcing John Chisholm's of Nova Construction to clean up the strip mine site, what he did was he let Chisholm fill up his pockets and then leave. What he's left is a 200-acre wasteland filled with three large pits, contaminated water, and broken-down equipment. The department should be forcing Chisholm to clean up the site, but they do nothing. Mr. Minister, the residents of Inverness are in real danger due to your inaction, when are you going to force John Chisholm to clean up this site?

HON. DAVID MORSE: The department is working with the proponent on this particular file and I have had indications that it is going to be moving forward in the near future.

MR. EPSTEIN: We heard the other day about a report that referred to inconsistences in the minister's department - I think inconsistencies stem from the minister himself.

In Inverness, it's his Party's ties to John Chisholm that has put the community at risk. For years local people have been asking the department to do something, but they did nothing. Convinced the site was dangerous, last month one of the local people had the water in the nearby pit tested, and I will table the results and here they are: the tests reveal a dangerously high, heavy metal content which puts local groundwater and surface water at risk. Mr. Minister, what I want to know is, what will it take for you to understand that as long as you protect the interests of violators, you're putting the safety of Nova Scotians at risk? What will it take?

MR. MORSE: The point here is that when we do recognize a situation that could potentially cause an adverse effect to the environment, we take the appropriate action.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: What it took was the local people going public. I will table an editorial from this summer's Oran that referred to this site as an eyesore and an environmental hazard. I will table that as well. One of the worst examples is that oil drums were left leaking into a nearby brook for years and it was only when they went public that something happened. The local MLA, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, refuses to act, and the minister won't work with the community. Mr. Minister, what I want to know is,

[Page 11550]

instead of telling us that you're working with them, how many chances do you think you can give John Chisholm before somebody is going to get sick?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, when the department identifies something that potentially poses a risk to the environment, we take the appropriate action.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

HEALTH: - EHS BILLING - DETAILS

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. A constituent of mine was in for a rude awakening one morning when she received a bill from EHS for $600 following a car accident. She didn't want to go in the ambulance, but it was insisted on by the paramedics. It was almost like being kidnapped. I have tried to bring this to the attention of EHS and tried to have the matter resolved. After an appeal, she received a letter in which she was told that insurance was the law in Nova Scotia and that she should have insurance to cover the cost of the ambulance. My question is simple, could the minister inform the House as to when it became law to have insurance beyond the required public liability and property damage?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell you is that if you were driving an automobile in Nova Scotia, it's the standard practice to have insurance that would provide for the cost of medical services should they be needed, including ambulance transport.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will table a letter for the minister, a letter from EHS. That constituent should not have been subject to a letter with such a warning. She should also be spared the warning from EHS about having insurance. I can assure you that she did have the required insurance under Nova Scotia law. My first supplementary is, can the minister tell the House when it became the responsibility of EHS to become responsible for insurance matters in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to talk about what a fine ambulance service we have in this province. It was, indeed, just last week that we got an international accreditation for the dispatch centre. We have a quality ground and air ambulance service in this province and, to be quite frank, if you're driving an automobile in this province and you are in an accident and you have to be transported and you don't have insurance to cover that transport, I don't have much sympathy for you.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, that's a sad commentary from the minister. It doesn't show much comfort or support for people who get in an accident. There is no justification for the manner in which this person was treated. She felt she didn't need medical attention, because she was already on the phone to her family at home. I ask the minister

[Page 11551]

today, will the minister, at the very least, look into this matter to ensure that other Nova Scotians are not hit with the same process as what happened to this lady?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to look at any case the honourable member wishes to put before me. I could not comment on any individual case on the floor of this House, he knows that very well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - HARRIETSFIELD:

CONCERNS - PLAN DETAILS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Environment and Labour. The elementary school in Harrietsfield, the students and staff there, continue to drink bottled water. The community has been fighting for 20 years now about contamination in their well water and this minister, like other ministers, has refused to help. We've now got a useless water strategy in front of us that does no good for that community, like many other communities in the province. Recently HRM approved a proposal that would lead to the burying of construction and demolition debris materials just down the road from the school in spite of community opposition and staff recommendations that said no.

I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, public safety should be his priority, how does he plan to address the environmental concerns of the residents of Harrietsfield?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, this is something that we've spoken on in this Chamber before and I have made a commitment to the member opposite that if HRM did go ahead and designate this as a site for a C & D under their land use planning strategy, that during any subsequent approval process with the department, that I assured him publicly here in this Chamber that his constituents would be consulted before any approval was issued by the department.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wrote to the minister over a month ago and I asked him to order a full environmental assessment of RDM's proposed disposal site in Harrietsfield. I still haven't gotten an answer from the minister officially on that even though clearly an assessment is needed. RDM may soon be burying construction and demolition debris in this community even though the city planners have advised against it. The community has opposed the proposal. There are already serious water quality concerns in this community. I want to ask the minister if he would tell the citizens of Harrietsfield what it will take for him to order a full environmental assessment of this proposal?

[Page 11552]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as has been covered before in this Chamber in the previous sitting, I indicated that a C & D site does not require an environmental assessment. However, the member opposite is doing a good job trying to represent his constituents. They had concerns. He brought them forward and my commitment to him, which I stand by here today, is that his constituents in the Harrietsfield area will have input before the department considers issuing any industrial approval for such a site.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister and his department still have not responded even though residents of this community have asked his department to step in. He has the authority under the Environment Act to order an undertaking for a full environmental assessment and that is the only thing that will serve the purposes of this community at this time. I want to ask the minister, will he commit once and for all to the residents of Harrietsfield and give an indication to residents in other parts of this province that he will stand up for the environment, that he will stand up for public safety, and in this instance and in other instances he will order a full environmental assessment?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the environmental assessment, amongst other things, is to allow the public to be part of the process. While I'm not going to be setting any new precedents for the ordering of environmental assessments that are not already covered under the activities designation regulations, I will again reiterate my commitment that the public will have the chance to have input into their concerns before the department considers issuing any industrial approval.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - NURSE PRACTITIONERS:

PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT - EFFECTS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, needless to say, we were pleased to hear the Minister of Health recently announce nurse practitioners around the province and I certainly want to commend my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth East, who instituted this practice when he was minister and am pleased to see the present government has followed through on that. Clearly, adding nurse practitioners to different communities throughout this province is not the end solution to the health care needs of communities throughout Nova Scotia. We all know that nurse practitioners work best in a situation where we have a well-staffed health care system in our communities. My question to the minister is, is that while the announcement of nurse practitioners will mean rural parts of Nova Scotia communities will be able to obtain better access to health care, can the minister explain how his plan to add nurse practitioners works in terms of his efforts of recruiting physicians to areas in rural Nova Scotia?

[Page 11553]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we recently announced the addition of eight nurse practitioners around the province. These people are going to work in conjunction with family practitioners and be able to do some diagnostic and treatment services, do limited prescribing, and to also deal with health needs and health is very important. I think the fact is that we will find a better use of physician time if we have nurse practitioners. There are certain things by which training and qualification they are entitled to do and there are certain things that a nurse practitioner by training and qualification is entitled to do. If we can divide the load, I think it will be better for all and if physicians realize that they may have a little bit more help, it's probably easier to recruit them.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I stated before, nurse practitioners need support just like all health professionals need support to ensure that people can still access the best primary health care services on a full-time basis. The interesting part is that when one looks at the communities where nurse practitioners have been announced, there are serious doctor shortages in those communities. In fact, when the announcement was made for a nurse practitioner for the Strait-Richmond Hospital, there was no doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital to work with. We also look at, for example, Annapolis that has lost five doctors since 1998 and two between 2000 to 2001. Hants County has lost four doctors since 1998 and hasn't been able to move on its numbers since 1999 and, more recently, we've seen a nurse practitioner added in Advocate Harbour, again an area with doctor shortages. My question, again, is can the minister reassure Nova Scotians that his department is still focusing attention on physician recruitment in these communities despite the announcement of hiring more nurse practitioners in rural areas?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, nurse practitioners are not a substitute for physicians and we continue our recruiting efforts. I would like to remind the honourable member that we are the second most successful province in the country when it comes to recruiting physicians and nurses. We have a very good record. (Applause)

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's amusing today to watch the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury clap when the minister announces that, considering the situation they were faced with at the Strait-Richmond Hospital, which is still up in the air to say the least. The fact remains that while the minister stands up and says how many doctors they have recruited to this province, he fails to indicate how many doctors have left this province under this Tory Administration. That is the catch right there and that is why we continue to see communities throughout rural Nova Scotia still without doctors. Richmond County, again, is still down three much-needed physicians in that area.

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, nurse practitioners work best when there are fully staffed health care services, including the necessary family physicians. My final supplementary is again, can the minister reassure people in the communities where nurse practitioners have been announced that, in the interest of delivering health care in a team

[Page 11554]

setting, he will continue to support nurse practitioners and these communities by beefing up his efforts to recruit physicians to this province?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have indeed a very successful physician recruitment program. I can tell you that the nurse practitioners are part of a team. What it does is the addition of these nurse practitioners allows us to be a little bit more creative in the ways that we can meet the needs of people where it is difficult to recruit. I just want the honourable member to go back and take a look at the comments that were made by the people in the DHAs and the communities that received the nurse practitioners, very positive comments, and it was a good announcement for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - TOBEATIC WILDERNESS AREA:

QUARTZ MINE/KAOLIN MINE - DAMAGE DIFFERENTIAL

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Environment and Labour. On September 6th of this year the minister gave Black Bull Resources an approval to mine quartz to just within 30 metres of the Tobeatic Wilderness area's boundary. This approval was granted in spite of very legitimate environmental concerns. Now, just seven months ago, these same concerns pushed his department to refuse Black Bull's request to mine kaolin in the same area, but nothing has changed in terms of the geology in the last seven months. I would like to know this, Mr. Minister, what makes you think that a quartz mining operation will cause any less damage to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area than would a kaolin mine?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that there's probably not been an application in the recent past that has received as much scrutiny as this one for Black Bull. Originally, they applied to extract kaolin and quartz, and did not satisfy the requirements of the department. I turned it down because that is the expectation of the minister, and I was the minister at the time. They came back again, and once again, they did not satisfy those professionals who advise me in the environmental assessment section of the department, and I turned it down. They came back a third time and this time they brought forward a different proposal and they dropped the kaolin from it. The kaolin was very problematic in the first two instances, plus they certainly improved their registration document, and as such they got the approval.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister will know that the concerned groups - in fact, we've had a letter from them again today, the Tobeatic Protection Alliance has pointed out all of the problems with the insufficiency of information provided by the company, a priceless piece of Nova Scotia's landscape is at stake. This should not be allowed within 230

[Page 11555]

metres, let alone 30 metres of the boundary of that area. That area is going to lose 30 per cent to 40 per cent of its water due to that activity. That draw-down is very serious for the Tobeatic. What I want to know is why the minister is letting this project go ahead, he's never explained it. Why is he letting this project go ahead without adequate community consultation or formal analysis?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think we have to forgive the member opposite for some of his comments because he's not privy to the amount of community consultation that went on throughout this. In fact, for the last two years there's been a stream of letters of proponents and opponents to this project. I would suggest that if he was to read the registration document and the decision that came from my department, under my signature, he would know that that was not the case.

MR. EPSTEIN: Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I have read those documents, including the minister's decision. I repeat, it's not adequate. We heard, unfortunately, the minister say in response to another question a few minutes ago, that he will never order a Class II environmental assessment unless it's mandatory under the Act and its regulations. What he is saying is he will never exercise his discretion, which he has under the Act, to move something up to Class II and do it. That's what he should do. I will tell you what I'm concerned about, I'm concerned that this approval is linked to prominent Tory George Cooper, who is also a director at Black Bull, that is something that the minister has to answer for. It's your job, Mr. Minister, to protect the environment. Why won't you stop this project, at least until you know all the facts and can satisfy the community? Stop this project.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again, I want to just briefly touch on some of the provisions that were put in place here. First of all, there's a continuous monitoring of the process. There are terms and conditions that are in place. If, in any way, the proposed operation does not meet the terms and conditions and is creating a problem, I, as minister, or any successive minister can alter those terms and conditions to make the corrective action. There is a bond that's put in place in case there is any damage to the surrounding area. The number of protections that have been put in place not only satisfy me but clearly satisfy the professionals who are charged with this responsibility in the department.

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

WCB - DORSEY REPORT: RECOMMENDATIONS - STATUS

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, several days ago I raised, with the Minister of Environment and Labour, the matter of the Dorsey report, a program review of the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Board. He knows what it is, I've described it already, so this is what I wanted to ask him about today. I had been called before this session of the House even began by a member of the Workers' Compensation Board who reported to me at that

[Page 11556]

time that the minister was attempting to negotiate support for a bill to implement some of the Dorsey recommendations, but it appears that these will be few and far between.

The other day, Thursday, November 7th, the minister told the House that in terms of the insurance aspect they have been referred to the board to come forward with a strategic plan which they are working on with the stakeholders to determine the priorities and the timetable. That's dated November 7th. He further indicated that he was looking forward to getting the recommendations back from the Workers' Compensation Board through the chairman and when I get them I will be in a position to comment on them. He looks forward - future tense - to getting some of these recommendations from Dr. Louis Comeau. My question to the minister is, is it not a fact that in actual fact, he has received those recommendations already?

HON. DAVID MORSE: I thank the member opposite for his question. We both certainly have concerns about the implementation of the Dorsey report and that it be done in a reasonable and timely manner. I would say that as of 1:30 p.m. today we were still waiting for the official documentation from the chair.

MR. MACEWAN: I am informed that on October 11th of this year, the full Workers' Compensation Board voted to approve supplementary benefits as a ministerial recommendation to the minister for action and that on November 7th the board ratified the above and the minutes are available from those meetings to prove all that - which I trust I will be getting in due course, they were promised to be faxed to me tout de suite, as the French say. So, I'm going to ask the minister again, is he not aware as Minister of Environment and Labour that the Workers' Compensation Board has in fact approved the measures that I described, re supplementary benefits, and they are looking to him, as I am and as are many Nova Scotians, for action in this matter?

MR. MORSE: As I have indicated on previous questions, I have in fact been meeting with not only the Workers' Compensation Board but also some of the injured workers' groups and, indeed, all the stakeholders that care very much about this and so has my deputy and so has the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board. In fact, I understand that the contact is unprecedented, at least in the recent history of this department and the Workers' Compensation Board. I would say that when we get the official documentation from the chairman we will take the appropriate action.

MR. MACEWAN: What the minister has just told the House could be interpreted to mean that no, he doesn't have the final document with all i's dotted and t's crossed, but he certainly knows about the matters that I just referred to in my first two questions here although he hasn't admitted as much. As a final supplementary, I would like to ask the minister, is it not a fact that he has already met with Dr. Louis Comeau and Mr. Leo McKenna, filling in for David Steuwe as Chief Executive Officer of the Workers'

[Page 11557]

Compensation Board, and verbally been advised by those officials of the very things that I've asked in this series of questions here today? Yes or no?

MR. MORSE: I want to assure the member opposite, all the members of this House and actually everybody that depends on the operating of the Workers' Compensation Board, that I meet regularly with the chairman and the chief executive officer or the acting chief executive officer and I have met with them several times since his appointment.

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

EDUC. - LOAN REMISSION PROG.: RESCISSION - EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Education. You know the government talks the talk but they won't walk the walk when it comes to post-secondary education. On the one hand they say they support it, while on the other hand they act to ensure that many deserving young Nova Scotians - one in particular that goes just down the highway here to NSCAD - who can't afford it. Let's not forget it was the Liberals in 1993 who cut bursaries to students in this province and the Tories cut the Loan Remission Program in the year 2000. They've been promising to replace it ever since. We have the highest tuition in the country, we are the only province in the country with no debt reduction program, but in July the minister committed that there would be a new program in place by September. Well, today is November 13th. Madam Minister, why has your government added an average of nearly $10,000 to the debts of over 3,000 students in this province by cutting the Loan Remission Program?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this government had to make a lot of difficult decisions in order to put us on a much better road than we were on. All of our institutions are doing much better in the last three years than they were in the three previous.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this government, like the government before it, has its priorities all wrong in post-secondary education. So quickly the Liberals forget that in 1993 they made those very cuts to bursaries, yet student leaders are present in our Legislature to hear these sorts of dismissive answers.

Last year, as many Nova Scotians decided they couldn't afford to go to school and as parents struggled to help them, this government spent more than $3 million on communications and advertising; over the past two months the minister spent $62,000 on the education blue book; meanwhile her high-flying Deputy Minister of Education takes a $2,000 helicopter trip to Shelburne County. My question for the minister is, what will it take for your government to invest as much in the students of this province as you do in cultivating you and your government's image?

[Page 11558]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, obviously we spend a great deal more money on students in this province than we do on helicopter trips, or anything else, and I would like to say that this government does have priorities, unlike the New Democrats opposite who want $100 million on this, $100 million on that, with no accountability that they have to the taxpayer. They want all the money we don't have spent on everything. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this government has a simple message it wants to spin out to Nova Scotians: forget about all the bad things we've done, you just listen to the great things we say we're going to do. The Premier, in fact, is paying his own personal spin doctor $86,000 per year. I know there are some students in this province who could benefit from loans totalling $86,000 per student. Minister of Education, when are you and this government going to stop punishing students for your government's misplaced priorities?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we are helping all Nova Scotians improve their lot in life, including students. I will tell you one thing this government believes in is raising people up, not crushing them down to the same level, like that Party opposite.

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

IMMIGRATION - PROG. (N.S.):

DETAILS - RELEASE TIME FRAME

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for immigration. Last year less than 1 per cent of immigrants to Canada settled in Nova Scotia. On August 27th of this year, with much fanfare at Pier 21, the government signed an agreement with the federal Citizenship and Immigration Department that would see Nova Scotia nominate 1,000 new immigrants and skilled workers to come to Nova Scotia over the next five years. Unfortunately, when the agreement was signed, no plan was in place to implement it. To date, the province still has not finalized a plan and is still not in any position to accept applications under this program. My question to the minister is, when will the government release details of this program and will they begin to accept applications?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, although the Minister of Education in this province has responsibility for immigration in general, in terms of the program that the member opposite asks about, the provincial nominee program, that agreement was signed between the federal minister and the Minister of Economic Development, and I would refer that particular question to him.

[Page 11559]

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I think it's a very good question from the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. We were pleased to be a signatory to that agreement, which was unique in Canada because it included our Acadian communities in this province as well. The 1,000 immigrants will go to communities in Nova Scotia that want them and welcome them as part of our provincial economy and, for that member, obviously that was the agreement being signed. The details are being worked out and should be forthcoming before this House in the near future.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the minister responsible for immigration. Surely, after more than three years in office, this government knows where the skill shortages are in this province. My question to the minister is, can the minister tell us what they have learned to date from this consultation process, and what this province has gained by stalling this program?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, it is this government that has been working on the skill shortage, and it's this government that actually looked at the immigration file, unlike the previous one.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, three years is a long time to look at a file. My final question is again to the minister responsible for immigration. Eight other provinces have already well-established provincial nominee programs. We need only look at Manitoba, which has a similar population, to find success in increasing the number of skilled immigrants in a province. My question is, why is this government offering excuses instead of implementing this program?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there is one wrinkle in this, in which the member opposite is right. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Education has the floor.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the federal government and Nova Scotia were ready to sign the agreement sooner. When September 11th came along, everything changed. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration changed. When the Honourable Denis Coderre got the file, the addition of francophone immigrants was added. I would say that we are a year behind, and there is a very good reason for that. I would also repeat what I said earlier, this government has been looking at that immigration issue. We know Manitoba has been successful, and we had a lot of catching up to do when we took office.

[Page 11560]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - BUTLER LANDS:

CONTAINMENT CELL - DETAILS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. In my constituency lies a 39-acre prime piece of property known locally as the Butler lands. Despite its desirable location, the Butler lands have not been developed until now because indiscriminate dumping of waste over the past 40 years has contaminated the soil. Now a developer has come along with a plan to scrape off the contaminated soil, dump it on the southern edge of the property in what is known as a containment cell, and then subdivide and sell the lots. That work has been going on since June, and it is going on right now as we speak. My question to the minister is, why did your department not require the developer to post any security for the future maintenance of the containment cell?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question, and in fact the member opposite has previously expressed concerns about the site. What I would confirm is that after some period of negotiation and with the blessing of HRM, a proposal did come forward and we did approve the first phase in the development. The member opposite is correct, there is a containment site, not unlike a second-generation landfill, for the contaminated soils. That was part of the approval process.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister didn't answer my question, so I want him to focus this time on the question that I'm actually asking.

This particular use of a containment cell is a first in Nova Scotia because it is on a separate lot beside a residential development, yet the Department of Environment and Labour is relying on nothing more than the verbal promises of the developer that it will maintain the containment cell in perpetuity. The work on the Butler land is well underway and so far zero security has been asked for or received for the developer's long-term obligations. So my question to the minister again - and I would like him to focus on the question this time - when a developer agrees to environmental obligations that may last for 50 years or longer, why does your department not insist, before a project is approved, on enforceable legal security?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would know that as part of the industrial approval process a minister does have the ability to impose other terms and conditions as they come to light, that there's perhaps a need for them, and the member opposite would be pleased to know that we are having these discussions with the developer.

[Page 11561]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly the problem. The first meeting on this topic was held at my request and it was held today, but the development is already approved, it's already well underway, and it's probably too late to get any security out of this developer. If no security is in place, future maintenance and remediation will fall on the public purse or, even worse, it won't be done at all. So my question to the minister is, what steps are you and your department prepared to take to reassure all Nova Scotians that long-term promises by private developers will be kept?

MR. MORSE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, everybody has a chance to contribute to the betterment of our environment, and indeed I want to commend the member opposite for bringing this up in the House today. We are taking the appropriate steps to make sure that those provisions are in place to secure the long-term security of that community and this is now being done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - N.S. PENSION PLANS: LOSSES - DETAILS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Minister of Finance. I issued a press release back on October 7th of this year regarding the state of the Nova Scotia Government employees' pension plan and the teachers' pension plan, which I will table today. We also read in the media today that the Canada Pension Plan has lost some $4 billion in the first half of 2002. Major corporations have taken hits on their pension plans and now we find the largest pension plan in the country has lost some $4 billion. My question to the Acting Minister of Finance is, will the minister indicate to the House what kind of losses, if any, have we taken on our two major pension plans in Nova Scotia?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement and I will get back to the honourable member.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this is a prime example of why this side of the House is so frustrated at not having ministers in the House to answer questions they should be here to do. Now maybe this minister is Acting Minister of Finance, but she's also the Minister of Education and she should, above all, know what the teachers' pension plan is all about. Major corporations like General Motors, Ford, Air Canada, are required to report their pension losses so one would be able to determine what's going on; you would think the government would want to do the same. It is clear by the blue book's statement on finance: "We believe Nova Scotians are right to demand greater openness, accountability . . ."

My question to the Acting Minister of Finance is, will the minister commit to bring forth the pension plan status report for both the teachers' pension plan and the government employees' pension plan before the House session ends?

[Page 11562]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to bring forward the information that is available to the House before the end of the session.

MR. DOWNE: The undertaking, I take it, is that the minister will in fact be able to bring forth that information before the House session is over. CPP lost 20 per cent of its value of its investments and those investments were in equities. If our pension plan, and depending on how much is in the equity market we could lose, in the Province of Nova Scotia, upwards of $600 million in a pension plan in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to reaffirm my question to the minister. Madam Minister and Acting Minister, will you commit, on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia, that that information will be given to this House before this session ends?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate my commitment to bring forward all the information that we have. I would like to add that I'm awfully glad that no one spent any $600 million on a health investment fund, if what the member opposite suggested is the case.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - BOUDREAU, STAN:

NISA ACCOUNT - ADEQUACY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture seems to feel that pork producers are well positioned to take advantage of support existing in their NISA accounts. This morning on Information Morning, I heard Jean LaRoche's interview with Mr. Stan Boudreau of Concession. Mr. Boudreau was here last night and stated that last Spring he liquidated half of his herd. He had been selling 7,000 hogs per year and now he's down to selling 4,000 at a loss of $50 per hog; that's $200,000. My question for the Minister of Agriculture is, how is it that you feel Mr. Boudreau's NISA account can support his operation when he certainly doesn't feel it can?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, I'm not in a position to comment on any producer's individual account.

MR. MACDONELL: It's highly unlikely that after the 1998 crisis . . .

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

The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North and has been distributed amongst the Parties.

[Page 11563]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 141.

Bill No. 141 - Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I find it very fitting today that we would call Bill No. 141 for debate. Bill No. 141 is clearly a means of trying to hold this government accountable, allow Nova Scotians to get information from this government and have ministers held accountable to the members of this House and to the general public. How ironic we've just gone through a Question Period that has seen so many ministers missing from that Question Period. What a fitting time to be talking about this government's lack of openness and its lack of commitment to be held accountable to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it's with a great deal of pleasure that I rise this afternoon to speak on Bill No. 141, which provides amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Not only because we introduced this piece of legislation am I pleased to speak on it, but because it is such an important piece of legislation to so many Nova Scotians who need to believe again in the integrity and the openness of their government.

Nova Scotians need to believe that their government won't purposely hide embarrassing information by putting that information out of reach with onerous fees. What this bill does provide is that the application fees that are charged to Nova Scotians for accessing information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act shall be reasonable fees. With this bill we go further by making the fees part of the legislation and not regulation. By doing so, Nova Scotians need reassurance that the government it elects will be open, that the government it elects will be accountable and that the government it elects will restore trust in the democratic process.

[Page 11564]

This bill restricts a government from arbitrarily changing the fees that it charges to applicants. It would seem that this legislation would be unnecessary, especially after the comments we've heard today from the Government House Leader as to telling Nova Scotians they just need to call to get this information from government.

A government should have as its first goal to instill trust in the people who have elected them and put them in office. So you have to ask yourself the following question, is why is Bill No. 141 and such legislation necessary? It's become necessary because Nova Scotians, including its citizens and journalists have been arbitrarily shut out of a process that allows them to hold their government accountable. One can ask, why is this legislation necessary? It's necessary because if we are to have transparency as a cornerstone of our government, we need a reasonable safeguard that will ensure the integrity of government. That transparency can be achieved in many ways, but one of the most important, if not the most important, is the ability to access official information from government and government members.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, by legislating the fees at a reasonable level we hope to ensure greater openness about decision-making which can be of benefit to government itself and to all Nova Scotians. Hindering that openness leaves Nova Scotians suspicious about government's motives. Greater access will enhance the public's confidence in the work of government - a factor that is lacking today because of this government's decision to shut down access to government information.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, policies which have been discussed openly at each stage are likely to command greater public acceptance when Nova Scotians have readily available access to them. More than likely the government today will speak about the greater disclosure of information and that statistics will show that Nova Scotians are accessing more information, not less, that faith in government accountability has not faltered, but has been given new life. It doesn't matter how many times this government claims this; every Nova Scotian knows that this is just not true.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard stories of journalists being charged up to $16,000 for government documents, of political Parties also being charged onerous fees to access necessary government information. Journalists and ourselves, as Opposition Parties, have conduits to get our messages out against these fees. We can write our stories, we can issue press releases, but what we don't have to gauge are the numbers of testimonials from average Nova Scotians who do not have this same conduit to complain about how this government has shut them out of accessing information and therein lies the principle of this bill - that making sure access to information is not impeded by high onerous costs, demonstrating by action and enshrined by legislation the principle that access should never be onerous to the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 11565]

Mr. Speaker, an important question to ask here is does the government regard citizen involvement in politics restricted to simply the election cycle and that in between elections Nova Scotians should not be able to participate in government policy and decisions? Surely we would hope that this government is not intent on having that sort of policy. The government's attitude to the knowledge it shares with citizens says a great deal about how it stands on different public policy issues. If a government is sincere about sharing through a process of accessibility and openness with the people at government, then government must empower the people and allow them to criticize how political decisions are made and how politics is conducted and therein lies another principle of this bill. By ensuring accessibility to information, it demonstrates a commitment by legislators that the principle of openness, accountability and transparency does not ring hollow.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of our amendments is to ensure that present and future governments defend any proposed fee increases that may limit access to documents. Where those changes are presently done through Cabinet, it can only leave the government in a position to arbitrarily increase fees and limit access without any meaningful debate on this democratic issue and we well know this government's pattern of increasing fees when the House is not in session or increasing fees through Orders in Council. If one wants to look at a recent example, one simply needs to look at the recent hike in Seniors' Pharmacare fees which, if I'm not mistaken, took effect April 1st of this year when the House of Assembly resumed session on April 2nd.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this was clearly not to allow the duly-elected representatives of Nova Scotians to debate the need for this increase, to debate the justification for this increase. It was a means of the Minister of Health to put that increase arbitrarily without being held accountable to Nova Scotians or especially to the seniors who are faced with these additional fees.

Mr. Speaker, why is it important to ensure that this democratic issue, the issue of freedom of information, be debated here today? It is not possible for a government to lead effectively unless it enters into a meaningful relationship with the people whom it leads. The present government will claim that they are in favour of open government, but the current government has done nothing positive in this area to demonstrate to the people it leads that this is, in fact, the case.

Mr. Speaker, our commitment and our Leader's commitment to a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is clear, and I reaffirm it here today by suggesting the following amendments to improve access and begin anew the relationship we have with the people who have elected us. We want to alter the fee structure that will only lead to greater secrecy that surrounds government activity and will not make government information available to the public.

[Page 11566]

Mr. Speaker, the numbers are in and the fact is clear. When this government raised fees for access to information, it was meant to limit the amount of information Nova Scotians received and they have achieved their goal because the numbers clearly show us to date that the requests are down, the number of appeals are down and the amount of information being released by this government is down. So they have clearly achieved their goal.

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative Government said it would listen to Nova Scotians and their demand for a more open and accountable government; however, by increasing the fees charged to individuals to gain access to government records, the Conservative Government has intentionally done the opposite and may begin to put the government on a road to secrecy. By amending the FOIPOP Act to provide that an applicant who requests information pay low application fees or to limit the charges an applicant is required to pay locating or retrieving a record, or even to remove requirements that applicants are to pay for a review and to give authority to the House to debate any fee increases, is our way of making the government, and future governments, accessible and open once again, to live up to their promise that to govern effectively you have to be willing to instill trust in the people you represent.

The reality here, Mr. Speaker, is that Nova Scotia, which is the first province to lead the way on bringing in a freedom of information Act, now charges the highest maximum application fees anywhere in the country. Why is this an important fact? We need to realize that to lead better we must be open to the individuals in our society who seek to hold us to a higher standard by asking for documents and government information. Who among us, as elected officials, does not want to lead better and provide more effective representation? We owe it not just to the people of Nova Scotia, but to future generations and past generations; more importantly, we owe it to the institution of the House of Assembly itself.

Mr. Speaker, during the last election in 1999, the Premier promised the people of this province that he was going to fix the democratic process by having an open and accountable government. The result of this increase in fees is that applicants who are now required to pay out of their hard-earned savings are now deterred from asking this government for the information it seeks. Ensuring that the democratic process is open cannot come with a price.

The Justice Minister will continue to say, as I said before, that we have the most open and accessible freedom of information law in the country. That can only continue to take place if the fees that are charged are reasonable fees and justifiable fees. The Minister of Justice has repeatedly stated that the fee increase was simply part of a cost recovery, yet the minister has continually refused to table in this House, or anywhere else, the financial figures which show and which justify this increase.

If you are going to increase the fees to show cost recovery, you should at least be willing to stand forward in this House and show how that was achieved. By not doing so, leaves us to draw the simple conclusion that this government was bent on shutting down

[Page 11567]

access to information. The stats we have today prove that they have succeeded in that and this bill is a way to restore the confidence in this government and in our freedom of information system. I hope the government will see the light and support it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to rise and say a few words about Bill No. 141, which is an Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I'm quite unclear, in listening to the honourable member for Richmond, in his speaking, about two-thirds of the way through his presentation, I came to the conclusion that he was looking at a two-tiered structure: that there would be one set of fees for public and another set of fees for media and political Parties. I mean, this is clearly what it sounded like to me, that he saw no reason that political Parties and the media couldn't pay the fee that was there, but he would like to see something less for private individuals.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. For the purpose of the Minister of Health, who indicated that there might have been some confusion during my remarks, the bill clearly states that there would be one fee structure for everyone, whether it be a journalist, whether it be political Parties or whether it be individual Nova Scotians. It would be one fee structure, a lower fee structure and it would return it to the process that we had before. So there would be no distinguishing between these groups and that certainly is not the intention of the bill or my intention in my remarks.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased for that clarification, but those of you who know how the honourable member does change his mind from minute to minute would understand why I would ask the question. This government is committed to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and indeed has strengthened it. (Interruptions)

We amended the Act in 1999 to broaden its scope to include hospitals, universities and school boards. I think one understands that with some of the information that has emerged in the past couple of years, why it was, perhaps, a good move and I think supported by all Parties to broaden the bill to bring these other publicly-funded agencies in. We also amended the Act, Mr. Speaker, to strengthen the powers of the FOIPOP review officer. What this does is - it was not possible before - but the amendments allow the review officer to obtain a court order to obtain access to records, if he deems that necessary. I'm not sure whether the FOIPOP officer has had to go that far, but certainly strengthening the Act to allow for that would make people a little bit more responsible and responsive.

[Page 11568]

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we appointed the review officer, Mr. Darce Fardy, for a five-year term. What this means is that we now have an individual who is going to have the opportunity to learn about the office, not that he doesn't know about it because he has been in an acting position there for some time, but has the opportunity to develop a more appropriate plan for dealing with FOIPOP requests. He also has a separate budget vote.

We also require the FOIPOP review officer to present an annual report. Everybody can see, Mr. Speaker, really, what we do. We don't have to FOIPOP what the FOIPOP office has done. He has to make an annual report. Many of the 1999 amendments were recommended by a 1996 advisory commission, which I should say was commissioned by the Liberal Government. They had almost three years to implement the recommendations, but like so many things, the previous government was all talk, all smoke and no action. They had three years to implement those recommendations. I don't know, perhaps the honourable member, if he gets back up on his feet, will tell us why the government of which he sat on the Executive Council didn't implement a bill to strengthen the Act when they were in government. (Interruptions) When you hear comments like that, you understand why the freedom of information costs are so great.

This government is committed to openness and accountability. One of this government's first accomplishments was the introduction of open and transparent financial reporting. This province now has one set of books and Nova Scotians can see where their tax dollars are being spent. We don't have a set of Liberal books for one thing and another set of Liberal books for another thing. We have the financial condition of this province, which, by the way, Mr. Speaker, is still pretty distressing, but at least people understand where we are, and they also understand that this government has balanced the budget and is moving to strengthen our financial position.

[4:30 p.m.]

In October of this year we fulfilled another commitment to make the government open and accountable to the people of Nova Scotia; that was we launched the province's Lobbyist Registration Bill. This bill allows Nova Scotians to know who is being paid to lobby government. The lobbyists must provide their names and contact information, along with the names of those they are lobbying for, and they must also identify who they will be lobbying.

Mr. Speaker, Ontario is the only other province with a similar registry, but of course there is also a federal lobbyist registry. Just before I sit down - I'm going to share my time with the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - Nova Scotia has the most open and accessible freedom of information law in the country. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said in the O'Connor decision that Nova Scotia's Act is unique in Canada; the court said the Act is deliberately more generous to its citizens than other Acts in other provinces, and the federal Act.

[Page 11569]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the honourable Minister of Health, for an opportunity to say a few words on this Opposition Bill No. 141. If I could, I would like to take the honourable member for Richmond down memory lane for a little walk. Perhaps he might recall, if his good friend and predecessor for the Richmond riding was talking to him recently, that when the government of the day, the Savage Government, gave away the beautiful asset that we had in Sheet Harbour, the port, to Cerescorp' the then-Third Party, the Opposition, the Progressive Conservatives, applied through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the lease agreement.

Now before we did that, I want it to be clearly noted on the public record that we contacted and communicated through our caucus office to the Minister of Economic Development of the day to voluntarily provide that information to the public domain - here is the taxpayers' of Nova Scotia's asset, and the former member - and I think it's okay to use his name - Tom MacInnis and the people along the Eastern Shore, Premier John Buchanan and the people in Nova Scotia, supported that port down in Sheet Harbour.

The Liberal Government, the sanctimonious Third Party today, now would have us believe that, oh my gosh, the Tories have moved in and somehow have put severe limitations on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, when in fact they would not disclose - and what a sin it was. Mr. Speaker, it was a sin that the government of the day, the Savage Liberals, wouldn't even have the common courtesy to table the lease between Ceres-corp and the Port of Sheet Harbour. The stevedores - what about the wharfage fees, where did that money go? Why did the government of the day give away a provincial public taxpayer asset to Cerescorp, a big company out of Chicago?

Say it isn't so; I ask any member on that side of the House, stand up and say it isn't so. No, nobody will stand up. The fact of the matter is (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, he's going to tell us it isn't so; he's going to disclose the contract here today.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. As you would be well aware, I had the privilege of entering this House in 1998, not the day when the member is referring to, but he's referring to having made a call and not getting information. I'm just curious - there might have been some confusion with the voice - was he using his real voice or was he Elmer Fudd that day, or whichever other cartoon character he might have been?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, there was a voice that was representing the people of Nova Scotia and the people of Sheet Harbour, but it wasn't coming from that side, it wasn't coming from that government. (Interruptions) Exactly. It was a shame. The province worked hard to establish a port in Sheet Harbour, and we applied to find out in the process that was

[Page 11570]

established through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; we wanted that lease. We did our very best to get it and they clammed up completely.

Do you know why, Mr. Speaker? We found out later when we received through the freedom of information, we received a piece of paper, letter size, and it was all blacked out - any information that would be relevant and pertain to the cost. The fact of the matter was they gave away that taxpayer asset and my good colleague, who was a councillor of the day, worked with us, he tried to work with that government and they would not disclose and they wouldn't tell Nova Scotians why they gave away the Port of Sheet Harbour to a firm out of Chicago and I say shame, shame, shame on that government. Now they have the audacity and the temerity to stand in their place today and ask for a contract to be disclosed or any information or ask for a reason. It's terrible.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to follow up on a comment from the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health was quoting from the O'Connor case and let me start by saying I'm going to share my time with my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview but, in particular, the Minister of Health in the O'Connor case started quoting how this was such a great Act. The thing is this government never quotes the fact that the Court of Appeal also said that they weren't following the Act and that this government did not apply the Act properly and that they were actually violating the Act. That was the real brunt of what the Court of Appeal was saying, but this government has a tendency to forget that part of it. They're only trying to remember the parts that are good for them.

I want to talk a bit about Bill No. 141. Obviously, that's why we're here today. Earlier today in Question Period, Mr. Speaker, we brought forward the issue of fees and the fact that these fees that the government is doing are nothing more than a political tactic. It's a means by which this Tory Government is attempting to try to limit the access to information from the people of Nova Scotia. We've already seen a chill or a freeze that has occurred throughout Nova Scotia with regard to applications under the Freedom of Information Act. We've seen that Nova Scotians, the amount of applications are going down because of the cost. Now, the government would like to say that's because they're frivolous applications that were wasting too much money.

Well, the irony of all this is, Mr. Speaker, we don't know exactly how much money this government spends on freedom of information. Back in the Spring they pulled a number out of the air, I think it was $700,000, or something like that, but when pushed to explain where that number came from, they couldn't rationalize it. They could not explain the cost involved in running the Freedom of Information programs throughout the government and to this day they've never clearly explained that either. As a result of that, this government can sit there, or stand there, the Minister of Health can talk, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley can talk, and they can say that they themselves believe that there's a

[Page 11571]

high cost to freedom of information, but the Minister of Justice, who is in charge of this Act, has never been able to rationalize how much this government is spending and, therefore, why there was a need for a fee increase.

Mr. Speaker, that is a major problem with how this government has operated under this Act. It is clear the fee increase was nothing more than politics, nothing more than politics, and I've never seen or heard any member of that government, whether it be a backbencher or Cabinet Minister, or the Premier himself, ever openly and honestly admit or deny that fact, but it's a truth.

Mr. Speaker, we must go beyond. I guess I wanted in my short time speaking on this bill and, of course, we support the bill. I mean the bill itself is a bill that deals with the issue of reducing the fees and turning back the clock in many ways, but I think it's an opportunity for us to put on the record that we need to go beyond just the fee reductions. Yes, in the past there have been changes to the Freedom of Information Act that have opened it up to more government services, but there still needs to be more done. Like any good piece of legislation, it has to evolve. It doesn't remain static. It doesn't just lock in in 1994 or 1999, or 2001, or 2002. We need to be looking at this legislation and saying what can we do to improve it because I think what's most important and what we should always remember is that this legislation is a crucial component of democracy. It's not something we had 100 years or 200 years ago when democracy began to flourish in Nova Scotia or in Canada, but it's something that now is seen as an integral component to an open and accountable government.

For us as Opposition members, for non-government organizations, for individuals and the citizens of Nova Scotia, to journalists, this is a piece of legislation that allows us, as government has grown, has become more cumbersome, to find the information necessary, to find out whether the executive, whether the Cabinet, whether the backbenchers, whether individual bureaucrats in the government are actually doing their job and whether they're doing it in an accountable manner and in a cost-effective manner Mr. Speaker.

That is why we need the Freedom of Information Act, not only as it stands now, not as it stood before these fee increases, but in the future as well. We need to improve on this legislation, we need to build on this legislation, we must make it stronger. We must talk about a review officer who has more powers, we must talk about other components of the legislation, enforcement of the legislation, to ensure that instead of it being a system that tries to coerce, a system that tries to encourage the government to be open and accountable, that actually gives power to the review officer and empowers individual citizens in this province to ensure the government is accountable and is able to provide the information that is requested.

[Page 11572]

Something that's always lost in this, Mr. Speaker and I think that is why that's important - it's almost in the name, freedom of information, is the name of this bill. I think it's important to reflect the fact that this is the people's information. Everything that is held by the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Transportation, is all information that is government information and therefore it's the people's information. They have a right to know what that information is.

And all too often we hear from these ministers and from this government like they aren't just the keepers of the gate to the public's information, Mr. Speaker, but they are the owners of that information and they're not. And that is why it is so important that this government has an appreciation of the need, not only in spirit but in law, that this legislation must be improved to ensure the people's information is accessible to the people of Nova Scotia. That is not the way it is now, but that's the way it should be.

You know, Mr. Speaker, in the summer I had an opportunity to travel in Eastern Europe, some of the emerging democracies, and did some work on freedom of information. It's interesting to watch a country that only a few years ago was under a dictator, 20 years ago, 10 years ago was under communism, and to see what they want in a Freedom of Information Act; what they want because they see democracy as something new, something that they need to ensure that they have the ability to hold their government accountable.

I think sometimes the people in our government, whether they be bureaucrats or elected officials, have a tendency to forget those facts, to forget why they're here, why they're elected and whose information it is that they're keeping. It's the people's information and when you go to a country that is new, is emerging as a democracy, you begin to see that they have a real interest, Mr. Speaker, in ensuring that that information is open. You also hear the politicians in a refreshing manner, government politicians, talking about wanting to make the information open because they know, it's not that long ago they were under a dictator or they were under communism. They know that if you don't entrench these in laws, what they may want when they leave can change into something that is not democratic, is not open, is not accountable. I would hope that everyone across those benches in the government would have that appreciation with regard to freedom of information.

They're not only guarding the people's information, they should be producing laws to entrench the right of the people to access that in a cost-effective manner. This government hasn't done that, this bill would help move that in some direction. I would like to see more,

my caucus would like to see more changes but, Mr. Speaker, it is important that we continue to improve on the Freedom of Information Act to ensure not only our democratic rights but

open and accountable government and the people's information is available to the people of Nova Scotia.

Thank you and I will pass the rest of my time over to the honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 11573]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this bill is a good example of the Liberal Party at work. This bill is a good example of the Liberal Party that I have come to know and intensely dislike, a Party that appears to have no sense of the disconnection between what they say and what they do, a Party that's bereft of principles, that is stranger to consistency, innocent of any kind of original idea because, when they were in government, there was no one that was worse about clamping down on information, than the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. That crowd over there is bad enough but no one was worse than them.

I was a freedom of information coordinator inside government. I applied for information as a private citizen, I applied for information as a staff member of the NDP caucus and I've sat in this House through a couple of debates of Freedom of Information. I think I know my way around the Freedom of Information Act and how it actually works in the real world, how it actually works in practice.

[4:45 p.m.]

I can say that freedom of information does not work unless you believe in it. You have to believe that opening up information leads to good government. You have to believe that letting your citizens know what's going on is going to make for better decisions. You have to believe it in your heart and your soul. That crowd over there, the Liberal Party, never believed it for one second. I think somebody should introduce the new Liberal Leader to his Party because he seems to have no conception of what this crowd who sit on my left actually did when they were in government. The way they clamped down on information, the way they ignored for three years, until they were tossed out of office, the recommendations of the Freedom of Information review report.

I would have a little more sympathy with what the member for Richmond is talking about, the utter hypocrisy of listening to a Liberal say, "Transparency should be a cornerstone of our government.". I would have a little more sympathy for listening to a Liberal say that if they could convince one single Liberal Government in Canada to actually follow through on what they're saying. The Liberal Government of Newfoundland has the worst Freedom of Information legislation in Canada, bar none. The Liberal Government of British Columbia have, just within the last couple of weeks, clamped down on information so that a lot less information is available than was available before. I won't even begin to talk about the federal Liberal Party which has carved out such enormous exceptions in the federal Act that essentially no useful information can be obtained.

So as soon as this crowd manages to convince one single other Liberal in Canada to do what they're saying, maybe then the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia can come to this House with clean hands and say, yes, this is what Liberals believe in. They have the gall, this Party of hypocrites doesn't believe in freedom of information for one second.

[Page 11574]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before I recognize the honourable member, I would ask the member for Halifax-Fairview to withdraw the statement referring to the Liberals as hypocrites. It is unparliamentary.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I know that's what they are, but I'm not allowed to say it, so I will withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: First of all, I would like to thank honourable colleagues for their comments, in particular the comment from the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for his comments and his support for the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Honourable members, there's a private conversation that's commanding some attention here and competing with the honourable member for Glace Bay. I would ask the honourable members to please take those private conversations outside. The honourable member for Glace Bay does have the floor.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I would like to congratulate the members, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for supporting our bill and I would also like to congratulate the member for Halifax-Fairview on proving once and for all what a class act he has going. Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, I've spent 24 years in the media practising freedom of speech and I don't need some young pup to try and tell me (Interruption) I don't need some young pup who thinks he knows everything about freedom of information to lecture me or my colleagues on what he thinks he knows and what he thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I wonder if I could ask all honourable members and especially honourable members who are engaging in a private conversation that it is overriding the debate on Bill No. 141 and I would ask the honourable member for Glace Bay to try to speak to Bill No. 141, a bill that his Party introduced before the House here, and now it's in second reading.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my comments are directed, of course, towards Bill No. 141, our bill, and my comments were directed directly towards the member for Halifax Fairview, and I continue some of those comments because of the comments that he made. Certainly, as I said, I practised freedom of speech in this province for 24 years and you don't have to be a member of the NDP caucus to know what freedom of speech is. That's not one of the prerequisites for freedom of speech in Nova Scotia, to be a member of the NDP

[Page 11575]

caucus, let me tell you that. Again, what I wanted to indicate here is my support of our bill, which takes on a 400 per cent increase in freedom of information, the cost of freedom of information requests that the Tories have instituted.

As I indicated some time ago in this House, I wanted and tried to get a response from the Minister of Education on what she thinks about this bill, what she thinks as a former newspaper editor about this bill and what she would have done when she was the editor of the very prestigious Halifax Chronicle-Herald, what she would have done when her newsroom was faced with a bill for $16,000 to try to get information from that government. As an editor at that newspaper, would she not have said that would have an impact on how her newsroom operated? Of course she would have said that would have had a negative impact on how it will operate. But, my, my, my, how the times have changed, when the minister was no longer in the media, when the minister was no longer a member of the press, was no longer an editor.

Is it right that a broadcaster or journalist in this province is threatened with what could be a $16,000 bill to get information from that government? Is it right to find out information that may be about public safety, in this case, is that correct? Is that not an infringement on freedom of speech, an infringement on freedom of the press in this province? Of course it is, Mr. Speaker. You can see that as plain as the nose on your face; it's an infringement of the freedoms of the people in this province. So it's not hard to stand here - despite the protestations from the NDP caucus that, in its hypocrisy, thinks it knows everything there is to know about freedom of speech - to defend this bill. It's not hard to defend this bill at all and to stand here and say that this government is wrong in instituting their bill. That's why we've come forth with the legislation that will correct this travesty of justice that is occurring on behalf of that government.

With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks and I now move for second reading of Bill No. 141.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to join in this debate on the freedom of information. It has been interesting listening to the other speakers talk about how it has affected their Parties and how it has affected their ability to research. But I think the point I want to zero in on for a few minutes is the Lobbyists' Registration Act. Now, I haven't heard many of the speakers talk about that, but that is indeed one of the focuses of freedom of information and information available to people. I would suggest to you the reason that a lot of governments in North America and in Canada haven't entered into that is because it's a challenging aspect and it's a challenging perspective. Of course, it requires people to register, it requires people to put down who they're talking to; it requires all those things that we debated in this House last year.

[Page 11576]

That, I think, is one of those things people can look at and say that information is going to be more readily available and information is going to be available. If they know who people are talking to, if they know they have to be registered, then that's one thing that we can point to. I think, as we look at that particular piece of legislation, it is something that this government and this whole House can be proud of as moving forward in the freedom of information.

The other thing I want to talk about is one of the things the House Leader mentioned today. The NDP, the member for Halifax Fairview mentioned about the time it takes to get information, the time it takes to get these things turned around. I think the House Leader mentioned today about the increase in the demand for requests, the number of requests and just the broad spectrum of give me everything that you have.

Mr. Speaker, that all takes time, that all takes dollars to do that. You don't just have people say, go get all the information on the number of bridges that we have and give us all the reports that you have had over five years. That is truckloads of material. So, as you start to go get that, you start to get truckloads of material and it takes people time and energy and effort to go and find that. If we believe people are serious and want to get freedom of information, then they have to ask for requests that people can respond to. I know from our department, and our department is one that you cannot give out information on clients, that is something that we all respect and understand, but there are programs, there is information, and the honourable member for Clare, today, asked me for a list of people and I'm happy to table that for him after we are done here, to provide that information. It's not something that you need to put in a FOIPOP, you simply ask the question. If we are able to provide it, we can certainly do that. I'm happy to do that.

If you said to me, give me all the information of all the meetings that we've had for the last - Mr. Speaker, if I'm able, I will table that for the honourable member for Clare, that's the list of people who were at that meeting. If they ask for something like that, you're able to table it and put it in. But if he was to ask me for all of the correspondence, all of the minutes, all of the discussions that we've had with transition groups and women's centres over the last five years, it would be quite a voluminous amount of information to get and we would have to provide people to do that.

Mr. Speaker, as I listen to the other Parties speak about the freedom of information, I hear them saying that they want to see it be more accessible, I hear them saying they're concerned about costs, then I have to say to them, I think they have to be concerned about the process and the way they are asking for information. If it is reasonable, how they do it, then it can be responded to. Now, I would like to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth North raised a point about the document that was tabled, and it will be made available to any honourable member who so requests it in the Legislature. I know the minister intended that, and the

[Page 11577]

Leader in the House of the Liberal Party recognizes that as well. I just wanted to make that clear and get it on the record. It is available for everybody when it's tabled here in the Legislature.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, it's there. The clerks are making copies of it. It will be available to them, honourable member for Dartmouth North. If he doesn't get one, please let me know, we will give you one and make it available to you.

Mr. Speaker, as we look at the freedom of information and we look at the information that people want to get, and we hear talk about what the press needs and what the various caucuses need to do their research, in a lot of cases some of that information is available through different reports. People put out a variety of reports that provide a lot of information, but it does require us to go look for it. You simply can't, all the time, expect to call the department and say, will you get us this information, when it's already in the report, because it's been made available. It just becomes a bit redundant and it requires extra effort that was really for nothing.

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the issues that we do need to keep looking at is the strengthening of the FOIPOP Act. We have had some discussions about the fact that that Act has been changed and that Act has been strengthened. You will notice that there are a lot of things on that FOIPOP Act that were not there before. It has been strengthened in that area. As I come back, in the few seconds I have left, I do just want to reiterate, the addition of the Lobbyists' Registration Act was a significant move forward by this government and indeed by this Legislature, because it was endorsed by all the Parties. It was a good addition, and that provides information that people were concerned about before, who were they talking about . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired, as has the time permitted for Bill No. 141.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other Than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 4532.

[Page 11578]

Resolution No. 4532, Remembrance Day - Statutory Holiday: All-Party - Comm. Form - notice given Nov. 7/02 - (Mr. D. Downe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased and honoured to rise and speak on Resolution No. 4532, as I was fortunate enough to be able to present this resolution to the Legislature only a few weeks ago. The operative clause reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House call for the formation of an all-Party committee to investigate and consult with Legions and all Nova Scotians and have them report back to the Legislature with recommendations on declaring November 11th, Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday for all Nova Scotians."

[5:00 p.m.]

If you travel in Europe today you will see part of the Canadian identity. Over 100,000 gravestones and a simple Maple Leaf, reflect very clearly the sacrifice that Canadians from one coast to another have laid down their lives for, the freedom that we have and sometimes take for granted in this beautiful province and this beautiful country.

These Canadians fought the valiant fight for our freedom and our democracy in places like Dieppe, people still cry when they think of Canadians and the sacrifice and the fight and the battle that went on in that great fight. In Holland, the Maple Leaf on your car - and I talked to a Dutch individual the other day who is a CEO of a corporation, he said one of the first words he was taught was Canadian because in Holland there's a great deal of respect for Canada and Canadians who liberated Holland from the Nazis.

There are symbols around the world of how Canada has done so much to bring forward peace throughout not only Europe, but in many other parts of the world. This resolution, which I hope will be supported by all members of this Legislature, would also talk about the respect that we should be having for individuals that fought in the Gulf War and Afghanistan. Those were peacekeeping missions and we think of Pte. Green and Pte. Smith we realize that we have many people that are a part of the Armed Forces who are prepared to lay down their lives for the continuation of freedom and democracy throughout the world.

This resolution is somewhat sombre. At the same time it's one that's very important. We talk about Remembrance Day but under the situation in the Province of Nova Scotia, we need to make sure it's a statutory holiday. When I talk about a statutory holiday, I want members of this House to understand, it's not meant as a holiday to go and do whatever you want. Maybe some people want to yawn at this issue, but this is a very serious issue and I can

[Page 11579]

tell you those members who are watching this on TV and have heard the yawns, would not appreciate that.

The pastor of Branch 24 said to me, Don, this is not a holiday, this is a day of respect, this is a day of reflection, this is a day to honour those who have laid down their lives for us, our generation and generations to come. That really hit me very hard because what he's saying is absolutely true - we need to first have it as a statutory holiday to have that but we should be using it in a very respectful way.

Everyone in this Chamber - and I don't believe there's anyone in this Chamber who does not have a relative or a family member, directly or indirectly, who did not fight in one of the great wars or continues to represent Canada in the Armed Forces. This day that we're talking about is a day of reflection, a day of respect. Remembrance Day is a day for all Nova Scotians to pay tribute to those who gave us so much, to pay tribute to those who are currently serving and to pay tribute to those who have risked their lives and limbs to preserve the freedoms that we take for granted. It is out of respect that the Liberal caucus brings forward this resolution today.

The Labour Standard Code as it currently stands prescribes five statutory holidays in Nova Scotia. Remembrance Day is not one of those five statutory holidays and, although Remembrance Day dictates that many businesses should close on that day, certain employees are required to work and they're given alternative days off. There's a lot of confusion out there as to whether or not Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday. Well, make it very clear, it is not a statutory holiday in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is in Newfoundland, it is in Saskatchewan, it is in Alberta, it is in British Columbia, it is in the Northwest Territories, but it is not in the Province of Nova Scotia and it's time that we moved forward on that. (Interruption) It is in Nunavut, it is in the Northwest Territories, and it is in the Yukon.

Since this resolution has been brought forward I have had a number of calls, one of which was from the president and the representatives from the Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command thanking us for bringing this forward. I received a letter just yesterday from Branch 123 of Whycocomagh, Secretary Ann MacIntosh, and I will read it.

"In reference to your resolution making Remembrance Day a Statutory holiday, we at RCL Branch #123, Whycocomagh are in full agreement with the proposal.

As the years pass we are quickly losing our veterans to age and in recognizing this, we need to more than ever, keep the reason why we in Canada are so fortunate to live in such a country as we do. Through our Veterans' valiant efforts we are living in a country that many peoples of the world can only dream about.

[Page 11580]

We urge that the caucus push to get this Resolution part of our Nova Scotia law. Party politics should not play a part in the final acceptance as we really trust . . ." that no one would ever want to play politics with this.

Mr. Speaker, I will table the letter. I also have a letter from Branch 144 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Chester, ". . . we pledge our full hearted support for your resolution to have Remembrance Day a statutory holiday. I am sure that the vast majority of Nova Scotian's [sic] believe that this is already the case." They're saying we need to make sure that that happens. My own branch in Bridgewater is very supportive of this going forward, and the vice-chair of Branch 24 says, "How can you celebrate Canada Day if you don't celebrate and recognize Remembrance Day in this country?"

Since this resolution has gone forward, I've had other conversations with other people who have said to me this is an important issue to go forward. What we said in the resolution is that it be an all-Party committee, an all-Party committee representing everybody in this House. That all-Party committee would go out and consult with businesses, consult with members of the Legion, consult with all Nova Scotians. I recommend it would come back to the Legislature in the next sitting of the House with recommendations to go forward.

Mr. Speaker, in wrapping up, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, I asked Peter O'Brien what he thought of the process. He said the process is fair. I talked to him yesterday and he said he had a number of calls come in and people appreciated the process where consultation is involved, all people in Nova Scotia in this important decision.

Mr. Speaker, as I bring this to a conclusion, I would like to quote comments made by our Premier in the Monday, November 11th edition of The Chronicle-Herald where he stated: It is also the duty of government to do everything we can to ensure that the sacrifices made by women and men who fought to preserve our freedoms are never forgotten. What better way to do that than acknowledging Remembrance Day, not as a holiday, but a statutory day of remembrance for all generations to come because, as you know, and as members of this House know, as all of us know as we travelled on November 11th to go to our respective Legions and cenotaphs to pay homage and respect to the fallen comrades who died, we all know the importance of providing that respect. I believe that the Legions across this province and many, many individual Nova Scotians would love the fact that we, as a province, would show the leadership, a leadership that's being shown in other jurisdictions.

People say we've got five statutory holidays now. Well, we have one of the lowest numbers of statutory holidays in all of Canada. Most provinces have 7, 8, 10 statutory holidays. That's not the issue. The issue is whether or not we, as a Legislative Assembly, are prepared to show our respect in a way that shows that Nova Scotians respect what has happened in the wars and what is happening in current wars and in the peacekeeping activities that are happening around the world to ensure that we, as Canadians, have freedom and freedom of democracy in this great country.

[Page 11581]

I ask all members of this House to take this resolution seriously. Some people might have made it a joke, but this is not a joke; this is very serious. I am asking - that's the most disrespectful thing I've seen from a member, to do that. (Interruptions) I will say, Mr. Speaker, this isn't about politics, this is about this House showing respect, and I would ask all members to vote in favour of this resolution as we go forward to consult with all Nova Scotians, including Legions, businesses, and all Nova Scotians, to hear what they have to say about making Remembrance Day a statutory holiday, a day to show respect for the fallen members of our family and of the Canadian community. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia - and I'm sure there are not a lot of people who know this - we have Remembrance Day designated as a holiday. It's under the Interpretation Act and the Remembrance Day Act. It's not a statutory holiday. It's the Remembrance Day Act. I would like to table that here so people would have a chance to look at that and read it.

Remembrance Day. I think of the word "remembrance". What does it mean? Reflect, think back. Remembrance Day is a day for remembrance. It's a day that was set aside in the First World War, 1914-18, which ended on November 11th at the 11th hour. The other war, 1939-45, the Second World War, and the Korean Conflict, 1950-53, these are all times for remembrance. And, yes, Nova Scotians went overseas to South Africa, the Boer War. Nova Scotians have been fighting for democracy for years. We must remember.

We must remember our veterans, those who sacrificed their lives, those who came back disabled, those who came back with scars - thinking of their memories - which they suffered in these wars. Over this past weekend I had the privilege to attend a cenotaph ceremony in Economy on Sunday, I also attended one in Tatamagouche on the morning of November 11th, I went to Truro and attended the Legion's function at noontime, and back to Tatamagouche and attended the function in Tatamagouche at the Legion that night.

It was a time to remember, and I was really taken aback at that function. There were two people at that function by the names of Lloyd and Charlotte Smith, who had lost their son, Nathan, in Afghanistan. I never met these people, although I sent them a sympathy card. I had never met them; I had the opportunity to meet them that night. They are lovely people; the type of people you would want as your neighbour. Mr. Smith said one thing to me, Bill, I wish you had known my son. That touched me.

As a government of three years, what have we done for the veterans? Well, unlike other governments - and I'm talking not only of the Liberals, but I'm talking about the Conservative Governments too - past governments had opportunities, but for some reason they didn't take advantage of them or it didn't seem that important, but it is important to me. That's why we, as a government, brought in compulsory history in Grade 11 so the young

[Page 11582]

children will remember. There is also a postcard being sent around every Remembrance Day and that postcard is sent out, it is distributed to all schools in Nova Scotia, Grade 6, and they, in turn, send a postcard to a veteran of their choice.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that is so these students will remember the history, so these students will remember. We, as a government, built the highway signs. We dedicated the highway signs to the veterans of Nova Scotia. We also dedicated, this last November 7th, a licence plate to the veterans of Nova Scotia and there are 30,000 eligible veterans who can use these plates. I was a little disappointed and I'm a little suspicious that this article appeared on November 2nd in the Cape Breton Post with some wrong information, that the veterans must pay for plates. It said that they must have served in a war and pay $100 for the plates. That information was wrong and I'm sure the member who sent this article out realizes it was wrong. I notice that it has caused a lot of grief to the veterans, a lot of confusion, and I will table this paper here.

Mr. Speaker, I know that our Canadian Forces are suffering. They're suffering because of a lack of funding. They're suffering because the present government in Ottawa does not seem to care about our service personnel. I know that people in Afghanistan, when they go over there and they're forced to be in uniforms with a gray desert background, think about it, think about the target they become in Afghanistan. Think of our Armed Forces going from 90,000-some down to 60,000. We, as a city here, are the base for the Eastern Command Navy. The Navy plays an important part in HRM and all Nova Scotia. Think of the personnel here. Think of what the lack of funding is causing. They couldn't even have a flotilla go by this year because of cutbacks on expenses on Remembrance Day. That's how bad it is. It is becoming a national disgrace.

We have Sea King helicopters built and started flying in 1961, Mr. Speaker. For every hour they fly, it takes 30 hours in maintenance. Think about that. That's 41 years old. Does the Prime Minister drive a 41-year-old car? No, but he can buy new jets for himself. These are things that we have to look at today. We have to remember, but we have to lobby Ottawa, not only this Party, but the two Parties across from us have to lobby Ottawa. Now, we are fortunate to have actually an MP in this province, who is the NDP Critic, who I hope will do a good job because I know Elsie Wayne certainly does. So if you have a concern, take it to Ms. Wayne.

Mr. Speaker, we also had a ceremony here in the Red Room on Friday, for the Juno Pavilion. Now as most people know, on June 6, 1944, D-Day, the Canadian troops landed at a place, code named Juno, in Normandy. They are building a pavilion and the wall of the pavilion will be bricks donated by individuals and provinces, anyone who wants to donate a brick. The Nova Scotia Government committed $25,000 for this brick. Nova Scotia will be recognized, to remember the veterans.

[Page 11583]

Mr. Speaker, our veterans are important. Democracy is important. This issue is important, and I believe that together, with politicians who make the laws, if we work together, and not work as individual Parties, on this important issue, democracy will not only survive, it will thrive.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Colchester North sharing this time with me. One thing I would like to put on the record, before I start my debate, is that there were some shots thrown across the floor, I don't know if it was directed at me or not, but I would just like to clear the air. This member, before he ever became a member to this great Legislature, donated the land for Legion Branch 167, to build their new Legion hall. (Applause) I challenge any member over there to stand on their feet and say that they donated land to any Legion. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be a member of this government. This government has shown their respect, not only by lip service, as some other members have done, but they have done it by proving to the veterans of our great community. Doing such things as designating Highway No. 102 as the Veterans Memorial Highway. That's a sign that we can all be proud of. Thanks to the Premier; the Honourable Ronald Russell; and the Chairman of Veterans Affairs, the member for Colchester North, for making that a reality.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the Third Party can be proud today to say that they put a sign in this province on a highway, and it's called, toll ahead. (Interruptions) Every Nova Scotian has to pay to travel over that highway. The member for Cumberland South has raised in this House many times, he said . . .

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am compelled to stand on a point of order and point out that, indeed, what that member is talking about, when it comes to renaming that highway, it was the decision of an all-Party committee of Veterans Affairs, a decision from that committee and a recommendation to that government. The other members, the Opposition members of this House, were just as much a part of that decision making, and the chairman of that committee knows that. The chairman and the committee know that. For that member, the pomposity of that member, to stand here and try to take credit for that is unbelievable. And he can't tell me to sit down, Mr. Speaker, by the way. (Interruptions) I will take my orders from the Speaker of this House and not from that backbencher over there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions)

The honourable member for Glace Bay does raise a point.

[Page 11584]

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The idea for the Veterans Memorial Highway was my idea. (Interruptions) I delivered letters to the Premier, the president of the Provincial Command, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I am glad that my idea became a reality. The member who stood up knows for a fact, and he can go back in any records, because I just want to set it straight because he is trying to ridicule us - we did it, not him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The honourable member will take his place. I would just like to say that on the point of order, it does seem to be a dispute between two honourable members, but I do know that all members, irrespective of Party are extremely proud that that sign is on the highway, and I will just leave it at that. Honourable member for Yarmouth, time has expired for this portion of the debate.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, as you have heard me say in this House before, my Dad landed June 6, 1944, in Normandy and many times the know-it-all teenager didn't really listen too much to the guard from Dorchester Penitentiary. My father had no high school education, he never went to university, and he certainly never aspired to the fact of having been a history teacher, but he gave me some of the most valuable lessons of my life when he told me on many occasions that one of the proudest things that he did was not only land at Normandy, but participate in the liberation of Holland.

I want you know that Christmas, after Christmas, after Christmas, a Christmas card used to arrive at 6 Clarence Street and it was from Holland. The know-it-all teenager of the day - that was me, incidentally - finally when he was 16 said to Dad, what's this Christmas card from Holland all about? My Dad told me that Christmas card was from the family that hid him after he was caught behind enemy lines. So when my daughter, the know-it-all that she was, after she had her university degree, and of course she had to go to Europe to find herself - I never understood that - we gave her, along with the passport and the money orders, a little small Canadian flag to put on her knapsack. Let me tell you, that young woman was well assured that that small Canadian flag was as valuable as the passport that she had. In fact, I want you to know that young woman told me on one occasion that in Holland she never, ever bought a refreshment of her choice. No matter where she was, when they found out that she was a Canadian, a refreshment was delivered to the table because of the strong connection between our country and theirs.

This is a common-sense resolution. It's based upon an all-Party committee - although I must tell the member for Lunenburg West I think it would have been, perhaps, more important if he had referred it to the Veterans Affairs Committee of which my learned friend, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, and the member for Dartmouth North are members - but an all-Party committee will then take a tour of this province and have an opportunity to listen to average Nova Scotians about this particular proposal. I will guarantee this all-Party

[Page 11585]

committee a full house at the Lakeside Legion and I will assure them there will be a full house in Whites Lake when that committee arrives.

I want the Liberal members to be prepared, because I had the occasion this weekend to talk and to listen to some members of the services. I had an opportunity to listen to Doug Biggs who is in the Northwood Manor and is a proud veteran of the Second World War and he's mad. He's mad at the Prime Minister who wants a legacy, he says - a legacy. Well, Doug Biggs says that Jean Chretien's legacy is he has destroyed the Armed Forces in this country. That comes from Doug Biggs and let me tell you Doug Biggs is a man of passion, a man of passion who says that there must be a continuing role in this country for the military.

[5:30 p.m.]

I want to share with you, Mr. Speaker, because it was through your good offices that I had the opportunity to take one of my students who recently returned from Afghanistan on a tour of this House, and you and your office took the time to meet with him. We have a picture outside of the member for Cumberland South and this young soldier. This student, incidentally, was a history student of mine and when he returned from Afghanistan - and he's going back into the forces and has returned to Edmonton - he was just like Doug Biggs and he's angry too. He's angry because of the neglect, the embarrassment that those troops had to put up with in Afghanistan. It was not just those uniforms, but it was some of the other materials that were delivered out of date, in absolutely poor condition; well-trained soldiers, a great career. When you have to turn to the Americans, when you have to turn to the Yankees for everything, it is offensive to these young soldiers. You know, that young soldier, he points the finger at Ottawa.

I had the honour here a couple of Tuesdays ago to be the guest speaker at a mess dinner. I had never been to a mess dinner before; in fact, when the invitation came, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, it was on the same night that our Boston Bruins were playing the Montreal Canadiens in an exhibition game. Let me tell you what I did. I accepted the mess dinner invitation, I asked that particular member of the military who invited me that evening, Floyd, what exactly am I supposed to say? Well, he said, the way it will work at a mess dinner is they will probably ask you more questions than you will have an opportunity to answer, because you're a politician and they want a piece of you, Bill. You're a politician and these members of the military, because of the careers they have here locally. Whether they're in the Navy, whether they're in the Army or whether they serve out of Greenwood, whether they serve in Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, whether they have to spend those innumerable hours to service those Sea Kings, they're mad. In fact, they're mad as hell.

They will have a wonderful opportunity when this all-Party committee goes to the Whites Lake Legion, because there will be members of the military present and they will be interested to know what the member for Halifax West has said with all of his influence. How come it's only the member for Saint John and the member for - if I can get the title right -

[Page 11586]

Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore - Peter Stoffer. Peter Stoffer speaks up, and why? Because Peter Stoffer is a proud Dutch-Canadian. The members of the Liberal Party don't want to hear this, but Peter Stoffer is the one who has spoken up time and time again.

Meanwhile the federal cousins of these Liberals, what have they allowed our Armed Forces to be? They've allowed them to deteriorate, they've allowed the numbers to go down to embarrassing limits. In fact, I heard today that we are rated, among our NATO allies, after Luxembourg. That is hurtful, that is embarrassing and that is, after all, a matter that must be addressed. So let's address the issue as it is.

Remembrance Day is a recollection of the important events of the past, and I know that my colleague - although I don't know if I'm allowed to call him a colleague - the member for Cape Breton Nova would say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. So it is of real importance, Mr. Speaker, that we continue to recognize Remembrance Day for what it is worth.

Mr. Speaker, as you might know, in an earlier time I was fortunate enough to attend university in another province. I never could get over the fact that in Hamilton, Ontario - first of all, we had football practice on Remembrance Day. I said to the coach at the time, there are no classes, are we going to the cenotaph, we're having football practice. We're looking at the fact that I am in the biggest province in the country and Remembrance Day, a solemn event in the communities where I grew up, a solemn event in the communities that I now represent, the big deal is whether they will actually keep the stores closed until noon, whether they will keep the malls closed until noon. Remembrance Day, treated that way, is not the way to remember our veterans.

Is that because there isn't that strong seafaring tradition that we have here in Halifax? Is it because they don't have the strong connection to the air force which they might have down in Greenwood, or the army, as you would have in Gagetown? Why is one of the largest provinces in this country not acknowledging the fact that Remembrance Day is a solemn event and should be a holiday with all stores closed, not until noon, but for the complete day?

I have also had the occasion, Mr. Speaker, to be in Quebec on Remembrance Day. Let me tell you, it's a hurtful moment for me because I want you to know where I grew up I had the opportunity, in fact, to play hockey for a number of French-speaking coaches. I know the Royal 22nd Regiment Van Doos was a proud regiment that went overseas and fought long and hard. I'm sure it must be hurtful for the Vandoos, those veterans, to realize that when we look at the Province of Quebec or we look at the Province of Ontario that Remembrance Day is not the holiday that it should be.

This committee would allow Nova Scotians to have their say on this particular issue. They would allow legionnaires, veterans and service members to have their say on what they feel on this particular resolution. I would suggest that perhaps the member who introduced

[Page 11587]

the resolution could have just as easily introduced an amendment to the labour standards legislation, brought it in as a bill which we could have then debated here and seriously taken it over to the Law Amendments Committee where it could have been, if it had the support of this House, brought forward as an Act at the time.

But that isn't how it was decided to be done. Instead, we're going to have the all-Party committee and hopefully, this all-Party committee will have the opportunity to go around this province. I look forward to that challenge, because it will be a great opportunity for us to be able to visit various Legions around the province. They are a logical place to hold these meetings. It would be a logical place to hear from Nova Scotians on this particular topic.

It's also very interesting, of course, to remember that Nunavut has chosen to be part of our Royal Canadian Legion Branch here in Nova Scotia. As some of the members in this House know, I am fortunate enough to have a daughter who is currently working in Nunavut. In Rankin Inlet, Remembrance Day is celebrated; and in Iqaluit, Remembrance Day is celebrated. I'm not saying that our all-Party committee should go to Nunavut, heaven forbid we could probably find the expenses for that. Let me tell you, there would be, throughout this province, open arms to receive an all-Party committee of provincial politicians who the people of Nova Scotia want to have their say to on this particular matter.

As I've said before, this is a common sense resolution. It has the support of this caucus. It has the support of this proud son of a World War II veteran, and it has the support of a teacher who recommended that young man, who you so graciously hosted in this House, and is now a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton.

Mr. Speaker, in the short time that I have remaining, I want to tell you of another veteran that I met on Remembrance Day. His name is Clyde Sponagle. Mr. Sponagle received, at the Legion I was fortunate enough to attend, the Dutch Liberation Medal. It was a very touching moment. It was a touching moment for me, Mr. Speaker, as a son of a veteran who participated in the liberation of Holland. Clyde Sponagle said one thing - thank God it's my local MLA presenting this to me because I don't know if I would accept it from the MP, and the MP, I want for the record to be shown, is the Liberal MP for Halifax West, Mr. Geoff Regan. I don't know whether Clyde would have accepted that medal but that's what he told me that day. That's the depth of the feeling and that's what we could sense with an all-Party tour of this province.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, much has been said about this particular resolution, Resolution No. 4532, and it's difficult to clean up, I guess, on this particular matter. It is one of the more significant resolutions to come before this House, in my opinion, and one that I think deserves the support of the House. In listening to the

[Page 11588]

previous speakers, all who spoke very well about this bill, there were some comments I didn't agree with, but I won't go there because I think the issue here is too important to start getting into politics. Who did what to whom and who didn't do this and who didn't do that. I don't think that's productive for this resolution.

What I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, is that I share a couple of honours that are very near and dear to me. One of them involves another member of this house, the Honourable Ronald Russell, who is the Government House Leader, he and I had the distinction of being recipients of the Canadian Forces decoration and I'm very proud of the fact that I have achieved that decoration and certainly I know that the Government House Leader is as well. That's the only similarity in how we got it. Somebody asked me what my role was during the Second World War and I said I was born during it. So I can't tell anybody that I fought in it although some days I look old enough to have fought in it, I guess, and some days Ron looks better than I do. I want to congratulate Ron on certainly his long and valued service to the Canadian Forces over the years and service to his country. (Applause)

Another honour that I had recently bestowed on me was a life membership in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 138. My own branch in Sydney awarded me a life membership last year and I'm very proud of that as well and very proud of the fact that I've got to know a lot of veterans over the years. Growing up, my own father, as the member for Timberlea-Prospect mentioned his father and being a serviceman, my father was in the Army. I don't know how I ever got connected with the Navy after that, but my father was with the Army, the 16th Independent Field Battery. So I got to know about military matters at a very young age in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

As I moved on, I got involved with the cadet program in Sydney and then later on the Reserve Navy as an officer. It was in that role that I really came to believe in the fact that our servicemen and the people of this country are most valued and should be most valued by anybody who knows anything about the military in this country. I had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to go down to the United States during some very interesting times and to sail on the U.S.S. Lexington in the summer of 1968. As you know, it was very interesting times in those days. We were doing observations of their low-level flying maneuvers that they were doing at that time and, during the Vietnam conflict. I can tell you that my eyes were certainly opened as to the dedication of the American service people at that time to their country in the service of their country.

When I go to Legion functions, and I've been going to the Remembrance Day functions at my branch and the other two branches in Sydney for 48 years, Mr. Speaker, as a cadet, as a cadet officer, as a Royal Canadian Navy Reserve Officer, and after that as mayor of the City of Sydney and more recently as MLA. One thing I notice is fewer friendly faces of the people that I have come to respect over the years. As I look out - and I've been giving regards from whether it be the city or the cadet corps that I was involved with or as an MLA, I would look out and I would see the faces of people - they aren't there any more. It just

[Page 11589]

makes me reflect today how much appreciation the people of Canada should bestow upon these veterans because they are getting fewer and fewer. They deserve the kind of resolution that's come before this House today.

[5:45 p.m.]

Let's not debate whether or not it's good for business or whether it's good for somebody to have a holiday or somebody not to have a holiday. That will all work itself out. I think what this House should turn its attention to is whether or not they sincerely believe that the veterans of this country should have a day set aside as a holiday. A day to remember, truly to remember. (Applause)

I believe this resolution certainly is in order to be before this House and I'm pleased that the member for Lunenburg West saw fit to bring this matter before the House. I believe there is support for this resolution in the community. I talked to some veterans the other day and they certainly would welcome the idea. They would consider it the same type of consideration that was already given in other areas but I think more importantly, a couple of them looked at me and said, are you guys really thinking about making this a statutory holiday? And I said yes, but we didn't invent it - there are other provinces in this country that have a statutory holiday on Remembrance Day so if it's good for them, it would be good for us.

Again, I feel very strongly that this resolution should go forward from here. I notice the member for Lunenburg West is back and I wanted to once again, in his presence, say how pleased I am that this member stood before this House and introduced this resolution. I believe he did it not for any other reason than to support the veterans of this country and this province and to the people who have demonstrated year in and year out and sometimes we forget that the people who belong to the Legions, the people who are veterans in Nova Scotia, do a lot of work in their communities as well. I think it's that part of their activity that some of us forget from time to time - that these people do yeoman service for the youth of our community and the poppy campaign is a good example and that money goes back into the community.

So a little recognition in the form of a statutory holiday is not going to impact adversely on anybody in this province to the point where somebody's going to be really disturbed by this. I don't think so. I think once this committee goes around and has some discussion, comes back to the House, I believe they will come back with a resolution that we can all accept as a result of the feedback that the committee will get in the communities. All this resolution is asking for, Mr. Speaker, and I will read the resolution:

[Page 11590]

"Therefore be it resolved this House call for the formation of an all-Party Committee to investigate and consult with Legions and all Nova Scotians and have them report back to the Legislature with recommendations on declaring November 11th, Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday for all Nova Scotians."

Mr. Speaker, I would move that resolution.

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

HON. DAVID MORSE: I want to thank the first speaker for sitting down early so that it gives me a few minutes up here. A lot of our members over here wanted to speak to this today and in fact, over the din here in the Chamber, I would like to be able to finish a few of the comments that the member for Yarmouth wanted to put on the record, but the House rules do not allow him to rise again.

The first thing that I would like to point out is there was some discussion about highway signs and the honourable member for Glace Bay was getting up and making some points about that. I want to be clear that it was the Veterans' Affairs Committee - which, by the way, as I understand it, it's the only province in Canada that so honours the veterans to have a Veterans' Affairs Committee. All members of this House can be proud of many of the things that have been done, not only in this session, this term of office, but in previous terms, such as the postcard of thanks, and in this term the Veterans Memorial Highway signs. Of course, the signs that the member for Yarmouth was referring to, giving credit to the Liberal caucus, were the toll highway signs on the Cobequid Pass. We're not taking credit for them, we will let the Liberals take credit for them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the member would entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour accept a question?

MR. MORSE: He can ask the question, Mr. Speaker.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, to the member speaking, does the government caucus support this bill or does it not?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member opposite that this is a resolution and not a bill. (Interruptions) I would also like to bring up another point which was near and dear to the member for Yarmouth.

[Page 11591]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour would entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour entertain a question?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, my concern is that we are running out of time and the points (Interruptions) that were not able to be made by the member for Yarmouth need to be made before this debate is over.

MR. SPEAKER: So the answer is no.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member for Yarmouth was quite passionate about this . . .

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The Minister of Environment and Labour knows this resolution deserves a vote in this House, yes or no. What he's doing on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus is filibustering this bill so it does not see the light of day. I want the Minister of Environment and Labour to understand one thing, that Nova Scotians will not be fooled by this kind of tactic of not allowing a vote to be taken . . .

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

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite wants to point out that it was a Progressive Conservative Government that in fact designated Remembrance Day as a special day in Nova Scotia, with the Remembrance Day Act, and I appreciate his pointing that out. But let's talk about the federal government, and that pertains to the member for Yarmouth's point. He spoke of schoolchildren who wanted very much to bring this forward in front of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Speaker, they went out, they had their yard sales, the bake sales, they raised money and finally, after a tremendous community effort - a couple of years ago they wanted to go see the Prime Minister in Ottawa. They raised the money, and what did they want to talk to him about? They wanted to talk to him about making Remembrance Day a national holiday. Commendable. Just as we have done in Nova Scotia, we've recognized it as a special day, by a former PC Government.

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the federal Liberal Government has a different point of view than the provincial Liberal Party. I certainly commend the provincial Party for being different from their federal counterparts, because I regret that the Prime Minister refused to

[Page 11592]

see the children. I think that speaks volumes as to how he feels about Remembrance Day and making it a holiday. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia, Remembrance Day is designated as a holiday under the Interpretation Act and the Remembrance Day Act; it is therefore a holiday established by Statute. The Remembrance Day Act requires that most businesses and organizations close; in fact it prohibits the sale or offer of sale of any goods or real property and stipulates that no person shall engage as an employer or employee for gain or reward - an appropriate and commendable action.

Obviously the legislation is quite broad in scope, and it also outlines requirements for the payment of employees who must still work on Remembrance Day, those who are involved with services that provide for the health and safety of Nova Scotians. These are some exceptions under the Act, which allow some organizations to continue to operate, such as hospitals and drug stores, and are defined under the Labour Standards Code and that's just to name a few.

Nova Scotia recognizes the importance of paying grateful tribute to those who fought and continue to fight for our freedom, Mr. Speaker, and that's why we feel it's important to observe the day as a holiday, unlike many of the other provinces in this country. Nova Scotia reveres its veterans. That's why we named Remembrance Day a holiday. That's why we have a Veterans Affairs Committee and that's why all the members of this House through the Veterans Affairs Committee have done things to recognize the special place that veterans have in our society and why we should be grateful to them.

Our legislation is broad in scope and in keeping with our continuing efforts to honour veterans as we have done with the creation of the veterans' licence plate. As has already been said, but was celebrated again on Remembrance Day, at the beginning of February next year veterans will have the opportunity to use a special licence plate. This plate of honour will remind us of the sacrifice so many have made in the name of freedom, our freedom.

Mr. Speaker, we've also paid homage to veterans with the designation of the Veterans Memorial Highway and a $25,000 donation to the Juno Beach Fund. Nova Scotians are increasingly using the time from work to attend ceremonies - a trend we hope will continue in the future. I'm very pleased, as I continue to go to the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at Acadia University which is in the heart of Kings South, because every year I not only see more people turning out to the ceremony, but I see our youth coming to the ceremony. I think that that is the greatest tribute that we can pay to our veterans - to pass on their sacrifice, the sacrifice that it's hard to get veterans to talk about because some of the things that they encountered during the war are not things that they really want to remember again, but it is important that we do remember so that this should never happen again.

[Page 11593]

That is what Remembrance Day is all about, Mr. Speaker. We must pass the baton on from the veterans, through us to our children, to our grandchildren.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for this debate has expired. I thank the honourable members, time has expired on this debate. The tradition of this House is to allow for the business and hours of the following day. I call for the end of the debate at 5:58 p.m.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Fair enough.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and the House will sit from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. The order of business following Oral Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading and the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do adjourn until tomorrow at 12:00 noon until 6:00 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've reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North:

[Therefore be it resolved that members of this House continue to support and foster measures which will persevere and strengthen the communities which make Nova Scotia such a unique and tremendous place in which to live.]

[Page 11594]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

COMMUNITIES (N.S.) - STRENGTHEN: MEASURES - SUPPORT

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on this matter. Some two weeks ago when I was attending the Italian Night at the Halls Harbour Community Centre in honour of the fire department - the monies raised were used to fund the volunteer fire department in Halls Harbour - it struck me how important communities were. During that evening I also had the opportunity to skip out for just a few minutes and go across the Valley floor to a L'Arche dance over in Wolfville where they were raising funds for the L'Arche homes and the L'Arche program in Wolfville.

As I was sitting there in Halls Harbour, three things came to my mind: one, the importance of maintaining vigorous and healthy communities in Nova Scotia; secondly, the fragility of communities and how fragile communities can be and how they need hard work in order to survive; and the third thing was thankfulness for the strength of communities in my riding of Kings North.

[6:00 p.m.]

I want to deal with these three points in the few minutes I have; first of all the importance of vibrant, healthy communities. Now I realize that many social scientists feel that this word "community" is an ambivalent word used by right and left to mean very different things. Yet I still think that although we may mean different things by community, there's a common sort of understanding on the importance of communities - particularly in today's global society. We need global organizations, we need global standards, global laws - that's one of the concerns I've had with the United States and their push in the war on Iraq to bypass the United Nations. I'm pleased they've withdrawn from that and are working through the United Nations, because we need these global organizations if we're going to have a just and fair society for all.

But we also need to counterbalance these global organizations. We need strong, vibrant, local communities - local communities which can provide for individuals a sense of place, rootedness, which is so important to us as human beings, a place of belonging, of community where they can interact with other people and not be isolated individuals, and local communities that can provide the civic energy that local communities alone can provide and that make this province such a vibrant place to live.

[Page 11595]

Peter Gzowski, in a book noted, which many Canadian historians and social observers have noted, and that is that the stress on community is, to use his words "the single characteristic of Canadian society that sets us apart from our great neighbour to the south." As I was sitting there and watching the various people interact with each other, knowing that the money was being used to fund the volunteer fire department and the smiles on people's faces and the sense of belonging, I realized how important community is and how precious it is here in Nova Scotia, but also it struck me how fragile communities were. There were a few people at that Italian Night in Halls Harbour who worked very, very hard to make that event happen, a few people who worked very hard to make the Halls Harbour community one of the most vibrant communities in Nova Scotia.

This has been brought home to me by reading a book that a friend of mine, Roger Epp, a professor out West has written about vanishing and the threatened rural communities in the Province of Saskatchewan. It's a book - I would characterize it more as a lament - about what's been happening to community life in that province and it's one that if you read it it really makes you sit up and take notice of the fact that communities, as important as they are, are very fragile.

I find it sort of a bit frustrating that it was this way. I remember reading some years ago a book by Alvin Toffler, a futureologist, entitled The Third Wave in which he said the second wave was the wave of urbanization and the third wave would be a wave in which through modern communication - this was written before the Internet, by the way - we'd be able to decentralize. I remember reading that, and always being a fan of small communities and of rural communities even back then, of thinking that would be wonderful because now we're able to live in our local communities and yet participate in the wider society as well and yet, in some senses, Toffler's prediction, although it made sense particularly with the advent of the Internet, is not realized in Canada and many small communities are threatened and their survival is threatened.

Fortunately, in Nova Scotia, at least in my riding, the demise of rural communities that my friend Roger Epp chronicled in his book when he examined the Province of Saskatchewan has not taken place. The communities in my riding are very, very strong and I'm very, very thankful for that.

In part, this is because of some investments that this government and previous governments have made. Governments can't create community, of course, but governments can destroy community quite easily through action or through inaction. So I'm pleased that in my particular riding there's been some actions that have helped to bolster the community - a rural high school which was approved by the previous government and then constructed during the term of this government, was a $20-million investment in the community which has been an important factor in the health of Kings North.

[Page 11596]

The purchase of Cape Split, I think, is something that I'm very pleased about, the $5 million. The purchase of Cape Split is more important for the larger province than just for my community, but it is an important aspect in Kings North and an important asset in Kings North. We have very little Crown land in my riding, and so it was good to see this added for the future of residents across the province.

The twinning of Highway No. 101 is important. This will present some challenges to Kings North. As Highway No. 101 is twinned, it will be a blessing and it will also be a challenge at the same time. The blessing, of course, is that it will allow people to live in my riding, which is basically a rural riding, and yet commute into work here in the urban centre of Nova Scotia where there is more employment. The challenge it will present is the pressure it puts upon agricultural land. I have tried to push my colleagues, unsuccessfully so far, to look at programs they have, for example, in the State of Pennsylvania, land banking, so that farmland can remain in farm production. Nonetheless, I think, overall the benefits of twinning are there.

The renovations at Kingstec, this is another important way, not just in my riding, but in other areas where community colleges are situated. But the commitment which I have been reading about recently to bolster community colleges is something that I think will help the rural ridings where they're situated. I was at a meeting, Mr. Speaker, not too long ago in which various people were invited to do some brainstorming about a $12 million project to revamp Kingstec and to strengthen it where it is. I was pleased to be part of that, and enjoyed hearing the visions of other people as they wanted to put in their ideas of how to make this campus, which is a strong anchor for our community, even stronger.

The multi-funding for RDAs is another project which I was pleased to take part of. We have a very strong RDA, the Kings Economic Community Development in our riding. There are many things that I'm happy about, and relieved that, in my riding, communities are strong. I would close, though, by saying, Mr. Speaker, that we need to keep in mind that government decisions and the lack of decisions, we need to always take decisions that will affect and help communities for the positive, not just in my riding, but across this province, and that we need to make the support of local communities a priority, provincially, and encourage the federal government to do the same as well. Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing what the other speakers have to say about how we can support communities in this province.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the linguist that I am not - but the fact that my learned friend says, "Therefore be it resolved that members of this House continue to support and foster measures which will persevere and strengthen . . ." or is it to be preserve and strengthen ". . . the communities which make Nova Scotia such a unique and

[Page 11597]

tremendous place in which to live." I assume that we're talking "preserve" here, not "persevere". (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, it all sounds so fine, we're going to engage communities, we're going to involve communities, we're going to allow them to be involved in decisions, we want, as MLAs, to listen to communities. I saw an example in here a few moments ago where there was no listening on an issue that was brought up as a resolution from the member for Lunenburg West, a common-sense resolution, but there was not to be any listening on that issue. That, of course, was this Remembrance Day - and I never heard that member speak at that time on that particular issue. It would be of real interest to see how the Legions in that particular community are going to respond. Our communities have vitality and strength because of issues that happen within the community.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, I represent a community that has a fighting spirit, a spirit that at times I try to reflect, a community that was upset when it was given the landfill site, a community that stood up and had its say, a community that has spoken up on other controversial issues. In fact, they expect me to continue that tradition. Let me tell you, I can speak of a couple of examples for you here. One, and the most pressing one that I have ever been involved in, was the 24-hour debates of Bill No. 68. The young men and women, so many of them that I was fortunate enough to teach, who appeared here in our gallery, in front of the Law Amendments Committee, that's engaging, that's having the vitality and strength of a group of people, some of them from Timberlea-Prospect, some from Hammonds Plains, others from Sackville, but they were engaged, they were involved, they were energized.

Let me tell you of another issue that will not go away for this government, that is the issue of coastal assessments. I can hear that member speak about Halls Harbour and the fire department, but the people from Halls Harbour that I have heard from in the past, who've called me, and not without the encouragement of that member for a change, and said speak up about this issue, not just in your particular South Shore community, the coastal communities from St. Margarets Bay around to Sambro. These communities are engaged and involved and they want to be part of the decision making. That issue of assessments, that issue of coastal access is not going away.

I asked that member opposite, if you want to visit an engaged, involved community in a decision that really hurts, then come to Prospect or go to Terence Bay and realize that some of those people are going to lose their land because they can't pay the taxes. That's involvement. That's engagement. That's commitment to the decision making. That's why, on occasion, in this House, I know members opposite and members of the Third Party, perhaps, get somewhat upset with me, and at times, Mr. Speaker, I have to be corrected by you because of one reason or another when it comes to perhaps some improper decorum.

[Page 11598]

But let me tell you, that comes out of frustration, that comes because I am expected to represent the feelings of my community. At times, the community that I represent is volatile about some issues. They are upset about Bill No. 68, still about Bill No. 68. They are upset about coastal access. They are upset about the nursing and the home care issues, which I hear about all the time.

If you want to engage and involve a community, then you go to your local Tim Hortons, you have the opportunity to sit down and listen to Nova Scotians, and let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, you will get an earful about issues that this government hasn't addressed, issues that this government has failed Nova Scotians on. When I look at what our Leader of this Party has done, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and the good staff that we have that have brought forth case after case after case on this unfair, absolutely unfair legislation which is being enacted by this government and this Minister of Health, let me tell you, whether you're in the fire hall in Halls Harbour or whether you're in the Legion in Lakeside, Nova Scotians want to talk to you about it.

I would like the member opposite to know that as a member of this government, if you had attended the events that I attended on Remembrance Day there would have been numerous comments from numerous seniors who are very upset. They're engaged, they're involved, and they want to be part of the decision. Vibrant communities come together when issues are magnified for them. In the time that I have had the honour to serve in this House, whether in the minority government or in this current arrangement, there have been times when the communities that I represent have been galvanized on certain issues, galvanized because of the passion and the commitment that they have demonstrated and that they expect me to bring to this House. There are members opposite, members who sit on the back benches, who sit and do not do their job of representing what the people are telling them in the fire hall in Halls Harbour, in the Legion in Tatamagouche. They are not speaking up and saying that Bill No. 68 was wrong, that Bill No. 68 was not the way to go, or when it comes to coastal assessments, coastal assessments have to be taken care of and continuing access for recreational use by Nova Scotians has to be addressed.

[6:15 p.m.]

I hear those matters. I know that members of my caucus, when we get together for those long meetings on Monday, so admirably run by the member for Cape Breton Centre - incidentally that was sarcasm, Mr. Speaker - four hours of the caucus chair trying to control the member for Dartmouth North and the member for Timberlea-Prospect. After the weekend the vibrant active communities that we represent, when we come back to caucus on Monday for those important four-hour meetings, we have an opportunity, the initial question as we go around the table, our Leader says - so what have you heard this weekend?

[Page 11599]

Now, after we get through the next two hours and we bring up what people have been saying to us - because we all know as MLAs that is the busiest time. Many of the people whom I represent will say to me when this House does adjourn, where have you been, Bill? What do you mean you're in the Legislature? Oh, yeah, that place down on Hollis Street. They want to see us in their schools. They want to see us on their doorsteps. They want to see us in the community. So when you return to your caucus meetings, when you have the opportunity of a weekend of sitting down and listening to the member for Dartmouth North bring forth the concerns he has heard over that weekend, for whatever reason and from whatever sources, this concern and that concern and he passionately brings them to the floor of our caucus meeting, as does the member for Cape Breton Centre, as do other members, I want you to know that's what our responsibility is as MLAs.

Now, in Opposition we have the opportunity to stand, to speak at length on various issues, but there has to be a line in the sand, there has to be a time when members opposite have to have their say. That is when you represent your active, involved, energized committee. You don't get that out of a textbook. You don't get that out of a college degree. You get that on the government wharf. You get that at the Tim Hortons in Dartmouth North or, more importantly, when the time was there, you got it at the pithead in New Waterford. That's our responsibility and that's why I take my job as seriously as I do, fortunate enough to represent the communities of Timberlea-Prospect.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, being the last speaker of the day . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Leaving the best to the last.

MR. MACEWAN: You save the best to the last, just exactly what I was thinking, Mr. Speaker. Now, this is a little bit different from the average type of resolution brought before the House although there's nothing out of order about it, just being a resolution saying resolved. You don't have to have whereases in to beef it up, but if you had some whereases in it, it would define what the member was referring to, what he was speaking about, it would perhaps focus the debate somewhat more because if you don't have any qualifications to your address, but you just start off with resolved, you have to look at what follows the word resolved. I see here that it states ". . . that members of this House continue to support . . ." assuming that they now do, ". . . and foster measures which will persevere . . ."

Now, there's nothing wrong with the word persevere, it's a good human characteristic, to be persevering. That's how I've come up here now nine times in a row at election time because I persevered. So there's nothing wrong with persevering.

[Page 11600]

Also, on top of that, strengthen the communities which make Nova Scotia such a unique and tremendous place to live and that's the end. Now, what does all that mean? Well, I don't know. It's like the peace of God, it passes all understanding - you don't know what it means, it's just a grouping of words. I don't know if it ranks on a par with some of the greater political slogans of history. I can't imagine it arousing the passions of nations as perhaps some other comments on the passing scene did, but it's this honourable member's contribution to the debate of this House and I congratulate him for participating to that extent. I'm getting like he is - using the wrong words.

The problem is, if the debates of the House are going to be focused at all, they have to come down on something specific. I'm sure if I went to his church and put a cheque in the collection basket and it was paid to the order of blank and said nothing, it wouldn't really be too appreciated by the church treasurer, maybe not even by the pastor. They like something more specific, like paid to the order of the name of whatever the church is, the sum of $50. Well, that's more like it, then you're coming down to hard facts. In this case, unfortunately, we don't see any hard facts and so we have to judge them by the evidence in the absence of hard facts.

This afternoon, just a few moments ago we saw an example of Conservative leadership in action on a resolution - I know it was presented by a member of the Opposition, but the quality of it was quite sound and basic and fundamental and I'm sure if a member of the Opposition perhaps introduced a resolution saying God save the Queen, would the honourable members opposite conduct a filibuster so that would not pass because by golly, it had been moved by a member of the Opposition. Based on that, they would deny it passage, not by the content by the measure.

In this case, I find it isn't anything to grasp onto, it's just a collection of words like John Buchanan's famous slogan of Don't Worry, Be Happy, All Will Be Well. That slogan got John elected quite a few times to this House. (Interruptions) Maybe he's following in the footsteps of John Buchanan. I don't know.

These empty words do not give sustenance to the people of Nova Scotia. They don't inspire confidence. They certainly don't arouse hope, they just make it look as if the sufferings of the people don't matter any longer. At least, not so long as this government is in power. They may focus on certain aspects of the economy and say it's because of their leadership and their policies - I have my doubts on that. I say it's in spite of this government that Nova Scotia makes any progress that it makes. It's not because of this government because they have surrendered so frequently on the fundamental duty of a government of providing moral leadership to the community that you can't even count - it's become infinite.

I recall a debate I once had with a priest as to how many angels you could get on the head of a pin and the answer was, an infinite number because it's only to human beings that time and space matter. In this case - what was I saying about infinite? How did I get off on

[Page 11601]

that track? I don't recall, but in any event, I come back to the fundamental point that I was trying to make that this resolution does not arouse much confidence.

Whether we should filibuster it out to the vital end of 6:30 p.m. or not, I don't know, because perhaps it doesn't deserve that much consideration, but I suppose if I were to sit down maybe another one of the Tories would quickly hasten back to the Chamber and get up and speak for another five minutes like we heard from the Minister of Environment and Labour. I think he spoke for more than five minutes. He spoke too much and I don't want to be guilty of that either, so perhaps, having made this general summation of my case, I can rest my case and leave the matter to further debate on another day. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I see we have no further speakers and the time has expired on this debate. I thank the honourable members for the debate this evening.

We're adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]

[Page 11602]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4705

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas Yarmouth's New Life Church celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the New Life Church's founder and Pastor, Larry Pennell, oversees a number of churches in the Maritime Provinces as part of Gospel Crusades of Canada, in addition to his duties in the Yarmouth church; and

Whereas these crusades have brought members of the New Life Church to more than eight countries around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Pastor Larry Pennell and the New Life Church on 25 years of providing spiritual guidance to residents of Yarmouth and to people around the world.

RESOLUTION NO. 4706

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas 14-year-old Mark Davis of Yarmouth has had his first article published in the latest issue of computer magazine REALbasic developer; and

Whereas Mark, a Grade 9 student at Yarmouth Junior High School, has been using a computer since he was five years old; and

Whereas REALbasic developer is a California-based computer magazine that is published six times a year and is designed for users of the REALbasic computer program;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mark Davis on his tremendous literary achievement and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

[Page 11603]

RESOLUTION NO. 4707

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas Richmond County native Michelle Richards recently took home some major prizes from the Canadian Surfboard Championship; and

Whereas Michelle was able to secure first place in both the Women's Novice Division and Open Novice Division where she faced competition from both male and female surfers while also placing second in the women's competition; and

Whereas as a resident of Dundee, Michelle started surfing two years ago and regularly practices her surfing techniques at the Point Michaud Beach;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sincerest congratulations to Michelle Richards for her surfing accomplishments at the Canadian Surfboard Championship and wish her well in all her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4708

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas local Isle Madame station Telile has received approval from the CRTC for a broadcast licence that would allow residents of Isle Madame, Louisdale and surrounding areas to pick up the channel without cable; and

Whereas Telile is a not-for-profit community cable station based in Arichat which was created in 1994 after the collapse of the groundfish fishery to educate and create awareness among the residents of Isle Madame and surrounding area of employment opportunities, community events and cultural and educational programming; and

Whereas Telile is a self-sustaining organization that uses the profits from their weekly televised bingo game to pay staff salaries and operating expenses, making them a wonderful example of successful community economic development;

[Page 11604]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their sincerest congratulations to the staff and board of Telile for their hard work and dedication in regards to the economic, social and cultural growth of Isle Madame and surrounding areas.

RESOLUTION NO. 4709

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas Ronald St. John Macdonald of Halifax was invested into the Order of Canada by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in a ceremony held at Pier 21 on October 26, 2002; and

Whereas Ronald St. John Macdonald, a former Dean of Law at Dalhousie University and at the University of Toronto, is renowned for his work on the rule of law in international relations and is the first non-European to serve as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights; and

Whereas Mr. Macdonald was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, recognizing the highest degree of service to Canada or humanity;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ronald St. John Macdonald on becoming a Companion of the Order of Canada and his continued commitment to the protection of human rights.

RESOLUTION NO. 4710

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteer firefighters are the cornerstone of every community in Nova Scotia giving unselfishly of themselves to come to the aid of those in need 365 days a year; and

Whereas over the years several volunteers with the Southampton Fire Department have placed their lives on the line for the good of their community; and

[Page 11605]

Whereas on October 19, 2002, the Southampton Volunteer Fire Department held its annual banquet and recognized the outstanding service of some of its volunteers including: Norman Fullerton, 20 years of service; Murray Meldrum, 20 years of service; Gordon Fullerton, 25 years of service; Carl Canning, 25 years of service; Archie Brown, 25 years of service; Glen Atkinson, 25 years of service; and Willis Bennett, 25 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank these gentlemen for their outstanding service with the Southampton Volunteer Fire Department.

RESOLUTION NO. 4711

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Canadians played an instrumental role in freeing Holland from German control in World War II; and

Whereas an Oxford resident, Vivian Wheaton, has received the Dutch Medal of Remembrance (in memory of her husband George Edward Wheaton) for his efforts in liberating the Nazi occupied Holland; and

Whereas Vivian Wheaton, in remembrance of her late husband George Edward Wheaton, is a recipient of this medal which demonstrates the gratitude of the Dutch Government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mrs. Vivian Wheaton on behalf of her late husband George Edward Wheaton on receipt of the Dutch Medal of Remembrance and express our gratitude for the noble service that George provided to our country as did so many others during World War II.

RESOLUTION NO. 4712

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Canadians played an instrumental role in freeing Holland from German control in World War II; and

[Page 11606]

Whereas two Springhill residents have received the Dutch Medal of Remembrance for their efforts in liberating the Nazi occupied Holland; and

Whereas Ralph Reid and Craig Mills are the recipients of this medal which demonstrates the gratitude of the Dutch Government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these two men on their receipt of the Dutch Medal of Remembrance and express our gratitude for the noble service they provided to our country as well as so many other nations during World War II.

RESOLUTION NO. 4713

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas local artist Mark Boon from Joggins, Nova Scotia, has designed and created two separate stained glass pieces which he donated to the River Hebert and Joggins Branches of the Royal Canadian Legion for Remembrance Day; and

Whereas Mr. Boon gave these pieces as a personal token of appreciation for being asked to speak at the ceremonies and both pieces have a Flanders Field theme; and

Whereas Mr. Boon has donated these pieces for all to enjoy as his way of saying thank you and in remembrance of his youth in Holland during the war and the excitement he felt at the end of war time;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Boon on designing, creating and donating these two pieces of stained glass to the Royal Canadian Legion and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4714

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Public Service is recognized within Canada and across the world as among the best in the world; and

[Page 11607]

Whereas the Long Service Awards are this province's opportunity to commend its 25-year public servants for their contributions to our society and to honour their contributions and dedication to serving the public of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in Larry Scopie's dedication to this province over the past 25 years, he has been required to work through periods of tremendous change while under the scrutiny of the people of Nova Scotia, challenges he has faced with professionalism, commitment and hard work;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Larry's achievement and thank him for the excellent service provided to the people of Nova Scotia over the past 25 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 4715

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Public Service is recognized within Canada and across the world as among the best in the world; and

Whereas the Long Service Awards are this province's opportunity to commend its 25-year public servants for their contributions to our society and to honour their contributions and dedication to serving the public of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in Douglas Leger's dedication to this province over the past 25 years, he has been required to work through periods of tremendous change while under the scrutiny of the people of Nova Scotia, challenges he has faced with professionalism, commitment and hard work;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Douglas' achievement and thank him for the excellent service provided to the people of Nova Scotia over the past 25 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 4716

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11608]

Whereas Valerie (Ruddick) MacDonald was nominated to receive the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal that was presented to her on October 23rd by Senator Joseph Day at a formal presentation ceremony in Saint John, New Brunswick; and

Whereas Valerie, a former Springhiller, is among a select number of Canadians who received this medal given to persons who have made a significant contribution to Canada, to their community or to their fellow Canadians; and

Whereas Valerie, who travelled with the "Minerettes" and the Saint John Folk Club, was featured with Wayne Ronstad on CBC television's "On the Road Again" in 1996 and in 1999 with Anne Murray, pioneered a monthly fundraising event in Hampton, New Brunswick, to help local artists and now has released a CD named, "Yours Truly";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Valerie, a daughter of the late Maurice Ruddick, famous singing miner of Springhill, on receiving the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and wish her the best of luck and continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4717

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas students and staff of the West End Memorial and Junction Road Elementary Schools in Springhill held their sixth annual Remembrance Day services this year; and

Whereas these students and staff held these services on Tuesday, November 12, 2002, to pay tribute to those who fought to keep Canada a free and democratic country; and

Whereas the students recited letters and poems which they had written with awards being provided by the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 in Springhill;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students and staff of the Springhill elementary schools for their effort to ensure we never forget the sacrifices made to Canada by those who fought in the conflicts.

[Page 11609]

RESOLUTION NO. 4718

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on November 30, 2002, the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will be holding its annual banquet; and

Whereas during their annual banquet, several members of the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department will be recognized for their years of dedication and outstanding service to the department; and

Whereas federal medals will be presented to Gerald Moore and Ernest Wood for 30 years of service and a provincial medal presented to Arnold Dobson for 25 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank these gentlemen for their outstanding service to the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department and for their commitment to the communities they serve.

RESOLUTION NO. 4719

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas in celebration of this anniversary they will be holding their annual banquet on November 30, 2002, at the fire hall in Westchester; and

Whereas the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department, under the very capable leadership of Chief Justin Rushton, has provided an immeasurable service that is available around the clock, 365 days a year, where the firefighters leave behind home and family to go to the aid of others;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department on 30 years of service to the community and thank them for their continued commitment to protect the life and property of those they serve.