Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD
01-5

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

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://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 208: Upgrade - Priority,
Mr. D. Downe 250
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Route 209 - Repair, (by Mr. B. Taylor)
The Speaker 250
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Petroleum Directorate - Energy: Role - Review, Hon. G. Balser 251
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:^
Res. 101, Educ. - Yarmouth Cons. Mem. HS: Remembrance Day
Holiday - Initiative Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 256
Vote - Affirmative 256
Res. 102, Tourism & Culture - Tourism Partnership Council:
Importance - Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 256
Vote - Affirmative 257
Res. 103, Spears, Brenda - David William Connors Memorial Award -
Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 257
Vote - Affirmative 258
Res. 104, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Long Service Awards -
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 258
Vote - Affirmative 259
Res. 105, Human Rights Commn. - Volition (Pictou Co.)/
Youth Speaks Up (Sydney): Achievements - Applaud,
Hon. J. Purves 259
Vote - Affirmative 259
Res. 106, Sports - Bible Hill Elem. Sch.: Fair Play -
Achievements Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 259
Vote - Affirmative 260
Res. 107, Paul, Dan - N.S. Police Commn.: Appointment - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 260
Vote - Affirmative 261
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 10, Order of Nova Scotia Act, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 261
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 108, Nat. Res. - Softwood Industry: Campaign for Fairness -
Premier Lead, Mr. K. MacAskill 261
Vote - Affirmative 262
Res. 109, Women, Status of - Women's Exec. Network: Nova Scotia -
Welcome, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 262
Vote - Affirmative 262
Res. 110, Nat. Res. - Atl. Can. Lumber: Trade Restrictions -
Exemption Extend, Mr. Brooke Taylor 263
Vote - Affirmative 263
Res. 111, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Deficit Contributions (Gov't. [Can.]) -
Min. Paul Martin Thank, Mr. D. Downe 263
Res. 112, Dill-Fuller, Brandon Christopher Michael: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 264
Vote - Affirmative 265
Res. 113, Econ. Dev. - Dist. 18 Bus. Dev. Assoc.: Pres./Exec. -
Re-Election Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 265
Vote - Affirmative 266
Res. 114, Educ. - Dept.: Name Change - Urge, Mr. M. Samson 266
Res. 115, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd. Custodian Strike: Min. -
CEO Contact, Mr. W. Estabrooks 266
Res. 116, Econ. Dev. - EDS Call Centres: N.S. Opening - Applaud,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 267
Vote - Affirmative 268
Res. 117, Sysco - Steelworkers: Premier - Election Commitment Honour,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 268
Res. 118, CFB Greenwood - Search and Rescue Crew:
Courageous Efforts - Praise, Mr. J. Carey 268
Vote - Affirmative 269
Res. 119, Women, Status of - Women's Exec. Network:
E-Mentoring Prog. - Launch Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 269
Vote - Affirmative 270
Res. 120, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Lock-up (One) - Min. Consider,
Mr. D. Downe 270
Res. 121, Tourism & Culture - Superhost Prog.: Queens Co. -
Participants Recognize, Mr. K. Morash 271
Vote - Affirmative 271
Res. 122, Brantall, Mary - World Special Olympics: Gold Medal -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 271
Vote - Affirmative 272
Res. 123, Tourism & Culture - Pineapple Award: Callan, Cst. Phil -
Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 272
Vote - Affirmative 273
Res. 124, Peck, Darlene & Rodney - Child Welfare League of Canada:
Cdn. Achievement Award (2000) - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 273
Vote - Affirmative 274
Res. 125, Mantle, Stan: Caring Cdn. Award - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 274
Vote - Affirmative 274
Res. 126, Yarmouth Beaver Colony: Christmas Adopt-A-Family -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 275
Vote - Affirmative 275
Res. 127, Jenner, Stephen: Caring Cdn. Award - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 275
Vote - Affirmative 276
Res. 128, Nickerson, Jessica - World Special Olympics: Performance -
Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 276
Vote - Affirmative 277
Res. 129, Health - Health Services Foundation (South Shore):
Curl for a Cause Comm. - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 277
Vote - Affirmative 277
Res. 130, Morrison, Sandy - World Special Olympics: Performance -
Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 278
Vote - Affirmative 278
Res. 131, Holleman, Jennifer - Boxing: Cdn. Championships -
Achievement Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 278
Res. 132, Sports - Hockey: Halifax Hawks -
Atom AAA Championship (2001) Congrats., Ms. M. McGrath 279
Vote - Affirmative 280
Res. 133, Sports - Curling: Westville HS Team (Boys) - Efforts Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 280
Vote - Affirmative 281
Res. 134, Stanhope, Julie - World Special Olympics: Achievement -
Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 281
Vote - Affirmative 281
Res. 135, Health - Sutherland-Harris/Aberdeen Hospitals: Cdn. Council
On Health Services Accreditation - Recognition Commend,
Mrs. M. Baillie 281
Vote - Affirmative 282
Res. 136, Ondaatje, Christopher - South Shore Cultural Life:
Contribution - Gratitude Express, Mr. J. Chataway 282
Vote - Affirmative 283
Res. 137, Black Educators Assoc./Tri-County Dist. Sch. Bd. -^
African Heritage Retrospective: Organizers - Congrats.,
Hon. G. Balser 283
Vote - Affirmative 284
Res. 138, Surette, Winnie - Caring Cdn. Award: Recipient - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 284
Vote - Affirmative 284
Res. 139, World Wide Source Call Ctr. - Parker St. Food and Furniture
Bank: Donation - Gratitude Express, Mr. T. Olive 284
Vote - Affirmative 285
Res. 140, Tourism & Culture - Bluenose II: Banfield, Orval (Fmr. Capt.)/
Watson, Philip (Capt.) - Thank/Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 285
Vote - Affirmative 286
Res. 141, Black Educators Assoc. - Campbell, Wendy/Desmond, Jennifer/
Desmond, Dedriea/Calliste, Agnes/Chase, Katherine: Recognition -
Commend, Hon. A. MacIsaac 286
Vote - Affirmative 287
Res. 142, Sports - Hockey: Pictou Co. Zellers Midget AA Team (Girls) -
Prov. Title Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 287
Vote - Affirmative 287
Res. 143, Tourism & Culture - Preston Cultural Festival (2001):
Organizers/Participants - Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 288
Vote - Affirmative 288
Res. 144, Renshaw, Melissa - N.S. Kiwanis Festival: Rose Bowl Winner -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 288
Vote - Affirmative 289
Res. 145, Educ. - Middleton Reg. HS Sr. Concert Band: European Tour -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 289
Vote - Affirmative 290
Res. 146, Hodgins, Chris - Tae Kwon Do: Open Lightweight -
Champion (2001) Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 290
Vote - Affirmative 291
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 16, Health - Oral Surgery: User Fee - Imposition Explain,
Mr. J. MacDonell 291
No. 17, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Info - Backbench Possession Explain,
Mr. D. Downe 292
No. 18, Health - Oral Surgery: User Fee - Policy, Mr. D. Dexter 294
No. 19, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Equalization Plan: Income Tax Base -
Consideration, Mr. W. Gaudet 295
No. 20, Educ. - Student Loans: Colleges/Universities -
Designation Policy Table, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 296
No. 21, Educ. - Student Loan Prog.: Taxpayers - Liability, Mr. M. Samson 297
No. 22, Educ.: Min. Code of Conduct - Redress, Mr. J. MacDonell 298
No. 23, Educ. - Student Loans: Colleges/Universities - Designations,
Mr. M. Samson 299
No. 24, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd. Custodian Strike: Replacements -
Security Policy, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 301
No. 25, Educ. - Elmsdale Sch.: Equipment Removal - Min. Stop,
Mr. W. Gaudet 302
No. 26, Environ. & Lbr. - RRFB: Unrecyclable Cups - Disposal,
Mr. G. Steele 303
No. 27, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Licence Fees: Tractors - Min. Confirm,
Mr. D. Downe 304
No. 28, Health: Guaranteed Access - Commitment, Mr. D. Dexter 305
No. 29, Tourism & Culture - C.B.: American Bookings - Decrease,
Mr. K. MacAskill 307
No. 30, Health - Diagnostic Equipment: Replacement Time Frame,
Mr. D. Dexter 308
No. 31, Health - IT: Nurses - Choice, Dr. J. Smith 309
No. 32, Fin. - User Fees: Premier - Stop, Mr. K. Deveaux 310
No. 33, Sysco: Marine Equip. - Use, Mr. Manning MacDonald 312
No. 34, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101/Ben Jackson Rd.
Intersection: Safety Problems - Delay Explain, Mr. W. Estabrooks ~ 313
No. 35, Commun. Serv. - Recipients: Work Commencement -
Benefits Continuation, Mr. D. Wilson 314
No. 36, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 10 (Mt. Uniacke, Hants Co./
Coldbrook, Kings Co.): Priority - Status, Mr. W. Estabrooks 316
No. 37, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Info - Backbench Possession Explain,
Mr. D. Downe 317
No. 38, Commun. Serv. - Regs: Benefits - Amounts, Mr. J. Pye 318
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 74, Gov't. (N.S.) - Mun./Prov. Relations: Platform -
Commitment Keep, Mr. G. Steele 320
Mr. G. Steele 320
Hon. A. MacIsaac 322
Mr. M. Samson 323
Mr. J. Pye 326
Mr. T. Olive 328
Mr. C. Clarke 330
Mr. B. Barnet 333
Mr. D. Hendsbee 335
Mr. J. Chataway 337
Hon. M. Baker 339
Hon. D. Morse 341
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Political Process - Parties: Youth - Attract:
Mr. M. Parent 343
Ms. M. MacDonald 346
Mr. M. Samson 348
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Mar. 28th at 2:00 p.m. 351

[Page 249]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2001

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

Therefore be it resolved that all Parties must do more to attract and involve youth in the political process.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

249

[Page 250]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition re Highway No. 208. The resolution is addressed to the minister, Honourable Ron Russell. "We the undersigned who travel on Highway 208 (New Germany through to Caledonia) are very frustrated with the condition of this paved section of road, as it is a serious safety hazzard due to the poor condition year round. We realize that the Department of Transportation's budget is limited, however we the undersigned hereby petition the Nova Scotia Government to place this road on the top priority list and request your immediate attention to commit money to Hwy. 208 to have the road repaired and re-paved to bring it to the proper Department of Transportation standards." There are over 300 signatures for which I have affixed my signature and I table it here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table this petition on behalf of the honourable member for Cumberland South, the Speaker of the House. (Applause)

The petition has been signed by thousands of people regarding the undersigned (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, with the House's indulgence, I will just briefly read the prayer that is on the petition. "We, the undersigned tax payers and voters who are dependent on our secondary roads between Amherst, Parrsboro and Advocate in this Cumberland County are . . .", requesting that Route 209 be repaired. They also point out that, "We have been blessed with some of the most scenic tourist attractions in Nova Scotia . . ." I beg leave to table this petition on your behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: Have you attached your name to that petition?

MR. TAYLOR: Oh, yes, I am always pleased to signed petitions. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: That puts it over 1,000. (Interruptions)

The petition is tabled. (Interruptions)

Yes, the Speaker did sign it, honourable member for Lunenburg West.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

[Page 251]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform all members that our government is launching a major review of the role of energy in the future of our province. A key part of this review is a document entitled "Powering Nova Scotia's Economy", A Public Discussion Paper on the Province's Energy Strategy.

Members will recall that reference was made to this process in the Speech from the Throne last week. I am pleased to be able to table this document and to ask the Clerk to distribute copies to all members. I would note that we intend to distribute this paper widely through the province's Internet services.

Energy is an essential part of our lives and businesses. It heats our homes, powers our businesses and runs our many methods of transportation. Energy sources include electricity, heating fuels, coal, gasoline and diesel, natural gas and oil, wood, solar, wind and tidal. Our government believes Nova Scotia is in the exciting early stages of becoming a major, international energy producer and exporter. Recent developments offshore have resulted in increased employment for Nova Scotians. We have also seen businesses spin off exciting new businesses, and expansion to existing businesses throughout this province.

Mr. Speaker, more projects and more opportunities lie ahead. That is why our government believes updating and revising the province's energy strategy must be a priority. Making the right choices today will help us achieve our vision to become the very best place in the world to live and work. In conducting our energy review, we are very aware of the need to balance economic, social and environmental factors. One of the key priorities and principles of the energy strategy process is to ensure that public consultation, fairness, transparency and accountability guide policy making.

The review includes broad consultation with individual Nova Scotians, provincial organizations involved in the energy industry, as well as businesses in Nova Scotia, other provinces and other countries. We will hold public workshops throughout the province to discuss energy options and strategies. We will meet and receive submissions from interested organizations, and seek the input and experiences of individuals, executives, academics and scientists, locally, in other regions of Canada and around the world.

Nova Scotia is part of a dynamic and changing energy world. We will examine the challenges and opportunities that are before us in all aspects of energy. We will focus on the long-term outlook. We will carefully examine the impacts and relationships among the various components of the energy industry: transportation, environment, coal, electricity, natural gas and alternative energy sources.

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Our objective is to provide a road map for government decision making with regard to this sector. The discussion paper I am tabling today on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources and myself, sets out several major goals and principles for the energy sector. It outlines important issues and questions that need to be considered. It also contains backgrounders on topics relevant to the energy industry and to Nova Scotians.

The Government of Nova Scotia decided a review of Nova Scotia's energy strategy is needed to ensure that the energy sector contributes to the province's long-term vision for its citizens. In fact, we are developing an important strategy one year earlier than was planned. An innovative and progressive energy strategy will help to expand this province's economy. Successfully implemented, it will contribute to solving our serious financial situation, improve our ability to eliminate deficits, reduce debt and taxes, and provide additional funds for essential public services such as health, education and transportation.

The revised energy strategy will focus on protecting and improving our social and environmental values while promoting our commitment to positive and competitive business climates. This is an exciting time for Nova Scotia to be pursuing new challenges and new opportunities in the energy sector.

Mr. Speaker, creating an energy strategy is an important goal for citizens and for businesses throughout Nova Scotia. It is a positive step along the road to achieving our vision of the future for Nova Scotia. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I noted a number of the things the minister said, and one of them is that they are moving forward with developing the strategy one year ahead of what was planned. That may be true, but it is many years behind when it was needed. Even though it is not coming as soon as many of us would have liked, we are certainly pleased to see that the government is moving forward.

As I begin I want to say, quite honestly, through you to the minister, that I very much appreciate, and I want to thank the minister, because a couple of days ago the minister did advise us that he would be tabling a discussion paper in the House today and making a statement, and he gave us a heads up and actually provided the information this morning. It is an example that other ministers may wish to follow when they have important pieces of information coming forward.

Mr. Speaker, I confess I haven't had a chance to go through the full document. It is a rather large document. However, I would like to make a few points. Certainly, it is extremely important that we do develop a comprehensive energy strategy, but that is not only for economic purposes and it should not only be weighted towards economic development. We

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also have to pay very close attention to our environment and the social issues that are involved.

[2:15 p.m.]

I also say while I take a look at this, I am not so totally certain that this will get us to where we want to go in terms of having that comprehensive energy policy but I am sure that the minister will be hearing a lot of good advice from Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other. I hope that he will not be listening only to certain large energy interests and that the government will not be dropping the ball as they have on a number of other things. I refer, for example, to the fact that during the last election campaign, as part of the energy policy under the Conservative Government, they talked about establishing the comprehensive energy policy, but part of that was ensuring that there would be province-wide economic development plus the lowest possible cost to consumers and businesses. Now we know that Nova Scotia Power has an application before the Utility and Review Board in which they are asking to have the ability to set differential power rates in different parts of the province depending upon whether or not natural gas is available.

That means that economic development will be harmed in those areas that do not have access to natural gas because businesses and individuals in those communities will not have the lower power rates being offered to them and they do not have natural gas available to them and that will be harmful to areas such as Cape Breton and other parts of this province that do not have it. The government registered as an intervenor in that but they did not bring forward any of those concerns to ensure that there is true competitiveness across this province and that all areas will benefit.

That is just one of the things they dropped. Certainly they have dropped the ball in terms of natural gas distribution. We see areas like New Brunswick and the United States are already using our resources which is harming our economic opportunities compared to those others because they already have access to our resource. Many areas of government have been dropping the ball.

I wanted to say that certainly one of the minister's comments that I could not agree with more is that they need a road map. Because, so far, they have been all over the place. They do not know where they are going. That is not unique to this government, it was also a characteristic of the former Liberal Government. We have seen governments trying to put together patchworks, making up policies as they go and they fly by the seat of their pants and it is about time that we develop a comprehensive energy policy that will benefit Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other. From the southernmost tip to the northernmost tip and all areas in between.

[Page 254]

I certainly look forward to hearing the input that comes forward and hopefully the government will be ensuring that we do not have to go through freedom of information requests to get access to the kinds of advice and information that it is receiving on the development of the energy policy. The information that is being provided should be available to all Nova Scotians as certainly the policies that will be put in place will be applicable to all Nova Scotians. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, when I conclude my remarks I would appreciate it if I could do an introduction at the end of my remarks?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: First of all I want to thank the minister for providing us well in advance with the details regarding this announcement today and I appreciate that. Let me say that I consider this a good step forward and I believe Nova Scotia needs a new energy strategy.

It is interesting to note that during part of the minister's talk he talks about the different sources of energy and the different forms of energy that are available presently in Nova Scotia. I am reminded of a course similar to that where people in the classroom had to be told what was available to them. It is much like Energy 100. The people of Nova Scotia now know what energy sources are available to them. I would conclude that is a piercing glance at the obvious, but nevertheless, it refreshes the memory of Nova Scotians as to what energy sources we had in the past and what we can look forward to in the future.

I also applaud the minister for the public consultation process that is going to be undertaken here and believe it or not, once in a while the government does something that I agree with. In this particular instance, I certainly agree that public discussion is warranted but I hope it does not die on the discussion paper. I hope that the actions that will come out of this are truly actions to improve the distribution and the different forms of energy in Nova Scotia for the benefit of all our people in the future.

One concern is that the government has taken too much time, I believe, to get to this stage. In the Tory blue book in the last election it was supposed to be done immediately, in year one. That hasn't been done and we are now well into year two and the consultative process is now underway. Better late than never, I guess is the way to put that.

There is a major flaw in the process, Mr. Speaker. The strategy should articulate a vision as to where Nova Scotia should be. The strategy should be a means to attain the goals of a vision. For example, this government has yet to clearly state its vision for the offshore. Except for the Campaign for Fairness, the Premier seems to have no vision for where he sees

[Page 255]

the offshore in five years or even next week. In fact, the Campaign for Fairness seems to be a diversion in hopes that Nova Scotians will not recognize the lack of a plan.

Prior to his election, the Premier said he wanted to increase Nova Scotia content in the offshore. He does not say how that will be achieved. I was hoping to see some indication of a plan in the strategy, but it doesn't seem to exist. However, I don't want to dwell on the negative here. I want to simply say, at this point, we are pleased that this process is proceeding. It is an exciting time for Nova Scotians and I see the entire strategy as a positive step. Certainly our Party will have much to say about this, as the consultative process works its way through Nova Scotia and is brought back to this particular place for further consultation. I hope that will happen sooner than later.

Mr. Speaker, at this point that's all I have to say on this except that, again, I thank the minister and at this time I would like to do an introduction.

Mr. Speaker, we have in the west gallery today, six disabled steelworkers who travelled up here from Sydney today to meet with the minister regarding their concerns about the fact that they are left out of the process in regard to pension requirements for some of the steelworkers in Sydney. I would like to introduce them, because these people have worked - most of them good friends of mine, all of them good friends of mine - at Sydney Steel over the years and have been disabled in the workplace and are suffering greatly, both emotionally and financially, these days. I would like to introduce them to you here today: Tom Corbett, Wallace Peters, Melvin Covey, Alex Kennedy, John Gale and Duncan MacIntyre. I would like them to stand and receive the warm applause of the members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, we certainly welcome the guests to the House today.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring special attention to the Legislature of a resident from Dartmouth North, Mr. Walter Turner, who is here to view the legislative sitting today. He is also an avid viewer of Legislative TV, so he certainly watches this House and its process over a period of time. In introduction to Mr. Walter Turner, we welcome him. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome him as well.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 256]

RESOLUTION NO. 101

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

Whereas Joe Bishara, a teacher at Maple Grove Education Centre near Yarmouth, formed a memorial club 16 years ago to gain national recognition for Remembrance Day as a national holiday; and

Whereas student members of the Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School Memorial Club have been working toward financing a trip to Ottawa in May to discuss the matter with various Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister; and

Whereas these students are actively recognizing the importance of Canadian history, in school and life, well ahead of the new mandatory Canadian history course starting next year for all Nova Scotia high school students;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature recognize the initiative of the teachers, students and residents of the Yarmouth area who are working to make Remembrance Day a national holiday.

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. 102

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

Whereas the biggest tourism industry delegation that Nova Scotia has ever sent to Quebec will be promoting the province this weekend in Montreal; and

[Page 257]

Whereas 39 Nova Scotians representing our tourism industry are partnering with Via Rail and the province through the Tourism Parnership Council to showcase the province at Quebec's largest annual consumer vacation show; and

Whereas the Quebec market represents close to 100,000 visitors a year and the Nova Scotia Tourism Partnership Council is aiming for Quebec visitors to increase by 5 per cent this year;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House join me in recognizing the importance of these partnerships which are working to grow Nova Scotia's vital tourism industry 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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 103

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers recently honoured Brenda Spears with its David William Connors Memorial Award; and

Whereas this award recognizes a youth worker who has shown respect, caring, empathy and dignity while going above and beyond the call of duty to serve her clients; and

Whereas Ms. Spears has worked with children with disabilities and their families throughout her entire career, all the while showing she believes in her clients' personal worth and ability;

[Page 258]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Spears on receiving this prestigious award and express its sincere thanks for her continuing dedication to young 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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 104

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is fortunate to have many dedicated health care professionals; and

Whereas the Colchester Regional Hospital recently held its long-service awards dinner honouring employees who had reached milestones in the year 2000; and

Whereas among those recognized at the awards banquet were registered nurses: Pauline Pye, 15 years of service; Carolyn Chant, 20 years of service; and Donna Baird, 25 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their appreciation and gratitude to Pauline Pye, Carolyn Chant and Donna Baird for their combined 60 years of service to patients at the Colchester Regional Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 259]

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 105

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

Whereas Volition, a dance group funded by and composed of high school students from Pictou County, received a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission award recently for its work on drug abuse, gender equality, AIDS, spirituality, peer pressure and racism; and

Whereas Youth Speaks Up, a group of students from six schools in Sydney, received a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission award for its campaigns against child labour and drug abuse;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and applaud the achievements of these young Nova Scotians for their outstanding achievements in the field of human rights.

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. 106

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

[Page 260]

Whereas in the spirit of the Sport and Recreation Commission's Fair & Safe Play initiative, Bible Hill Elementary School declared the school a Fair Play School on March 30, 1998; and

Whereas the principles of fair play are based on respect for others; and

Whereas along with teachers and parents, the students are encouraged to participate in and take ownership of school decision making based on the principles of fair play;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government and the members of this House recognize the achievements of Bible Hill Elementary School in making fair play an increasingly fundamental element in the lives of students, teachers, parents and the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

Whereas Mi'kmaq author and historian, Dan Paul, has been appointed to the Nova Scotia Police Commission; and

Whereas Mr. Paul has contributed a great deal to public discussion of issues important to all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Paul on his approval by the Legislature's Human Resources Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 261]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 10 - Entitled an Act to Establish the Order of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Rodney MacDonald)

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future date.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 108

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

Whereas all members of this House recognize the vital role the forestry industry plays in the cultural and economic fabric of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas again, the United States is threatening countervail duties against Canada's softwood industry, with Nova Scotia being dragged into the debate; and

Whereas it has been proven numerous times that Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Provinces are free from subsidies;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier lead a campaign for fairness to get co-operation from all Premiers, especially those in western Canada, that Nova Scotia must be exempt from negative actions taken by the United States or other provinces against our softwood industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 262]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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 Women's Executive Network launched its inaugural meeting in Halifax this morning with a breakfast of women from business, not-for-profits, unions and the public sector; and

Whereas the Honourable Jane Purves gave an intelligent and insightful address that included a passage from Tennyson and a confession regarding the origin of her love of shoes; and

Whereas not only was the honourable minister's address very well received by all in attendance, but financial contributions from this morning's gathering will go to Phoenix Services for Youth;

Therefore be it resolved that this House welcome to Nova Scotia the Women's Executive Network and wishes them every success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 263]

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas forestry continues to be a cornerstone of the provincial economy, employing 21,000 Nova Scotians and worth $1.4 billion; and

Whereas this industry is under serious threat due to the pending expiry of the Maritime Accord, along with the Canada-United States Softwood Lumber Agreement, without resolution; and

Whereas the four Atlantic provincial governments have repeatedly urged the federal government to continue the longstanding exemption from softwood lumber trade limits;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature, this House, urge the Government of Canada in its negotiations with the United States, to ensure that the current exemption from trade restrictions and trade actions for Atlantic Canada lumber be extended and protected beyond the April 1, 2001 date.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 111

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

Whereas in 591 days on the job, the Finance Minister will be tabling his third budget in the House tomorrow; and

[Page 264]

Whereas the minister has indicated the budget will not be balanced and, in fact, will contain a $90 million deficit; and

Whereas were it not for a significant increase in federal contributions the deficit would be even larger;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the federal Minister of Finance, Paul Martin, for bailing out our Minister LeBlanc by keeping Nova Scotia a little further from financial ruin.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 112

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

Whereas five year old Kentville native Brandon Christopher Michael Dill-Fuller showed exceptional courage and bravery unknown to most adults; and

Whereas Brandon died tragically on Sunday, March 25, 2001, after saving his entire family in a house fire in Borden, Ontario; and

Whereas Brandon's short life touched many people, including friends and family who will miss his special ways;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognizes Brandon Dill-Fuller as a true hero and offer its deepest condolences to his family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 265]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 113

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality District 18 Business Development Association held its first inaugural annual meeting last evening; and

Whereas the executive of the District 18 Business Development Association has been very active in promoting local business development issues through strategies such as their successful Buy Local sticker campaign; and

Whereas the District 18 Business Development Association has dedicated much time and hard work building pride and opportunity in the District 18 communities such as Sambro, Spryfield, Ketch Harbour, Portugese Cove, Harrietsfield and Herring Cove;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the re-elected association President Fred O'Hearn and the executive of the District 18 Business Development Association on the completion of their first year serving the communities of District 18 and that all members wish the executive well in the year ahead.

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 266]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 114

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

Whereas Guy LeBlanc is the most recent Tory to be rewarded with a plum position in the education ranks of our province; and

Whereas the new Superintendent of the Conseil Scholare Acadien Provinciale follows in the proud footsteps of former New Brunswick Tory Leader Dennis Cochrane and former Minister Leroy Legere; and

Whereas the Minister of Education and the Hamm Government remain baffled as to why the financial problems remain in our education system as they continue to reward their Tory friends with high level positions in the department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Hamm Government to rename the Education Department to now be known as the Nova Scotia education villa for old washed-up Tories.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: That was a time joke, laugh when you have time. (Interruptions)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 115

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

Whereas the labour interruption at Halifax Regional School Board facilities has affected the safety and cleanliness of these buildings; and

Whereas all children and board employees must work in a safe and clean environment; and

[Page 267]

Whereas members of NSUPE have expressed a willingness to negotiate in good faith with their employer;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education contact David Reid, CEO of the Halifax Regional School Board and encourage him to settle this labour dispute as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 116

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

Whereas EDS is a leading global electronic data systems company which services the world's leading companies and governments in 55 countries; and

Whereas EDS Canada has already created 700 jobs for Cape Bretoners by opening a call centre in Sydney in the past year; and

Whereas EDS Canada is now establishing a second state-of-the-art call centre in Port Hawkesbury that will provide at least 400 jobs which will add about $40 million in payroll to the area;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud EDS Canada for choosing this area and recognizing the benefit of our highly skilled workforce, a decision which will be an enormous boost for our local economy.,

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 268]

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 117

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

Whereas the Premier is still failing to live up to his very clear election promise to look after steelworkers; and

Whereas many former steelworkers still slip through the cracks and are not covered under an adequate pension or severance plan; and

Whereas these proud workers are now being forced to go on social assistance or rely on food banks for their very existence;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier Hamm once and for all live up to his election commitment so at the very least he can prove he has a heart and at least one shred of personal integrity.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 118

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

[Page 269]

Whereas the CFB Greenwood search and rescue crew has saved countless lives in the many years it has faithfully served our province; and

Whereas a Labrador search and rescue helicopter from CFB Greenwood recently saved a surfer and kayaker near Green Bay, Lunenburg County; and

Whereas because of our province's reliance and heavy usage of our coastal waters their valiant 24 hour service is essential to our region;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House praise the courageous lifesaving efforts of the CFB Greenwood search and rescue crew.

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 119

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 Women's Executive Network, the fastest growing executive network in Canada, is the leading organization dedicated to the advancement and celebration of executive-minded women; and

Whereas the Women's Executive Network has launched the world's first e-mentoring program; and

Whereas close to 300 executive women have volunteered as mentors to provide training, networking and mentoring opportunities for young women making career and educational decisions;

[Page 270]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Women's Executive Network on the launch of the new e-mentoring program and acknowledge the contribution of the network to the development of young women's careers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 120

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

Whereas before the budget is tabled in the House there are traditionally lock-ups where information is given in advance; and

Whereas the minister is running three lock-ups simultaneously: one for Opposition MLAs and staff, one for media and one for interest groups; and

Whereas there could quite possibly be different information provided in each of these different lock-ups;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister consider having only one lock-up so that all interested parties are provided with the same information.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 271]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 121

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

Whereas Queens County is presently enrolled in a tourism program that will hopefully see the county become the first Superhost county in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas a number of businesses in Queens County are now receiving Superhost Atlantic designations as a result of taking a seven hour program that took place in Liverpool with workshops also scheduled for Caledonia; and

Whereas more than 90 Queens County residents have gone through the one day workshop with approximately 20 Superhost businesses now being designated in the county, with more expected;

Therefore be it resolved that since the Superhost Program is an internationally recognized customer service training program, which focuses on communications, customer service and customer relations, members of this Legislature recognize all businesses in Queens County who are enrolled in this program and wish them every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 122

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

[Page 272]

Whereas nearly 3,000 athletes and coaches from 80 countries participated in the World Special Olympics held recently in Alaska; and

Whereas these athletes were guided by their motto, Let me win, But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt; and

Whereas Mary Brantall of Middleton won a gold medal in the 100 metre cross-country skiing and a bronze medal in the one kilometre relay;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our congratulations to Mary Brantall for her courage and perseverance that not only resulted in being able to participate in international competition but also the thrill of victory.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 123

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 pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality; and

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia gives the Pineapple Award to individuals nominated by visitors to our province as a way of recognizing those who have provided impeccable service and assistance to ease a stressful situation; and

Whereas one of the five award recipients was Constable Phil Callan of the RCMP Shelburne detachment for his care and compassion in tending to visitors involved in a car accident;

[Page 273]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Phil Callan and extend our appreciation for being a true ambassador for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 124

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

Whereas Darlene and Rodney Peck of Bear River, Digby County have been fostering since August 1984, caring for nearly 90 children during those 16 years; and

Whereas the Child Welfare League of Canada selected Darlene and Rodney Peck to receive its 2000 Canadian Achievement Award which recognizes the outstanding contributions of Canadian foster parents; and

Whereas the love and care Darlene and Rodney Peck have devoted to their foster children is an inspiration to us all and recognizes the hard work of providing a loving and nurturing environment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Darlene and Rodney Peck for their continued efforts on behalf of the children placed in their care and on receiving the CWLC Canadian Achievement Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 274]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 125

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia are renowned for their generosity and extraordinary selflessness; and

Whereas having these qualities in great measure, Cyril Stanley Mantle of Truro received the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award in January for long-standing voluntary service to a variety of organizations and causes in and around Truro, some of which he helped to found; and

Whereas receiving this award is of special significance this year as 2001 is designated by the UN as the International Year of Volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Stan Mantle for receiving this award and offer our warmest wishes in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 275]

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 126

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

Whereas the 4th Yarmouth Beaver Colony and their leader, Stewart Deveau, successfully participated in the Christmas adopt-a-family tradition; and

Whereas all 17 youngsters between the ages of five to seven years have truly practised their motto of sharing; and

Whereas group leader Stewart Deveau has helped give the children a sense of responsibility and caring;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the boys of the 4th Yarmouth Beaver Colony along with their leaders for living up to their motto of sharing and making a real difference to the people in their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 127

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia are renowned for their generosity and extraordinary selflessness; and

[Page 276]

Whereas in that spirit, Stephen Jenner of Musquodoboit Harbour received the Caring Canadian Award from the Governor General in January for long-standing volunteer service to a variety of organizations and causes in his community; and

Whereas receiving this annual award is of special significance this year as 2001 is designated by the UN as the International Year of Volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize that Mr. Jenner is deserving of our warmest congratulations for receiving this award and offer our sincere best wishes in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 128

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

Whereas nearly 3,000 athletes and coaches from 80 countries participated in the World Special Olympics held recently in Alaska; and

Whereas athletic competition encourages us to achieve together as well as strive for individual victory; and

Whereas Jessica Nickerson of Chester was part of the gold medal winning team in a snowshoe relay, but also won the bronze medal in the 100 and 400 metre individual events;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our congratulations to Jessica Nickerson for her stellar athletic performance at these games and wish her all the best for future competition.

[Page 277]

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

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 Health Services Foundation of the South Shore organized the First Annual Curl for a Cause bonspiel held at the Lunenburg Curling Club during March 16 to March 18, 2001; and

Whereas the fundraiser was in support of the proposed Ambulatory Care Centre at the Fisherman's Memorial Hospital; and

Whereas $6,782.63 was raised in support of the Ambulatory Care Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore and the Curl for a Cause organizing committee on their excellent fundraising efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 278]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 130

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

Whereas competing athletically is an indication of enormous dedication to set and surpass goals combined with a courageous spirit and the desire to excel; and

Whereas Sandy Morrison of Dartmouth wanted he and his partner to be the first Nova Scotian figure skating pair to win the gold medal at the World Special Olympics recently held in Alaska; and

Whereas Sandy Morrison and his partner indeed realized this personal goal and were awarded the gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend their congratulations to Sandy Morrison for his faith and perseverance that led to an outstanding, world-class performance at these games and wish him all our best in future competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

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

Whereas Nova Scotia-trained boxers took five medals in total at the Canadian championships in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, in January; and

[Page 279]

Whereas Jennifer Holleman of Kentville took the bronze medal in the female feather-weight class; and

Whereas this 31 year old Valley native is not only a local sport hero but also a mother of two children; and

Whereas Jennifer Holleman has said that if anyone bothers me in this House, she will come and thump them;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Holleman on her commendable achievement at the national level.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 132

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

Whereas the Halifax Hawks Atom AAA hockey team have won the 2001 Atom AAA provincial championship which they hosted last weekend; and

Whereas the team, coached by Doug Murphy, Greg Stymest and Craig Lynk, defeated the Strait-Richmond team 3 to 2 in overtime; and

Whereas players Geoff Hum, Scott Theriault and Alexi Pianosi were named to the tournament all-star team and Cameron Murphy was named the tournament's best goaltender and Scott Theriault the top scorer of the tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Halifax Hawks AAA Atom provincial champions and recognize their hard work and team effort as well as individual excellence in this sport.

[Page 280]

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. 133

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 Westville High boys curling team claimed the silver medal at the provincial championships; and

Whereas team members - skip Nick DiPersio, Michael Beaton, Lloyd Muirhead and Blair Salter - under the guidance of coach Vicky Graham, demonstrated skill and sportsmanship; and

Whereas the success of the team is a matter of pride for Westville High and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Westville High boys curling team along with their coach, and congratulate them for their participation in sport and team spirit.

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 281]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 134

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

Whereas the ability to compete at an international event is an enormous accomplishment and thrill in itself; and

Whereas being formally recognized as the best in the world is an achievement to be honoured and immensely proud of; and

Whereas Julie Stanhope of Halifax, together with her partner, won the gold medal in the figure skating pairs event, edging out duos from Russia and Germany;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Julie Stanhope for her personal achievement and for upholding Nova Scotian excellence at these games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 135

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

Whereas Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital and Aberdeen Hospital of Pictou County have been recognized by the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation for their excellent service in client focus and teamwork; and

[Page 282]

Whereas Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital was noted for their exceptional effort in applying the principles of quality improvement to its daily activities, while Aberdeen Hospital's Client Care and Service team was commended for implementing numerous quality initiatives; and

Whereas the accreditation process provides an objective appraisal of the organization and services provided by these two Pictou County hospitals;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature commend the staff of these hospitals for delivering quality and dependable health care to the residents of Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 136

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

Whereas Christopher Ondaatje is a celebrated patron of the arts; and

Whereas he has been a remarkable supporter of one of the most charming and well-known small theatres in Atlantic Canada, the Chester Playhouse; and

Whereas Mr. Ondaatje has given an additional $100,000 to the Chester Playhouse Renovation 2000 campaign to help complete much-needed renovations to the facility;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its gratitude to Mr. Ondaatje for his vital contribution to the cultural life of the South Shore and for all Nova Scotians and visitors to the province to enjoy.

[Page 283]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 137

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

Whereas on February 21, 2001, the Black Educators Association, in co-operation with the Southwest Regional Tri-County School Board, held an African Heritage Month Retrospective and Recognition Awards Ceremony at the Digby Elementary School; and

Whereas Ken Brown, Ernestine Locke, Amanda O'Connell, Ada Fells, Donald Berry, Constable Craig Smith, Cindy Fells, Carmelite Cromwell, Ben Bishop, The Weymouth Falls- Southville-Danvers-Hassett Parent Support Group, Tom Simms and the Acaciaville Branch of the Women's Institute of Nova Scotia were honoured that evening; and

Whereas it is vital that we acknowledge the contributions of those who have constructively invested in our future by nurturing and supporting our young people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the organizers of the event and applauding the efforts of those persons and organizations who were recognized at this ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 284]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 138

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

Whereas people of Nova Scotia are renowned for their generosity and extraordinary selflessness; and

Whereas in that spirit, Winnie Surette of Yarmouth received the Caring Canadian Award from the Governor General in January for long-standing voluntary service to her community's youth programs; and

Whereas receiving this annual award is of special significance this year as 2001 is designated by the UN as the International Year of Volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate this Nova Scotian for her special care, time and talents, and wish her all the best in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 139

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

[Page 285]

Whereas Nova Scotians pride themselves on being most generous toward charities and good causes; and

Whereas the World Wide Source Call Centre in Dartmouth already contributes to our community by employing approximately 600 people; and

Whereas the World Wide Source Call Centre donated 100 new beds, mattresses and comforters to the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank, which provides items for families on social assistance or in less fortunate circumstances;

[3:00 p.m]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House express their gratitude to World Wide Source Call Centre for their very kind gesture that may help at least 100 more Nova Scotians, particularly children, get a more comfortable night's rest.

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 140

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 Bluenose II is Nova Scotia's sailing ambassador; and

Whereas Captain Orval Banfield resigned his position as Captain of the Bluenose II in January; and

Whereas Philip S. Watson, a crew member with 15 years' experience has been appointed as the new Captain of the Bluenose II;

[Page 286]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly thank Captain Orval Banfield for his excellent service and congratulate Philip Watson on his promotion to Captain of the Bluenose II.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 141

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

Whereas the Black Educators Association has honoured five Antigonish and Guysborough County women for their contribution to education; and

Whereas Wendy Campbell, Jennifer Desmond, Dedriea Desmond, Agnes Calliste and Katherine Chase have made invaluable contributions to their local communities and to the Black community as a whole; and

Whereas through their tireless advocacy of educational issues, these five women are building stronger communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these women on their hard work and support for education in their local communities, and for their ongoing work to strengthen the Black community in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice, and the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury would be pleased to second the motion.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 287]

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. 142

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 Pictou County Zellers Midget AA girls team captured the provincial title; and

Whereas all the team members and coaching staff worked hard to earn four straight wins; and

Whereas the efforts of top scorer and tournament most valuable player, Jenny Ferguson, and the tournament's top goaltender, Candace Turnbull were a great contribution;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Pictou County Zellers Midget AA girls team for winning the provincial title and recognize the players and the coaches for their team spirit and fair play.

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 Preston.

[Page 288]

RESOLUTION NO. 143

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

Whereas the Preston area has a unique history and vibrant culture; and

Whereas the 2001 Preston Cultural Festival, which runs from March 9th to March 31st, celebrates that culture and history through music, dance and visual arts; and

Whereas the highlights of the In the Spirit festival included the opening night showcase, a gospelfest, an art exhibit entitled Home: The Art of Preston, a night of Preston storytellers called Talk that Talk, an old-time church service, a celebration of Preston writers and poets, and a festival gala recently performed at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, and ending this month with the Preston Ball Dinner and Dance extravaganza;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate festival co-founders, David Woods and Viola Fraser, and the planning committee, and the talented community of Preston upon the 2001 Preston Cultural Festival and wish them success in this and future endeavours.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 144

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

Whereas Melissa Renshaw of Truro recently won the Gordon and Irene MacKinnon Memorial Voice Rose Bowl competition for the second year in a row, at the prestigious Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival; and

[Page 289]

Whereas with this victory, Melissa becomes only the third singer in the 44 year history of the competition to achieve that distinction; and

Whereas Melissa placed first in three of her six festival pieces during the week-long competition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Melissa Renshaw on this special accomplishment, and extend our best wishes as she completes her third year of theatre and music studies at Dalhousie University.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 145

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

Whereas Middleton Regional High School senior concert band, one of the province's pioneer band programs, has been delighting audiences since 1966; and

Whereas in order to participate in an international tour, band members' fundraising efforts included working weekend shifts at a local greenhouse amongst other initiatives to defray costs; and

Whereas the band members have recently returned from an 11 day European tour, of which highlights include performing a moving concert at Vimy Ridge with a school band from the Netherlands and playing a lively concert at Euro-Disney in France;

[Page 290]

Therefore be it resolved that member of this House welcome home and congratulate members of the Middleton Regional High School senior concert band and their Director, Richard Bennett, for their dedication to music and the efforts they undertake in order to share this with the world.

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. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 146

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

Whereas Chris Hodgins, a member of the Olympian Taekwondo Academy in Antigonish has become the 2001 U.S. Open Lightweight Champion; and

Whereas Chris, 1 of 3, under-17 competitors selected to represent Nova Scotia, astounded his international competitors, pulling out a gold medal after six gruelling matches in one of the world's largest international tae kwon do competitions; and

Whereas in his final match against the defending 2000 world champion came down to a referee decision based on superior technique and skill.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chris Hodgins as the 2001 U.S. Open Lightweight Champion and acknowledge his outstanding achievement in the world-class event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 291]

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. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Yesterday there was a question asked to me by the honourable member for Cape Breton West and I would like to table the information.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question Period will begin at 3:08 p.m. and it will end at 4:38 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - ORAL SURGERY: USER FEE - IMPOSITION EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier, who guaranteed access to quality health care services for all Nova Scotians. A constituent in Dartmouth North got a call from her dentist last week, he was telling all his patients that a government directive forces patients to pay for the anesthetic when they have their wisdom teeth removed. When this woman and her son walked into the Dartmouth General last Friday, they had to pay up front $200 for the anaesthetic before her son could have this medically necessary surgery. My question for the Premier, why are you imposing this new health care user fee on Nova Scotians?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I defer that question to the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct. This is not a new fee though, this has been in for a year. It's been there for a year and if it is medically necessary to have those teeth removed for some pathological reason as opposed to, they're there and you've got to take them out, you've got to pay that fee. If its got to come out for some medically essential reason, then you don't.

[Page 292]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the fact that they did it a year ago instead of yesterday doesn't make it just as excusable, $200 is a lot of money when you don't have it. Now when someone has to have their wisdom teeth removed and I say has to have their wisdom teeth removed, they will have to come up with a $200 facility fee if it's in the hospital and another $200 for the anaesthetic, that's $400 out of pocket. The oral surgeon told our office that he has real concerns that this new fee may deter low income families from having this necessary preventative surgery.

So my question for the Premier again is, why is the Premier going down a road he criticized the former Liberal Government for and breaking another promise he made to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government was elected on a very specific platform with a great many commitments. Over the course of our mandate, we will be keeping our commitments and I hope that won't prove to be a disappointment to the members opposite.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it wouldn't be a disappointment to this member if he actually lived up to his commitments.

Mr. Speaker, south of the border the quality of your health care depends on the size of your wallet. That's not the Canadian way and that's not the Nova Scotian way. This Premier won the election with a platform document in which he guaranteed Nova Scotians access to health care. Fees like this one make quality health care dependent on your income. Will the Premier do the right thing, keep his promise and ensure that this government drops these health care fees today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Minister of Health had previously answered the question when he gave an answer that medically necessary procedures are covered, other procedures are not and they are subject to a patient charge.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - BUDGET (2000-01) - INFO.:

BACKBENCH - POSSESSION EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. This government seems to be in trouble in keeping budget information under wraps, in fact, it is almost like a sieve, it is leaking all over the place. Two recent newspaper articles pointed out that both the member for Yarmouth and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley indicated they knew what was coming in the budget. As a recent court case proved, once information is shared with a member of the government backbench it is no longer privileged information.

[Page 293]

My question to the Premier is, can the Premier tell the House why it is that members of the backbench have information about the upcoming budget?

MR SPEAKER: Order, please. I think it is clear in Beauchesne that you are not required to answer a question that would clarify whether information in a newspaper is correct or not.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is why do they know any information about what is going to be in the budget. I note with interest on March 7th, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley at a Tory gathering pointed out that there will be more money in Transportation's budget for highway work this year. That information he pronounced to his people is clearly information that is in the budget. I ask the question to the Premier, how did that member know that information was there?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will point out to the member opposite that for a year and one-half we have been telling Nova Scotians what will be in this budget. That it would have a $91 million deficit. We have told Nova Scotians that if we have additional money that it will be spent on health, education, roads and on children's programs. It has been no secret where the money will go. We have been talking about it for a year and one-half. (Interruptions)

MR. DOWNE: On my supplementary, the member for Yarmouth quite clearly said on March 19th, and the article is in the paper here, that $2.9 million was going to be in the budget for hospital repairs in the Yarmouth area. My question is to the Premier, if that information that the member had specifically did not come from a Cabinet Minister, then where did that member get that information? It is clearly a breach of confidentiality of the budget.

MR. SPEAKER: Again, you can't ask the honourable Premier to clarify whether that information in the paper was correct or not, but if he would like to attempt to answer the question.

THE PREMIER: I would point out, Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, that some weeks ago the district health authorities were given an interim budget for the upcoming year and in recent time have been given their final budget for the upcoming year. They have those budgets. Those now are public information.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, that information is not public information because we certainly don't have the details of that information. The reality is that this is information that is in the budget. The health boards don't have it, the Liberal caucus doesn't have it, I don't think the New Democratic caucus has it nor does the public of Nova Scotia have it. The reality is this is a breach of confidentiality within the caucus and within the Cabinet of the Tory Party. My question to the Premier is, when is he going to put his house in order and

[Page 294]

make sure that information pertaining to the budget is not going to be leaked to the backbenchers to spread their gospel before the budget?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is the intention of this government, as we progress through out mandate, not only will we be able to give budgets to hospital authorities, to school boards a few days or weeks ahead of the budget, but we will actually be providing them with budgets months ahead.

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

HEALTH - ORAL SURGERY: USER FEE - POLICY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I would like to paint a picture for you. A teenager has to have his wisdom teeth removed because his family dentist advises him they are at risk of more severe health problems down the road. At the hospital he pays $200 for the use of the room where he will have this medically necessary procedure done. He then has to pay an anaesthesiologist $200 for the anaesthetic. My question to the Minister of Health is, when did it become the policy of this government to require cash payments for medically necessary procedures?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government does not require cash payments for medically necessary procedures to residents of Nova Scotia. The honourable member knows that. On the other hand, for certain medical procedures which are not deemed to be essential, and I guess you could say that are in some ways elective or whatever you wish to say, the fees that are set are set by the facility in that case and not by the Department of Health.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Health Minister is trying to give us the impression that wisdom teeth removal is not medically necessary. Oral surgeons have a different opinion. If a person does not have their wisdom teeth removed at an early age, they will almost certainly develop repeated inflammations and infections, and will probably end up, at some point, in the ER. According to a dental surgeon, a person with diabetes or cardiac problems, who doesn't pay this fee, has the same reasons for getting wisdom teeth out as people who don't. Those people don't have to pay for the anaesthetic. I want to ask the minister, why are you removing from dental surgeons decisions that should rightly be made by them and instead are being made by downtown Halifax bureaucrats?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. Obviously experts make the decision. I would not categorize the member as a medical expert. I would be a little suspect, to be quite frank, of this proposed expertise he is putting on the floor.

[Page 295]

Nevertheless, I want to assure the member that the people who consider cases like that are very skilled and very knowledgeable about what they do.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think I am the only one here who didn't understand that answer. The constituent in Dartmouth North was fortunate enough to have a dentist who called all his patients to tell them about the new fee. There are those who are not so lucky and who are in for a huge surprise when they go for their surgery. Nova Scotians deserve some warning. I want to know from the minister why it is that they are making doctors and dentists do their dirty work?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is not a reasonable statement, we all know that. The Dental Society has been advised for a long time. To be quite frank, if there are dental surgeons who know that a service is going to have to be paid for and they don't tell their patients, then probably they should have. To be quite candid, I will tell you that I have had an inquiry like that before because there was some apparent miscommunication between a dental surgeon and the patient about the fee to be charged. I want to tell you, the case we looked into, it was clear that the patient had been informed.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - EQUALIZATION PLAN:

INCOME TAX BASE - CONSIDERATION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Liberal caucus, like many Nova Scotians, is trying to learn as much as possible about the government's equalization plan. To do that, we have met with, at our request, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations staff - and I had already mentioned this to the minister, and I appreciated that. We met with Mayor John Morgan from CBRM, and today we met with Mayor Peter Kelly and some of his councillors. Also, we have contacted many mayors and wardens and councillors across Nova Scotia. Now we would like to hear from the Premier. My question is, is the Premier considering an income tax-based equalization plan instead of one based on property taxes?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that requires an update from the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have had considerable responses from across the province and I want to say to the House that the calibre of those responses has been very impressive. I have spent a large part of my day going through many of those and will continue to do so over the course of the next period of time.

[Page 296]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I think what Nova Scotians want is simply a straight answer and no tricks here for the Premier. Mr. Premier, do you support the equalization plan as proposed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can emphatically say is that I support the consultation process that was just described by the minister in response to the question.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase my question. Nova Scotian's want to know, does the Premier endorse this equalization plan, yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to deal with an Opposition Party that on one day criticizes the government because they don't consult and on the other day they criticize the government for not making an immediate decision before consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - STUDENT LOANS: COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES -

DESIGNATION POLICY TABLE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Yesterday in this House the Minister of Education claimed that she hadn't seen the proposed designation policy on student loans which I tabled. Moments later, outside this Chamber, she changed her story claiming that this proposal is only one of many on designation which is being considered by her department.

Now I don't know about you, Mr. Speaker, but I am having a hard time believing what this minister has to say. If indeed there are other plans under consideration, I want to ask the minister if she will table them all in this House today.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer the first part of that question first, and really the explanation is quite simple. Since I did not know what document the honourable member was holding, I asked her to table it. When she tabled it, I asked a Page to make a copy, at which point I knew which document she was referring to.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister did not answer my question with respect to the plans that are being looked at, the plans that she referred to outside this Chamber when she refused to answer the question here on the floor of the House. This policy came as a complete surprise to student leaders and to post-secondary institutions. The students said it was scary. UCCB officials say that it would be absolutely inappropriate, and I couldn't agree more. Now we all remember last year's attack on P to 12 education, and the minister was concealing at that time what she was really up to. So, I want to ask this minister again, will she table here today these other alleged plans that are under consideration

[Page 297]

or will she explain to the House why she will not admit that the only plan her government is considering is the one we tabled here yesterday?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member opposite understands this, but in case not, I will explain. Governments make policy by considering policy options and this designation policy is one policy option being considered. The designation policy - a new designation policy - has been under review for two years. The student leaders know about it - we talk about it when I meet with them twice a year - the universities know about it, the colleges know about it, the trade schools know about it; they know we are working on some kind of new policy which has not yet been developed.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: The request is a reasonable request. It is very clear. We are simply asking for a clarification of what exactly is on the table for consideration so it will not be a done deal when it finally finds its way into the light of day. My question to the minister is, can the minister table those plans here today?

MISS PURVES: When the department has developed a designation policy it feels worth discussing, it will be made public and it will be made public to the students first.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - STUDENT LOAN PROG.: TAXPAYERS - LIABILITY

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: The document on designation of post-secondary institutions that the minister so emphatically denied any knowledge of yesterday in the House has caused great concern throughout the province.

As we all know, the Royal Bank was arm-twisted into an extension of their agreement to administer the student loan program. As they were certainly less than enthusiastic about the situation, seeing they were trying to leave the program, it is quite obvious that this government had to make concessions. My question to the minister is, will the minister confirm today that her government continues to pay the Royal Bank to administer student loans while the province's taxpayers are 100 per cent liable for any defaults on those new loans?

HON. JANE PURVES: The answer to the question is yes and that has been made public before. Nova Scotia taxpayers are 100 per cent on the hook for defaulted student loans and that is not news.

MR. SAMSON: We will leave Nova Scotians to decide what is or isn't news from this government. Her policy paper yesterday was not news either. CIBC has already pulled out of the student loan program, the Royal Bank has just temporarily given a four month extension on this. It is essential that student loans remain available to students who wish to

[Page 298]

pursue higher learning. My question to the minister is, will the minister confirm today that she is considering de-designation of institutions more to appease the big banks in this province, rather than because she thinks it is the right thing to do for students?

MISS PURVES: The issue of designation is a national concern. It became a national concern when the banks decided they were going to pull out of the student loan business. As all provinces are now on the hook for student loans, they have to look at making all institutions more accountable. That is what this new policy will be about.

MR. SAMSON: This is the very same minister who just cut the loan remission program in this province, which has one of the highest tuition rates in the entire country, and now she is considering education on the basis of ability to pay rather than accessibility for students.

My final question to the minister is, can the Minister of Education at least inform students of Nova Scotia when they can expect to see forms and a list of acceptable institutions, because the deadline for applications is getting very close?

MISS PURVES: Earlier the member opposite talked about the great concern among students in universities and I suggest that concern comes from the fear-mongering from the members opposite. There is not one student in Nova Scotia now who is eligible for a student loan who will not be eligible for a student loan in the future.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. : MIN. CODE OF CONDUCT - REDRESS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier's own Ministerial Code of Conduct states that, "The public is entitled to expect Ministers of the Crown to act in a way that ensures that the public interest is always paramount." Yesterday in this House the Minister of Education appears to have violated the first principle of this code. She deceived and misled the House of Assembly and the public about her department's intention to implement a draconian policy on student loan designation. I want to ask the Premier what action will he be taking against the Minister of Education in light of her violation of the code?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was here yesterday and the minister did not violate the code.

[Page 299]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, maybe I should reword the question for the minister and the Premier both. I suspected the Premier would deny that. The code of conduct isn't worth the paper it is printed on. That is a shame because the Premier seemed so earnest when introducing the code in this House. He said this document seeks to put the best interests of Nova Scotians first. Furthermore, he said it formally recognizes that obligation through an open, accountable and public process. I want the Premier to tell this House why he abandoned this worthy objective to come to the defence of a minister who has clearly violated its first principle?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, clearly what happened is that the member asking a question was referring to a document without properly tabling the document. It cannot be expected that simply waving a paper in Oral Question Period will allow those across the way to make an identification of what that document is.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we expect the story inside the House and outside the House to be the same story. The Premier is not prepared to take the appropriate action against this minister who is so clearly in violation of the code and the first point of that code which says, "Ministers must be truthful and forthright. Ministers must not deceive or knowingly mislead the House of Assembly, or the public, or permit or encourage agents of the Government to deceive or mislead the House or the public."

If the Premier will not take action against the Minister of Education on this matter, will he immediately move to repeal the legislation enacting the code given that it is so clearly a sham?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are rules in place that when members make reference to documents and hold the documents up, they table the document to allow those on the other side of the House to identify the document and to be able to respond appropriately. When that happened, the appropriate responses came forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - STUDENT LOANS:

COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES - DESIGNATIONS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister continues to downplay the importance of the de-designation paper that was prepared for her department. One of the many potential problems proposed in this discussion paper is that the Department of Education itself would start setting the admission criteria for those institutions with high default rates on student loans. At the same time they would expect these very same institutions to show how they propose to keep default rates low. The Big Brother nature of this sort of thinking is overwhelming and unprecedented even for this government.

[Page 300]

My question to the minister is, will the minister tell the House today how she would determine how some of the finest schools in the country, like Acadia or St. F.X., should change their admission requirements?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are not talking about admission requirements, we are talking about quality of programs. The programs offered in the universities now are studied and okayed by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. What we are talking about is the possibility of putting more accountability in the post-secondary system - universities, colleges and private schools.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is impossible to get a straight answer out of this minister. That proposal clearly states the Department of Education would start looking at admission criteria and making the changes unilaterally if they feel those institutions are not doing so.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other disturbing parts about this proposal is that it has suggested amending the course load for students applying for student aid from 60 per cent to 80 per cent. If this is adopted, all part-time students will not qualify for student assistance. Part-time students include single parents, married students with children and students who continue to work part-time. My question to the minister is, will she make a long-term commitment today that part-time students will continue to be eligible for Nova Scotia student loans?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, not only will I make that commitment, but I should offer the information that the federal government has talked about easing criteria to make loans for part-time students more eligible, and we follow federal criteria here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Human Resources Development Canada studies continue to show that the number one reason why students default on their student loans is lack of employment opportunities. Your government has completely abandoned economic development in this province. My final supplementary to the Premier is, when will you show leadership on the issue of student loans rather than blame students and universities for your government's own shortcomings?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the honourable member for Richmond please repeat the question?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is, when will the Premier show leadership on the issue of student loans, rather than blaming students and universities across this province for your own government's shortcoming on economic development?

[Page 301]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government will continue to show its leadership, both in the area of economic development and on the issue of student loans. It is unfortunate that a debate based around simply a piece of paper that is not government policy has generated so much apprehension among students and those who are concerned. What the Opposition Parties have to concern themselves with are the policies that we actually bring forward, not the information that we look at and very often discard.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - HFX. REG. SCH. BD. CUSTODIAN STRIKE:

REPLACEMENTS - SECURITY POLICY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. We are all aware that the custodians at local metro schools are on strike. As the Minister of Education would be aware, in order to work in a school a thorough security check must be done on each individual. As the minister is probably also aware, the school board has stated that 100 replacement workers have been hired to work in the schools while the 400 striking workers are out on the street. My question to the Minister of Education quite simply is, can she assure this House and parents that each replacement worker hired will have to go through the enhanced security check that is the standard requirement for the HRM School Board?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as the member for Halifax Needham is aware, the workers are employees of the school board. However, I will get back to the member with that information. I will check with the school board and get back to her.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think each and every one of us I think, in this province have a responsibility to ensure safety for our children, and no one more than the Minister of Education, in our school system. Madam Minister, today, after checking with the Child Abuse Registry, my office was informed that these security checks generally take three weeks to turn around, and the registry is currently experiencing a considerable backlog, meaning these checks are going to take even longer. I want to ask the Minister of Education if she can state right now that the HRM School Board must follow the standard procedures that they have in hiring replacement workers to ensure safety for our children?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly ironic, during last year's debate on Bill No. 47 I was accused of trying to take over and run the school boards, and now I am being asked to take over and run the school boards. I repeat, I will check with the school board as to what security checks have been done and/or are being done and will get back to the honourable member.

[Page 302]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think our children's best interests must always take precedence, even in a strike these children must be protected from any possible sexual predators or abusers. I want to ask the minister if she will guarantee that not one replacement worker will set foot in one of our schools until all of the necessary security checks have been completed?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, all I can do is repeat to the member that I will talk to the school board to find out the answer to her question and I will report back to the House.

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

EDUC. - ELMSDALE SCH.: EQUIPMENT REMOVAL - MIN. STOP

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Last year, through the efforts of the Liberal Party, we learned of the raiding and looting of equipment from the new school that was being built in North Sydney. Well, here we go again. I have received several letters from parents, students and concerned citizens telling me that the new school in Elmsdale is being raided of all the up-to-date technology that it was supposed to have when it opened, particularly the LCD projectors. I will table these letters. We have been told earlier that we should table some documents.

Mr. Speaker, when this situation came up last year the minister claimed that she was not aware and once she was she did the right thing and stopped the looting. I want to thank her for her immediate action. My question to the minister is, will she do the same thing this time?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, precisely because of that situation last year, that unfortunate situation, we announced 10 months ago to all the school boards and publicly, our new design standards. The new design standards are not anywhere rich as those schools that were built under the P3 regime. In the case, however, of Elmsdale, what happened was a mistake in the tender whereby they were not aware of the new standards. I have apologized to them, the department has apologized for the lack of communication but the fact is our new design standards stand. There are six other schools in the same situation, they have not objected, they have agree that what they are getting is so superior to what they had previously that they are satisfied with what they are getting.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the students of Nova Scotia deserve a level playing field. If the technology we are talking about is good enough for some places then it should be important enough for all schools. In fact, the two neighbouring schools in Lantz and in Enfield do have the same type of projector. My question to the minister, will the minister tell this House why she is nickel and diming the students of Nova Scotia out of the educational opportunities they deserve?

[Page 303]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the students of this province are going to have extremely good new schools and more of them than under the previous government, because Nova Scotia can't afford those kinds of schools. If we were building those kinds of schools, we would have to build one or two.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the parents, students, teachers and the school board all agree that the projectors are no frill but an essential tool for teaching in the 21st Century. My last question to the minister is, why is the Minister of Education convinced that she knows more about what schools need than the people who are in those environments every day?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, point number one, the school will have LCD projectors, it is just one for every two classrooms instead of one per classroom.

AN HON. MEMBER: They're portable.

MISS PURVES: Portable, exactly. They are portable. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - RRFB: UNRECYCLABLE CUPS - DISPOSAL

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this morning in Public Accounts we heard some disturbing information from the Resource Recovery Fund. My question by the way is directed to the Minister of Environment and Labour. We found out from the Resource Recovery Fund Board that there are 300 million unrecyclable cups used every year in Nova Scotia and yet there is no plan for how to deal with them. There are no talks underway on a management strategy. My first question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, what are you going to do with 300 million of these? (Interruptions)

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please! (Interruptions) Order, please. I am not going to ask the honourable member to table it, no. (Laughter) I just remind the new member that props are not allowed in the House. Thank you.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, litter is a concern. The point that the honourable member brings out is that 22 per cent of litter actually can be identified as from fast-food outlets. I think that we should all do our part and I would encourage the honourable member, when he is through using his cup, to make sure he deposits it in the waste basket.

[Page 304]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, of course the minister knows that most of the disposable cups that are used are neither recyclable nor compostable, that it is only very few of them that actually are. One of the reasons why there are no talks underway, and there were talks between the Department of Environment and Labour and the fast-food industry about what to do with these non-recyclable cups but they broke off when the government proposed the idea of a 5 cent per cup levy. It was a bad idea. It would raise $50 million when all that was being looked for was $500,000. It is turning consumers off the idea of recycling . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. STEELE: . . . and it has turned the industry off the idea of recycling. My question for the minister is, will you state clearly today that there will be no tax on coffee cups in Nova Scotia?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, once again I thank the member for dealing with a concern for all Nova Scotians. The member would know that there was a review done of the Environment Act last year and one of the recommendations in that review is the one that he is speaking of. At this point in time we, at the Department of Environment and Labour, are formulating a response to those 46 recommendations and when the response comes, then we will be pleased to table it.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, somehow when the minister says that they have no plans to levy the tax at this point in time, it doesn't make me feel any better. The reason the tax was a bad idea was because it detracted from the very real responsibility of the manufacturers and distributors and retailers to do something about the cups that they use. My final question to the minister is, what is the minister planning to do to make sure that the manufacturers and distributors and retailers deal with this issue and that it is not put on the backs of consumers alone?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, thank you again for the persistence of the member opposite. I would assure him that when that response comes forward that there will be some answers proposed, or for consideration, of dealing with the litter problem. I think it would be totally inappropriate of me to pre-empt that response.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - LICENCE FEES:

TRACTORS - MIN. CONFIRM

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Farmers of Nova Scotia are concerned. Farmers now are being taxed for marked diesel fuel in the use of food production. Now we are hearing that the minister is seriously considering doing away with lifetime licences for tractors. That is

[Page 305]

another tax grab in my view. My question to the minister is, will the minister confirm whether or not he is considering a new tax on farmers in the form of tractor licence fees?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, we don't place a tax on tractors and we don't intend to.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is to my knowledge that, in fact, the department is considering taking away the light free taxes on tractors for licensing of them and putting a tax on. My question to the minister, is he prepared to say in the House today that he will not tax farmers' tractors, licensing plates and tractors in Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can do is assure the honourable member that I will examine the wording of his question very carefully and get back to him when I understand it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I could tell you that farmers in the Province of Nova Scotia understand that minister knows how to tax them when it comes to diesel fuel and gas. They also understand that this arrogant government is prepared to tax farm truck tractors and the question to him is a fair one and the question will retain, will the minister commit to this House he will not tax farm tractors?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, my previous answer still stands and I will get back to the honourable member.

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

HEALTH: GUARANTEED ACCESS - COMMITMENT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, as expected, my question is for the Minister of Health. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, they are entrenching on my time and they know it. My question is for the Minister of Health. The minister may recall an important campaign promise his government made two years ago when they asked Nova Scotians to place their faith in them. They committed in their blue book - and it is time to drag out that book again - to guaranteed access to quality health care services for all Nova Scotians regardless of where they live.

[Page 306]

So my question, Mr. Speaker, is this, I want to ask the Minister of Health, does that commitment include guaranteed access regardless of how much a person earns?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to state once again for the edification of all in the House that Nova Scotia supports strongly the principles of the Canada Health Act.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister needs to know that there are Nova Scotians at this time who cannot afford live-saving drugs. The Heart and Stroke Foundation receives three to four calls a week from people who say that they cannot afford their medication. These are medications that if not taken, the person risks a heart attack. These people might have $200 a month to spend on food, but $400 in drug costs, and I want to ask the minister, why are you forcing people to choose between food and life-saving medication?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. Nova Scotia has one of the best sets of prescription drug programs in the country. However, I do acknowledge what the speaker is saying, that there are some individuals who do have a difficult time accessing the drugs.

I wish we could make all drugs that have some degree of efficacy available to all people, we cannot. We do have programs for people who are in need, people on community assistance and for seniors; those two Pharmacare Programs are the equivalent of just about any in the country.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this inaction by the Health Minister after more than a year of knowing these issues is nothing short of callous. It is callous because he is allowing desperate people with chronic diseases to go and beg for charity in order to maintain a quality of life. I want to ask the Health Minister, since when does making Nova Scotians beg for health care services qualify as providing equal access to health care services?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I go back I guess in two ways; first of all my first answer said that Nova Scotia is firmly committed to the Canada Health Act as are all other provinces and territories. Secondly, as I think the honourable member knows, drugs are not insured, if they aren't in hospital they aren't insured under the Canada Health Act and aren't required to be insured. Given that our government makes a tremendous expenditure on our Pharmacare Programs each year. Unfortunately we are not in a position, I wish we were, to make drugs available to everybody without cost. But we just can't do it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

[Page 307]

TOURISM & CULTURE - C.B.:

AMERICAN BOOKINGS - DECREASE

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and I am not going to suggest to the minister that he take a trip because I am going to leave that to the people of Inverness in an election. I was recently reading an advertisement in Maclean's Magazine which aimed at bringing tourism visitors to Nova Scotia to visit the beautiful Cabot Trail which it stated was one of the world's most scenic drives.

After reading that, I have heard concerns from local hotels that the American bookings were down significantly this year. I would ask the minister, can the minister confirm whether this decrease is isolated to Cape Breton or whether it is happening province-wide?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for the question. Yes, I will be taking another trip hopefully back to Halifax. In all seriousness, the tourism issue with regard to the Cabot Trail is obviously important to the member, being in his riding and important to me as well, being in my riding. I can tell you that numbers vary across the province, with regard to visitation. The Cabot Trail, I believe in Cape Breton last year was down about 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent last year. If you look at the overall picture since this government came in, in fact we are up about 13 per cent than under the previous government.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the minister telling us today that it is an isolated case that American tourism is down in Cape Breton but the information we have as I read it is that last year's revenues in the tourism industry in Nova Scotia dropped by $6 million. My question for the Minister of Tourism is, what marketing strategy has your department taken to promote American tourism in Cape Breton?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have a marketing strategy put in place with the Tourism Partnership Council which is an industry-led organization along with my staff, there's a focus along the New England States, not only within that strategy including in that the Atlantic Canada tourism partnership. Along with that we have partnerships with our ferry services going to Bar Harbour and Portland. This is a government that is committed to growing tourism in this province. We have stated that clearly; we will do so. We have a four year tourism strategy in place as well, put together this past fall. This is a government that is looking forward to the future, not looking at the short-term but the long-term.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. MACASKILL: I encourage the minister to continue with whatever strategy it takes to encourage American tourists to come to Cape Breton.

[Page 308]

A large part of the Cabot Trail's scenic Highway No. 185 runs through my constituency. As the minister knows, very close to his riding, sections of this road are in deplorable condition yet these are the very roads that we are asking tourists to visit. My question to the minister is, has the Tourism Minister spoken with the Minister of Transportation to make sure that some repairs are made to these roads in time for this year's tourist season?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: I know that, of course I have spoken to the Minister of Transportation and I would like to acknowledge the commitment he made last year to part of his riding and part of mine, a seven kilometre stretch along the Cabot Trail.

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

HEALTH - DIAGNOSTIC EQUIPMENT:

REPLACEMENT - TIME FRAME

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Canadian Association of Radiologists is warning patients that some diagnostic equipment is so outdated that diagnoses may be unreliable. This means that a patient might have a cancer that an outdated machine simply misses. Here in Nova Scotia, radiologists say that up to 60 per cent of X-ray equipment may need to be replaced. In some cases, equipment is so old that replacement parts are very hard to find and the equipment must be shut down while patients and doctors wait for parts to arrive.

So my question to the minister is, when will the outdated diagnostic equipment be replaced?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Aging diagnostic radiology equipment is a problem across Canada. Indeed, the national survey that was done and released a couple of weeks ago simply reinforced our own survey which we had done earlier in the year. Which kind of indicated that if we had some equipment that clearly is there and it is as if you go to the grocery store and you pick up a container of orange juice and it says, best before March 29th, but you drink it on April 15th, it could be perfectly okay. (Laughter) I have some in my fridge like that.

Anyway, it is like anything else, manufacturers put a best-before date on them. That does not mean that the equipment does not function properly. On the other hand (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: I want to thank the minister for that lucid explanation of best-before dates.

[Page 309]

This is not a short-term problem and a short-term solution just will not do. We know that the government has used $15 million from Ottawa for imaging equipment but that money will replace only 36 per cent of Nova Scotia's outdated radiology equipment. We need a replacement plan to ensure that Nova Scotians will have access to accurate diagnostic equipment. My question to the minister is, what is this government's long-term plan to replace diagnostic equipment?

MR. MUIR: I think I can confidently say after we had rolled out this plan, which was announced earlier in the spring which saw several pieces of diagnostic equipment or will see several pieces either updated or replaced, is that for example, in the area of CAT scanning, we will probably be as far advanced as any province in the country. Very good.

I can tell you, as well, that under the district health authority scheme, part of their responsibility is a capital acquisition plan and that is constructed each year by the district health authorities and by their predecessors, the district health boards.

MR. DEXTER: Nova Scotians need to know that when they walk into a hospital for a test that they can count on getting accurate and timely results. It is quite simply a matter of life and death. I want to ask the Minister of Health, what will the minister say to Nova Scotians who are losing confidence in the diagnostic equipment?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't think Nova Scotians are losing confidence in their diagnostic equipment. There is no question that we, like everybody else, recognize that some of the equipment that we have would best be replaced and updated. We are working at it as well as we can. I want to tell you, if the House is interested, some of the things that we have just announced for the province that are going in: DHA3, Valley Regional, CAT Scanner; DHA4 CAT Scanner. (Interruptions) If you are going to get a CAT scan do you ask where the money came from that paid for it? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just one question at a time.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - IT: NURSES - CHOICE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday the Finance Minister, a colleague of the Minister of Health, practically admitted here that if the choices were made to invest in a new health information system, about 591 days ago, the nursing crisis would be dealt with by now. My question to the Minister of Health is, since the Finance Minister is so bad at making choices, why is the Minister of Health letting him control the Health Department by forcing a choice between information technology and nurses?

[Page 310]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I must say that I don't know in what context the comment the Finance Minister made yesterday was taken by the honourable member for Dartmouth East. I want to tell you that in this government the decisions about the health care system for which the province has responsibility are made by our department.

DR. SMITH: That and $1.10 would get you a cup of coffee, if you believe that one. Page 3 of the 1999 Throne Speech said, "Where choices need to be made we will invest in hands that heal". That is nurses, I gather. The current Throne Speech only talks about taking advice from nurses. In 1999, the minister promised to hire new nurses, but now, supposedly, only taking their advice. What has happened since then?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, our government has acted on our plan and promise in the blue book. There are more physicians and more nurses full-time in this province than there have been for some years. The enrolment at the nursing faculties has been increased, the licensed practical nurses' entrance there will be increased. We have a nursing strategy, and that will become apparent with some more detail in due course.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister again for re-announcing some of the programs that we had started as the previous government. It is a continuation of a play of the Throne Speech. The minister says that he has converted some nurses to full- time, essentially. We have seen in Yarmouth and other areas where full-time nurses have been cut back, essentially. For the record, today, how many full-time nurses, new full-time nurses have started working in Nova Scotia as a result of this government's efforts? Specific numbers if the minister knows them; if not, would he take notice to provide them to the House?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement and endeavour to provide as accurate information as I can.

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

FIN. - USER FEES: PREMIER - STOP

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Premier. Last budget, in the year 2000, this government imposed $25 million in user fees on the people of Nova Scotia. The Minister of Finance, a few weeks ago, was claiming that there are going to be even more user fees in the budget tomorrow and beyond. The Auditor General has said that this particular government has no framework for dealing with user fees in an open and fair manner. We know that this Premier believes in openness and fairness. My question to the Premier is, will he put a stop to more and new user fees in this province until we have an open and fair process for dealing with them?

[Page 311]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I must remind the member opposite that government only has the money that it receives to put into programs, we do not generate money on our own.

I believe that we are being responsible and I must remind the members opposite of a document that they, themselves, produced last year called, What We Heard. What this document said is very interesting because it is clearly an endorsement of what the government is doing. For example, what the New Democratic Party heard last year is, "Balancing the budget and getting the provincial government financial house in order were the most frequently heard responses to this question. What is the one thing government must do over the next 4 years?"

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Premier will have plenty of time to respond to the budget tomorrow but the point is that the Supreme Court of Canada has clearly said - I think it was a year or two ago - that user fees can be found illegal if they seem to be a tax and are not related to the cost of the program being implemented. The Auditor General of this province has specifically said that no department in government is able to verify whether or not the user fees they have are actually legal under the Supreme Court of Canada decision.

My question, through you to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, is will the Premier table in this House any evidence that he has that the user fees that this government has been imposing and intend to impose are actually legal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we do keep in constant touch with the Auditor General. We take his criticisms and his contributions to what we do seriously. When he makes a comment, we look at it, but the indisputable point is that we are not manufacturing money. What we are doing is trying to take the taxpayers' money, take user fee money and give the people of Nova Scotia the maximum value for that money.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I would have a lot easier time believing the Premier if we actually had an open and fair process for knowing how these user fees are being determined and exactly how much is being collected by this government in user fees. The Auditor General said in his report that this government must do two things, it must have a consistent policy on determining user fees and it must be reporting to this Legislature on exactly how much is being raised through user fees. So I ask the Premier, when is the Premier going to tell this House and the people of Nova Scotia the truth about how much money they are actually raising through user fees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the minister will be tabling the budget and all the documents and that information is contained therein. They only really have another day to wait to get the information.

[Page 312]

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

SYSCO: MARINE EQUIP. - USE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. In the government's economic strategy, Opportunities for Prosperity, it says that the situation in Cape Breton Regional Municipality is fundamentally different in size and scope from the challenges that other regions and communities have faced. I might say also that the entire Budget Speech the other day contained a grand total . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Throne Speech.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: The Throne Speech, pardon me - the Budget Speech will probably do likewise tomorrow when it reflects Cape Breton - but the speech the other day had the grand total of two paragraphs in it devoted to the Cape Breton problem.

My question to the Minister of Economic Development, keeping in mind the government's statement on Opportunities for Prosperity, why won't the minister allow the citizens of Sydney to use Sysco marine facilities, including the cranes and the docks, for the purpose of economic development, with the goal being a stronger Cape Breton economy.

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. Obviously this government is concerned with economic development in all parts of the province. In terms of the process to liquidate the assets of Sysco, we have a number of proposals that are being reviewed. No one has closed the door on any proposal. What we have said through this piece is that we are going to make sure that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are going to get a maximum return on their investment after 30 years.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, every single time that I mention in this House the problems facing Cape Breton, that minister gets up and talks about the need to do something in all of Nova Scotia. I am not talking about all of Nova Scotia, I am talking about the serious economic problems in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary to the minister, on July 5, 1999, the Premier said the old ways have failed Cape Breton. They don't represent a viable or vibrant future for Cape Breton, it is time to try something new. Cape Breton's economic potential isn't limited by the past.

[Page 313]

Mr. Speaker, the marine assets from Sysco should be part of this new direction, not shipped out by some group that comes in and offers a few coins to get that equipment out of the Sydney area. My supplementary to the minister is, why will the minister not allow the community to try something new and allow them to keep the marine assets of Sysco so that the economy of Cape Breton can finally diversify?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps one of the reasons that that member, that former minister, is on that side of the House is because he did not think about the economic development for the entire province. As to whether or not the assets will be removed, the process that Ernst & Young are undertaking has not been completed yet. There is no final decision.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you this. I will not be the minister that will go down in history as the minister that destroyed 800 steel jobs in Cape Breton. I will not be that minister. That minister will enjoy that reputation for the rest of his life.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary again to the minister. It was written in the Tory blue book that the government would be, focusing on infrastructure development as a first priority. Why is this minister continuing to block the potential development of the Port of Sydney? Is he afraid that port may be successful perhaps at the expense of some other area in this province? Why will you not allow the Port Authority in Sydney to take those assets and use them in Sydney Harbour for the benefit of the local Cape Breton economy? Tell me why.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, this minister unlike the former minister is going to make sure that any plan that is put forward is one that is sustainable in the long-term. Obviously once we have decided what will be in the best interest of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that decision will be made.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO 101/BEN JACKSON RD. INTERSECTION: SAFETY PROBLEMS - DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister that everybody wants to talk to, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Last summer the Minister of Transportation received a report on the safety of Highway No. 101. Among the 26 recommendations to make this highway safer was a very specific call to deal immediately with the dangerous Ben Jackson Road intersection. I ask the minister why, more than half a year after receiving that report, have you failed to deal with the safety problems at the Ben Jackson intersection?

[Page 314]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise the honourable member that we have not failed to take any action with regard to the Ben Jackson intersection. I believe it was in last September or October, we did certain improvements to the intersection and as a matter of fact, there are discussions ongoing at the present time to (Interruptions)

MR. ESTABROOKS: The RCMP have said the Ben Jackson Road should be eliminated. I drive the road once in a while and it is dangerous. I am aware of the fact that there has been a call for immediate measures such as warning signs, a reduced speed limit, pavement arrows, et cetera. What are the changes that you have made?

MR. RUSSELL: As I was trying to tell the honourable member, in September or October of last year, we did certain improvements to the signage in that area. That is the road signage itself is an ongoing proposal that will probably take place within the next 12 months to 18 months to either close the intersection completely or else to examine the cost of putting in a regular interchange.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, 12 months to 18 months is not the issue. The issue is the number of fatalities that have taken place at that dangerous intersection and I am interested, Mr. Minister, that during the next 12 months to 18 months what is the explanation that you will give to families and friends if there are future fatalities at that dangerous intersection?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is a hypothetical question. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, would you care to answer?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the intersection at the Ben Jackson Road is by no means the danger that this honourable member is bringing to the attention of the members of the House. In point of fact there have been very few accidents in that area and I don't believe that there has been any fatalities within the last two or three years at that particular intersection. There have been some within two kilometres of that intersection, but not at that the intersection.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - RECIPIENTS:

WORK COMMENCEMENT - BENEFITS CONTINUATION

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, after considerable delay, the changes to social assistance were brought forward last Friday and there are a lot of concerns about those changes, especially as the Minister of Community Services seems dependent on some rapid job creation in the province for those changes to work. Meanwhile, the minister responsible for job creation has one-half the department he used to. My question is for the Minister of

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Community Services. Can he confirm that recipients can continue to receive benefits, such as Pharmacare, after they start work in order to help bridge them between assistance and their new jobs?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question because that is one of the significant changes that we made in this legislation that we brought forward. The regulations support the legislation that we passed last fall and we did indicate to people, after hearing their concerns that getting back to work was a problem with them if they did not have Pharmacare, that people who leave assistance and go back to work would have their Pharmacare extended for one year, yes, we did.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. Under Section 13 of the new Social Assistance Regulations, it states that, "A recipient whose workplace locks them out gets cut off from benefits." Can the minister explain the rationale of why the recipient would be punished if their workplace entered into an illegal lockout?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member only read one-half of that section. The section says, "If you are involved in strikes and labour disputes, you are not eligible for social assistance." That is what it has been and that is what it is continuing to be.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, in the document the minister is talking about, Page 7, Item 13, and it states, "An applicant or recipient engaged in a strike or who is locked out by an employer is not eligible to receive assistance." I will table that document.

Mr. Speaker, I think what is really being discovered here is this government's distaste for strikes which we saw with their clumsy handling of the negotiations with the paramedics and this government's total disregard for recipients of social assistance.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. WILSON: My question to the minister again is, can he explain why he would take the benefits away from someone who is lucky enough to find employment at a place that within a couple of months would lock them out?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quoting a section that indicates what people will be eligible for and when they will be eligible. As I indicated to him, people on social assistance will receive and will be eligible to keep their Pharmacare for up to a year. What he is referring to is whether people can come back on the system and those qualifications.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 101 (MT. UNIACKE, HANTS CO./ COLDBROOK, KINGS CO.): PRIORITY - STATUS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is to that popular - everybody wants to send a love letter to in the way of a petition - Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The NDP has long felt that you must take the politics out of roads in this province, and this current government sometimes talks the same way. We have all heard about Highway No. 101 and the dangerous section between Mount Uniacke and Coldbrook. Fatalities and serious injury have unfortunately become commonplace on this dangerous stretch of road. Highway No. 101 must remain a priority. I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, is this section of road still at the top of his government's priority list?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes.

MR. ESTABROOKS: That is wonderful. A good, clear answer for a change. Let's take the politics out of roads. It is just that simple. Unfortunately, not all Tory Cabinet Ministers over there agree that that section of Highway No. 101 between Coldbrook and Mount Uniacke should be this government's number one priority. The Minister of Economic Development, in fact, has publicly stated that he has told the Minister of Transportation to look at roads in his riding first. Highway No. 101 happens to go through part of that riding, I believe. I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works (Interruptions) who is running the store in your department, the Minister of Economic Development or you?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that the honourable member doesn't understand the difference between the 100-Series Highways and the secondary highways and trunk highways in this province. The highways that are part of the national highway system are funded under a different system, in fact, this is where our big quarrel is. Those highways should be funded in large measure by the federal government through a disposition of a portion of the motor-fuel taxes they take out of this province every year, more than $130 million.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, as that minister knows, he asked all of us as MLAs what our priorities were for roadwork. It seems to me the member for Chester-St. Margaret's knows what is going on, the member for Digby-Annapolis knows what is going on. I ask this minister, can you not describe in my constituency what my priority projects are because you seem to do it for him and probably some of the others?

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MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if you take the total expenditures that were made in the last fiscal year, the last construction season, I think the honourable member would find that the highest amount of money allocated for road reconstruction and paving, et cetera, was in the gentleman's riding who sits right in front of him, the member for Hants East.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - BUDGET (2000-01): INFO -

BACKBENCH POSSESSION EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, I have been told by staff of the different health authorities that they refuse to discuss matters of budgetary information with MLAs because they have been told to not talk to any MLA in fear that they could possibly lose their job in issues of health care. If that is the case, when they tell me they cannot talk to me about fiscal issues in health, then the only way that the member for Yarmouth knew about the dollars, the $2.9 million, going to Yarmouth is if a Cabinet Minister told them. The question to the Premier is, why does the Premier allow Cabinet Ministers to discuss pertinent budget information regarding health care to backbenchers in his government?

[4:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: The way in which the District Health Authorities were made aware of their budget was earlier on they were given a number, later on that number was actually increased and I am not absolutely sure where the member opposite is getting his information but I know a number of MLAs who were lobbied by the representatives as a result of the preliminary numbers. I am not sure where you are getting your information, but it is incorrect.

MR. DOWNE: Correct or not, we have checked with the District Health Authority, we checked with a member in the District Health Authority and that confidential information was not shared with the member for Yarmouth. So, that was not shared by the District Health Authority to a member for Yarmouth, then my question to the Premier is, where did the member for Yarmouth understand the $2.9 million came from? It either came from a Cabinet Minister or out of the Premier's office. My question to the Premier is, how does that member for Yarmouth understand what those numbers are before the regional health board have delivered that information to their own staff?

THE PREMIER: What we have clearly indicated is that many numbers will be made available earlier than has been previously the case. This year, for example, for the first time in 17 years the budget will be delivered before the end of the current fiscal year and before the beginning of the next fiscal year. And it will be our intention, and we have already started to implement that intention, to give the numbers out to the funding agencies in Health and

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the school board agencies long before the budget is in fact tabled in the House. That will be the modus operandi of this government and each year that date will be advanced.

MR. DOWNE: This information is embargoed information. As a former Minister of Finance, to have specific members of any government or any MLA know the details of an individual budget is wrong. It is proprietary information, it is a breach of fiduciary responsibility by the Minister of Finance and by that Premier. The question to the Premier is, will you investigate this absolutely absurd situation where his Cabinet and his caucus are aware of the details of the budget and nobody else is - will he investigate and report back to this House?

THE PREMIER: All I can say to the member opposite is, the information regarding the budgets of the DHAs and other information to other agencies that receive large amounts of government money, that information was widely spread before today's date. Widely spread.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - REGS.: BENEFITS - AMOUNTS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that Merlin's got enough questions over the years. My question is to the Minister of Community Services. After much delay and after creating enormous stress in the lives of Nova Scotians who need financial assistance, the Minister of Community Services has released the regulations of the new Income Assistance Act. Most people receiving assistance will not be pleased. Most will see a reduction in the amount of assistance they will receive. I have a simple question to the minister and it is, can you please explain to this House how he finds it acceptable in this day and age for a single person to survive on $415 a month, a full 65 per cent below the low income level cut-off in Canada?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: The honourable member, as he well knows, those rates were not just released last week. Those rates we indicated last fall: we told the rates, we told the plans. The honourable member indicates that people will be on a certain rate. What we have done, along with rates, is that we have made special needs available to all people who are clients of Community Services. Also we have changed the rates for people with children. We've changed those rates so that we can try as best we can to meet the needs of those clients.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the minister that the Premier is cutting a path across the country on his campaign for fairness. Back in his own province his Cabinet just approved an increase in the rate of assistance to persons with disabilities. The persons who have few chances of ever finding work are going to receive a $1.00 increase. A $1.00 increase in seven years so I want to ask the Premier, what is fair about a $1.00 increase?

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THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, those with disabilities will qualify for new programs within the Department of Community Services based on needs. Perhaps it would be helpful if the minister would give some details to the member opposite so he will have a better understanding of what's happening.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the member indicated, people with disabilities, as he reads through the regulations will see that we've extended Pharmacare services to people and their families. Not only to the disabled people. We've done a number of things that will help disabled people in terms of transportation and other things that will help them to work towards that.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind the minister that persons with disabilities always were qualified for special needs if they met the requirements. The United Nations Committee on social cultural rights singled out Nova Scotia in 1998 for having cut the rates of assistance of single people by 35 per cent. The minister says here that welfare rates are never adequate and he has just approved more cuts. My final question is this, how poor do people have to be in this province before you begin to care. . .

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

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce a couple of the Halifax Regional Municipality Councillors who are in the west gallery. We have District 6, Brian Warshick and District 12, Dawn Sloans, visiting the gallery today, I would like to bring them to the attention of the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure they'll be interested in the debate today. I have distributed to both Parties the plan for the day and that is that we will rotate NDP, PC, Liberal in the speaking order as long as there are members in those particular Parties who wish to get up and talk on this topic and the speakers will each be given up to eight minutes per time when they speak.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 74. If we conclude the debate on this and have a vote before 6:00 p.m. then we'll go on to Bill No. 6.

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Res. No. 74, Gov't. (N.S.) - Mun./Prov. Relations: Platform - Commitment Keep - notice given Mar. 26/01 - (Mr. G. Steele)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin debate on this resolution by reading it:

"Whereas on Page 34 of the 1999 Progressive Conservative platform, John Hamm's plan opened its discussion of local government by saying that, 'We believe municipal government is the cornerstone of democracy.'; and

Whereas the platform states also that, 'A Progressive Conservative Government will be committed to communities, working in true partnership with municipal government.'; and

Whereas the platform criticizes the Liberal record which meant that 'the experience of many has been an increase in property taxes with no increased compensating benefits or services';

Therefore be it resolved that the government should keep the commitment in its platform which states that, 'During its first mandate, a PC Government will: stop the unilateral downloading which has characterized municipal/provincial relations in Nova Scotia.'"

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is all about promises. Keeping promises and broken promises. The current government proposal for municipal equalization is very much a breach of that promise that was made such a short time ago.

Now, we know that the government is furiously back-peddling on this one, but they haven't gone all the way yet. Only today I heard one of the government backbenchers say,

well, it is not really a proposal of the government at all, it is a departmental proposal. It came from the department and it is not an official government plan until it is approved by the government caucus. He actually said that. Of course, I nearly drove off the road when I heard him say that, but he said it. It is an indication I think of how this government is backpeddling on this proposal because they know it is unprincipled and unfair and how their backbenchers, particularly the ones from HRM, are backpeddling furiously as well because they know it is the wrong thing to do for their constituents.

The NDP is the only Party that has set out its position simply and clearly. The government seems to change its position from day to day and that Party, Mr. Speaker, the members of the Third Party, appear to change their position depending on who they are speaking to and when they are saying it. (Interruptions) The Third Party's only significant contribution to debate, which is to call for a free vote, a free vote on a bill that is not even

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before the House, a free vote that would only paper over the divisions in their caucus, in the idea that it would paper over divisions in that caucus over there.

The NDP position is very clear. We believe in the principle of equalization. Every citizen of Nova Scotia should be able to expect reasonably comparable municipal services at reasonable comparable levels of taxation and in order to achieve that objective, equalization is necessary.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we believe that this plan is the wrong way to achieve equalization. This government is evading its responsibilities by putting the burden of equalization on the municipalities themselves because the municipalities' principal source of revenue is, of course, property tax and property tax is regressive. The amount of tax is not related to the property owner's ability to pay.

Mr. Speaker, if anyone on that side of the House doubts that, if the Premier doubts it, if the minister doubts it, I have dozens of people in my constituency who I would be glad to introduce them to - seniors who have lived in their homes for 20, 30, 40, 50 years and they are saying to me they cannot stand any increase in the cost being imposed upon them by the government. They cannot stand anything that puts pressure on their property taxes without a corresponding increase in the services that those taxes pay for.

The NDP caucus also recognizes that some municipalities, like the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, are in severe financial difficulty. They are under severe budget pressure and even on generous assumptions like a continuation of the Sysco grant in lieu, which this government has not said will continue or if it does, for how long, even with those generous assumptions, they are still perilously close to coming to the point where they are not able to offer a reasonable level of municipal services at a reasonable level of taxation.

Mr. Speaker, this government must immediately and directly address that issue and not try to evade it through this unprincipled plan. The principal solution is to continue to make equalization grants from general revenue, most general revenue based on income taxes because something that this government does not seem to recognize is that there are areas in the Halifax Regional Municipality, in Kings County and in other parts of the province that would be net payers under this plan where people are not rich, they do not have the money to pay this. There are whole communities, as some members on that side of the House know very well, that do not yet have a basic level of municipal services, and yet they are being expected to pay into this plan that will send their money elsewhere. Equalization is necessary and important, but this is not the right way to do it.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

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HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing forward this resolution because it provides an opportunity, certainly, to discuss the record of this government with respect to municipal relations. I am quite pleased to be able to inform the House that in the last budget, we, as a government, did not request municipal units to experience one bit of download in the previous fiscal year. There was no change. They were the only group in the entire province, I believe it is safe to say, that was not asked to experience the challenges of us dealing with our financial problems.

Mr. Speaker, I can also tell you that in my first meeting with the municipalities of this province as minister, the greatest concern that was before that gathering was the question of the social services upload by the province. They wanted answers from us with respect to what our position was going to be with respect to continuing the $44 million upload of community services from the municipal units of this province to the provincial government.

Mr. Speaker, as a government, we dealt with that issue and we confirmed, as a government, that we would continue to upload the cost of community services in this province. That was a commitment by this government which would amount to the completion of the $44 million upload, and that, combined with the $7 million increase in equalization funds all related to the agreement that was signed previously as part of the commitment that we made to municipal governments in this province.

Mr. Speaker, when we did use the opportunity of the previous budget to provide the 12 month notice with respect to the assessment cost piece, the net advantage to the municipal units of this province was quite significant, and they were much better off as a result of that agreement.

Now, there is considerable discussion out there today with respect to a proposal which we put forward, a proposal that came about as a result of the roles and responsibilities exercise. That roles and responsibilities exercise flowed from the agreement that was signed in 1998 with respect to the upload of community services. That agreement stated that the municipal units of this province, through the UNSM, would engage the province in a discussion over the roles and responsibilities. That discussion was ongoing, and the fundamental philosophy with respect to the roles and responsibilities is that people services should be paid for by the province and presumably the taxing capacity of the province, and that property services should be paid for by the municipal units, obviously through the taxing capacity of the municipalities of this province.

Mr. Speaker, the process unfolded, and the discussions between the UNSM and the province went forward. It went forward to the point where last fall, in September, at the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities meeting, we were able to say that virtually all elements of this process had been completed with the exception of the corrections costs and public housing costs. There was a considerable discussion about the issue of roads at that meeting and I will come back to that in a moment, and education costs. Those were outstanding issues

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that were still on the table. We undertook at the meeting in September to come forward to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities with a proposal designed to bring this process forward and, hopefully, bring the process forward to some satisfactory conclusion.

We did in late February of this year come forward with the proposal which we put out to the municipal units for discussion and consultation. I want to emphasize that the commitment we made to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities was to bring the matter forward for consultation and that is what we have done. It is based on the philosophy, again, that municipal governments would pay for property services and the provincial government would pay for people services.

So, what is in the proposal and the proposal that is currently being discussed? The proposal contains the measure that would take over the cost of corrections by the province, take over the cost of public housing by the province. It would provide for a foundation grant for small towns in this province to assist in the specific problems that they have.

That is on the one hand. On the other hand we proposed that the municipalities would take on the cost of a self-funded equalization program. That equalization program would be to pay to the municipalities the cost of property services which would be extracted from property taxes which is in the purview of the municipal units. That was the essence of the proposal that was put forward, that is what is being discussed now, that is part of the proposals that we are receiving from municipal units and from individuals throughout this province and is based on that particular proposal.

We do not pretend that the proposal is perfect in its entirety. Had we assumed it to be perfect then we were sufficiently arrogant, I suppose we would have implemented it without consultation. But we committed to create a consultative process and that is what has been put in place.

Well, when we are completed with this process, I have every confidence that all members of this caucus and I am sure members opposite would in fact see fit to applaud because we are determined to see this process to its conclusion. We will address the problem of small towns and smaller municipalities and the problems they are having. We will address the problem of distribution of economic growth in this province that is based on an offshore resource that is owned by all Nova Scotians. All Nova Scotians own that and we will employ those principles, we will address the problems that are there and we thank all municipal units who have contributed to the process to date. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on Resolution No. 74. I have limited time so I am going to try to hit as many points as possible.

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First, let me start by saying our caucus supports equalization. Second, let us keep in mind that equalization has been a part of the Nova Scotian process for quite some time. This is not a new idea, the idea of equalization. What this Tory Government has done, which is not being done anywhere else in this country I should point out, is to say that they are now going to base equalization on the property taxes of Nova Scotia from one end of this province to the next.

This is the concept that is fundamentally flawed and that is why this proposal as it currently stands is not supportable.

Our caucus has done quite a bit of work and continues to review this proposal. Every day we get a different message from the government as to what is happening in this proposal. As has been pointed out by our Leader, we have met with Municipal Relations staff. We did hold a meeting with Mayor John Morgan from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and we also met this morning with Mayor Peter Kelly and quite a few councillors from the Halifax Regional Municipality. At the same time we continue to receive submissions from wardens and mayors and from concerned Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the next.

Mr. Speaker, the way that the government has set out this proposal, they have done so with one intention in mind and that is to divide and conquer here in this province. This is not the first time that they have done this. This government from the first day it got elected, from the campaign it ran in 1999, started a process in which they would do whatever they could to divide our great province here. There are no Separatists in Quebec who have done the damage to that province that this government is doing to this Province of Nova Scotia. It is absolutely disgraceful what this government is doing.

Mr. Speaker, you might ask me, well, how can you say that, where do you get that foundation? One has to look no further than in the 1999 campaign when the Minister of Education herself as part of her campaign had her famous postcard - vote for me and I will do everything I can to put the people of industrial Cape Breton out of work and into misery and then we can all sit and we can all laugh. That is nothing but a disgrace and this government knew that there was an economic need throughout this province and in certain areas of this province some more importantly than others. Everyone recognizes that there are serious economic problems with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, small towns and rural municipalities throughout this province. But, what this government did, it said, well, what we are going to do is we are going to put one area against the others and fight amongst yourselves. We will take this proposal, throw it on the table, fight amongst yourselves, and we will see what comes out of it. What this government has told the municipal units around this province is, well, go talk to the Opposition and try to convince them not to say anything bad about this because if they talk bad about it, we are going to withdraw this whole proposal.

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Mr. Speaker, this is a majority government that these Tories have in this province. This proposal is a government proposal from the Hamm Government. There is no member of this Opposition, either in the Liberal caucus or the NDP caucus, that can kill this proposal. A majority government can put any piece of legislation through that it wishes. So that is just another example of this government always trying to say, well, it ain't our fault, go blame the Opposition if this goes wrong because they were not supposed to say anything bad about it.

Mr. Speaker, we were sent to this House to do our best on behalf of our constituents, on behalf of Nova Scotians. When the Opposition stands to speak on a certain piece of legislation, it is not to destroy it. It is to try to get the government to recognize that maybe there is not great support for parts of the legislation and see if there is not a possibility of making amendments and making better legislation. This proposal needs major reconstruction as it currently stands right now.

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, this proposal has clearly pitted one area of the province against the next based on current financial circumstances. If this proposal goes through, the process will never end because areas of the province that, if it comes to reality, are suddenly making money or receiving money, will all of a sudden be penalized under this system too. So there will be no end to this.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to you as a member of a rural municipality. When this first came out and they said the have areas of this province will be expected to pay for the have-not areas, fine. Then the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations went on to say areas such as HRM, Kings County, Guysborough County, Richmond County, Lunenburg, Bridgewater, Digby, should have to pay for the other areas. Well, my God, Mr. Speaker, to suggest that Richmond or Guysborough Counties, which are near and dear to me, should have to pay into this plan, being have areas of this province. What a disgrace and yet how funny it is.

I can tell you Richmond County, 28 per cent unemployment rate, 70 per cent of the residents do not have basic water or sewer service. Those who do have it, that 30 per cent, have inferior water and sewer service. The residents of Richmond County under this plan are being asked to pay $875,000. Imagine. Guysborough County, the MLA sitting there in the backbench of the Tory Government, $2.9 million and this is a fair proposal, Guysborough County. Where is this money coming from? Well, because of the Sable gas assessment, these two counties, for example, are finally in a position to have the necessary revenue to start putting in the long-needed infrastructure, to start putting in the necessary environment in these two areas to maximize the growth of Sable gas and to maximize the growth of these counties. What does the Premier do? He goes up to Ottawa, says please, Mr. Chretien, stop clawing back our Sable gas money; leave it to us for maybe 10 or 15 years and we'll become a have province.

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[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the people of Richmond and Guysborough are saying the exact thing to Premier Hamm, do for us what you ask from Ottawa, allow us to keep that revenue so we can develop our economy, become a have area of this province and we will be more than happy to share on equalization at that point, when we have put that infrastructure in place. The idea that they are going to take from these types of municipalities - what is even worse is the fact that there is no cap on education funding, there is no cap on the amount of equalization, it is an open credit card now, as the Mayor of Halifax has already said. The same applies to Richmond County, the more we grow, the more we pay; yet no money to start putting into that infrastructure.

The plan is fundamentally flawed, the government members, especially those from HRM, are dead silent on this issue. We heard from their councillors today and we heard where they stand. It is ironic to see how many former councillors are sitting there who are as quiet as mice today, Mr. Speaker. They aren't saying very much, nor are the members from Kings County. I have to compliment the member for Kings West who had the fortitude to stand and speak on behalf of his constituents. Unfortunately the Minister of Environment and Labour and the member for Kings North have not had that same fortitude to stand and say whether they support their constituents or whether they support this proposal.

Mr. Speaker, our caucus will continue to fight on this. We will continue to keep this government accountable and remind them they, in the end, are responsible for what is . . .

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on the equalization formula. I also want to give you my opinion that I am standing here in support of my Party's position on the equalization plan and we firmly believe that it ought to be taken from the income tax source of revenue. I want you to know that for many years the government offered municipalities grants, unconditional grants, conditional grants. Each and every year those grants have continued to be eroded and now to the point whereby many of the municipalities don't receive the grants that used to come from the province.

Mr. Speaker, there are many people in the constituency I represent who have been calling me since this government decided it is going to take equalization funding and add it on to the municipal property tax rate in order to generate revenue. I have people in my constituency - and there is approximately 40 per cent of the Halifax Regional Municipality's population who earn an income of less than $20,000 a year. Many of those people are seniors living in homes on fixed incomes who, because of the upturn in the economy and because

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of the growth in this metropolitan area, find it a hard time to keep paying the property taxes they are now paying.

If, in fact, equalization becomes a formula by which this government is going to take from the property taxes, then that becomes a budget item on the line of each and every one of those 10 municipalities who, in fact, must contribute to this fund. Each of those municipalities has exactly the same number of citizens who have the particular problems we have, they are on fixed incomes, they can't afford to pay the property taxes that are now being thrust upon them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if honourable members would turn down those private conversations a bit, because it is difficult to hear the honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to know that many of the elected representatives on the government side are from the Halifax Regional Municipality, the largest municipality in Nova Scotia, who can attest to the number of phone calls they have actually received. Hopefully they will speak on this resolution here today and bring forward the concerns their residents have about this particular issue.

I represent a constituency which, in fact, generates some $40 million to the Halifax Regional Municipality in property tax revenue. We have a constituency which needs and requires many changes with respect to infrastructure, changes in respect to social housing, and we have a $500,000 study that is placed in that community in order to revitalize it. Because of amalgamation which was caused by another political Party and the municipal government having to reduce their deficit, it meant that for four and one-half years that community did not receive its commitment of funding in order to provide that study plan that was necessary.

Mr. Speaker, over that period of time, we in this community have lost that, and it will never be regained. Now, the Halifax Regional Municipality is in a position of having to tax for this equalization plan. That has translated into many calls to my constituency with respect (Interruptions) Oh, several hundred calls, as a matter of fact, in my constituency. And none of them like it at all.

Anyway, I just want to tell you that I am in full support of our Party's position with respect to equalization payments across this province, and that in fact it comes from the income tax source. It is most unfortunate that Sydney finds itself in the position, that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality finds itself in the position. The remedy was supposed to be, when the former Liberal Government was in power, by amalgamating municipalities. That did not happen. As a matter of fact, we have found that the burden has been placed upon the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

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I remember when the Town of Canso underwent some very serious financial positions as a result of the loss of the National Sea Products fishing plant. Canso was left to survive, basically on its own. It was provided with some funding and some grants, but however the equalization grant would have assisted Canso. Canso in itself is one of the examples of why we should be doing something with respect to economic development across this province.

I know that our Party, about a year and a half ago, toured this province with a report called Striking a Balance. We talked to many municipalities and many towns throughout the Province of Nova Scotia. They told us about what they believe, their positions with respect to economic development. I can tell you that they are sending the same message to this government today. I believe the government is now making a cop-out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and briefly speak on the honourable member for Fairview's Resolution No. 74. This whole issue, as previous speakers have stated, has certainly caused a lot of consternation amongst the residents of Halifax Regional Municipality. What comes to mind, having been around this place although not in this place for many years and involved in many political forays, I find it interesting that there are some real professional politicians at work in this whole process. One only has to look at (Interruptions) I appreciate the rhetoric coming from the gallery. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if honourable members would let the honourable member for Dartmouth South have the floor.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the members giving me the time. I think what concerned me most about this, and the honourable minister mentioned it in his comments, is that the provincial government put a proposal together and asked for input. To the best of my knowledge, and I certainly stand here to be corrected, there has been no final decision. The evaluation has not been completed. The options have not all been finalized. We are still very much in the debate of this equalization program. My constituents certainly know how I feel on parts of this proposal. I would like to share something with the members of the House. This is not just the issue of the property tax. What, in my opinion, it has become is a method by which the status or political clout, or the political awareness of Halifax Regional Municipality and its new council, the need of them to become much more of a super power in the political decision-making in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, in that area I was (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, order. Again I would advise all honourable members that the honourable member from Dartmouth North does have the floor. I would ask all honourable members to please respect the honourable member as he respected you when you made your dissertation to this debate tonight. Thank you.

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MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct one small statement that you made. Although I do a lot of work on behalf of the citizens of Dartmouth North, I do represent Dartmouth South. Thank you for that.

Mr. Speaker, the reason I made the previous comment was I was somewhat disappointed in the open letter that came from His Worship of HRM to the minister, from the point of view of, he said it was a five page document, a lot of it was sort of a duplication of thought for the first three and a half pages. One and a half pages is signatures approving, but the issue that I could have looked at said the areas of discussion that HRM would like to put on the table. I would just like to read them for the benefit of the Speaker and members of the House and of HRM so that there is some sort of idea of where HRM are coming from regarding their roles and responsibilities or what they might like to see as their roles and responsibilities.

They are talking about: roads and streets, Series-100, arteriors and collectors, local streets and roads. They would obviously like to have a lot more discussion on that. RCMP, 911 communications and highway patrol, parks, existing provincial parks, operating and capital costs. The new opportunities that they would like to look at are business parks, land information system, visitor information centres, the Waterfront Development Corporation, the Fairbanks Centre, which I might add they now manage under an agreement through Tourism and Culture, the Shubenacadie Canal, the World Trade and Convention Centre and the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission.

Now it is interesting that all of these things would be put on the table at this time during this discussion when there is so much angst amongst the population regarding the issue of property tax which is still in the discussion stage. One has to wonder whether or not over the next two, three, four, five years notwithstanding the property tax rates today - and I live in downtown Dartmouth and I pay property tax just like all my constituents - I wonder if in fact the HRM have this vision of taking over all of these services on behalf of HRM, just where my property taxes will go. I suggest that they will probably go through the roof, which causes me some concern. Maybe the issue of property taxes being raised is as much smoke and mirrors as it is anything else.

[5:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I hear the member speaking, but I have not yet heard him tell us if he supports the idea of the provincial government downloading to HRM and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Dartmouth South has the floor. (Interruption)

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Order, please. That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Dartmouth South has the floor.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, if I understand the resolution, it says:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government should keep the commitment in its platform which states that, 'During its first mandate, a PC Government will: stop the unilateral downloading which has characterized municipal/provincial relations in Nova Scotia.'"

The comment from the honourable member previous, it has nothing to do with that so I am not sure why he would bring that up but, Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is the process. The question has been placed to me, well, how am I going to vote, how would I vote on this issue? I, like my colleagues in metro and many others, have an opinion, but we are going to vote on the final document, unlike the hypothetical documents that are placed in front of our government every day in this House, what would you do if and what happens if and when. We are going to wait until the document is presented to us in its final form. At that point in time I will make a decision and my decision will be based on the general feeling of my constituents towards the overall proposal once it is presented. My constituents at this point in time are being fear-mongered into making statements and comments on a document that is not final and so I believe it is entirely unfair for them to be put through that by HRM and by the members of the Opposition. It is entirely unfair.

MR. SPEAKER: You have half a minute.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to finish off by putting another issue on the table which seems to have been sidelined and that is the roles and responsibilities proposal. HRM, in all fairness to them, wants some clarification on roles and responsibilities. I believe that will be part of the process. It was a mess when we picked it up in July 1999. It was a disaster from the time of amalgamation. I think that is going to be resolved. Our government is working to resolve it.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise before the House and talk on this very vital issue and it is very ironic to hear the Opposition members from either the second or the Third Party talk this afternoon. It is interesting how they stand up and are critical of this government, talking from both sides of their mouth; they are in favour of equalization, but there isn't one single, solitary proposal from those honourable members from across the floor as to an effective means of equalization in this province. That is why we are the Government of Nova Scotia.

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Mr. Speaker, the members of the Third Party believed in equalization because their equalization meant dumping hundreds of millions of dollars on top of Nova Scotians and that is why they were thrown out of government; they were thrown out with just cause by the people of Nova Scotia. No more glaring endorsement of why the Liberals sit in the historic position of third place for the first time, no more glaring example than the people of Cape Breton themselves because the statement on the future of the Liberal Party was in Cape Breton North - you are out the door. You are across the way, and you are in third place to stay, my friends. (Interruptions) I am voting in the interests of Cape Breton Island and all of Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Honourable members, look, there is far too much racket in here this afternoon. The honourable member has the floor and I think I have been extending as much latitude to honourable members as probably they deserve but, my goodness, let the honourable member hear himself and let the Speaker hear him.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that the honourable members across the floor understand enough to know that their voices will not drown reason in this province and that is why the honourable minister has presented a very reasonable proposal that is open for consideration in this House.

Let's talk about the honourable members in the Opposition Party. Let's talk to their approach to equalization. When the former Leader of the New Democrats was finally put to the test by this Premier as to how they would address the concerns of Nova Scotia, the Leader of the NDP committed to one thing and he admitted that they would have to increase taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia. Not equalization. Those are the facts.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I know that you know that it is not proper to mislead the House. I know that the member who was just speaking was not a member at the time, but if he were a member at the time he would know that the statement that he just made is patently untrue.

MR. SPEAKER: I would again caution the honourable member that is not a point of order. If that was raised on a point of order, it certainly was not a point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North has the floor.

MR. CLARKE: If I err in this House I will admit to that and I will be subject to the judgment of this House. But what is patently untrue is the position of the Opposition and it is untrue for the Opposition members in this House to question the patriotism of this Party and for the member from the Liberal Party to stand up and question the loyalty of this Party to all of Nova Scotia is unconscionable.

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Desperate acts by a desperate Party with no vision and no viability in the Province of Nova Scotia. What this government's proposal for equalization presents is accountability and performance standards - something that the voters in this province have stood up for.

It is amazing for me to hear them talk in the manner they do about fairness across the great island that I represent. I want to remind this House that Cape Breton once injected over 40 per cent of the revenues into this province. This province was very fortunate that Cape Breton's mines and steel mills were there for the war effort and that was equalization for all Nova Scotians, indeed for all Canadians.

It is fortunate that Cape Breton is Nova Scotia's masterpiece and when we talk about tourism as a prime example here today as questions come forward, Cape Breton has the highest number and volume of tourists in the province yet we do not receive our fair share because other dollars are left everywhere else throughout this province. That is equalization of fairness, spreading the wealth because we have an overall package to deliver here.

What we do not hear from the honourable members is about the deficiency we have and that is why we have the Premier going on a Campaign for Fairness to ensure that our federal government comes clean on a fair deal for fairness for all Nova Scotians as this government is coming clean on a deal that is fair to all Nova Scotians. The debate and the dialogue on the real bill brought forward, not Resolution No. 74, will see measures that Nova Scotians can count on for the years to come for the stability of our island.

The honourable member in his motion brought forward that, "We believe municipal government is the cornerstone of democracy." Well, that is a very fair and good comment to make but we also believe, as I say, accountability and responsible decision making to be just as important. Our municipal units will be accountable under equalization and what we have to remember, equalization is to help areas that have a declining tax base and to ensure that those areas have the fairness and equality that everyone across the way are squawking about today. While the mother hens of the Opposition go on and peck at an issue, they are doing nothing to forward a positive agenda in future for Nova Scotia.

That is why Nova Scotians have a Progressive Conservative Government, that's why they have elected leadership and that's why people in Cape Breton North, when I was at the doorstep, have endorsed this government; have set out and want a new way of doing things, and we are doing it based on evidence, based on fact, not fear-mongering. So I thank the honourable member for introducing this resolution because I think it starts a debate and clearly shows that this House is polarized against what is good for Nova Scotia and what is not. The members are not in favour of fairness across this great land. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity.

[Page 333]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to take some time in this House to express my position with respect to this resolution. I am speaking in favour of the resolution. My views are clear and concise and I have made them both public and private with respect to the proposal on equalization. I have spoken to a number of constituents and the one clear thing that comes forward time and time again from constituents I have spoken to on this particular issue is, generally speaking, people of Nova Scotia are not opposed to equalization. I would suspect that the position that the people of Sackville-Beaver Bank have taken with respect to equalization is shared right across this entire province and I would suspect it is shared by all members of this House as well.

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to constituents who I represent, and I have indicated to the media and to members of this House, as the proposal stands right now I don't support it. However, I remain convinced and committed to working with the government in making sure that this proposal will be something that is not only acceptable to the people I represent in Sackville-Beaver Bank, to Halifax Regional Municipality, to all of Nova Scotia. The proposal that was put forward by the previous government to amalgamate municipalities was a proposal that was unilaterally downloaded upon those municipalities. It wasn't acceptable to them then and it isn't now. The kind of government that would do that is not the kind of government that I will work with. I believe that the members on this side will listen to the people of Sackville-Beaver Bank and will listen to Halifax Regional Municipality and will take into consideration proposals put forward by all municipalities, so that the proposal that comes forward ultimately will be one that's fair and acceptable to all members of this great province.

Mr. Speaker, as members of this House are well aware, I have had plenty of experience in the political forum municipally. I was elected in 1993 as a Halifax County Councillor. After one year and a half of serving the constituents of Sackville and parts of Beaver Bank I had the opportunity to take a year off. Not by choice I would add. The constituents I represent chose to elect someone else and I was deemed to be an ordinary constituent and have the opportunity to watch from the gallery how Halifax County conducted its business. But, lo and behold a year and a half after that general election the members opposite gave me a wonderful opportunity to offer my services to the people of Sackville-Beaver Bank when they called for an amalgamated municipality. I put forward my name, I let it stand and the people of Sackville-Beaver Bank chose me to represent their interests.

MR. SAMSON: The Liberals gave you a job.

MR. BARNET: The Liberals gave me a job, as the member for Richmond pointed out. Thank you very much. They traded one job in Sackville-Beaver Bank, we can assure that. I will say that at the time of amalgamation I know the constituents at the Halifax Regional Municipality were absolutely, vehemently opposed. They expressed in numbers, they

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marched on this Legislature, they protested at City Hall, all mayors did, and those members opposite closed their ears, heard absolutely nothing and did absolutely nothing.

What this government is prepared to do and what we have done, we have listened to the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality and we have listened to the people from all municipalities across this province. It remains my hope and expectation that our government will listen to those people and will make changes and adjustments to this program that, again, will be satisfactory to those I represent.

Mr. Speaker, I know only too well the impact of decisions like this. I had the opportunity to help bring Halifax Regional Municipality to formation. I was a councillor who wrestled with a $20 million cost to amalgamation. When we had problems with the funding of amalgamation, we went to the previous government and we asked them for some support. No one anticipated, certainly not the government, the cost of amalgamation. Privately they came out and said, yes, we are going to help you, Mr. Mayor, and council, we will support you. What they said was, they will give you $10 million to help offset that cost.

Mr. Speaker, I am here to say today that they gave Halifax Regional Municipality not one red cent, not a dime. The mayor of that time, Walter Fitzgerald, took that government to task, just like the mayor of the time, Peter Kelly is doing the same thing to make sure that his point is put forward. The difference is that was them and this is us. They didn't listen, and we will. That is the difference.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was then and this is now.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I have heard from a number of constituents. I have told them clearly that I can't accept the plan as it exists, and I have told them clearly that I will do everything in my power to make sure it is changed. I am here to commit to the members of the public that I represent and to members of this House that if that plan does not change to a point that is acceptable to myself and to the constituents that I represent that I certainly, at that point in time, will make the decision that they expect me to make. That decision will be something that I will be proud of and that they will be proud of.

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how much time I have left - one minute - but I am here to say that as elected officials what we have to do, often, is we have to work within government to try to make sure that the policies and the initiatives of our government benefit all Nova Scotians, and I intend to do that as long as I can, until such a time that things force me otherwise. What I am talking about is the people who have elected me. They will be the ones who decide whether or not Barry Barnet represents their interests. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I recognize that this debate elicits a lot of emotion.

[Page 335]

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to finally rise in prime time television. I certainly miss my days at the regional municipal council when people could watch me on Channel 10 and they had an opportunity to turn up the volume. I have an opportunity here to rise today to speak on Resolution No. 74. There is one particular line I want to read in that resolution, if I can find it here. "During its first mandate, a PC Government will: stop the unilateral downloading which has characterized municipal/provincial relations in Nova Scotia."

The operative word there is unilateral. Unilateral is one way. One way, that is how the previous Liberal Administration did it, one way, only their way. It was their way or the highway. They came in in 1994 and spoke to the Mayor of Halifax, the Mayor of Dartmouth, the Mayor of the Town of Bedford, and the county warden. Do you know what they said? Guess what, you are being amalgamated, there is going to be one municipal unit. That was a unilateral decision.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that this whole discussion on municipal relations has gone back. In 1994, the honourable Sandra Jolly came to Halifax County council and spoke to us at the county council - a few of my colleagues are here - and we spoke about those things. One of the things we spoke about at that time was the separation of responsibilities - get rid of the government overlap, the duplication that is there now. We are trying to do that now, we are trying to separate provincial responsibilities and municipal responsibilities. The municipalities want a governance role, they want to have a charter to know exactly what they are going to be responsible for. That is what this exercise we are doing with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is to do, to try to separate those responsibilities - people services versus property services.

One thing I should point out, Mr. Speaker, is that for the past number of years on the provincial tax rolls, there used to be a few lines on there, the provincial government had some dependency upon the municipal tax rolls. On their tax rates they were charging money back from the municipal tax rates for education, they were charging money back for social services, they were charging money back for social housing and they were taking money also for correctional services. This has already happened in the past, there is nothing really new, there is a provincial stream of revenue from the municipal tax base. We as a government are trying to correct that problem.

We want to make sure the municipalities stand on their own two feet and have a stabilized opportunity to do their calculation of budgets. I will tell you what my position is in a minute, there, member for Dartmouth North, but I can tell you another thing - the member for Richmond said this is not being done anywhere else in the country. Well, I can assure the former minister, Mr. Speaker, that it has been done in other parts of this country - New Brunswick . . .

[Page 336]

AN HON. MEMBER: Where in New Brunswick?

MR. HENDSBEE: Our neighbouring province collects the municipal taxes and hands it out to the municipalities and their authorities over there. I think the member for Richmond should correct those falsehoods he has been spreading around in the newspapers and on television here today. Mr. Speaker, I would like to go and explain a few things.

I have had quite a few calls, and I can tell you this issue has been very divisive in our own caucus, I can tell you that (Interruptions) and I have said it before. It is an issue that gets a full explanation, a full discussion of ourcaucus. Out of the 31 members of our caucus, 12 of them - one-third of them - have past municipal experience, more than on the other side. So, we on this side of the House know full well the need for property taxes and the separation of municipal and provincial responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, I should point out that in the HRM, out of the nine members of this caucus from the HRM, six of them have municipal experience, six of the nine - and we have six others from across the province, giving us 12. So we hear the full gamut, from Cape Breton to Yarmouth, we have the full discussion with regard to the municipal responsibilities and provincial responsibilities. We are trying to do our best to make sure that those things are being addressed.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you right now that this present proposal, as it has been set forward, I do not support it in its present format (Interruptions) I have had my opportunity to meet with the minister and some of the staff and discuss my concerns. We had a chance to discuss our concerns about it and I gave him my viewpoints and my opinions and my perspectives on the whole issue and how things could be adjusted. I hope that the department is going to take my observations and comments and re-examine those other options that will be available.

When the minister has all the submissions available to him, all the considerations from the HRM, from the other municipal units and from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities which we anticipate may be coming tomorrow, we will be taking that information and analyzing it by the department and also the caucus itself will come together and discuss the whole thing. (Interruptions) We will discuss it as a full caucus and the full caucus will make a decision on it, I can assure you that.

Mr. Speaker, when I received the HRM proposal yesterday, I was a little disappointed in the lack of content. They talked about superlatives, they talked about certain things; but I would love to have seen some numbers. I would love to have seen some facts, I would love to see some data, like to see some numbers. They want to talk about taking over certain responsibilities, be it the roads, be it the business parks, be it the Bridge Commission, be it the Waterfront Development Corporation, all those things. I would love to have an opportunity to see some facts and figures behind the superlatives. I would love to give them

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the roads, that would be a major headache off my plate with regard to the situation of trying to get some of these streets paved. I know it is a municipal responsibility in the urban core and I have been trying to get that service boundary extended out to include more of the rural areas. We would love to have it come out there because I know the municipality has an opportunity to better respond to the roads than we do in the province. Right now in the financial situation, we cannot afford to do the road work we need to do.

Our biggest problem we are faced with as a provincial government is that we have to make sure the municipalities become self-reliant and depend upon their own tax base. They should not be supporting their tax rates on our provincial contributions. That is one thing that this whole equalization discussion is all about is to make sure that they are able to afford their own operations.

I would just like to add with regard to some of the proposals we have had from HRM, I would love to sit down and talk to them about them because there are aspects of their proposals that have a lot of merit. When I was a municipal councillor there I was advocating for it and I will still be advocating for it as a member of this provincial caucus and this government to make sure we have an opportunity to transfer some of those responsibilities to the municipality.

I would love to give them more roads, I would love to give them certain parks - especially the business parks. I think they do a great opportunity in providing those, but the only thing I am worried about though is that we would be giving up very valuable assets and that would come off our balance sheets for the province. What impact will that have on our books if we are going to give up these valuable assets. Those things we have to find out and discuss as a caucus with the Minister of Finance and with the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Other members of our caucus will be getting up in a moment to speak. It has been a pleasure for me to be able to get up to speak for this moment during prime time.

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

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to give some opinions on this and I think that we have to maintain - and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations said something very important just a few minutes ago, that this was a consultation we are going through. It is not dictation. It is not dictation and we have to allow everybody, 55 municipalities in this province, a chance to get up and give an opinion on it. It is possibly a bit unfortunate for speed that maybe the UNSM per se could not meet as a thing, giving a consultation.

[Page 338]

It is very important if we have to have any agreement to go through and be lead by . . . for everybody to gain that benefit that they must be consulted and their opinions shared. I also did enjoy the minister saying that I do know he has always been straightforward. He mentioned that when he was up in Truro at UNSM, he was very factual and said, okay, we have a problem.

But the problem, of course, I think we all agree that we should have some form of equalization, but the real thing we have to have is a fair system - at least to the majority of the people, who feel that it would be worth going on with.

For example, I have the privilege of representing Lunenburg County and also representing a small part of HRM. By the way, if you said in Hubbards if you are in HRM you have $1,290 taxes on a $100,000 assessment, walk over into Lunenburg County and it is $680 on a $100,000 assessment so thus, we have to talk about the problem and make sure that we straighten it out and that is what we are in this process, we are discussing what people are going to see as fair. And we are going to do that.

I think the other thing is, it seems amazing to me, and we do have a Minister of Finance but one thing he said at a recent speech in Dartmouth was, I think, what we all have to remember, he noted that debt servicing, or interest payments, are approaching $1 billion a year. As long as we borrow, our debt servicing costs will continue to increase. This year, we will spend 20 cents on every dollar we have on interest payments. That is, we basically run Nova Scotia for $5 billion, $1 billion goes to interest payments. This is more than we spend on public schools. This illustrates the absurdity, the awful consequences of deficit financing. I think the minister (Interruptions)

[5:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's has the floor. I recognize that this is a lively debate, but I would appreciate it if you would afford the honourable member the respect that he does deserve.

MR. CHATAWAY: I think we all appreciate, I am sure on this government side, we have a deficit problem. We are trying to live with that deficit problem until it is reduced. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Honourable members, all the catcalling is very distracting to the honourable member who has the floor. I would ask all honourable members to please respect the fact that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's has the floor. I would advise the honourable member just to carry on, and I will try to bring them to order as is deemed necessary.

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MR. CHATAWAY: Considering my past year, it is great to be here even if it is a bit noisy. (Applause)

As taxpayers, we in Nova Scotia have every right to expect and demand that our provincial government spends our money more wisely and prudently. That means you should expect government to spend no more than it takes in. Also, unfortunately, it has been the case here in Nova Scotia, that frankly, years of deficit financing have put us in a bind. That is why we owe $1 billion in interest; 20 cents on every dollar that we have collected is spent on just interest payments. We have to take that down.

One of the things we are talking about, and certainly the ministers responsible want to talk about these problems - the unfortunate thing is that a lot of it has been argued, basically about $1 million, $2 million debt is going to be - I have seen the mayor speak, $17 million it was, at another time it was $40 million. I could just get a new number every time I watched television.

We have to have really good, serious talks and we have to get down to good business. We are on at the point of having something to discuss. That is what we all, at least on this side, say, we have to discuss this, we have to get it down. Let's keep going, but let's not (Interruptions) Basically, after all, whether a person lives in the HRM or lives in Nova Scotia or lives in Lunenburg County, the taxpayers have to have some taxes saved. Let's talk about it. Let's get off that business of $1 billion every year by being in debt.

We are working on that. We are going to work on it, I am sure, tomorrow and again. We have to do that. Many governments in the past before this government didn't care about that, the government we inherited, $600 million on that debt. Last year, it was $260 million; this year it is $91 million. We are going in the right direction, but it does take time. We have to have good, genuine talks to deal with that. Thank you for the opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise on this issue. I must thank the last speaker, who helped remind me that no matter how painful being in the House is there are worse places one could be. One of the observations I would just care to make for the honourable members is that it applies to the whole idea of consultation and we have heard it through a number of the debates today, that when you as a government put out something for consultation, then you are criticized because you suggested this option, but when you don't put it out for consultation, then you are said to be unaccountable and intemperate.

I wanted to talk a bit about a consultation process that is going on now that the honourable members may not be aware of and that is the White Paper on Policing. Yes, the White Paper on Policing is all about consulting and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we have

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put out the White Paper on Policing. Frankly we put out our White Paper on Policing which had been developed during the years of the former administration which they did not have the intestinal fortitude to put out for public debate, but this government finally had the intestinal fortitude to actually put it out for debate.

So, Mr. Speaker, we put it out for debate. We set out for the public, for the municipalities to respond. We actually gave a very generous period of time to reply. What happened was the municipalities came back to us and said, we need more time to respond. Do you know what happened? We gave them more time to respond and then an interesting thing happened. Nova Scotia's largest municipal unit had never responded. What happened was, as a result of an error at the printer, they had not responded. Do you know what we did? The Department of Justice contacted the HRM and said, we notice you have not responded to this paper, please send us your paper, even though the time of consultation had expired. I don't think that is a government that isn't interested in hearing from consultation. (Applause)

In fact, what it is, is a government that is determined to consult and is prepared to consult and I then met with officials from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and talked with them about that White Paper on Policing. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities said, what are you doing? We are compiling a catalogue of every single response that has been received from every municipal unit in Nova Scotia and what we are going to do then is we are going to identify those issues on which we have consensus, on which we can move forward and we are going to identify those issues on which further consultation is required. That is responsibility. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the good minister would allow a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. BAKER: No, I have four issues I want to address.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has more issues that he (Interruption)

Order, please. I believe the honourable member, and I believe that is the operative word, I believe the honourable member has said that, in fact, he had some more issues that he would like to address. Perhaps you could ask him a question as . . .

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member used the term intestinal fortitude of a previous government. I wonder if the intestinal fortitude of that minister and member would allow a fair question to be asked of him?

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MR. SPEAKER: I think the honourable member already has said no but, again, (Interruptions)

The honourable Minister of Justice has the floor.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will just address the issue of speaking. I had an opportunity to receive many indignant, incensed speeches from the other side of the House about members on this side of the House never talk about their own bills. They don't talk about their own resolutions. Well, you know, the strange thing has been, I have noticed that there has been a tremendous lack of movement on the opposite side of the House. I don't know if there could be a tad of inconsistency that they would not be filibustering their own resolutions. I know that they could never be inconsistent. (Interruptions) I think we would be glad to have a vote on this matter. Unfortunately, I suspect that if we simply yelled vote really loud on one of our bills, that that might not be tremendously effective in getting the honourable members to sit down. So in the spirit of equity, I intend to talk my time. Mr. Speaker, I will continue with my dissertation on the White Paper I'm placing.

Policing is an issue of tremendous concern to both the Government of Nova Scotia, who is responsible for regulating policing, and to the municipal units who are responsible paying for policing. It is an area where we both have legitimate concerns, and I want to tell the honourable members opposite that I take very seriously the duty of the Government of Nova Scotia to ensure that adequate standards of policing are met throughout Nova Scotia. I also understand the legitimate concerns of members opposite, in the municipal government, that those costs of policing should be kept reasonable. We can never abrogate our duty to ensure that adequate standards of policing are kept.

We intend to engage in a dialogue that is consistent with the realities of Nova Scotia. We have municipal units of very different sizes in Nova Scotia. For example, in the case of municipal police forces we have the Town of Annapolis Royal. The Town of Annapolis Royal is a very small municipal unit with a very small municipal police force. On the other hand we have the HRM police force, which is a very large municipal police force. We have to find a way of allowing for good services, adequate services across the province to all our citizens while not putting a crippling tax burden on the good residents of the Town of Annapolis Royal. That is, in fact, what government wrestles with.

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

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: I am not sure if it is my imagination, but it seems that the debate in here this afternoon seems a little raucous. Mr. Speaker, I think before delving into this . . .

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MR. SPEAKER: We have asked honourable member, just in response to your comment, which I tend to agree with, we do appreciate the Sergeant-at-Arms being at full alert this afternoon. Thank you.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I note that he is out of his chair, just in case you had need of him, sir.

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be only appropriate of me to say that it is very good to see that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's is back here and in the House where he belongs. I know that the member for Sackville-Cobequid will be the first to agree with me. I think what is more important before we get into the important topic of this debate is that all members of this House recognize that there is one member who is missing here today and we look forward to that member's return. That member, of course, who I am talking about is the member for Cape Breton Nova. The member for Cape Breton Nova I know would very much have enjoyed this this afternoon. I am sure he is one of the finest speakers that has ever set foot on the floor of this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that it was not too many years ago that this came up in another form, from another government. I remember the reaction in Kings County, in fact it was the Municipality of Kings, there was a different attitude in that day. It was kind of a hard-headed attitude that came down, and I will never forget the reaction at the Central Kings High School. But you know, I am going to say something respectful about my predecessor. He did show up, it was not a particularly warm reception, but you know what, he spoke well and he spoke with courage. The people spoke that day . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for Opposition business has expired. We have reached the moment of interruption.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tomorrow we will have the Budget presentation at 2:00 p.m. and at the conclusion of that presentation, the Finance Critic of the Official Opposition will open with his remarks and after about 10 or 15 minutes, I presume, we will go into the normal routine for the day, the daily routine, the Question Period and if time permits we'll debate Bill No. 7, the Lobbyists' Registration Act on second reading. For the information of members again on Friday the hours will be from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and on the following Monday they will be from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. I move we now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

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It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We've reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate submitted by the honourable member for Kings North is:

"Therefore be it resolved that all parties must do more to attract and involve youth in the political process."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

POLITICAL PROCESS - PARTIES: YOUTH - ATTRACT

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, after that, as my colleague mentioned, rather raucous debate I'm sure this will be more calm and reasoned.

Nonetheless, it's just as important if not more important a resolution for us to be discussing. That is that political, ". . . parties must do more to attract and involve youth in the political process." Now I realize, of course, that I will be criticised for picking a resolution that is a motherhood resolution that all people can support. I have to admit that I sort of take perverse pleasure in doing that, in picking resolutions like this that really all people can support because as I have said on some occasions publicly, I think co-operation sometimes can do more than confrontation in terms of reaching solutions for some of the major social problems that afflict our society and afflict our province. I do take perverse pleasure in that although I'm sure it will be mentioned.

The present situation in terms of involvement by young people in the political process is rather sad. Statistics from the United States in 1996, which was a presidential election year, only 32 per cent of citizens between the age of 18 to 28 voted in that election and this is compared to - you can see the drop when I give you - the statistics for 1972 where 50 per cent of those in that age range voted in the presidential elections.

In Canada the situation's a little bit better but still in comparison with the general turnout to elections it's still rather sad. In the 1997 federal election fewer than 50 per cent of young people between the ages of 18 to 24 bothered to vote. In both countries we're seeing a drop in participation in the electoral process by young people, a lack of identification with

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Parties and with Party politics and a growing lack of awareness of current events. I was troubled when I read the comment by Justin Trudeau in the paper, that he doesn't read newspapers and he doesn't watch the news because I've seen this attitude in my own young people, the sense in which they are not going to bother with issues outside their own small circle.

What are some of the reasons for this lack of involvement? Very quickly I think that in many ways political Parties have become very unpopular and this is appearing specifically among young people and it's something that I find distressing as one who belongs to a political Party and I am sure others will feel the same way.

The effect of television has had an effect on people's ability to enter into reasoned discourse, there's a sense in which it has caused people to be recipients rather than to be involved in the process. The economic uncertainty, the massive debt that the baby boomers, that my generation, have left young people, I think has caused the sense that nothing can be done, the sense of hopelessness; political scandals of course have played a part and even if you haven't had political scandals, it seems a sensationalistic media is quite willing to try to invent them.

Just a small little joke about a little boy in East Belfast who was standing on a street corner crying his eyes out and a lady stopped by to console him. "What's the matter little boy?" she asked. Between sobs, the child replied "My father doesn't love me." "Of course he does," she tried to reassure him. "What makes you say such a thing?" Well, replies the little boy "He's been back to vote three times since he died, but he has never come back to see me once.

We have these scandals which I think have hurt the political process, but we also have a media that creates scandals even where scandals may not exist. The breakdown of the family, which is a unit that teaches civic duty and responsibility, the fact that we don't teach, in many of our high schools, courses on civics, on political science, et cetera, the sense of unhappiness that young people have which causes a turning inward, as I mentioned before, and the perceived ineffectiveness of traditional politics, all these things and many others have had an effect on young people.

It is distressing because, it is a cliche to say this, but nonetheless it needs to be said, the young people are the leaders of the future. We have several talented young MLAs in the House, the Minister of Tourism, our new member from Cape Breton, a member of the Liberal Party opposite, and that is exciting. These are the people, and others like them, who will be providing the leadership for this province and this country and through its effect on other countries of the world. It is distressing for that reason.

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It is distressing because we need the energy of youth. Youth have an energy that I think is infectious at times and an enthusiasm that is helpful. There is a sense, and I have found it in myself, even though I don't consider myself old now, as I have experienced some of life's tragedies, there is a sense in which you can get a little cynical, a little jaded and the enthusiasm of younger people is very welcome.

We need new ideas. Oftentimes when I have talked about can we change this or that, and specifically about the political process, the answer is this is the best possible system, this is the best possible way. That is true to date, this is the best possible system, the best possible way, but there may be a new way, a new system. Oftentimes young people have an insight, young adults have an insight into that new way.

How do we encourage young people? That is really what we need to do. I think we could all agree that there is a problem. We could all agree on many of the causes of the problem. We could all agree that this is distressing for various reasons, but how do we fix it? I think one of the key things we need to do is provide a vision. A vision that is not based simply on dollars and cents, but a vision that is larger than that, a vision of a society which would excite and which would prompt people to get involved in the construction of that. I am not sure we do that as well as we should. Part of it is because of the nature of the debate in this Legislature, it doesn't really prompt that sort of discussion.

We need to provide that vision. We need to hold up that sense that there is something which we can all build towards, that the future is a future of hope and possibility. I remember, I grew up in an American high school, so you have to excuse me for using an American example, but I remember Robert Kennedy's great saying, some people dream of things as they are and ask why, I see things as they can be and ask why not. I remember that sense, yes, yes, there is something exciting, something we need to build towards.

The other thing is we need to encourage young people, individually as MLAs, to be involved, and we need to provide opportunities. I was interested in reading about the formation of a policy in the Ontario Government of the Education Quality Improvement Act of 1997 that has a young person sit on each of the school boards throughout the Province of Ontario, non-voting. In some ways, it hasn't worked as well as they wanted it to because the proper education for these young people wasn't enacted. Yet, it was a bold move to try to get young voices in terms of education.

The other one that has been done by the City of Toronto was a Youth Cabinet, started in 1998. It is an official committee of town council that brings the opinions of youth to the table. The youth wings of our political Parties, of course, are very important as well. I think we also need, in our schools, to teach more courses on civics, poli-sci, law and other things like that.

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Mr. Speaker, my time is up, but I just want to conclude, Marshall McLuhan once made this comment that politics offers yesterday's answers to today's questions. If we get young people involved the way that we should, then maybe we will have today's answers for today's questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for bringing forward this resolution, a resolution that I support and I know that other members of the NDP caucus certainly support this resolution, that we all need to do more to attract and involve youth in the political process.

I listened very carefully to what the honourable member had to say and I think that a lot of his assessment about the problems and some of the things we might do are very accurate, but I also think we need to question whether or not it is just young people who have become disillusioned and are disaffected from the political process. I think that the evidence certainly suggests that growing numbers of people, shall I say, are disaffected with the political process and membership in political Parties generally in western democracies has fallen. The number of people who vote in democratic elections seems to have softened in many places and so I think we have to be concerned about this.

Just in terms of my own experience, I have been involved in politics here in Nova Scotia since the 1970's, knocking on doors and talking to people. It is clear to me that there is a great cynicism in our communities with the political process. There is a perception that political Parties and people who run for political Parties are tremendously self-serving, that public resources continue to be allocated based of favouritism and, you know, this is why we will be looking at having lobbyists registration legislation so that we can try to introduce into the political process some transparency, some accountability, that we can try to restore some faith in the political process which increasingly has been weakened and shaken.

I cannot help but think, and certainly my electoral experience would suggest, that a lot of the public's faith in and desire to participate in the political process has been eroded because our most cherished public services and public programs have been eroded. These are the things that people expect from their governments and what they are finding is governments have abandoned people. Increasingly this government talks all the time about self-sufficiency, we want people to be self-sufficient, which is a code word for we are not going to provide to you the important public services that you expect and you pay for as citizens of this province - health care, education, community services, environmental protection, promotion of agriculture and other resources, protecting our forests, managing these things well. So I think that we can point to a lot of very concrete examples for why the public, not just young people, but all people have a growing cynicism with their ability to influence and impact on the political process. I think that is the most cynical and negative kind of way of looking at things.

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I think there are a lot of really positive things to look at as well, Mr. Speaker. I say to people in my own constituency that I would not have been elected had it not been for young people. Young people, in fact, were very much involved in my electoral campaign and for that I am very grateful. I met so many incredibly interesting young people in Halifax Needham. My own constituency assistant is a young man in his very early twenties, Leon Thomas, who keeps me going day-to-day, taking care of business in the constituency. He is a delight to have around. He has a very interesting perspective on life. He keeps me on my toes and he keeps me informed of many of the issues that are of concern to his generation. Early in January he helped me organize a forum that we called Dialogue with Youth on Public Education. We held it at the North Branch Library, it occurred on a Saturday following a fairly significant snowstorm and we felt we would have very few people there because of the snow. But in fact, we had a fabulous turnout of young people who had a lot to say about the education system and they expressed their concerns about public policy, they had a lot of life experience they wanted me as the elected member to hear about. They made it very clear that they want to hear from me in terms of following up to what their issues are and I certainly intend to do this. I found them to be thoughtful, intelligent, informed and highly interested in participating in the political process.

[6:15 p.m.]

I have had the fortune of having in my constituency office since I was first elected, young people who are students at the Maritime School of Social Work who come to my office and do their field placements. The interesting thing is that I always have more students who want to do these placements than I have the capacity to provide placements. This is largely unsolicited. I do not go out looking for students to come work in my MLA office and learn how to do advocacy and learn about the process of government. There are many young people who are looking for these opportunities, who are very clear about why it is important to get involved and provide good services to the public and be citizens that make a contribution.

Right now in metro there are a number of groups that are preparing to go to Quebec City to participate in the Alternative Summit around the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas meeting that will be happening later in April. There is a group of young people who call themselves MobGlob - Mobilization against Globalization - and this is a growing group of young people in our community who would put to shame, I would suggest, many, perhaps even members who are well read in terms of issues of globalization. They are studying these issues, they have formulated their position, they are very clear about why it is important to participate on the level of intervening around these massive regional trade agreements that empower corporations and disempower citizens and further undermine the political process.

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The Radical Cheerleaders - I do not know if anybody has had the opportunity of seeing the Radical Cheerleaders - but the CBC Sunday morning program did a wonderful documentary on the radio this past Sunday on this group of young women around campuses across the country. We here in metro have a group of Radical Cheerleaders who are absolutely delightful to watch in action. They are sort of like the Raging Grannies in reverse, I would suggest. They certainly are bringing the movement around the corporatization of our society into their schools and coffee shops and all of the places where young people discuss and debate these very important issues.

The number one best seller in this country right now and in other parts of the world is Naomi Klein's book, No Logo. That has really captivated young people around the world who are tremendously interested in politics - perhaps not parliamentary politics but I have every reason to believe that these young people will function and intervene on many levels.

I think that we have reason to be hopeful and yes, we need to do something to encourage more participation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to first start off, I am not going to chastise the member for Kings North as he feared in his opening comments might occur. Instead, I want to congratulate the member for Kings North for bringing forward such an important issue and certainly I will admit, in my position today that I have often chastised the member for Kings North for not speaking out enough on issues. I recall when he gave his reply to the Throne Speech when he was first elected and he spoke quite passionately about his concern over the perception of politicians and of politics in general and how he would strive to make changes towards that. If he often wonders why I would chastise him, it was meant to encourage him to speak more often and to try to make those changes. Unfortunately it is tough enough when you are a government backbencher to have those opportunities and extremely important when given the opportunity to try to make those changes.

I think the issue that he has brought before us today is an issue which unfortunately continues to plague us, not only in our democracy here, but in democracies all over the world. It is not a Conservative problem or a Liberal problem or a New Democrat problem or any other Party. It is an overall problem which we have and in pointing that out I would point out to you that the solution, or at least an attempt to solve it, lies in our co-operative efforts together, not as individual Parties.

While each of the political Parties here in this province has achieved a relative amount of success in attracting young people, especially in the youth wings, when one looks at the overall numbers it is a dismal failure on all of us. The effort has been there, but it is not working and the question is, what can we can do as a collective together to address those concerns and to get more young people involved? This is an issue which is near and dear to

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me, having had the privilege of being elected as the second youngest member here in this Legislature, an honour which I take very seriously and certainly which I believe is an indication of how the young people in this province can become active players in this Legislature and in the governance of this province.

I have to tell you, it wasn't easy when I first joined the Young Liberals at the age of 14 and would try to encourage my friends to come out to political rallies, political events and annual meetings. They all thought I was crazy and couldn't understand why I wasn't doing normal stuff and why I had this interest in politics. It is hard to explain but I remember at a young age, basically as long as I can remember, my father would always encourage me to read the newspaper. He would read it first and he would pass it down to me. After I was done reading it he would say, you know, what a shame what is happening in Israel, or my God, what is happening down in South Africa and what they are doing down there, and we would discuss those issues.

As the member for Kings North has pointed out, it is a shame today, I see, even in law school, medical school and all sorts of professions, where students are graduating - extremely intelligent students - and you ask them who are different leaders throughout the world and they have no idea. You ask them about the conflict going on in the Middle East - no idea what you are talking about - was there a problem? They don't even know and that is a shame. It really boils down to what the member for Kings North said, that the awareness is not there.

As the member for Kings North pointed out, the media bears a great deal of responsibility for the perception of elected officials. The media feeds on scandals, they feed on these negative aspects of politics and, because of the way they feed on it, the unfortunate thing is they draw us into it. They draw us into participating in these things which we may not want to do, but it is the in thing and that is the headline they are looking for. They want us to make the accusation, make the comment, make the allegations, so they can get the headline. Unfortunately we are all being drawn into that, every single Party, every single member is unfortunately drawn into that. That is a very sad state.

I remember I attended a conference of French parliamentarians in Fredericton and that is the point I made to them. I said unless and until those who control the media in this country, at least to start off with, become responsible when it comes to elected officials and our parliamentary process, we will never attract young people. I remember when I was appointed to Cabinet, and they did the exact same thing to the honourable Minister of Tourism when he was apponted. I recall it was December 16th, when I received a phone call from then Premier Russell MacLellan. December 16th on the front page, myself and Ray White, then MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, were appointed to Cabinet.

When I was appointed I became the youngest Cabinet Minister in the history of the province. I remember the headline, the first part of the story said that Liberal member Michel Samson gets appointed to Cabinet, and the headline started: Michel Samson, as of today, will

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have access to a government car and will be getting a $35,000 pay hike in his salary. Pay no attention to the fact I was picking up the Environment portfolio, an extremely important portfolio, one that was important to young people; the fact of having become the youngest minister. I am not saying this to be vain, because I know they did the exact same thing to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. I was extremely proud when the Premier did appoint the Minister of Tourism and Culture, because I feared that the history books would write it off as just a fluke that someone so young got appointed to Cabinet. The Premier appointed the Minister of Tourism and Culture at the age of 28. As soon as he got appointed, the headlines again stated that he gets a government car and he gets $35,000 extra in salary. That is a disgrace.

How are we to attract young people when that is the type of headline and that is the type of story the media feed on? As pointed out by the member for Kings North, and I have spoken on this many times, the Minister of Education made great strides. Last year, I remember when she said that her government was committed to reinforcing history in the education system. That was a big step. I would submit to the member for Kings North that he should encourage her to reinstate political science as a mandatory credit for high school graduation here in this province.

It is essential that people have an understanding of what we are doing here. Right now, students can basically graduate from law school, can go on to get a doctorate and never have an appreciation of how the political system works in this province. That is incredible. It is incredible that in this day and age that could happen in our education system. That is something that different governments have allowed to happen, but it has to change.

Model Parliament, I remember, was one of my first experiences in the political process, in Grade 9, sitting as a backbencher on the government side; in Grade 11, I ended up being the Minister of Fisheries, Deputy Prime Minister, in Model Parliament. That was a wonderful experience. I remember some of the people who we convinced to participate with us, no interest in politics, yet when they left they had a bit of an interest. I am not going to say they were ready to run for political office, but they had an appreciation of how it works, how to challenge each other to do better, bringing issues, seeing what comes back and seeing how the process works and that the process is meant to try to make for a better society. They had an appreciation of that.

I would dare say that probably less than 10 per cent of our high schools in this province have a Model Parliament system. One of the things I would encourage the member for Kings North, being a government member, I would even suggest to him that he speak with his colleagues and even work towards possibly even an all-Party committee being formed to start addressing some of these matters. Not just talk about them, because we have all been talking about them, let's start putting concrete things down, start working, because as I said, this crosses all political lines.

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I had the honour of being the Minister responsible for the Youth Secretariat, unfortunately only having been in Cabinet for eight months it was kind of difficult to do long-term planning. One of the important things I think we could do to start getting people more involved in the political process is to start giving them jobs in our political institutions. First, we have Pages and ushers who work here in the House of Assembly, they get to see how this process works. I still don't understand why MLA offices and caucus offices and Party offices aren't eligible for student grants. In this day and age it is absolutely ludicrous that MLAs, caucus offices and Party offices should not be permitted to hire students. They have to pay a certain amount like every other employer with grants. I would love to be able to take one, possibly two students in my MLA office back home. As a youth who has been involved in the process, we can't expect young people to just hurray, hurray, make phone calls or organize events, we have to put them on the front lines.

There is an opportunity. I would encourage the member for Kings North to speak to the Minister of Economic Development, to speak to the Premier. This is not a political thing, but it is one opportunity to employ people in that system. Put them in the PC Party office, put them in the NDP office, put them in the Liberal Party office, put them in our caucus offices, hire them for the summer; it gives them employment, it puts them on the front line.

Mr. Speaker, I think when you put someone in those offices - I commend the member for Halifax Needham who has people, I have had a few people do term positions with me, unfortunately not as many as I would like, but if we had the opportunity to hire those students it would address employment concerns plus it would put them on the front lines, and hopefully they would become contributing members to our political system here in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all members for taking part in this evening's debate which not only affects everyone who was here but certainly affects our democratic process in this country.

We are adjourned until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]