Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., May 15, 2001

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HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 Noon

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, I would like to introduce some very special guests not only to the Legislature today but to this province. In the Speaker's Gallery, I would like to introduce Mr. Dan Albert and his wife, Joanne, and also Mr. Jack Holt and his wife, Shirley. They ware visiting us here this week in Nova Scotia from California. Mr. Albert is the Mayor of Monterey, California. It is their first time visiting this area. They are actually staying at a beach house in my constituency on the Bay of Fundy. I did inform our special guests that this is not the normal weather for this time of year and we have ordered sunshine for tomorrow for them.

Last Sunday I had the privilege of inducting the four of them into the Order of Good Times for this province. They have taken a day out of their vacation to travel to Halifax to tour the metro area, to come into the Legislature and have a tour of the Legislature and to meet some of the members here and to see how proceedings are done in the Nova Scotia Legislature. I would ask our guests if they would rise and receive the usual warm welcome on behalf of all Nova Scotians. (Applause)

We hope you certainly enjoy the rest of your stay here in Nova Scotia, and your lobster supper this evening.

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Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South:

Therefore be it resolved that the lack of a new Fire Safety Act is threatening the public safety and the safety of firefighters.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1142

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

Whereas Prime Minister Jean Chretien has honoured two Nova Scotia teachers for their innovative and inspiring teaching methods; and

Whereas David Pilmer, a math teacher at Hants East Rural High School in Milford Station, and Catherine Viva, an English and learning strategies teacher at Dr. T.L. Sullivan Junior High School in Florence, were among 65 teachers from across Canada to be honoured; and

Whereas Mr. Pilmer received the Prime Minister's top teaching award, the Certificate of Excellence, and Ms. Viva received a Certificate of Achievement and both teachers also received cash awards for use at their respective schools;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these teachers for receiving national recognition for their outstanding work with our youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3455]

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. 55 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 23 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Assessment Act, to Permit Relief from Taxation upon Loss of Property. (Mr. Graham Steele)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1143

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

Whereas the office of the Ombudsman has been established in many jurisdictions because they see the need for an independent body to investigate complaints against government administration in a time when government has become increasingly complex; and

Whereas the Clyde Wells Government in Newfoundland scrapped the office of the Ombudsman as a cost-cutting measure; and

Whereas the current Premier of Newfoundland has seen the folly of removing this vital office and has announced his government will reinstate the office of the Ombudsman, with the same independence as the Auditor General and broad powers to investigate Crown Corporations, government departments and agencies;

Therefore be it resolved that this government cease its merger of the office of the Ombudsman with the Human Rights Commission and restore the office of the Ombudsman to its independent status.

[Page 3456]

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1144

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

Whereas the Minister of Health tabled the Registered Nurses Act and the Licensed Practical Nurses Act on April 4, 2001; both which defines and strengthens the role of nurse professionals in the delivery of health care in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas without debate and passage of the Licensed Practical Nurses Act, practical nurses graduating this year will not be able to work for two months following graduation; and

Whereas as legislators it is our duty to ensure debate and passage of bills that represent the best interests of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the government to call the Licensed Practical Nurses Act and the Registered Nurses Act for second reading, to enable the recognition of the valuable role of nurses, while at the same time acting in the best interests of the residents of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 3457]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1145

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

Whereas Telephone Pioneers is an organization well known for their volunteerism and meeting a number of community needs with a special emphasis on education; and

Whereas Grade 1 students at the Thorburn Elementary School were recently presented with personalized books by a group of Telephone Pioneers; and

Whereas each of the personalized books, have the student's name and the names of two friends contained within;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the excellent community work and educational programs put forth by Telephone Pioneers, and encourage them to keep up their exceptional work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1146

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

Whereas Canadian Parents for French held a provincial French oral competition on April 21st in Dartmouth; and

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Whereas student participants came from all parts of Nova Scotia to make oral presentations in French; and

Whereas Yarmouth Junior High School students Sarah Maynard placed first in the Grades 9-10 category and Katie Saulnier placed second in the Grades 7-8 division;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate Sarah Maynard and Katie Saulnier of Yarmouth Junior High School on their achievements in public speaking on April 21st at the provincial French oral competition in Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1147

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

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour announced the establishment of a select committee to review the Fire Prevention Act; and

Whereas this review is an attempt by the government to stall the currently proposed Fire Prevention Act which was prepared for legislative approval in 1999, after three years of consultation with stakeholders province-wide and at the cost of more than $100,000 to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas today, some 8,000 members of the Fire Officers Association have publicly condemned this politically-driven delay tactic;

Therefore be it resolved that the Conservative Government stop playing crass politics with the health and safety of Nova Scotians and immediately reintroduce the Fire Prevention Act.

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Mr. Speaker, I request for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1148

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

Whereas during World War II, many Norwegian vessels and their crews were stranded at sea when Norway was attacked and they sailed to Nova Scotia where crew members stayed while their ships were refitted for war; and

Whereas many bonds were formed between Nova Scotians and these Norwegian sailors and Project Norway: the Canada-Norway Pilgrimage was established to commemorate that shared history; and

Whereas 10 Pictou County students joined students from Dartmouth and Lunenburg, along with veterans from Canada and Norway, to explore this important history and understand the Second World War through the eyes of the veterans who experienced it first-hand;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these West Pictou High School students, along with their peers, for caring to remember and offering the respect this and all future generations owe to all the veterans who sacrificed so much for us and the democracy we enjoy.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3460]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1149

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

Whereas Sierra Club of Canada President Elizabeth May continues her hunger strike to protest the lack of action on the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens site; and

Whereas her actions bring into the national eye the hopelessness and rage felt by many who live next to Canada's largest toxic waste dump; and

Whereas this provincial government needs to act in concert with its federal counterpart to relocate families away from this toxic nightmare and begin the cleanup in earnest;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Elizabeth May for her hunger strike in support of Whitney Pier residents living next to the Sydney tar ponds and the coke ovens site, and urge this government to take all necessary actions to relocate the residents and remediate these sites.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1150

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

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Whereas a federal proposal exists to divest public ownership of 13 harbours in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas our river mouths, bays and harbours have always been regarded as common property by Nova Scotians in any era; and

Whereas the prospect of private ownership of these waterways would alter forever our economic, social, recreational and community endeavours;

Therefore be it resolved that this House oppose any effort to remove harbours, rivers or any other shared resources from the public domain.

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 Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1151

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

Whereas Horton High School teacher John Trites has been recognized by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society for his teaching excellence; and

Whereas Mr. Trites is being honoured for his contributions to the teaching and promotion of geography and is the first winner of the society's Geography Literacy Award; and

Whereas Mr. Trites, co-author of geography texts for use in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Grade 12 curricula, and co-founder of the Great Canadian Geography Challenge, an annual national competition, has won $5,000 U.S. to be split between him and Horton High School;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Trites for this award of teaching excellence and commend him for his efforts to stir interest in the study of geography.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1152

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 beef dinner and auction hosted recently by the St. Margaret's Bay Regional Tourism Development Association was a huge success; and

Whereas over $9,000 was raised; and

Whereas this money will be used towards the creation of a new Regional Visitor Centre and The Coastal Heritage Trail;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the St. Margaret's Bay Regional Tourism Development Association on their successful fundraiser, with best wishes of good luck in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1153

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

Whereas a recent study in the United States has suggested that accidents as a result of people not wearing helmets have increased 700 per cent; and

Whereas an article in the New Glasgow Evening News recently pointed out the story of a boy who suffered a horrific fall while riding a scooter, but was fortunate enough to be wearing a helmet at the time; and

Whereas without the helmet, the boy would almost certainly have suffered far more numerous and serious injuries;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the government to bring forward legislation to require the use of helmets while riding on scooters before the end of this legislative session.

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 Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1154

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

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Whereas the Nova Scotia Trails Federation has been making great strides in the development of the Trans Canada Trail and on May 17th will launch two exciting initiatives at the Nova Scotia Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Alderney Landing; and

Whereas the Trans Canada Trail Discovery Program features more than 150 different subjects on 2,000 interpretive panels installed along the route of the Trans Canada Trail by the community trail development associations; and

Whereas over three years the Canadian Military Engineers Branch of the Armed Forces will be assisting community trail building and bridge repairing along the route across the country through the Bridges for Canada Program;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Trails Federation, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Stephen R. Bronfman Foundation and all those who have and are supporting these exciting new programs as the Canadian vision of the trail continues to flourish.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1155

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

Whereas on Tuesday, May 8th, a fire started in woods on the Spiddle Hill Road, West Earltown, Colchester County; and

Whereas approximately five acres of a U-Pick Christmas tree farm owned and operated by Dale and Carol Downey were destroyed and the fire approached a cottage owned by one James Williams; and

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Whereas 50 people from fire departments all over the county, plus DNR personnel, quickly responded and extinguished the fire before it could do more extensive damage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House expresses its thanks to the professional and volunteer firefighters who acted so promptly and effectively to fight the fire on the Spiddle Hill Road in Colchester 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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1156

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

Whereas many Nova Scotians believe there is no one left to support after the Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from the Stanley Cup finals playoffs; and

Whereas just when everything seemed lost, NHL veteran defenceman Al MacInnis of Port Hood, Cape Breton is still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues and Colin White of New Glasgow is a player with the New Jersey Devils; and

Whereas both of these talented players are representing their province in the Stanley Cup playoffs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the all-star talent of both these players and wish them luck in the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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. 1157

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 Chamber of Commerce has appointed Lee Langille President for a one year term; and

Whereas Ms. Langille looks forward to the challenges of the new appointment and welcomes the opportunity to play a role in keeping the region commercially vibrant; and

Whereas the new president will build on past successes and will emphasize increased co-operation among the towns in the county to encourage industry to develop in the region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lee Langille on her new appointment as President of the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, and thank Past-President Doug Eddy for his valuable term of service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1158

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

Whereas the very first South West Nova Music Festival was held in Church Point on April 28th past; and

Whereas approximately 150 music students participated in this inaugural festival; and

Whereas 16 year old Danielle Pottier was named the star of the South West Nova Music Festival for bringing in the highest average mark in the piano category;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate Central Argyle resident Danielle Pottier on being named the star of the first South West Nova Music Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1159

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

Whereas the University College of Cape Breton's VentureFest summer camp helps students develop and market entrepreneurial skills and ideas; and

Whereas this innovative camp has attracted talented individuals from across the country and generated interest internationally, as well; and

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Whereas applications are now being accepted for entry into the UCCB VentureFest program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the University College of Cape Breton for its acclaimed VentureFest summer camp program.

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. 1160

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

Whereas the music of Jim Hamm, or Fiddlin' Jim, of Martin's Point, has resonated through South Shore communities for decades and was this past weekend celebrated at a fundraiser for the Shriners; and

Whereas Jim Hamm went down the road in search of musical fame with fellow South Shore musician Hank Snow and while his friend chose a quite different path, he instead returned to Nova Scotia to entertain friends in his community with his incredible fiddle music ever since; and

Whereas thanks to several local talented entertainers, his music was emulated during an unforgettable evening of entertainment enjoyed by hundreds, including Jim, at the Michelin Social Club;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the community for not only raising valuable funds for the excellent causes of the Shriners, but also paying tribute to a very talented Nova Scotian fiddler who, along with his wife Mary and four children, have given an everlasting gift to all who have enjoyed or learned from it.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1161

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

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources hands out an annual award to the Woodlot Owner of the Year, recognizing owners with woodlots between 50 and 1,000 acres in size; and

Whereas Tom Skinner of Berwick was named the 2000 Woodlot Owner of the Year; and

Whereas Mr. Skinner has been honoured for managing his properties in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Tom Skinner of Berwick on receiving the 2000 Woodlot Owner of the Year Award.

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.

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The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1162

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

Whereas Jeremy Douglas Scott of Springhill, Cumberland County, is graduating from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Law Degree; and

Whereas Mr. Scott received an articling position with Burchell MacDougall in Truro, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Scott's proud parents are the honourable member for Cumberland South and Linda Scott; and

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Jeremy Douglas Scott on his graduation from the University of New Brunswick Law School and wish him a successful career in law in Nova Scotia.

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. (Applause)

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1163

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

Whereas Paul Josey joined the Westphal-Cole Harbour Fire Department in 1974 as a volunteer firefighter and became a member of their association; and

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Whereas in 1976, Paul Josey was hired as a career firefighter with the Westphal-Cole Harbour Fire Department, rose to the rank of Captain in 1984 and continued in that rank with the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service after amalgamation; and

Whereas Paul Josey is much respected and admired by his fellow firefighters and by all who know him and will be sorely missed by all upon his retirement this July after 25 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Captain Paul Josey for 25 years of service to his community with the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service and wish him well in his upcoming retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1164

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

Whereas churches have often been at the centre of our social activities throughout the province; and

Whereas St. Mary's Anglican Church in Glace Bay is celebrating its 100th Anniversary by having several events take place throughout the year; and

Whereas there are about 690 families associated with St. Mary's Church;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the centennial committee and the parishioners of St. Mary's Anglican Church in Glace Bay on the 100th Anniversary of glorifying God.

[Page 3472]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1165

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists presented their awards in April; and

Whereas awards were presented to outstanding members of the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists;

Whereas Charles and Doris Keddy were named Farm Family of the Year, Rick Delbridge was named Distinguished Agrologist of the Year, outstanding young agrologist was Rhonda MacDougall, honorary agrologist was Frank Berkelaar, and the new Distinguished Life Members are Scotty Fair, Carl Gourley and Albert MacPhee;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate this year's Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists award winners and recognize them as people without whose expertise the agriculture industry in Nova Scotia would be far the poorer.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3473]

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:31 p.m. and end at 1:31 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - SEMPRA: TAX DEALS - MUN. POLICY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by tabling a consultant's report provided to the province on March 27th. This report examines Sempra's attempts to negotiate a deal that would see them taxed mostly on revenue that they generate rather than on the value of their infrastructure. This report studied six municipalities and how much tax they would receive under each scheme, and it concludes that the arrangement proposed by Sempra will result in significantly less tax money for the affected municipalities for 10 to 20 years.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is this, why hasn't your department instructed all municipal units not to sign revenue-based tax deals with Sempra?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as the situation is now, we already have the largest municipal unit in the province having signed an agreement with Sempra to that effect and they have done that based on their own decision making. We agreed to have the study done on behalf of the municipal units in order to ensure that they have the best information available to them. We hope that that will assist them in making their decisions with respect to this issue.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this document indicates that Sempra's position is that they want a cheaper revenue-based tax deal or they will be hampered in their ability to service the entire province. This whole distribution deal is surrounded in confusion. First, it was the road shoulders, now it is the tax arrangements. It is no longer clear what areas Sempra intends to service with natural gas. So I want to ask the minister, will he commit to this House today that he will start looking for another distributor if Sempra continues to signal that it will not fulfill its gas distribution commitments?

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HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is well aware, Sempra has indicated they need to look at the situation that transpired as a result of the province's decision with regard to the road shoulder. They have yet to come back with the final document. We have a draft document in place and we are reviewing that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Economic Development knows that Sempra is saying to rural Nova Scotia, provide us with tax concessions or you may not get gas. In Colchester County alone these concessions amount to as high as $300,000 in some years. It is time for the government to start playing hardball with this company. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, why doesn't he step in and tell Sempra to pay their taxes like everybody else, and tell them to live up to their distribution obligations or he will get somebody who will?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is well aware that the URB made the recommendation to government that saw the franchise awarded to Sempra. Any changes to that will have to involve the URB.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOL CLOSURES: EDUC. ACT - COMPLIANCE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Earlier this session the Minister of Education proudly proclaimed that neither she nor her caucus colleagues had influenced school closure decisions. She categorically stated that there had been no interference. Now, a letter from the chairman of the Tory caucus threatening the school board members not to close a school in his riding has emerged. The minister's colleague alleges that the process used by the board is in violation of the Education Act. My question to the minister is, what steps has the minister taken to determine whether the board acted in accordance with the Act?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, some time ago that very question was raised by the honourable member for Dartmouth North. My staff have spoken to lawyers for the school board and they feel very strongly that they did act in accordance with the Education Act.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, how does the minister explain the letter from the Tory caucus chairman and the later decision not to close Alderney School? My question to the minister is, has the minister told the board to disregard her colleague's attempt to influence them?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the role of MLA and/or MP in this country is going to change substantially if we were to take the honourable member's suggestion that something happening in your constituency can't be commented on by the local member. (Interruptions)

[Page 3475]

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

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am going to table this letter. This letter is on government caucus office letterhead. My final question is to the minister. (Interruptions) The letter is tabled and the honourable member on the backbenches can check the letterhead on that letter if he so wishes. My question, many think that this government is ready to get rid of school boards but school boards are the only protection we have that political interference will not influence school decisions. Will the minister give her firm commitment that school boards will not be dismantled so school decisions will remain independent of politics?

MISS PURVES: Well, Mr. Speaker, as we all know, school boards have their own politics that may or may not have anything to do with our politics. No, I will give no such commitment.

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

NAT. RES. - MARSHLAND (NEW WATERFORD):

FROG DEATHS - MIN. ACTION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, today in the news media it was announced that over 300 dead frogs have been found near a marshland near New Waterford. One researcher notes, if a frog population begins to diminish there is a good chance that something is wrong with the ecosystem. (Interruption) There are people in this House now who make light of that with silly noises, but it is a very serious problem when you live in industrial Cape Breton. So I would like to say, one of this government's own experts, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources says he has never seen a die-off of this magnitude before. We know that the people of Cape Breton have had too many reasons to fear about their health. So I want to ask the Minister of Natural Resources, what is this minister doing to deal with this issue swiftly and thoroughly?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, any time there is a die-off of any type of amphibian or any type of animal the Department of Natural Resources and the Province of Nova Scotia is obviously concerned. The die-off and the numbers have been noted. Further research is continuing to ascertain the cause of why those particular frogs have died off in that area.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this isn't someone who knocked over a bottle of water, I think it should be more than just noted. So I am going to go to the Minister of Environment and Labour this time because the residents of New Waterford tell me that a number of wildlife in that area have been dying and are being decreased lately. The town's water supply is a mere 700 metres from this die-off. Residents want to know what wildlife are leaving the area, and they want to know is the water supply safe. I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, will he make a full report to this House and to the public, and as

[Page 3476]

soon as the information is gathered will it be given public and prompt attention by this government?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing this to the attention of the House. I would like to assure the member that I became aware of this today. The department is out there on the site. We are trying, as my colleague mentioned previously, to determine the cause of this die-off. I do concur that this is a concern whenever something like this happens. It may be a sign there is something wrong with the ecosystem, and we do take this very seriously.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this is one thing we do agree on, we want to find out what caused the death of these 300 amphibians. We do know that ignoring these health hazards and withholding information causes greater concerns. I want to go back to the Minister of Natural Resources and ask him once again, will you assure this House and the people of New Waterford that you will reveal all information related to this amphibian die-off as soon as you get it? Will you assure the people of New Waterford of that?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly, I would assure the member opposite that once we ascertain to the best of scientific ability what the cause for the die-off was, we will report it.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOL BD. MANAGEMENT:

EVALUATION - TIME FRAME

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. On April 12th, the chairman of the Tory caucus tried to bully the Halifax Regional School Board. He may or he may not have succeeded. In the course of his letter, he praises government's initiation of an evaluation of school board management. My question to the minister is, when did government begin to review and evaluate the management of the school boards?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, obviously, the government has been looking at and evaluating school boards since we took office. One of the things we did was initiate that pilot down in the South Shore. We are always, and continue to be, interested in how school boards spend taxpayers' money and all the ways in which they are accountable for that.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I don't recall having seen anything that the minister actually put out publicly, that they were looking at doing this type of management audit. My question to the minister is, did the minister notify school boards of this review and, if so, will she table the letter informing them?

[Page 3477]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, obviously, I didn't make it clear in my previous answer. There is no such formal review, therefore, there is no such formal letter. We are always looking at school boards and how they operate, because it is all about accountability.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it is confusing here today. Assuming there is a hidden agenda here, I am just wondering, will the minister be tabling, publicly, the results of the school board's management evaluation, or is this another program review where the public and its elected representatives will have to ferret out the information?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the only formal review that we will be doing shortly is the one of the Southwest pilot. When that review is done, we will table that report and make it public. No problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE: CONTRACT - DETAILS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. I was surprised to read on the Knowledge House Web site that the company says it will transform education in Nova Scotia. The CEO also says the face of education will be unrecognizable in the years ahead. This company will do all this and make $10 million at the same time through licensing and tuition. When my office asked for the contract detailing these changes, the minister's department said it was only available through freedom of information. I want to ask the Minister of Education why her department is withholding a contract which will show the new face of education in Nova Scotia and which will detail how a company plans to make $10 million from our public education system?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: There were several questions there. I will attempt to answer a couple of them. First of all, it is our policy that contracts are only available through freedom of information applications and that is the policy. But, again, the transformation of education is occurring through the use of computer technology. I think we all know this in the House, even those of us like myself who sometimes see themselves as Luddites. Any profit that Knowledge House may make from its system is in anticipation of selling its system to other provinces and other countries. That money is not coming out of our public education system . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member, I believe, has attempted to answer the question.

[Page 3478]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So much for the open and transparent government promised by Premier Hamm. Like the Premier, the Minister of Education believes that big business knows what is best. She believes in inviting private partners into the curriculum over the concerns of teachers and she believes that, despite the disastrous experience of the failed Liberal P3 construction scheme and countless other P3 failures. I want to ask the Minister of Education why she would trust private business to design the future of classroom instruction rather than relying on teachers and experts in her own department?

MISS PURVES: I am sure if the honourable member would like a tour of Knowledge House to see some of the work they do, she would meet many of the teachers who work there and have been designing this process. The curriculum is designed by the Department of Education, the curriculum in this particular case is going to be delivered through a mechanism designed by Knowledge House. I would ask the member opposite who she thinks writes textbooks if it isn't private enterprise?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: If a private interest is going to make $10 million off the work of teachers at a time when we need that money directly in our classroom, then I am not the one who needs to be answering questions. That minister needs to be answering questions.

Teachers and parents want a decision. This minister won't even release the contract. I want to ask the Minister of Education if she will put the Knowledge House deal on hold until teachers and parents have been provided with some meaningful consultation in this matter?

MISS PURVES: Perhaps the member for Halifax Needham would prefer it if we did put this deal on hold. They can work with Alberta and then in later years, we can buy it back from Alberta or some other province that had the vision to go ahead with something like this. (Applause)

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - SOEP ASSESS.:

DECLINE - REVENUE LOSS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: My question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The minister has confirmed in the media that the assessment for Sable assets is going down. That means Guysborough, Richmond, Port Hawkesbury, Pictou, Colchester and Cumberland Counties are going to lose tax revenue. My question is, why has the minister caved in to oil and gas interests at the expense of Nova Scotians?

[Page 3479]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that there hasn't been any cave-in on the part of anyone. We left the Legislature last fall with an agreement that the three Parties involved would look at the issue and see if a resolution could be achieved outside of the requirement of legislation. That process is ongoing and I hope that that process will result in an agreement which would avoid lengthy litigation.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, during the last election the Premier said he would maximize benefits for Nova Scotians. In Houston, the Premier was told politely by Exxon Mobil that he was wasting his time. Now we find that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is as weak-kneed as the Premier. My question is, why won't the minister listen to municipalities instead of the Sable partners?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House and I can tell the honourable member opposite that all of the discussions that are taking place are discussions that involve all of the municipal units in this instance, and there is a proposal which is before the two companies involved and the municipal units are aware of that proposal. I might add, had that crowd over there done their job when they were in government we wouldn't be faced with this problem now, because they didn't look after or prepare for these problems.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, all Nova Scotians are aware of where the problem started.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right over there.

MR. BOUDREAU: Right over there, Mr. Speaker. Municipalities like Guysborough and Richmond are starting to become have areas of the province. The minister is taking that away from them. My question is, why won't the minister just tell the Sable partners that they will have to pay the same amount of tax first announced in last spring's budget?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, if I respond to the question literally I would have to say to the honourable member that there was no reference to that tax in any provincial budget. I can say to the honourable member and to members opposite that the people of this province certainly understand why they are there and we are here. We are here to fix up the mess they left behind and we are working at it.

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

ECON. DEV. - ECON. POLICY: C.B. - RESULTS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Last Friday, Statistics Canada reported that in spite of perceived economic slowdown, the economy continues to create jobs through April. The unemployment average in the period February to April, 2001, showed Halifax at an unadjusted rate of 7 per cent;

[Page 3480]

in Cape Breton however, it is another story. The official unemployment rate for April jumped 2.2 percentage points to a high of 20.5 points, the highest rate in all of this province. The economic forecast predicts that these numbers will only get worse. I want to ask that minister, given these demoralizing and depressing figures, can the minister advise Cape Breton whether he thinks this government's economic policy is working for the people of Cape Breton?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the member opposite that this government's economic policy, the first strategy in over a decade, is working for all of Nova Scotia and certainly we are concerned about areas that face difficulty, but I believe over time we can work to correct that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as a former teacher, he couldn't have taught math, with figures like that. As we know, thanks to the federal pullout of Devco, we have lost over $300 million a year to the economy. Because of this government's sell-off of Sysco, we have had another economic disaster foisted upon us as a direct result of this government. Can the minister assure Cape Bretoners that this government really does have a rational economic policy for Cape Breton and if it does, what is it?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that since this government came to power, we have been involved in the announcement of a call centre, EDS in Sydney and one in Port Hawkesbury. We have also been involved in the announcement of job creation with Tesma Precision Fineblank Components. There are a number of projects in the works that will help to address this problem. It is a problem that has been some decades in the making and some decades in the solution.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what he said. There is no plan. He set up this farce called Nova Scotia Business Inc. with only one person from Cape Breton, who they solicited to be on that. The only people in this province that have a plan for economic development in Cape Breton is the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton. One of the crowning pieces is the Sysco wharves. So I want to ask that member if he will exclude that wharfage from the Sysco sell-off and sell it to the municipality. Will he do that?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has raised this issue on a number of occasions. What I said to him before and will say again today is that we are attempting to make sure that we make the best decision for all concerned. We are certainly recognizing that the wharf facility is an important piece of infrastructure, but it has to be part of a long-range plan that is viable.

[Page 3481]

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

EDUC. - SACRED HEART SCH.:

REPAIRS - COMPLETION TIME FRAME

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister will know the challenging circumstances of Sacred Heart School in Sydney, a school that is over 100 years old and has been condemned. The replacement school will not be ready until the year 2003. Where they are located presently, a soccer field was slated to go on that particular site and it won't be built for another year. Students and staff do not want the school to move once again and the school board agrees. The decision, Madam Minister, rests with your department.

Recently, the Deputy Minister of Education told Sacred Heart School that the building at 365 Prince Street requires a $200,000 roof. My question to the minister is, will repair work on this building be completed over the summer so the school can remain at 365 Prince Street for another academic year?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the issues at that school. As to that specific question, I will get back to the honourable member as soon as possible on that.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the minister is not up to date on what is happening with this particular issue, an issue that has been in the news very much in the past couple of weeks and an issue that concerns the parents, the teachers, the students, particularly, and also the local school board. First of all, perhaps the answer to the question is that the new Sacred Heart School, the construction of that school, be put ahead to this year instead of waiting for another two years to have that school built. That will solve the problem. But the problem remains for next year . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Was that the honourable member's question?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My first supplementary to the minister is, will the minister indicate if there are any other options her department is considering for housing the students of Sacred Heart this year?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of options and that is an issue that the department and the school board are discussing on an ongoing basis.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Again, Mr. Speaker, there is no answer to this perplexing problem that the students, the parents and the school board are facing. All it requires is the word from the minister that the students will stay at their present location for another year. Will the Minister of Education give me that commitment and the students at

[Page 3482]

Sacred Heart School that they will be housed at the same location for the next academic year? That is all I am asking.

[1:00 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would not want to preempt the discussions that are going on between my department and the school board over this issue. I think the member opposite is aware of another complicating factor in the issue of Sacred Heart School which I don't have the time to bring up right now, but there is another issue there as well and it has to be factored into the decision of whether those kids go or whether they stay.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - TAR PONDS/COKE OVENS:

ASSIST. - DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. A few years ago, the Sackville landfill site was closed and the community received $5 million in compensation. Residents within several kilometres of the site had their homes bought out. All this occurred because of a foul odour. If you go to Cape Breton, you will find 700,000 tons of toxic sludge at the tar ponds as well as more toxins at the coke ovens site, but you will find people living just a stone's throw away from those sites, demonstrating the fact that there is a set of rules for Halifax County and there is a set of rules for industrial Cape Breton.

So I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, who is in charge of the environment, I am not talking about the JAG process, I am talking about the environment, I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour to admit that he is not acting quickly enough to help these residents because they live in industrial Cape Breton?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to assure the member opposite and all Nova Scotians that there is only one set of legislation and regulations under the Environment Act and that we apply them uniformly across the province. We have made a staff member available for the whole JAG process with the tar ponds and if the member is asking about something specific about a project, he should direct it to the appropriate minister.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, how much more direct do I have to be to that minister? I said it is not about the JAG process. It is about the environment. If you don't care, who does? If you are not willing to take responsibility for the environment around the tar ponds, then tell me who is or resign your seat. I want to ask this minister, since you won't answer it, I am going to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, why won't you treat

[Page 3483]

Cape Bretoners fairly, Mr. Minister? Why won't you move the residents of Whitney Pier and do it immediately?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Environment and Labour adequately answered that question when he said we will treat Cape Breton exactly the same as we treat mainland problems.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we know that is not accurate. Even Tory MP, Premier wannabe, Peter MacKay, is calling for the government to move the residents. You are taking a risk with people's lives and that is the sad truth. So I ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works again, will you commit this government to accepting complete responsibility, both financially and morally, for any health impacts caused by prolonged exposure to these toxic waste sites? Will you do that, Mr. Minister?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how you drive information to that honourable member's head, but we have for the last two weeks consistently said that we will go with the process that is in place which will be based on best scientific evidence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

JUSTICE - SPRINGHILL POLICE FORCE:

PROBLEMS - MIN. ACTION

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. It is important that people have faith in their police forces. In the Town of Springhill I understand there are some very serious problems. Six members of the force are off on stress leave and I understand that there are occupational health and safety issues to be dealt with. Only in the past week has action been taken to support the remaining three members of the force with adequate relief. My question to the minister is, is he aware of the situation and, more importantly, what steps is he doing to resolve the problem?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is a very serious situation. There are, obviously, some difficulties with the Springhill police force at the present time. I can assure the honourable member that department staff are working in conjunction with town officials to ensure that adequate policing is provided for the residents during this difficult period.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the minister and his staff are looking at temporary solutions to a very chronic, long-term problem of police delivery in the area of Springhill. Has the minister received any complaints regarding policing in Springhill?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that I may have received complaints about policing in many communities in Nova Scotia. I don't remember any complaints about Springhill being particularly different than any other part of Nova Scotia. There are,

[Page 3484]

presently, difficulties with the Springhill police force. It would be inaccurate to describe those difficulties as necessarily being long term.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, well, I have heard concerns expressed to me, with regard to the police force in Springhill. In fact, the Springhill Police Department is referred to as dysfunctional at this point in time. I know that these concerns have been brought (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, they obviously want you to go back. I know that these concerns have been brought to the attention of the minister. My question to the minister is simple, what will the minister do to help the people of Springhill restore confidence in their police force?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as honourable members would be aware, the Springhill police force lost one of its best sergeants not that long ago. Notwithstanding that loss, I am sure they will be able to provide adequate police protection. The honourable member must realize that policing is a partnership between the Government of Nova Scotia and the municipalities. We are working together with the municipal unit to ensure adequate policing, so the people of Springhill, as all other Nova Scotians, are protected.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - EASTERN SHORE: WATER TESTING - CENTRALIZATION REINSTITUTE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. Recently, a gentleman living on the Eastern Shore called me with a concern about water testing. He told me that one of the biggest obstacles for people on the Eastern Shore who want to get their well water tested is simply that they are facing a very long drive, either to Halifax or Bedford, or an expensive courier package. Why did that happen? Because the last government cut the central pickup point. My question to the minister is, will your government correct a mistake made by the last government and reinstitute the central pickup point for the residents of the Eastern Shore? (Interruptions)

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

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing up that question. He is not the first one, in fact, the people of the Eastern Shore are well served by their MLA, who has also submitted that same request to me. It is under consideration.

[Page 3485]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, although, I believe I am the first member to raise it in the public forum (Interruptions) About 40 per cent of Nova Scotians get their water from wells. We should not be putting obstacles in the way of getting that well water tested. This government has downloaded the cost of well water testing to the homeowners. They call it owner responsibility, but downloading is all that it is. My question to the minister is, why is your government making it harder, not easier for Nova Scotians to get their drinking water tested.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the opportunity to point out that we have undertaken many new measures to help increase, enhance the safeguards that are in place for Nova Scotians and indeed for those who have their own water supply. It is in fact the homeowners' obligation to provide for potable water and we, in the Department of Environment and Labour, are doing all that we can to assist them in this matter.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, anything - and I mean anything - that puts a barrier in the way of people getting their well water tested is going to discourage them from having safe water. Last week, the Government of Manitoba reinstituted a subsidy for well water testing. My final question to the minister is, will your government follow the lead of the Government of Manitoba and make it easier for people to get their well water tested?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would be aware that we are undertaking a water strategy this year. This is something that has been, I think, looked for by the people of Nova Scotia. There will be many things that I know that will be shared with us throughout that process and we look forward to the conclusion of the public discussion and coming back with a water strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - CROSS CHURCH BRIDGE:

REPLACEMENT - RECONSIDER

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Not long ago in the House I asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works about the replacement of the Church Cross Bridge in Middle River. At the time the minister said that because there were only two families affected and the nearest bridge was only two miles away, he would not begin replacement. The minister is right, there is another bridge two miles down the river and that is fine if you are travelling west, but if you happen to travel east it is nine kilometres, and we like to travel both ways in that constituency. Last week I tabled a petition with almost 500 names of residents affected by the closure of this bridge. My question to the minister is, in light of this new information, will the minister reconsider his decision to not replace the Church Cross Bridge in Middle River?

[Page 3486]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: This year, Mr. Speaker, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you really feel?

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: I think he meant it.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the minister meant it, but we will continue to work on the minister. Let me ask the minister why he considered a bridge in his riding - the Mantua Bridge was not on the priority list - why the minister would find the money to replace that bridge. Isn't a bridge in Victoria County as important as a bridge in the minister's riding? So I will ask the minister, will the minister meet with the representatives of this area - they have requested a meeting - over this bridge?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not saying this is tit-for-tat, but however the Mantua Bridge, I think I have already pointed out in this House, was cancelled by the previous government when they came to power in 1993. So I have waited for five years and I can assure the honourable member that the people in his riding will not wait for five years for a replacement of that bridge.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, so what the minister is telling me is he is ignoring 500 residents in Victoria County and I can understand that, I mean the Mantua Bridge was not a priority in 1993 and that is why it wasn't done. It wasn't a priority in 2001, but it is still done because it was in the minister's riding. That is the perception that is out there, Mr. Minister.

Mr. Speaker, there is an old adage which says, if you broke it, you bought it. The Department of Transportation and Public Works plow broke this bridge, so I think it is only fair, if you broke it, you fix it. So will the minister at least live up to that same standard that we hold shoppers to and replace this bridge that his department damaged?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to sound like the Grinch and, in truth, I have already told the honourable member . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You are the Grinch.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am interested in hearing the answer.

MR. RUSSELL: . . . that the bridge will be replaced and it will be replaced in the very near future. He wants me to meet with the people up there. I will make a deal with him. I will go up and visit with them sometime after the House gets out.

[Page 3487]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - SABLE PARTNERS: ASSESS. - DETAILS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. This government has claimed several times that it will stand up to the big oil companies. They repeated that promise even as the Sable partners were arguing that assessment on the pipeline and onshore facilities was too high, but Nova Scotians have learned recently that yet again the government has caved in to big oil by offering a new and lower deal on their property assessment. My question to the minister is simply this, why has this government once again caved into their buddies from big oil?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the assessment of the honourable member. There has been no cave-in and discussions with respect to this question are ongoing.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, there are millions of dollars at stake here and all that is going on is taking place in secret behind close doors. The Sable partners threatened to take the whole matter before the Utility and Review Board. The province, at that time, could have stuck to its guns and said, we will see you there. Instead, it followed the same old strategy - it caved in. I want to ask the minister, in this secret new deal that you offered to the oil companies, did you change the taxation rules for equipment and infrastructure?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is no. No rules were changed.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, perhaps we have to find out about this secret deal one word at a time. This government made a secret deal over a week ago and the only way that Nova Scotians can find out what is being offered in their name is for that deal to be on the table. I want to ask the minister, will you table today a copy of the deal you offered to the oil companies for all Nova Scotians to see and if you won't, why won't you?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, a deal implies that an agreement has been reached. No agreement has been reached. Discussions are ongoing. When and if an agreement is reached, the details of that agreement will be made totally public and it will be defended by this government and we will (Interruption) Well, it will be open to everyone. There is no agreement in place. Discussions are ongoing.

[Page 3488]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - NEW ERA FARMS (COMPOST):

HRM EDUC. PROG. - FULFILL

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Several weeks ago, the minister apprised members of the House that New Era Farms in Timberlea, Halifax County, had until June 15th to comply with a ministerial order. As we all know, certain action will be taken after June 15th. My question to the minister is, was the minister aware that the Halifax Regional Municipality had an obligation to fulfill certain aspects of that agreement by ensuring an educational program for all Halifax residents as to what was compost material and what wasn't and whether in fact that aspect of the agreement has been fulfilled?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for an interesting question. What I would tell the member opposite is that a ministerial order was signed directing New Era Farms to undertake certain measures which ultimately would lead to bringing them into compliance and a welcome member in the management of the provincial waste stream. As to his question about the specifics of the actions of HRM, I think that somebody from HRM would be better able to answer those questions.

MR. MACKINNON: Would the minister be kind enough to indicate to members of the House as to whether he was aware at the time the ministerial order was issued that the compost and debris that was being shipped to New Era Farms was, in fact, debris that was being shipped from his constituency?

MR. MORSE: I was aware that Kings County was sending compostable materials to somewhere in HRM, that would narrow it down to either New Era Farms or Miller, which are the two sites that compost for HRM.

MR. MACKINNON: Clearly, what the minister has done is gone soft on the laws of Nova Scotia because of a certain political preference. Would the minister be kind enough to table all the documents related to this particular ministerial order and the details as to why the department has refused to proceed with prosecutable action on this matter?

MR. MORSE: Again, an interesting question from the member opposite. I would have thought that the whole purpose of the ministerial order was very clear in that it was to lay out what had to happen in order to rectify the situation at New Era Farms. In fact, we are proceeding with this and we are getting good co-operation from the operator of that facility, contrary to what I think the community felt before the ministerial order.

[Page 3489]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - HARDWOOD LUMBER:

SMALL BUSINESSES - SUPPLY ENSURE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Nova Scotia has a number of small businesses like Northern Lumber in Tatamagouche that do exemplary value-added work with hardwood. Much of their product is exported to markets outside of Canada and these businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain a reliable supply of hardwood for their operations and they are not able to fill their orders. They are frustrated because they see raw hardwood logs and lumber heading out by the truckload to large mills in New Brunswick and heading overseas by the boatload. These small operators don't even get the opportunity to bid on these logs. My question for the Minister of Natural Resources, why has this government failed to work with these small businesses to ensure a constant supply of hardwood for their operations?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: We do work with all mills in Nova Scotia to try to help satisfy supply. Certainly in the case with hardwood logs, I have to remind the member opposite that 75 per cent of land in Nova Scotia is privately owned and that option is always open to any mill to procure wood supply, but on the Crown lands, we offer tenders in those areas from time to time so that those smaller mills can tender on Crown lands and lots of hardwood logs. As well, we encourage them to work with some of the larger leaseholders and lumber operations to acquire their surplus of hardwood logs as well.

MR. MACDONELL: That is part of the problem. What the minister is not acknowledging is there are a number of large mills who are private landholders that receive large sums of money from this government and they are still not ensuring that those mills, for that money, ensure a supply of hardwood for smaller mill operations. The operators of these businesses are located in rural Nova Scotia, they provide valuable jobs for their community. One such business is Rocky Ridge Woodworks in Pictou County. This year they have had to lay off many of their employees. When this happens in rural Nova Scotia, everybody loses except for their competitors. The large mills and this government have shut these small mills from the wood supply. My question for the minister is, why have you not secured a supply of hardwood for these local mills, and allowed the value-added jobs to leave this province?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again the member opposite is misinformed. On many occasions we have defended the softwood lumber agreement and other agreements because there are no subsidies paid by this government to mills in Nova Scotia. Obviously, he is completely misinformed on the situation out there.

[Page 3490]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I can't understand how hardwood came into the softwood agreement, but I think if anybody misunderstands, that minister is the person. Because there is tremendous economic potential with these value-added small woodworking businesses, much more work needs to be done to ensure that they are allowed to prosper. So my last question will be for the Minister of Economic Development. Why has your department failed to recognize the potential of these small businesses?

HON. GORDON BALSER: To the contrary, the Department of Economic Development works very closely with these small wood mills because they do create significant employment in rural Nova Scotia.

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

JUSTICE: VEHICLE COMPLIANCE OFFICERS - PRIVATIZATION

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, last week I asked what involvement the Minister of Justice had in the privatization of vehicle compliance officers. His flip response of course was that he is encouraging the best use of taxpayers' dollars in Nova Scotia. My question to the Minister of Justice is, why is your department nosing around in another department by approaching the RCMP to take over services which are provided by Service Nova Scotia?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is very hard to give a serious answer to that question. There is only one government in Nova Scotia and there is only one taxpayer. It is the job of the government to ensure that all taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely by government.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, there is considerable information that the Deputy Minister of Justice asked the RCMP to submit a proposal to Service Nova Scotia to take over this service. My question is to the Minister of Justice, why did your department initiate the process to have the RCMP take over this service?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member, whatever capacity my department had in this was to simply facilitate information flow to the minister responsible who will make the appropriate decision.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we all know the process that was followed here in regard to this minister. My question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Can the minister tell this House why he is allowing another department to dictate the future services which should be provided by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations?

[Page 3491]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it turns out that you sometimes get good advice from other departments. I can say to the House that the answer the honourable Minister of Justice gave to the first question suits this question. We are one government, there is one taxpayer, and we are looking out for the interest of all of them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - SMITH ST. (HFX.):

PROPERTY TAX - FAIRNESS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Late at night on December 11, 1999, fire broke out on Smith Street in the South End of Halifax. When it was all over, six heritage homes were destroyed and over 30 people were homeless. Thankfully no one was hurt. Imagine the shock of these homeowners though when they got their property tax bill for the following year. Because valuation and property condition is based on a time before the fire, the tax bill took the full value of the Smith Street homes into account even though their homes had been destroyed. My question to the minister is, what is this government prepared to do to relieve this unfair tax burden on the residents of Smith Street?

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I guess, I am not sure how the rules apply here. It is the subject of a bill that is before the House as of today. I can say that I have viewed the contents of the bill. While officials in my department have not seen the actual wording, I have made them aware of the contents of that bill. I had discussions with the House Leader of the NDP with respect to . . .

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[The motion is carried.]

[Page 3492]

[1:31 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker, Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South.

"Therefore be it resolved that the lack of a new Fire Safety Act is threatening the public safety and the safety of firefighters."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

FIRE SAFETY ACT (NEW) - LACK: PUBLIC SAFETY - EFFECTS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in favour of this particular resolution, "Therefore be it resolved that the lack of a new Fire Safety Act is threatening the public safety and the safety of firefighters.", in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as we recall, several weeks ago, the Minister of Environment and Labour stood in his place in the House here and, with government approval, established a select committee of the Legislature to review the Fire Prevention Act. At that particular point in time, I stood in my place on a point of personal privilege and I indicated my opposition and my concern to the fact that government was delaying a rather vital piece of legislation that was required before this House.

As we all recall, that particular bill, Bill No. 58, Fire Safety Act, was introduced in the fall sitting of the last session and died on the order paper when the House was prorogued. It was introduced to replace the Fire Prevention Act, Chapter 171 of the Revised Statutes, 1989. Under Minister Jay Abbass' tenure, the Fire Prevention Act had begun a rather elaborate review in 1995.

Mr. Speaker, there are some 8,000 volunteer firefighters who are members of the Fire Officers Association of Nova Scotia and since 1996 have sought to have a new Act to replace the existing Act of 1989. As the name suggests, fire safety goes further than fire prevention and the intention of the new Act is to set the bar higher on standards and preventive action.

[Page 3493]

So accordingly, Mr. Speaker, the government first introduced Bill No. 58 for first reading and then that was the extent of it. Greg Clark, the President of the Fire Officers Association of Nova Scotia reportedly stated, and that is referred to in a Daily News article, that the firefighters are frustrated and confused by years of delay. That was in an article in today's Daily News. The Fire Officers Association seeks "more assistance for volunteer and paid firefighters, enforcement of provincial and municipal fire inspection standards and remuneration for volunteers who act as security at fire scenes until insurance company-paid security guards . . ." arrive and, of course, the financial implications of this particular piece of legislation is municipal - increased costs for paying volunteers, more frequent fire safety inspection, as well as scene security.

Mr. Speaker, let's not forget that when the government was on this side of the House, they asked for the unanimous approbation and consent of the House to approve a Private Member's Bill that was introduced by the Leader of the Third Party, who is now the Premier, asking that we provide a $500 tax credit to volunteer firefighters. Well, knowing that that was a financial measure and it was a rather impulsive move by the Leader of the day to try to score some political points, it was given some considered review and the process commenced by the initiation where myself, as Minister of Labour, with the support of all three Parties, agreed to issue the licences for volunteer firefighters at no cost. Then we would look at the next phase, which was the $500 tax credit.

That, Mr. Speaker, was a commitment that was made by the Leader of the Conservative Party, who is now Premier, and the government in their blue book, that the $500 tax credit would be provided to the volunteer firefighters. We have seen absolutely nothing in two full sessions, two years later we haven't seen anything. So we have to be somewhat suspect of the government's motive on this particular issue.

This new Act would certainly give all firefighters a boost, according to Chief Clark, but would especially be beneficial to volunteer fire departments which protect the overwhelming majority of rural Nova Scotian residents. As we know, of all the firefighters in Nova Scotia, over 85 per cent are volunteer. If we were to translate that into a dollar saving or into a cash value, for lack of a better phrase, the cost to the provincial taxpayer, in fact the municipal taxpayer, would be absolutely in the millions of dollars.

Mr. Speaker, the government has conducted five years of public consultation for a new Act, and in contrast the previous government conducted public consultation for one year on the setting aside of 30 protected spaces, an Act which impacts as many people. Yet, the minister acknowledges the new Act raises the bar on standards, but is quoted as saying, " . . . we want to do it in a responsible fashion,". If the minister wants to do the responsible thing, take that document that was articulated with participation from the stakeholders from right across this province, from the volunteer firefighters, from the paid fire service, from the Fire Marshal's Office, from the municipal government, from the Department of Municipal

[Page 3494]

Relations, from the taxpayers who have a vested interest; pretty well any and every stakeholder across this province had input.

After three years, we articulated a rather comprehensive document. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but that was a consensus document that was brought to the floor of the Legislature that certainly would have received some fine-tuning, either at second reading, the Law Amendments Committee process or, indeed, the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, that would have, in fact, enjoyed the overwhelming support of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, the ramifications of putting this bill on hold are certainly with regard to increased costs and the need for more vigilant inspection protocols, which would be put in abeyance. Whether that is, in fact, an enormous ramification or whether it is a modest ramification from a financial perspective, that is certainly something that could be debated as well. Further, the minister states, "We have to make sure all the people affected by this are on board,". Well, presumably some municipal units will not be on side. It is much the same as the equalization process; it is much the same as the recent proposal by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities in using deed transfer tax as a way to eliminate this inequity on the equalization. Is it going to have 100 per cent buy-in? I seriously doubt it.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that when all factors are considered, the particular document that we have, presently, is more than sufficient. To set up a select committee to travel the province and waste, again, tens of thousands of dollars, and delay this vital process for at least, perhaps, another year or two years, in my view, is foolhardy. It is foolhardy and nothing short of being political. It is something that the Premier indoctrinated in his Speech from the Throne, and I believe it is very counterproductive. When we have some 8,000 volunteer firefighters from the volunteer service of Nova Scotia stand up in unanimity and say that the government is wrong, someone has to stop and say, what is wrong with this process?

Mr. Speaker, if the select committee proceeds, and I believe the government has the mandate, they have the majority, they can force that process to continue, if need be, I would certainly be willing to serve on that to ensure that those needs are protected, as reflected in the present Bill No. 58, or the one that died on the order table. But what concerns me the most is the fact that the government has been making overtures for some time and it is of critical value in what the government is trying to do; they are trying to make any appeal of the Fire Marshal's Office, the fire marshal or his deputy fire marshal or anybody within the fire service appealable to the minister of the department responsible for the fire service.

Mr. Speaker, presently, any decision of the fire marshal is only appealable to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. That is the crux of what the government is trying to do, from a political point of view, aside from some of the other housekeeping items, whether it be appeasing municipal interests or other stakeholders.

[Page 3495]

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time has come to an end. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this resolution.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words in debate tonight because while the review process of the Act and what the investment was originally, or in past studies and I don't know if that bothers me as much as I guess as on one side the government is preaching restraint and yet they are willing to pay money for this select committee. While I don't disagree with the fact that this is a very topical subject for us to discuss and for us to go out into the province and find out, but I also find - we have this study and the government doesn't want to accept the study, but yet it wants to go out and do this.

Yet I know from my own perspective, Mr. Speaker, in the Economic Development Committee that when we asked them to go to Cape Breton, the area of Nova Scotia with the highest rate of unemployment, and start to try to find answers and resolve to chronic unemployment, the government members fought us every step of the way on that. So I find that perplexing. While I am one who does appreciate the fact that government will get involved and go out to the public, it seems like it gets into areas that it is safe with.

Let me say this also, Mr. Speaker, because I think this government is going to have its collective eyes snapped open because if it thinks that it is going to go out to the public and see a bunch of volunteer fire departments nodding their heads - I say volunteer because that is the reality of firefighters in this province, the vast majority are volunteers and so - if this government thinks it is going to come out and it is going to have a bunch of willing lemmings come up to a table and tell them that they agree with the world as seen by the rose-coloured glasses of the government, I disagree strongly with that. One thing I am encouraging firefighters to get out and do with this - and indeed when we get out on the committee that has been struck to review the Workers' Compensation Act, I am encouraging firefighters, whether they are full-time firefighters, or they are volunteers - is to get out and speak in terms of automatic assumption for firefighters.

Statistically the industry has proven that firefighters suffer from a much larger degree than anybody else, any other workforce, Mr. Speaker, with brain cancer. These are studies that have been proven in different areas, but indeed more recently in the Municipality of Hamilton. So I am encouraging firefighters in my constituency and indeed in other areas to get out and speak about that aspect of health and safety and to tell this committee, while it may be a bit out of the realm of that committee, I think it is important that when you get a government ear, you use it.

I am encouraging the various fire departments, all four in my constituency, to tell the government this; when the select committee comes to their town to speak, to tell them about two things. One is the role they play in their community as volunteers, Mr. Speaker, because

[Page 3496]

I am not going to belabour the debate tonight about the aspect of what agenda the government may have and, you know, I think that will become evident. They have decided to have this select committee and certainly, as a majority government, that is their wish and, therefore, I think I can have my thoughts on what their agenda is, but that is not what really the crux is here.

The crux I think is that now that the volunteers, in particular - and I will speak largely in terms of volunteers as I said before - when they get the government's ear, they have to tell them because this will be a chance, I think, that won't come around very often to these volunteers. I think they have to tell them the aspect of what it means for automatic assumption through WCB. I think it is extremely important. Plus, I think it is about time that the government really understands. I think members by themselves understand what the role is and what the work is that departments do in their communities, but it is something that I think everyone has an individual vision of but not a collective vision.

[6:15 p.m.]

While I am very proud to represent the members of the four volunteer fire departments in my constituency, I am sure that there is not a member here who wouldn't say likewise. It is this time of year that we as members are invited out to the installation of officers of various volunteer fire departments, Mr. Speaker. One of the most oft-heard refrains in these meetings for me is that the membership is shrinking. I think that is one of the aspects of what this select committee can look at, whether it is what we can do to induce new members to get involved. There is a fear in CBRM about some areas losing their fire stations, that the regional municipality will no longer be in a position financially to support the smaller stations and so on. So there is a fear there.

These are all things, I think, that while I guess you could say at some point that this may be just a showmanship or an exercise in futility in some ways for government, I also see it as an opportunity. While I worry about the government's motives, I also see it as an opportunity for these people to see people on the government side to say, this is what is in the real world of firefighting. These are the real problems that are faced by these small volunteer fire companies and we need your support as our provincial Legislature to help us. I think that is what that is.

I would hope that it won't be used as a way to get at areas of the Fire Safety Act, Mr. Speaker, and downgrade it and use it for ulterior motives. If I am fortunate enough to be my Party's nominee for that committee, I want to use the time as positively as possible and encourage every firefighter, whether they are paid or whether they are volunteer, to come to those meetings and represent their departments and put forward their concerns. I know there are many initiatives that come before this House about volunteers, this being the International Year of Volunteers, but the group of volunteers that every single member of this House can relate to is volunteer fire departments.

[Page 3497]

I have had occasion to congratulate one member for 67 years of active participation in his fire department. He is still active to this day, Mr. Speaker. Where else can you say that you know anybody who has given that amount of time to their community? That is my hope for this committee. Well I may be a bit Pollyannaish about it, I hope not. I hope the government is sincere in wanting not to go over old ground or not wanting to try to stack the deck in their favour, but what I hope this select committee will do is go out and hear concerns of the fire departments and the people in the community and what is best for fire safety and firefighting and, more importantly, fire prevention. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening and speak to the motion before the House. I would like to thank my honourable colleagues, the members for Cape Breton West and Cape Breton Centre, for the interventions they provided. For the most part, I thought they raised some very interesting points.

In 1991, I was elected to the Halifax County Council. Although I had been a member of the Middle Musquodoboit Volunteer Fire Department for a few years, I quickly learned how important our volunteer fire departments are to not only Halifax County at that time, but to all of Nova Scotia. Subsequently, as you know, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Government of the day decided to thrust and force amalgamation upon us. Halifax County became part of the big mega-city. I won't go down memory lane too far, but many of us, not only provincial politicians, many municipal politicians - and I am sure the member for Cape Breton West knows only too well - expressed fears that this mega-city would someday, perhaps in the near future, come back to haunt us.

In fact, in the Halifax Regional Municipality today, many of our rural volunteer fire departments are struggling. They are struggling because of the new regulations, the new laws, guidelines and things of that nature that have been put in place. For example, the Middle Musquodoboit Volunteer Fire Department, not unique to that department, stood alone as a fire department. Yes, there was mutual aid, but under the present administration and system, the Middle Musquodoboit Volunteer Fire Department is lumped in now with Meaghers Grant, Upper Musquodoboit, Cooks Brook and Dutch Settlement.

As a consequence of that amalgamation, we have seen that the fire area rate has been driven up. For example, under the new regime, just this year, in Middle Musquodoboit, in the catchment area for the Middle Musquodoboit Volunteer Fire Department, the area rate has gone up from some 9 cents per $100 of assessment to nearly 16 cents, or a 6.7 cent increase; in Upper Musquodoboit there has been a 3.7 cent increase per $100 of assessment; Cooks Brook, it has gone up; Meaghers Grant, it has gone up; Dutch Settlement. I am very concerned about that.

[Page 3498]

In fact, just recently, the Halifax Fire Service went down to the Eastern Shore, where the Meaghers Grant Volunteer Fire Department had positioned a truck for motor vehicle inspection and a few minor repairs. There had been, for some time, a dispute going on between the Halifax Fire Service and the Meaghers Grant Volunteer Fire Department about this tanker truck that the Meaghers Grant Volunteer Fire Department used. In fact, the new Halifax Fire Service, under amalgamation, said, hey, that old milk truck, which went seven days a week, doesn't have enough baffles.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you know that baffles are partitions in tanks. The Halifax Fire Service said, instead of having two baffles you have to have four. This is an aluminum tanker. So, what did Halifax Fire Service do? They came out to - I am not sure of the name of the community; my colleague, Bill Dooks, probably knows the community on the Eastern Shore - what is the name of the community?

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Chezzetcook.

MR. TAYLOR: Chezzetcook. The Halifax Fire Service came out and literally swiped that truck away from the Meaghers Grant Volunteer Fire Department because they didn't put those baffles in place, and because they deemed that this fire department truck that was fundraised for by the people, they came and literally took that truck away, and that is wrong. That is fundamentally wrong.

As a consequence, the community of Meaghers Grant found that their fire safety and their firefighting abilities had been compromised by the very fire service, just up over the hill, that is supposed to protect those volunteers and protect that rural community of Meaghers Grant. I think that is a sin and that is a shame, that the Halifax Fire Service came and took that truck away. Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about that. In fact, some of the volunteer fire department members from Meaghers Grant have threatened to quit the volunteer fire department, because the Halifax Fire Service came and took that truck away.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that I received a call from a firefighter who lives right across from that fire hall and he and his family have served that area for a number of years; in fact he is a charter member and he is 60 years old, and he is very upset that the fire truck he took from Meaghers Grant down to Chezzetcook to be serviced was taken away by the Halifax Fire Service. That compromised the firefighting service in that town. I phoned Mayor Peter Kelly, Mayor Kelly was out, he couldn't respond to the telephone call. So, Jerry Blumethal, the Deputy Mayor phoned back and said, oh, don't worry, it has all been taken care of. You folks are in a zone and we will transfer a truck from another station to Meaghers Grant so the service can be sustained and, in fact, that was done a little later on.

I just want to point out that sometimes when the chickens come home to roost, we find out that in fact the cost to volunteers, and again I point out that that truck was bought and financed by the people for the people in that community. Well, that truck has been taken

[Page 3499]

away and as far as I am concerned that truck was stolen by the very service that was intended to look after it. (Interruptions)

So, anyway, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is I want to point out that volunteer firefighters train hard, sometimes a minimum of one night a week, they take courses that are needed and required to meet certification. They study to be current with the new firefighting procedures. This happens not only in my community and in my constituency but in every community right across this province, volunteer firefighters in rural Nova Scotia. They participate in fundraising activities which are needed to pay for the equipment that is placed in their community. But why do the volunteers do it? They don't do it for the money, they don't even do it for thanks. You know why they do it, it is just because that's the way they are, they want to do it for their communities. (Applause) They are thinking of others first.

I have great difficulty finding out that the fire rate in the catchment areas of volunteer fire department areas is increasing because the Halifax fire service wants to put in place a grandiose, mega-firefighting system. Mr. Speaker, we have to recognize, yes, unity is great and it is nice to go along now that we are in this mega-city.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would suggest to the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley that it is my understanding that he and the other 30 members across the way are a majority government, they can always move legislation that would amend the Municipal Government Act that would then prevent that kind of taxation on the property. If the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley wants to do it, I don't think we would have any problems supporting that. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order but certainly a point.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that a municipal councillor, now a colleague of mine from the Eastern Shore, provincially, offered the residents in my community an opportunity if they so chose to possibly secede to another municipal unit but it was decided by the electorate that we would stay in the Halifax Regional Municipality. But the problem with that is that we want to be part of the consultation process. We don't want new regulations, new laws shoved down our throat. That's what happening. We don't want the Halifax fire service dictating to rural Nova Scotia. We don't believe in that. This government doesn't operate this way.

Now, I would just like to, in closing, wrap up by saying that, yes, our government did promise a waiver for motor vehicle registration fees for volunteer firefighters and members of the volunteer search and rescue organizations. I should point out that the Liberals did not promise to provide a waiver for volunteer search and rescue organizations, Mr. Speaker. They said, oh, my gosh, we can't do it now. So what they did was they talked the talk but this government walked the walk. We provided that waiver. But I do appreciate the points that the honourable members brought forward. Thank you.

[Page 3500]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to thank all the members for the debate this evening.

The House will now revert to a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills with Deputy Speaker Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

[9:57 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met, made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Liberal House Leader on tomorrow's business.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, after listening to that half an hour of fiction (Interruption) Tomorrow, following the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Bill No. 50 and Resolution No. 985; Resolution No. 985 will be first, Bill No. 50 will be second. I move that we do now adjourn until 2:00 o'clock tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]

[Page 3501]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1166

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister of Economic Development)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas D.B. Kenney Fisheries Limited was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of D.B. Kenney Fisheries Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1167

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas Cystic Fibrosis is a fatal inherited disease affecting mainly the lungs and the digestive system for which there is no known cure but there is real hope; and

Whereas the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a world leader in the fight against cystic fibrosis since 1960 funding research, supporting high quality CF care and promoting public awareness of cystic fibrosis, has elected Peggy Green of Yarmouth as its new President; and

Whereas Peggy, a physiotherapist from Yarmouth Regional Hospital and a long-standing, active member of the CCFF, was personally affected by this devastating disease when it claimed the life of her brother in 1984;

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Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Peggy Green for her fierce determination to do whatever she can for CF so that a cure or treatment will in fact be found.

RESOLUTION NO. 1168

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

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas Carl Anthony Trucking Limited was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of Carl Anthony Trucking Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1169

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

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

Whereas the Grit gravy train is undergoing a few unnecessary repairs in Ottawa; and

Whereas one of the repairs being proposed is a change in federal tendering guidelines, increasing from $25,000 to $81,000 the value of government work before it would go to a public tender; and

Whereas when requested to provide more detail on this proposal, Treasury Board officials refused to provide any rationale as to why such a move was required;

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Therefore be it resolved that the Grit gravy train immediately pull out of the repair shop and begin giving all businesses a fair chance at securing work from the federal government.

RESOLUTION NO. 1170

By: Hon. David Morse (Minister of Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas this government has established the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Award as part of its commitment to positively reinforce a continual decline in workplace accidents in the province; and

Whereas this award will this year recognize 20 Nova Scotia companies that have achieved the highest workers' compensation experience rating in their counties, meaning they have successfully prevented injuries from happening in their own workplaces; and

Whereas these companies are: St. Anne Community Nursing Care Centre; R. MacLean Forestry Limited; ABCO Industries Limited, Machine Shop Division; East Side Fisheries Limited; Annapolis County Adult Residential Centre; Keltic Lodge; R.I. Smith Company Limited; Canus Fisheries Limited; Sea Star Seafoods Limited; Ronal Graham Pulp Contractor Limited; Atlantic Corporation Limited; Town of Kentville Municipal Operations, Construction and Maintenance; Brimac Masonry Limited; Darrin Carter Logging Limited; ACS Trading, a division of Farocan Incorporated; D.B. Kenney Fisheries Limited; Carl Anthony Trucking Limited; N.R. Kenney Logging Limited; Bowater Mersey Paper Company, Woodlands Divisions; and Rideau Construction Incorporated;

Therefore be it resolved that we recognize and congratulate these companies that have made workplace health and safety a priority and who serve as role models for safety in the workplace for all Nova Scotia companies.

RESOLUTION NO. 1171

By: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Minister of Finance)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

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Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas East Side Fisheries Limited was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of East Side Fisheries Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1172

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas Darrin Carter Logging Limited was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of Darrin Carter Logging Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1173

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

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Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas the Town of Kentville Municipal Operations, Construction and Maintenance was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of the Town of Kentville Municipal Operations, Construction and Maintenance for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1174

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards was the Annapolis County Adult Residential Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of the Annapolis County Adult Residential Centre for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1175

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

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Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas N.R. Kenney Logging Limited was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of N.R. Kenney Logging Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1176

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas Bowater Mersey Paper Company, Woodlands Divisions, was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of Bowater Mersey Paper Company, Woodlands Divisions, for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1177

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas R.I. Smith Company Limited, Canus Fisheries Limited and Sea Star Seafoods Limited were 3 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of R.I. Smith Company Limited, Canus Fisheries Limited and Sea Star Seafoods Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1178

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas ACS Trading, a division of Farocan Incorporated, and the St. Anne Community Nursing Care Centre were 2 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of ACS Trading, a division of Farocan Incorporated, and the St. Anne Community Nursing Care Centre for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1179

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas May 6th to May 13th was North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas in recognition of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week, the province created the first annual Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards which went to companies for their successful efforts to prevent workplace injuries; and

Whereas R. MacLean Forestry Limited was 1 of the 20 companies to be honoured with the Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Achievement Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the employers and employees of R. MacLean Forestry Limited for their dedication to the prevention of workplace injuries.