Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-17

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Third Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. & Lbr.: Earth Day - Celebrate, Hon. R. Russell 1208
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Standing Committee on Resources, Mr. J. DeWolfe 1213
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 750, Ronald McDonald Charities - Alpine Ski N.S. Disabled
Skiing Div.: Donation - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1213
Vote - Affirmative 1214
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 38, Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. G. Steele 1214
No. 39,Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Mr. M. Samson 1214
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 751, Savage, Dr. John/Family: Concern - Convey, Mr. D. Dexter 1214
Vote - Affirmative 1215
Res. 752, Prem. - Power: Retention - Promises, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1215
Res. 753, Gold River-West. Shore Elem. Sch.: RRFB Sch. of Yr. -
Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 1216
Vote - Affirmative 1216
Res. 754, Boston Marathon: N.S. Participants - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 1217
Vote - Affirmative 1217
Res. 755, Morrison, Alex: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Gaudet 1217
Vote - Affirmative 1218
Res. 756, Smith, Ed - From the Ashes of My Dreams: Publication -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1218
Vote - Affirmative 1219
Res. 757, Environ. & Lbr. - Pks./Protected Areas: Plans - Develop,
Mr. H. Epstein 1219
Res. 758, Kells, Paul: Civilian Meritorious Service Decoration -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 1219
Vote - Affirmative 1220
Res. 759, Sports - Campbell's Pharmacy Team: Hockey Champs -^
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1220
Vote - Affirmative 1221
Res. 760, Timber-Leas Seniors Club: Life Memberships - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1221
Vote - Affirmative 1222
Res. 761, Nat'l. Organ & Tissue Donor Wk. (21/04-27/04/03) -
Recognize, Dr. J. Smith 1222
Vote - Affirmative 1222
Res. 762, Sports - Middleton RHS: Girls Sr. Basketball Championship -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1223
Vote - Affirmative 1223
Res. 763, Gov't. (Can.) - Can. TV: Funding - Increase Urge,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1224
Vote - Affirmative 1224
Res. 764, Gov't. (N.S.): Motivation - Political, Mr. M. Samson 1224
Res. 765, Dean Maple Syrup Fest.: Vols./Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 1225
Vote - Affirmative 1226
Res. 766, Dhir, Shanta: Truro Outstanding Vol. - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 1226
Vote - Affirmative 1226
Res. 767, Can. Winter Games - Team N.S.: Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1227
Vote - Affirmative 1227
Res. 768, Chester Firefighters' Frolic: Vols. - Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 1227
Vote - Affirmative 1228
Res. 769, Sports - Amherst Ramblers: Successful Season - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 1228
Vote - Affirmative 1229
Res. 770, Environmental Services Lab. Inc.: Growth/Success - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 1229
Vote - Affirmative 1230
Res. 771, Bluenose Atl. Coastal Action Prog.: Clean Boating Prog. -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1230
Vote - Affirmative 1230
Res. 772, Hughes, Mike: Ledgers Franchise of Yr. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 1231
Vote - Affirmative 1231
Res. 773, Gillis, Capt. Gordon: Cdn. Peacekeeping Service Medal -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1231
Vote - Affirmative 1232
Res. 774, MANS - Pub. Speaking Contest: Participants - Congrats.,
Ms. M. McGrath 1232
Vote - Affirmative 1233
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 148, Fin. - Casino Smoking Exemption: Casino Workers -
Effects, Mr. D. Dexter 1233
No. 149, FOIPOP - Justice Min.: Info. - Source, Mr. M. Samson 1235
No. 150, Fin. - Skinner Case: Casino Non-Intervention - Min. Advise,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1236
No. 151, Justice - Freedom of Info. Requests: Definitions - Details,
Mr. M. Samson 1238
No. 152, Fin. - Sydney Casino: C.B. Bylaw - Overriding Justify,
Mr. F. Corbett 1239
No. 153, Prem. - Sunday Shopping: Workers - Protect, Mr. K. Deveaux 1240
No. 154, Prem. - Sunday Shopping: Decision - Make,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1242
No. 155, Educ. - Universities: Funding - Increase, Mr. D. Dexter 1244
No. 156, Health - Rural Hospitals: Budget Cuts - Effect Admit,
Mr. F. Corbett 1245
No. 157, Health Prom. - Health Initiatives: Funding - Details,
Dr. J. Smith 1246
No. 158, Justice - Sexual Offences: Minor/Serious - Differentiation,
Mr. K. Deveaux 1247
No. 159, Health Prom. - Athletes: Funding - Ensure, Dr. J. Smith 1248
No. 160, Commun. Serv. - RRSS Strike: Alternate Costs - Details,
Mr. J. Pye 1250
No. 161, Commun. Serv. - RRSS Strike: Employer Contact -
Min. Confirm, Mr. W. Gaudet 1251
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. G. Steele 1253
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1257
Hon. C. Clarke 1261
Mr. B. Taylor 1265
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 4:35 P.M. 1266
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 1266
ADJOURNMENT DEBATE:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Lbr. - RRSS: Dispute - Effects:
Mr. G. Steele 1266
Mr. P. MacEwan 1268
Hon. D. Morse 1271
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 1274
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 9:05 P.M. 1274
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 36, Financial Measures (2003) Act 1274
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1274
Mr. G. Steele 1282
Adjourned debate 1288
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 23rd at 2:00 p.m. 1289
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 775, Wojcik, Adam/Ch'town Abbies: Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 1290
Res. 776, Vanderweit, Tineke/Jacobi/Ilana - Badminton: Impact -
Recognize, Hon. R. Russell 1290
Res. 777, E. Hants Mun.: Model Vol. Commun. - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1291
Res. 778, MacIntyre, Les: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 1291
Res. 779, Delorey, Joe: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 1292
Res. 780, Wilkinson, Ken: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 1292
Res. 781, Merry, Judy: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 1293
Res. 782, Mulock, Christine: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 1293
Res. 783, Gow, Donald: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 1294

[Page 1207]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition:

Therefore be it resolved that this government and the Department of Labour have shown a lack of concern for workers, residents and their families by allowing the present labour dispute at group homes to drag on.

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

1207

[Page 1208]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that today, April 22nd, is Earth Day and we Nova Scotians have much to celebrate. As world leaders in recycling, we are second to none in our environmental efforts. When it comes to solid waste, this province has done more than just make tremendous gains, we have provided leadership that has been emulated around the world.

Mr. Speaker, we have hosted delegations from Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Japan, Ireland, Iceland, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, India and many other countries. They are all impressed by our efforts and envious of our successful environmental programs. Our environmental success is evident. When we said we would divert 50 per cent of our solid waste from landfills in the year 2000, we did it. There are only 18 landfills remaining in the province.

We have also worked with partners like the municipalities to leave no stone unturned with respect to addressing solid waste disposal. One hundred per cent of Nova Scotian residents have curbside recycling and 75 per cent have access to curbside compost recycling. The benefits of a cleaner province are immeasurable. There is no more open burning of solid waste in Nova Scotia, we are all breathing easier because of this.

The environmental culture in this province also translates into economic growth. More than 3,000 jobs in this province are related to solid waste resource management. More than 1,000 of those jobs were created as a result of this province's strategy.

Our clean and beautiful province also attracts tourists to Nova Scotia. For example, Nova Scotia has become a popular golf vacation destination. When tourists book golf vacations, they can rest assured that the courses are managed with the environment in mind.

In July 2001, the Atlantic Golf Superintendents' Association and the Department of Environment and Labour entered into a partnership to develop an environmental self-assessment manual. This example shows that everyone in this province, including industry, is equally concerned and committed to our environment.

This government is also concerned about conserving and protecting natural resources like water, for the health of Nova Scotians. We have excellent drinking water in this province and it is important to be vigilant in keeping it that way. This requires a good regulatory foundation and proactive water policies. It also requires the understanding and participation of industry, communities and individuals to report potential problems and to participate in initiatives to conserve and protect our water supplies from the source to the tap.

[Page 1209]

The drinking water strategy that we introduced in October 2002 reiterates the province's commitment to the protection of drinking water supplies. We have diverted thousands of tons of waste from disposal, we have created thousands of jobs, we have strengthened the economy in the process, and protected the health of Nova Scotians through an excellent drinking water strategy. We are committed to the environment.

We have accomplished so much here in Nova Scotia, but we still have work to do. We will continue to address those materials which require stewardship and further regulation, in order that we can provide benefit to all. We will build on successful stewardships with newspaper organizations and the Atlantic Dairy Council, and form new ones.

One such stewardship that we hope to form shortly is with the electronics industry. Imagine a program which maximizes the skills of Nova Scotia's workforce and utilizes much of the local electronic materials as possible. Through such a stewardship there could be spinoff industries, refurbishing computers and electronics, and providing materials for other manufacturers. This innovative approach to the environment will keep Nova Scotia on the forefront of sustainability. This type of innovative approach to the environment is becoming second nature for Nova Scotians. The environment has become a priority of all.

Mr. Speaker, on this Earth Day 2003, I commend Nova Scotians on their world-renowned environmental leadership. Our efforts, our accomplishments and our successes are evident. We will continue our commitment to a clear focus on the environment in this province. Nova Scotians today expect to live in a clean, beautiful, healthy environment, and future generations certainly deserve the same. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for what is essentially quite an amusing statement. The absence of priority on the part of this government when it comes to the matter of the environment and sustainability. has been only all too obvious to all observers for the last four years. If I may start with one really pressing and dramatic example, it's the absence of the promised green plan. I think many observers will recall that it was one of the main promises of this government in its 1999 election campaign, that by year three they would have had extensive public consultations with Nova Scotians and put in place a green plan. Where is it, Mr. Speaker? It's not there. That's only a starting point, this is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has the floor.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the absence of the green plan is only one indicator of the fact that this government does not treat the environment as a priority. This is, let us recall, the same government that left the position of Minister of Environment vacant for a full year

[Page 1210]

during the unfortunate illness of the incumbent. This indicates, again, the absence of priority when it comes to matters of sustainability and the environment for this government.

[2:15 p.m.]

Let us turn our minds to a matter that I don't think the minister actually did address in his statement on this 33rd Anniversary of Earth Day, which is the state of play when it comes to control of greenhouse gases. This is a government that again demonstrated how the environment wasn't a priority by resisting, in as many ways as it possibly could, the ratification by the federal government of the Kyoto protocol. Delay was the order of the day. They came into it kicking and fighting, and doing their best to try to avoid any aggressive targets for this province. When I asked the minister about this in detail, the other day in estimates, it was clear that there is no plan yet for Nova Scotia, and that any ideas the minister has are extremely amorphous when it comes to control of greenhouse gases.

Let us look at another illustration of how it is that the environment is not a priority for this government. One of the interesting inventions of the environmental community, both governments and NGOs, has been the device of environmental assessments. This is a device to look at projects, at undertakings, well in advance of their start in order to look and consider what their adverse environmental impacts might be. But this is a province in which there has been no class two environmental assessment held for about five or six years. The last one that was held, I think, had to do with the SOE project, the offshore extraction of undersea natural gas and that was a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment. There simply has not been an independent panel environmental assessment in this province since that time.

The minister was good enough to emphasize in his statement our accomplishments in solid waste and I have to say that the minister on that point is correct. Nova Scotians in fact have engaged very willingly in efforts to reduce the solid waste stream, but I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the most important aspect of environment with which we could be engaging. This isn't to say that their efforts are not worthwhile, they're very worthwhile and everything that people do, particularly when it comes to diverting compostables from the waste stream, is in fact a very valuable thing and I want people to continue doing it, but it should not be the showplace of accomplishment for this government which has had control of that department for four years and we've had an Environment Department at work for 30 years. There should be more.

Let me say that we're furthermore very worried and again it illustrates how the environment is not a priority for this government over matters of water. When it comes to water, I'm very worried that deregulation, which has become something of an absorbing interest for this government, will rule the day. We're not interested in any repeats of harms to our water system. Despite the fact that there has been a preliminary water strategy drawn up, it is not yet sufficiently comprehensive.

[Page 1211]

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for acknowledging the fact that this is the 33rd Anniversary of Earth Day, it's well worth acknowledging, but it would be well worth acknowledging by a dedicated effort on the part of the minister and his government.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I pretty much echo many of the sentiments that were expressed by the member for Halifax Chebucto. (Interruptions) No, it's not a coalition. We saw what happened with the last coalition. We don't want any more of that.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Labour outlined the fact that we had received 50 per cent diversion of our solid waste from our landfills in Nova Scotia. What he forgot to mention is it was the Liberal Government that undertook and succeeded in that initiative. What the minister failed to indicate is that there hasn't been one management plan put forth by this government for the protected spaces laid out by the Department of Natural Resources, again another failure. The minister talked about the provincial water strategy. The fact of the matter is during a recent committee hearing, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture indicated that they had not been consulted during the articulation of that most important water strategy for Nova Scotia, another void in how this government consults with the stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, during budget estimates the Minister of Environment and Labour indicated that the protection of water quality in and about the freshwater lakes for HRM is the responsibility of not the Department of Environment and Labour, but rather the Halifax Regional Municipality. I tabled considerable documentation that would show that some of our most pristine freshwater lakes in and around the Halifax Regional Municipality are being contaminated by some of our polluted lakes. I asked the minister what was his responsibility and what was his undertaking going to be to address this matter. He said it was not their responsibility, they're only regulators and it was the responsibility of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Last week the Minister of Environment and Labour stood in his place and he danced around the issue for the residents in and around Harrietsfield and Williamswood. It wasn't until it became known that a Halifax Regional Municipality councillor was contemplating on running on the Conservative ticket that all of a sudden the lights went on. The Tory Cabinet and the Tory caucus said, hey, we'd better put the brakes on and do something for these 900 families out in Harrietsfield. That's putting politics into the environment of Nova Scotia which will come back to haunt not only this government, but many other community leaders in years to come, despite the fact that the experts recommended against this disposal going forth.

[Page 1212]

I asked what the MLAs for in and about that particular area are doing. I know the member for Halifax Atlantic has raised it, but he's not getting much support from the government on this issue either. I would ask the minister, rather than stand up and talk about Earth Day as being some kind of a caption that is the tenure and the ownership of this government, that they get off their duffs and they go out and do something for the people of Nova Scotia. Stop with the cheap talk, go out, action speaks louder than words. Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister to please help those residents out in Harrietsfield and stop playing politics with the health and safety of the people out in Harrietsfield and Williamswood. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of members of this House a group of Grade 9 students in the gallery opposite, accompanied by Melinda Daye, Ed Parsons and Jessica Neily. Of course, many members of this House had an opportunity to be here with Melinda's father, the late Buddy Daye, who was a Sergeant-at-Arms here at this House and brought much credit and credibility to the proceedings here as well.

I had an opportunity to speak with these Grade 9 students from Rockingstone Heights a moment ago in the Red Room and tried to assure them to not take too dim a view of the proceedings of this House. While things appear somewhat chaotic and downright rude at times, a lot of important business does get done here on this floor by all sides. I commend you, as I am sure, all members of this House will commend the students for the interest that they've shown in parliamentary government and in the Legislature of Nova Scotia, and encourage them to continue to do this work in order that they can contribute to their community and their province as we try to do here in this House. I would ask the students to rise and ask all members to receive them warmly. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on an introduction. It's my pleasure today to also introduce a special guest to the west gallery, a special constituent from the riding of Cape Breton West, who is the proud mother of three children, Marion, Shawn and Melissa. It is my understanding she's here to pick up her daughter Melissa who just finished a year at Dalhousie University. I'm not sure if she's looking forward to the tuition hike coming again next year and the cost to the family. Not only is she a special constituent from Cape Breton West, she also happens to be the wife of the honourable member for Cape Breton West. I would like the members to recognize Mrs. Gail MacKinnon who is here with us today. (Applause)

[Page 1213]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mrs. MacKinnon to the gallery today as well. I hope she enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the concurrence of the House to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Resources, I beg leave to table the annual report of the committee on behalf of the committee members. The report is for the Second Session of the 58th General Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Sport and Recreation Commission.

RESOLUTION NO. 750

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

Whereas the Alpine Ski Nova Scotia's Disabled Skiing Division is dedicated to the promotion of skiing and snowboarding for persons with disabilities; and

Whereas one of the biggest challenges faced by the organization has been purchasing appropriate equipment; and

Whereas that challenge has been made easier with a $20,000 donation from Ronald McDonald Children's Charities;

[Page 1214]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the good help provided by Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and commend the Alpine Ski Nova Scotia's Disabled Skiing Division for working to ensure young skiers with disabilities have the chance to participate in the sport of their choice.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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. 38 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act, to Enable the Further Restriction of the Use of Diesel Engine Enhanced Braking Systems. (Mr. Graham Steele)

Bill No. 39 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 751

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

Whereas former Premier and former Dartmouth Mayor, John Savage, has served his community and this province with determination and principle; and

Whereas Nova Scotians learned today from Dr. Savage that he is now entering palliative care; and

[Page 1215]

Whereas John Savage has faced his illness with the same determination and courage that won him the admiration of friends and opponents in his public life and community service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes with respect the strength of character that Dr. John Savage is demonstrating once again and conveys to him and his family that they continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 752

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

Whereas the Premier has proven his inability to stick by his convictions when it comes to Sunday shopping; and

Whereas this is typical of a Premier who has flip-flopped on the debt, flip-flopped on health care and has flip-flopped on the issues of openness and accountability; and

Whereas the standing order of the day for this Premier is to promise everything and anything regardless of the cost;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that the Premier will say anything and do just about anything to try and remain in power.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1216]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 753

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 Resource Recovery Fund Board has recently named its School of the Year Mobius Award winner; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas their choice for this year is Gold River-Western Shore Elementary School in Gold River; and

Whereas the ceremony will take place on April 22nd, Earth Day it is, at an event featuring Hockey Hall of Flame member Guy LaFleur;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the students and staff from the Gold River-Western Shore Elementary School on being honoured as the school of the year from the Resource Recovery Fund Board and thank them for their dedication to the environment.

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.

[Page 1217]

RESOLUTION NO. 754

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

Whereas the 107th edition of the Boston Marathon took place on the downtown streets of Boston on Monday, April 21st; and

Whereas 93 Nova Scotians, including 9 Cape Bretoners, were among more than 20,000 runners in this year's Boston Marathon; and

Whereas Peter Hanna of Sydney and a member of the Cape Breton Road Runners Club was the top Nova Scotian in the seniors division;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend all 93 Nova Scotians who competed in this challenging marathon and extend congratulations to all the runners who finished the 42.2 kilometre race.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 755

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

Whereas in recognition of excellence in an international service and understanding, the United Nations Association in Canada presents an individual with a United Nations Peace Medal; and

Whereas earlier this year, former head of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, Alex Morrison of Granville Ferry, was awarded the 2002 United Nations Peace Medal; and

[Page 1218]

Whereas as the first President of the Pearson Centre, Mr. Morrison has worked to promote peacekeeping throughout the world and has continued conflict resolution training since leaving the centre in the Fall of 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Mr. Morrison and recognize the contribution he has made.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 756

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

Whereas in 1988 Ed Smith awoke to find himself paralyzed from the shoulders down after surviving a motor vehicle accident; and

Whereas instead of giving up, Mr. Smith fought to overcome immense odds with the help of family and friends to return to his first love, writing; and

Whereas the book, From the Ashes of My Dreams is the inspirational tale of Ed Smith's adventures and misadventures during his 17 months of treatment after his accident;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our congratulations to Ed Smith on his inspirational book, From the Ashes of My Dreams.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1219]

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. 757

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

Whereas this government is increasingly reneging on its responsibility to valued protected areas; and

Whereas, as an example, the residents of Chester have recently had to take over most of the responsibility for Card Lake Provincial Park in order to see it reopen; and

Whereas this government fails to realize that Nova Scotia's parks and protected areas provide key health, social and economic benefits;

Therefore be it resolved that on the occasion of Earth Day 2003 this House urges the Tory Government to sit down with concerned groups and develop functional long-term plans to ensure the future of parks and protected areas is secure.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 758

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

[Page 1220]

Whereas earlier this year Governor General Adrienne Clarkson presented the Meritorious Service Decorations to both military and civilian recipients in recognition of an exceptional deed or activity that has improved the lives of others and brought honour to the community; and

Whereas Paul Kells of Halifax created Safe Communities Foundation, a non-profit organization to promote awareness of health and safety in order to eliminate preventable injuries after the death of his son, Sean, in a workplace accident; and

Whereas Mr. Kells is the only recipient from Atlantic Canada to receive the Civilian Meritorious Service Decoration in honour of his contributions to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the tremendous contributions made by Mr. Kells, and congratulate him on receiving the Civilian Meritorious Service Decoration.

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.

Before I recognize the next speaker, it is very difficult for myself and/or the Clerks to hear the speaker on the floor. I would ask honourable members to take their conversations outside, if they have to talk, please.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 759

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

Whereas Campbell's Pharmacy finished off its hockey season by winning the Westville Gentlemen's Hockey League championships; and

[Page 1221]

Whereas the winning team includes: George Graham, Peter Strickney, Robbie MacNaughton, Bill Purves, Art Eagles, Roy Beck, Matthew MacLeod, Rob MacIsaac, Colin Williams, Bill Watters, Allan Holmes, Forbes LeDrew, Colin Dorrington, Rob Campbell, Hughie Palmer, Eric Russell, Archie Matthews, Glen Sponagle, Scott Clark, and Fred Barkhouse;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our congratulations to Campbell's Pharmacy hockey team on becoming the Westville Gentlemen's Hockey League champions.

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. 760

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 Timber-Leas Seniors Club is an active group of senior citizens in the Timberlea area; and

Whereas Margaret Bolger, Eileen O'Hanley and Donald MacCarthy were recently made life members of the Timber-Leas Seniors Club; and

Whereas these seniors continue to play an important and vital role in our community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Don MacCarthy, Eileen O'Hanley and Margaret Bolger on their life memberships and extend best wishes to them and all members of the Timber-Leas Seniors Club.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1222]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 761

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

Whereas April 21st to 27th, 2003, is National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia there are currently 400 people waiting for organ donations; and

Whereas every organ donor can help improve the lives of as many as 13 people, often making the critical difference between life and death;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize April 21st to 27th as National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, and urge all Nova Scotians to consider the benefits of registering as an organ and tissue donor, to register as a donor and make their wishes known to their families.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1223]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, before I begin I would just like to make note that two members in this resolution are granddaughters of the former member for Annapolis East, the honourable Dr. Gerry Sheehy.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 762

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

Whereas Middleton Regional High School recently played host to the Western Regional Division 2 Girls' Basketball championships; and

Whereas during league play the senior girls' team was undefeated, and after two days of play were undefeated at the championships as well, beating Liverpool 49-37 in the final game; and

Whereas members of the senior girls' team are Meghan Sheehy, Katherine Terauds, Beckie Boutilier, Erin Sheehy, Stacy Elliott, Lauren Morse, Krista Bauer, Katie Spurr, Jessica Connell, Tracy Campbell, Jessica Steeves, Nicole Cox, and Sarah Morse;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of the Middleton Regional High School senior girls' basketball team on taking the Western Region Division 2 championship, and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 1224]

RESOLUTION NO. 763

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

Whereas federal government cuts threaten many Canadian-produced television shows, including: The Eleventh Hour, Royal Canadian Air Farce, The Red Green Show, An American in Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made in Canada, plus countless cultural and childrens' programs; and

Whereas this House has unanimously supported the call for more federal support of Canadian-produced television; and

Whereas the Writers Guild of Canada is urging Canadians to add their names to an electronic petition to Sheila Copps, with the help of ACTRA;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Nova Scotians to use the ACTRA site that helps them write, fax, or e-mail Sheila Copps at www.actratoronto.com/ccp/tvdrama.h tm.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 764

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

Whereas in 1999, the Tories promised to be open and accountable to the people of Nova Scotia, but over the last four years have proven to be stonewalling, secretive and restrictive; and

[Page 1225]

Whereas recently the minister responsible for freedom of information has referred to requests as "frivolous", "fishing expeditions" and "garbage"; and

Whereas even the FOIPOP administrator has called the behaviour of the Minister responsible for the FOIPOP Act irresponsible;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government is driven by political motivation and not the open and accountable government that was promised in 1999.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 765

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

Whereas the Dean Maple Syrup Festival was held on Saturday, April 12th, off Highway No. 336 in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley region of Halifax County; and

Whereas the Dean Maple Syrup Festival involves a tour of maple woods, the sale of maple products, as well as pantry and craft tables; and

Whereas the Dean Maple Syrup Festival concluded again this year with some live entertainment for everyone; (Interruptions) It seems like the NDP know some of our entertainers.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the community volunteers and organizers of the 2003 Dean Maple Syrup Festival, and wish them every success now and into the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1226]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 766

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

Whereas Shanta Dhir has been recognized as one of Truro's outstanding volunteers; and

Whereas Shanta Dhir has been on the board of directors of the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia for 12 years, and on the board of the Colchester County Multicultural Association for about 15 years; and

Whereas Shanta Dhir also volunteers at the International Centre of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and is on the board of directors of the Cobequid Community Computer Network;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Shanta Dhir on earning recognition as one of Truro's outstanding volunteers, and thank her for donating many years of her time and talent for the betterment of her community and our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1227]

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 767

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

Whereas 284 Nova Scotians represented this province with pride at the 2003 Canada Winter Games in Bathurst-Campbellton, New Brunswick; and

Whereas nine of our finest athletes won medals, many others achieved personal bests, and all of them had the experience of a lifetime at the games; and

Whereas today we're honouring these athletes here at Province House, along with the 18 volunteer mission staff who supported them and won the Claude Hardy Award for the best mission staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all members of Team Nova Scotia on their impressive achievements at the 2003 Canada Winter Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's. (Interruptions)

RESOLUTION NO. 768

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

Whereas this past Saturday saw the annual Firefighter's Frolic held at the Focsle Tavern in Chester to raise much-needed money for the Chester Fire Department; and

[Page 1228]

Whereas a key and prestigious moment of the frolic was a fashion show put on by various firefighters; and

Whereas the band Short Notice assisted tremendously with the frolic by organizing a wide variety of bands, providing excellent entertainment all afternoon and evening;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs in this House of Assembly pay tribute to the community volunteers in Chester for working together on such a terrific fundraiser for the Chester Fire Department.

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 Energy.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 769

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

Whereas the Amherst Ramblers of the Maritime Junior "A" Hockey League tried valiantly to win the Maritime Junior "A" Hockey League Championship this year before succumbing to the Charlottetown Abbies 4-1 in the best-of-seven championship series; and

Whereas hockey fever was brought back to an all-time high in Amherst this year as the old Amherst Stadium was packed to the rafters for not only the Abbies series, but also the Ramblers semi-final showdown with Truro; and

Whereas credit must be given to all Ramblers' players, Head Coach Vaughan Martin, President George Baker, executive members, Doug Curry and Steve Gibson, as well as Director of Player Development, Jack Finlay, for being committed to the Ramblers' franchise and turning it into a hockey force once again;

[Page 1229]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the 2002-03 Amherst Ramblers on a successful season and wish them every success as they target a league championship in the coming year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 770

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

Whereas Environmental Services Laboratory Inc. is a full service laboratory providing chemical and micro-biological testing service to government, industry and the general public throughout Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas ESL was originally established as a revenue-generating division of the University of the College of Cape Breton, but became a private company in 1993; and

Whereas Progress Magazine has recently recognized ESL as one of the fastest growing companies in Atlantic Canada, ranking it 21st overall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate CEO Craig MacMullin and all the staff of ESL on its growth and success as a private company.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1230]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 771

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

Whereas Bluenose Atlantic Coastal Action Program has recently received a Canadian safe boating award for its work in improving the coastal habitat along Lunenburg County's coastline; and

Whereas evaluated on the basis of both water safety and the environment, BACAP was awarded for its clean boating program which has helped alleviate the problem of boats discharging sewage into coastal waters; and

Whereas working in conjunction with local businesses, BACAP erected its first dumping station on the Town of Mahone Bay waterfront and is currently constructing a second in Bridgewater with plans for a third in Lunenburg;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Bluenose Atlantic Coastal Action Program on its clean boating program which is taking great steps in protecting the coastlines of Lunenburg 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 1231]

RESOLUTION NO. 772

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

Whereas Ledgers Professional Bookkeeping/TimePlus Canada has held its annual meeting where it chose the recipient of the Franchise of the Year Award; and

Whereas this year the Dartmouth facility run by Mike Hughes received the honour; and

Whereas Ledgers provides bookkeeping, accounting, and tax services to small businesses throughout Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mike Hughes on the receipt of the Franchise of the Year Award for his Dartmouth facility and thank the Ledgers Professional Bookkeeping/TimePlus Canada on the important service they provide to small businesses in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 773

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

Whereas retired Army Captain Gordon Gillis of Inverness has recently been awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal for time spent on the Cyprus peacekeeping mission Cyprus, August 1992 - February 1993; and

[Page 1232]

Whereas Captain Gillis, whose father is also an honoured war veteran, has spent nearly 30 years in the Canadian Army, joining in 1965; and

Whereas Captain Gillis has also received the United Nations Medal and the Canadian Forces Decoration for his service across Canada as well as time spent in Germany;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Captain Gordon Gillis on the receipt of the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal and thank him for the contribution he has made to the Canadian Army.

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 Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 774

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

Whereas the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia recently held its 15th Annual Public Speaking Contest, the theme being, Multicultural Canada - A Role Model for the World; and

Whereas the four contestants who had previously won regional competitions across Nova Scotia were Jiv Parsaram, Melody Sanford, Jeff Toth, and Robert Marsh who was this year's provincial champion; and

Whereas the judges Angela Poirier, Brian Forbes and Harry MacInroy were presented with a very difficult task due to the excellent quality of the speakers;

[Page 1233]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the emcee, Charla Williams and the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia and applaud the efforts of the contestants of the 15th Annual Public Speaking Contest, wishing them continued success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:51 p.m. and end at 3:51 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN. - CASINO SMOKING EXEMPTION:

CASINO WORKERS - EFFECTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to begin this afternoon by tabling a Department of Health document called A Comprehensive Tobacco Strategy for Nova Scotia. What it shows clearly is that restaurant, bar and casino workers are at the highest risk from second-hand smoke. The document says, "Those individuals most at risk from second-hand smoke are . . ." and then there's a list and it includes ". . . employees exposed to second-hand smoke at work, in particular restaurant, bar, and casino workers." So, this government knew that casino workers were more likely to die from second-hand smoke and yet they plan to exempt casinos. I would like to ask the Premier, Mr. Premier, why have you put the goodwill of casino operators ahead of the lives of casino workers?

HON. JOHN HAMM(The Premier): I refer that to the minister responsible for the gaming corporation.

[Page 1234]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we have not done what the honourable member is saying. I should say that we have put in place legislation which will allow this government to take the time to look on any termination clause that may come out of the municipal bylaws that have been put forward by the municipalities to make an informed decision and, at the same time, protect the interests of the taxpayers of this province. That's what this legislation will permit us to do. It's enabling legislation and it will also protect the taxpayers of this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health's own strategy says that 200 Nova Scotians die each year from illnesses caused by second-hand smoke. The Premier knows this, he also knows that his government's weak-kneed approach of this issue means that workers will die from second-hand smoke. He's just banking that his crowd is not going to be around when it happens and someone else is going to have to deal with the effects. So I would like to ask the Premier, why is your government gambling with the health and safety of casino workers instead of taking a stand on smoke-free places?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows very well that the contract that was signed by the previous Liberal Government with regard to the casino allows the casino to issue a termination contract notice if, in their opinion, they have suffered hardship because of changes in legislation. The municipal bylaws which are being proposed by both HRM and CBRM may basically constitute that. The fact is, they have also notified the province that, in their opinion, it shall. I should point out that the casino has not given any termination notice to the province. What we have passed this legislation for is to permit the province to react within 30 days if, in their opinion, any termination notice which comes forward is of a serious nature. This will allow us to protect the interests of the province and I should point out that the cost to the province and to the taxpayers of this province will be in excess of $100 million. The NDP may want to throw that money away, but we want that money to go to the many programs that our citizens of this province depend on for government and for that I make no apologies.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's time for the Premier to take ownership of this issue and show a little leadership, because his government continues to blow smoke when it comes to smoke-free places. It states in the Premier's own tobacco strategy that casino workers need protection, yet is stopping two municipal units from providing the protection this province has failed to put in its own legislation. My question to the Premier is, why is your government putting forward legislation that is in direct contradiction of your own tobacco strategy?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation.

[Page 1235]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the casino and the fact that if they do put forward a termination notice to the province, this legislation will allow us to react within the 30 days in the contract. I should point out, if and when they do put forward such a termination notice, and that's a hypothetical question, the fact of the matter is at that point we could protect the taxpayers of this province. One of the options over and above that is that we could also go to the dispute resolution process, subsequent to that, determine whether or not the province is at risk and make an informed decision. We can only do that with legislation that we pass that will allow us to make a decision within 30 days. The NDP doesn't care about how much it costs. What we have done here is managed the risk to the province. It's good legislation. It allows us to react within that window.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

FOIPOP - JUSTICE MIN.: INFO. - SOURCE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said that under his administration government practice dictates that ministers aren't to be informed where freedom of information requests to their departments originate or often that a request is even before the department. That would certainly be the case if the request didn't directly impact the minister. However, last Thursday the Minister of Justice and Attorney General revealed three freedom of information and protection of privacy requests from the Liberal caucus during budget estimates. Those requests, I assure you, had absolutely nothing to do with the Minister of Justice. To make it worse, the minister refused to acknowledge why he had this information or where he had received it, claiming ministerial privilege when there is clearly no such privilege. My question to the Premier is, given that you have known of this situation since Thursday, what have you done to determine where and why your Minister of Justice had this information?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there's a very simple answer to this question. The reason that the Minister of Justice had the information is because that member told him.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows that is not true. In fact, if he was to read the Hansard from Supply, it will say here that the minister said, "Ministers aren't supposed to know about freedom of information requests, however, now that you ask, I will give you three examples of frivolous requests. Frivolous requests - and I hope your Party wasn't responsible for these . . ." He also goes on to say, "So don't tell me that there aren't frivolous requests coming from political Parties." At no time was it said or admitted by me where these came from. The minister, out of the hundreds of requests, just happened to know three requests that came from the Liberal caucus. Only a Tory would believe such foolishness, that it's just by chance that he knew where those requests were coming from.

[Page 1236]

Mr. Speaker, the Premier admitted that the ministers aren't supposed to know the origins of freedom of information requests. Given that, my question to the Premier is, does the Premier agree with the FOIPOP administrator that his Minister of Justice acted in an irresponsible manner in knowing the origin of Liberal requests for freedom of information?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has read the very lines from Hansard that I would have read to the House confirming that this minister has done nothing wrong.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is the same Premier who believed the member for Chester-St. Margaret's had done nothing wrong until he ended up being out of Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, given that the current government was elected on a promise to be open and accountable and give Nova Scotians greater participation in the public process, the Premier has stated ministers aren't supposed to know who files requests, and the FOIPOP administrator has deemed the Attorney General's actions as being irresponsible, further than that, the minister and Attorney General went on to say that freedom of information requests are both fishing expeditions, frivolous and garbage. My question to the Premier is, does the Premier support his minister's statements that requests by the public for information from his government are to be deemed as nothing more than garbage?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I do support is the minister's conclusion that requests through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act should be responsible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

FIN. - SKINNER CASE:

CASINO NON-INTERVENTION - MIN. ADVISE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Andrea Skinner worked for seven and a half years as a dealer at the Halifax Casino. Day in and day out she worked three feet away from as many as seven smokers at one time. In December she had had enough. She left the casino and later filed for employment insurance benefits, her primary reason for leaving was second-hand smoke. Ms. Skinner was refused employment insurance because she did not have a doctor's note. She's appealing the decision and she has just learned that the casino is sending a representative to the appeal board hearing.

[Page 1237]

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Finance, will he tell Casino Nova Scotia to butt out of Ms. Skinner's EI appeal?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that I don't have the jurisdiction to do that. The casino operator is (Interruption) The individual that she referred to was an employee of the casino and this is a matter between the casino and the employee. This is the same thing as being directed to speak to any company in Nova Scotia to say that they should not have the right to appear before it. As much as the situation here on the table is of a serious nature, the fact of the matter is, I do not have any jurisdiction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that minister is blowing smoke. The government owns the casino and this minister is responsible for its operations. Ms. Skinner suffered the effects of second-hand smoke including nosebleeds and dizzy spells. Now the casino is involving itself in her attempts to get employment insurance. I want to ask will the minister call the casino to remind them that second-hand smoke does affect the health of those exposed to it and workers should not be forced to work in environments that make them sick?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I was listening very intently to the question. The member for Halifax Needham said that the government owns the casino. The fact of the matter is, we don't. One of the reasons we're putting forward legislation is so that we don't own the casino. It is very obvious that the NDP does not understand, first of all, the relationship of the casino and the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. The fact is, as much as this is of a serious nature, I have no jurisdiction between the employer and an employee at any EI hearing.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government is passing legislation to force people to work in a smoking environment. It is passing a law that will make Nova Scotian workers sick. It is doing that just a year and a half after saying that casino workers are among the most at risk for second-hand smoke illnesses such as cancer. At the very least, the minister should do everything he can to assist workers who want to quit to protect their health. I want to ask the minister, will he call the casino and tell them not to harass any employee who quits because of exposure to second-hand smoke?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have already answered the question with regard to the casino. I should point out also that the legislation we're putting forward does not immediately waive any bylaw that is being put forward by a municipality. What it allows us to do is if in the future there is a termination clause given by the casino to react. We're hopeful that will not be the case and that this legislation will lay on the books for a long period of time, never to be used. It is an instrument that allows us to react within 30 days and to deal with the risks the province is facing. It doesn't appear to concern the NDP one bit about $100 million to the taxpayers.

[Page 1238]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - FREEDOM OF INFO. REQUESTS:

DEFINITIONS - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has repeatedly said that the 26 per cent drop in freedom of information applications since this government's 400 per cent fee hike was because people no longer made "frivolous requests". This is the government that got elected on a promise to be open and accountable and demand greater public participation in the political process. Instead, what we've received is secrecy, stonewalling, or unacceptable hike in FOIPOP fees, a significant decrease in requests and a minister who tells Nova Scotians that their desire for government information is both frivolous and garbage. My question to the Minister of Justice is, could he please tell us today what freedom of information requests his government has received that are to be defined as frivolous and which ones are to be defined as garbage in his own view?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I guess, Mr. Speaker, I'm on record as saying that three that I learned of last week I didn't think probably were in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, you have a Premier who says that he's running an open and accountable government and then you have an Attorney General who says that Nova Scotians asking for information in his view are garbage, they are fishing expeditions and they are frivolous. That is what you get. You have the FOIPOP administrator, Mr. Fardy, who clearly said the minister's actions of being made aware of freedom of information requests that were made to other departments other than his own were clearly inappropriate. Again, it goes back to the experience this government had early in its mandate when it had a Minister of the Crown going out and talking about freedom of information requests to those who had made it. I ask the Premier again now, do you believe it is appropriate for your minister to have been made aware of freedom of information requests which went to other government departments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member for Richmond that all government ministers act in accordance with the clauses and the direction of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

MR. SAMSON: So obviously, Mr. Speaker, the rules that apply to the member for Chester-St. Margaret's when he was in Cabinet don't apply to the Minister of Justice today. What we have is a government that says that they respect protection of privacy requests and freedom of information requests yet obviously what we see is that around the Tory coffee table and Cabinet Table freedom of information requests are part of the chit-chat which goes on and ministers are being made aware of requests which are going to other departments. This is a Premier who said that he would respect freedom of information requests. My final

[Page 1239]

supplementary. The Minister of Justice has said that he was not made aware of any requests in his department since he has arrived there at Justice. Therefore, I ask the minister, on what basis, sir, are you entitled to determine what requests should be considered frivolous and which ones should be determined as garbage in your opinion?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I stand on my feet to correct something I said in committee the other day. I said I wasn't aware of freedom of information requests that had come into the Department of Justice and that's not true because I got thinking on the way home that the freedom of information administrator in our department, Bob Doherty, has been processing the freedom of information requests having to do with the institutional abuse cases and on two occasions he's given me a summary of where we are in terms of the number of requests that have come in for that information. So I misspoke the other day. I did have that information from Mr. Doherty but I have no idea who made the requests and I assume they were the individuals.

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

FIN. - SYDNEY CASINO: C.B. BYLAW - OVERRIDING JUSTIFY

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for the Sydney Casino. Since July 2002, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has had a bylaw that required 75 per cent of the Sydney Casino to be smoke free. CBRM inspectors inspect that casino very frequently and they find them within compliance. Now the analysis of revenue that the minister tabled in this House does not report any loss of revenue at the casino in Cape Breton due to the set smoking ban. So I want to ask the minister to justify his government's decision to override Cape Breton's bylaw which is protecting public health without showing any revenue loss.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I should point out that the legislation that we've tabled has not overwritten the CBRM's bylaw. What it does allow is government in the future, if it is required, to do so. So this is permissive legislation. The member opposite has given the impression that it basically immediately will take effect; that is not the case. The fact of the matter is this legislation will allow us to react within the 30-day time frame of the contract, if it is required.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, what a difference a weekend makes because this is not what that minister was saying on Thursday. In 2001 the casino sent their Halifax lawyers up to Sydney and unsuccessfully sought an exemption from the CBRM bylaw. The casino threatened legal action against CBRM at the time because of its initiating a smoke-free bylaw, but they never took legal action, no way. So why now, two years after the casino operators backed away from the challenge to the Cape Breton bylaw, is this minister so eager to give the casino an exemption from municipal bylaws?

[Page 1240]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, once again I will point out for the member's edification that the legislation that was tabled here will allow us to deal with the municipal bylaw if it is required. The only time that that will happen is if the casino were to give a termination notice. I should point out for the members' information and for other people's information, that we would hope very much that that will never occur, but what this legislation will allow us to do is to react within 30 days. Without the legislation in place, the province's ability to enact a piece of legislation and put it through this House in 30 days is oftentimes very difficult to do. This will allow us to respond within the terms of the contract and to protect the interests of the Province of Nova Scotia, which are exposed for well over $100 million.

MR. CORBETT: So what I'm hearing from the minister is we won't cave today, but wait for a few months and cave then, Mr. Speaker.

Ralph Fiske's testimony revealed how the casino operators took advantage of the Liberal leadership race to gain the then-Premier's interference and a deal that cost Nova Scotians as much as $20 million. Once again casino operators seem to be taking advantage of political uncertainty and the Premier again seems to be ready to cave. They want a deal that threatens the health and the life of thousands of workers in this province who work at casinos. So I want to ask the minister once again, why won't you, Mr. Minister, tell the casino operators to challenge the smoke-free bylaw in court, as they promised, instead of doing their dirty work for them and giving them legislation?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, as the minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, one of the things that I inherited was the contract which was signed by the previous Liberal Government, and the so-called Bernie Boudreau clauses are in there. Those clauses state that if the casino were to suffer economic hardship from a change in legislation - and one of those definitions is also municipal bylaws - the fact is that they may, and I should say they "may" give a termination notice which would basically mean that the province would have to buy the remainder of the casino and also would mean that we would have to pay them for the profits from today to the end of the contract which is 2015. The fact of the matter is that we hope that the casino will never move to a termination clause and this becomes redundant; however we are prepared to act if the opportunity comes up.

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

PREM. - SUNDAY SHOPPING: WORKERS - PROTECT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. You know it truly must be an election year this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: No. No.

[Page 1241]

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, because day by day we see more and more announcements from this government, whether it's new spending, or whether it's hot-button items in which this government is attempting to try to say we will fix it sometime in the future.

Mr. Speaker, this morning many Nova Scotians woke up to hear about the Premier's new pre-election fix, and it's with regard to Sunday shopping. It seems the Premier has come to the same recognition as almost every other Nova Scotian, that Sunday shopping is inevitable in this province. Let's not forget that some of the people are not going to have a choice potentially, they are going to have to work on those Sundays. So I want to ask the Premier, will the Premier tell this House how his government plans to protect Nova Scotian workers and their families from being forced to work because of any changes his government

is going to make?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that's an excellent question. One of the reasons why this has been a difficult issue for members of government is the very issue that that question raises before members of the House. The way in which the government will handle this issue will be made public very soon.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this government has had a pattern of agreeing on the need to protect workers and then never delivering with regard to that. Other provinces have taken action to protect workers who work on Sunday. British Columbia requires at least 32 hours in a row of not working. Saskatchewan requires full-time workers get two full days off. New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba, allow workers to have the right to refuse work on Sunday.

So I want to ask this Premier, before any changes are made to Sunday shopping regulations in this province, will he commit to enacting changes to the Labour Standards Code to ensure people have the right to refuse to work on Sundays?

THE PREMIER: Very seldom do I rise in my place and answer a hypothetical question. But the answer to that hypothetical question is, yes.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, we heard in estimates from the Minister of Environment and Labour the other day saying there wouldn't be any changes to the Labour Standards Code in this session. So, I'm hearing a couple of different answers. But anyone who has thought the issue through knows you cannot have Sunday shopping appropriately unless you have adequate protection for workers. Unfortunately, the only way workers usually get those protections is by putting pressure on this Tory Government. Nova Scotians shouldn't be forced to wait until after the election to find out what protections this government might be prepared to put in place for workers. Will this Premier spell out today

[Page 1242]

what protections this government is willing to put in the Labour Standards Code to protect workers if Sunday shopping is allowed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the commitments of this government will always be to look at responsible legislation that protects workers. This issue will be no exception.

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

PREM. - SUNDAY SHOPPING: DECISION - MAKE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. Nova Scotians are once again wondering what this Premier won't say or do to get elected. The Premier has shed all pretense that he stands by his convictions with today's Sunday shopping flip-flop. During the last election the Premier spoke of leadership and said that, important is the willingness to make tough decisions, the resolve to defend them publicly and the conviction to see them through. That quote was on June 24, 1999.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal's position on Sunday shopping is clear, unlike the position of the NDP or the government's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: What is it today?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I knew that would (Interruptions)

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

There are some members who, for some reason today, are continually hollering and yelling louder than the member on the floor. If it continues, we're going to have some empty seats.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is considering a half measure that will satisfy nobody. My question today to the Premier is, Mr. Premier, will you make a clear decision and stick with that decision today instead of trying to win votes by appearing to address the issue but in reality doing nothing?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because it gives me an opportunity to speak of the concerns of Nova Scotians about a very, very serious issue that will in many ways if addressed the way the member opposite seems to suggest, will very fundamentally change the way in which we live in Nova Scotia. Now, the member opposite belongs to a Party that has decided overnight that they know best. What the government has

[Page 1243]

decided is that we have and we will be involved in a very extensive consultation process with Nova Scotians, and the result of that consultation process will be reflected in the actions that the government will take.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, at least this Party is open and honest with Nova Scotians in our platform. I'm glad the Premier is finally allowing debate on the issue, but he hasn't answered the question. The Premier said he wouldn't add to the debt of this province and yet we're $500 million more in debt since he took over. The Premier said that he believed $1.5 billion was enough for health and now we are spending $2 billion. The Premier said he wouldn't cynically buy votes and now he mails everybody a cheque on the eve of an election. The Premier said that he stands by his convictions, but, once again, allowing for Sunday shopping for half the year is another half-baked measure just like the partial smoking ban. My question to you, again, Mr. Premier, my first supplementary, when did you lose respect for the intelligence of Nova Scotians by believing they could be bought by another half measure that really satisfies no one?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the preamble of the member opposite is filled with miscomprehension of what really is happening in the world in front of him. I don't know where to begin in terms of responding to the member opposite, but I would like to read something to the member opposite. The member opposite and the member for Richmond have continually confused the House about what the position of this government has been on debt. I'd like to read from a document that has been tabled in this House many times, the blue book. I'm reading from Page 18 and I hope the member for Richmond as well as the member for Cape Breton South is listening carefully. The government will "Establish practical targets for reducing the provincial debt which has increased by almost $3.6 billion during six years of Liberal Government." We will establish those practical targets like we told the people in 1999 and we will establish those targets before we go to the people in 2003. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I remind this Premier that it was he who said that the debt of this province would not increase under his watch and he broke that promise. It was that Premier who said there will be no tax increase in this province and he broke that promise. So don't you lecture us about tax increases in this province, Mr. Premier. This Premier would have us think that he believes in everything, while at the same time believing in nothing. Voters aren't buying what this Premier is saying. They are not buying one bit about the misleading statements that this Premier has wasted on Nova Scotians over the past three years. My final supplementary is, why won't the Premier of the province start developing policies that mean something to Nova Scotians, instead of trying to stickhandle his way through the next election?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Jean Béliveau couldn't stickhandle nearly as well as the members of the Liberal caucus. I'd like to read a short passage from Hansard. If the member for Cape Breton South would look to his immediate left, he will see there the

[Page 1244]

member for Clare. This is what the member for Clare said - and this is all recorded in Hansard - on April 30, 2001. In Hansard it is reported, "What happened last year?" This is the member for Clare, "Last year, the federal Liberal Government reduced taxes, but there was no corresponding reduction provincially. I'm sure people throughout this province are asking why." We were still running deficits and the member for Clare wanted us to reduce taxes. Where is he now that we have some surplus? His Leader has said to him, the member for Clare, change your view. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition. (Interruption)

EDUC. - UNIVERSITIES: FUNDING - INCREASE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if they keep throwing lobs, it makes my job harder. Dalhousie University may increase tuition by 7.5 per cent next year. That will put tuition at Dal over $5,000. Gina Burgess, a Dalhousie student, contacted my office this morning because she can't afford another increase. She's 20, in her second year of university, and already $16,000 in debt. She's been forced to decide between textbooks and groceries. University is becoming increasingly inaccessible for Gina and for thousands of Nova Scotians just like her. My question to the Minister of Education is, why is it that your government won't increase operational funds to universities, freeze tuition and really give Nova Scotia families a break?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have, in fact, increased operating funds to the universities by an amount of $6 million this year, which they are able to use. The vice-president of Dalhousie University, responsible for finance, has indicated that that $3 million that went to Dalhousie has helped to moderate the tuition charges at that university.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, apparently moderation means a 7.5 per cent increase. We are dealing with a government that continues to break its promises. In the blue book, Premier John Hamm said, we must ensure our young people have full access to higher education without having to mortgage their futures, yet the Premier froze funding to universities and cancelled the loan remission program. A recent Statistics Canada survey says 72 per cent of high school students who chose not to go on to post-secondary education cited money as the major reason. My question to the minister is this, what will it take for your government to ensure that everyone can have access to post-secondary education?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can also remind the honourable member and other members of the House that the loan remission program which we have brought forward will allow those students affected to get more than 40 per cent assistance with respect to their loan remission.

[Page 1245]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the minister doesn't say is that they cancelled the Loan Remission Program throughout their tenure, the worst thing that happened to students since the Liberals did away with the needs-based grants. The reality is that university operational funds have never caught up, after years of Liberal and Conservative Government cuts and underfunding and already it's looking like students will be forced to bear another round of tuition increases next year. My question for the minister is this, when will your government realize that making post-secondary education inaccessible will damage the future of this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have, in fact, by adding to the operating funds of the universities, assisted them greatly by an amount of $6 million. Our Loan Remission Program in the amount of $5.1 million will assist up to 9,000 students to retire up to 40 per cent of their debt when they graduate from university. That is an extremely effective program.

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

HEALTH - RURAL HOSPITALS: BUDGET CUTS - EFFECT ADMIT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Surgical cancellations continue to be a problem in several district health authorities in this province. In Cape Breton, in particular, for example, several surgeries are cancelled each month due to a lack of time, emergency bumping, planned procedures, lack of beds and, of course, equipment failure. The hardest hit facilities are the regional facilities. I want to ask the minister, when will you admit that cuts to rural hospitals are having a serious impact on patient care at regional facilities?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite is referring to a particular situation, I would be glad to look into it, but while we regret cancellations of surgeries and waiting lists, they do happen. They do happen because priority events do occur, accidents do occur, more acute cases come to the attention of the surgeons, and it's not only in rural hospitals, the so-called regional facilities, but the same thing happens here at the QE II, the same thing happens across the country, and while we regret it, it is not a situation we can promise to end.

MR. CORBETT: While some of what the minister has said is correct, Mr. Speaker, the problem is growing under their administration. Patients arrive for expected surgery, go through the uncomfortable preparation for that operation, and at the last minute find out there is no bed available at all. Patients are telling us that it happened to them more than once, more than on one occasion. So I ask the Minister of Health, how can you continue to ignore the downward spiral that health has taken under your watch and the watch of your Premier?

[Page 1246]

[3:30 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, although we do regret the inconvenience, perhaps the lost travel time and some of the heartaches of the patients who are waiting for surgery, what we've managed to do since we were elected is stabilize the health care system. We are providing multi-year funding exclusive of salaries which we will also be producing and on the contrary, I would argue that the situation in health care in Nova Scotia is improving and is not in the kind of uproar it was when we came to power.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in 2002 the average percentage of surgeries cancelled in the Cape Breton DHA due to facility problems was 56 per cent. DHAs are operating with a zero margin of error, unable to accommodate longer procedures and emergencies without sending patients packing without the necessary care and treatment they expected to receive. So I want to ask this Minister of Health, why is she satisfied to see half the surgeries in Cape Breton cancelled because the hospital couldn't handle demand because of lack of funding?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a look at those numbers. They're certainly not the same numbers I have but, again, no Health Minister is going to be pleased that surgeries have to be cancelled. On the other hand, that is a reality of our health care system because a lot of surgeries, particularly elective surgeries, do have to be cancelled when more urgent cases become known.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH PROM. - HEALTH INITIATIVES: FUNDING - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health Promotion. The minister says that he's committed to improving the health of Nova Scotians, but the fact remains this commitment remains insufficient to address the health needs of the province. Two weeks ago I asked him what new incentives his office plans to support, to use the Health Promotion Office in creating better health for Nova Scotians. On listing new incentives he said he would support, the minister could only name one. My question is, if the minister is concerned, can the minister please tell this House today what other initiatives his office will fund that would put health in the Office of Health Promotion?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. Indeed, the list is so long I will have to write them down on paper and send them to the member.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, one health group that he could add to the list that this minister knows about, but he failed to mention, is the excellent health promotion work that the Cape Breton Wellness Centre is doing. This centre lost funding this year and hasn't had any primary health care funding that Nova Scotia received from Ottawa. While the Cape

[Page 1247]

Breton Wellness Centre requires about $300,000 in core funding to continue providing health promotion in Cape Breton, this government, which has taken millions in tobacco taxes, isn't providing the centre with funding. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to providing the centre with core operational funding for the coming year from the additional revenue taken in from tobacco and other taxes?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the additional revenue with respect to tobacco will be going toward cessation aids.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Cape Breton Wellness Centre is widely recognized as a leader in primary health care in population areas directly across this country. In fact, in March 2002 the centre was awarded a leadership award by the Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women's Health for the work they did. What is disappointing is that while the centre has requested a meeting with the minister to discuss funding, this minister and this government have done nothing. If this minister is concerned, and this is my question, with health promotion in this province, he says he is, can he then explain why he hasn't met with the centre's staff to discuss the support that they need?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I certainly have no problem meeting with any group with respect to wellness and health promotion in this province. Indeed, I will be in Cape Breton with respect to the DHA at a wellness weekend in a couple of short weeks. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to speak with them at that point, or hopefully before.

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

JUSTICE - SEXUAL OFFENCES:

MINOR/SERIOUS - DIFFERENTIATION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Last week, last Friday to be specific, during questioning in estimates, the Justice Minister made a frightening admission. He said that he did not know that the Department of Justice allowed for sexual offences to be diverted away from prosecution to the adult diversion program. Under further questioning, he said the prosecutors have discretion to divert "serious offences" and that minor offences can routinely be sent to diversion, and that he's comfortable with those prosecutors being able to act in the victims' best interest. My question to the Minister of Justice is, can the Minister of Justice explain to us today what the difference is between a minor sexual offence and a serious sexual offence?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I missed part of the whereases in that particular question because my memory would not match up with what I heard in a couple of cases. I don't determine what is a minor and what is a major sexual offence. We have people who are trained in the law who make that distinction. I don't.

[Page 1248]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the last time I heard, the Minister of Justice is the Attorney General for the province, and that makes him the lead lawyer or the lead legal person in this province, and he has staff who are there to actually give him that advice. Few of us are able to understand the trauma that a victim of sexual assault will have to go through if forced to come face to face with their assailant through the adult diversion program. Even more important, this minister's own government recognizes that it's inappropriate for that face-to-face dealing with an assailant, because for youth restorative justice matters they have a moratorium that prevents sexual offences from being diverted. My question is, when will this government remove the threat of revictimization in sexual assault cases by eliminating diversion for sexual offences?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of diversion, these charges come under the federal government and I know that the honourable member does know that. The diversion program is part of the process that is currently in place for a wide variety of offences. I don't think sexual offences are the majority of cases in which diversion would come into play. All laws are under review from time to time, as are all sentences. That will be reviewed, the same as any other particular Statute.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, maybe I have to spell this out a little more clearly. The minister has an independent Public Prosecution Service in which he issues, can issue, directions to specifically preventing them from diverting sexual offences, either minor or serious or however you want to define them and that they all have to be prosecuted. My question, quite simply, to the Minister of Justice is, when will he take the steps to impose a directive on the Public Prosecution Service to ensure that sexual offences are never diverted and they are fully prosecuted?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member made a key point when he indicated the Public Prosecution Service is independent, and Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to have an independent Public Prosecution Service. I have not received any complaints about the Public Prosecution Service not carrying out their responsibilities in an appropriate fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH PROM. - ATHLETES: FUNDING - ENSURE

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health Promotion. Many of our province's athletes are funded by the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission, which is now a division of Health Promotion. Just a few weeks ago, and even again today, we heard the Minister of Health Promotion, the honourable member for Inverness, speak proudly of Nova Scotia's athletes who give their best at national and international sports competitions. My question is, will the minister indicate whether his

[Page 1249]

office is committed to ensuring that our athletes will receive proper funding so they can continue to represent our province?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, a very timely question, as well and I would like to thank the member. What I can assure the member is that this government makes a commitment each and every year. I can give you an example - the Canada Games - $160,000 since 1996. I can assure you that we will continue to do all we can with respect to our athletes, whether it's through the Elite Athletes' Assistance Program, whatever measures we have at our disposal. I had a conversation this morning with an individual who is very much involved and they say, it's not just about the money, it's about the pride of representing their province. We very much appreciate all that they do for our province. (Applause)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it's no lack of the athletes' appreciating, it's the appreciation of the government toward the athletes - that's the issue. It's interesting to hear the minister's comments here today about his commitment to our athletes since many athletes continue to be seriously underfunded. It is an issue, it comes down to that. Ms. Amy Cotten, who is originally from Judique, in the minister's own riding, has moved to Quebec or will move to Quebec. By representing Quebec, she will receive $10,000 per year in funding if she requires in order to train for Olympic judo competitions. I'd like to table that story from the press. So, Ms. Cotton had made a request to the Nova Scotia Government for funding but the response was to offer her $9,000 over four years, based on continued high-level performance. My question to the minister is, what is this minister doing to ensure that our athletes, like Ms. Cotton, continue to train in Nova Scotia instead of going to other provinces to represent Quebec, for instance in this case, at national and international sporting events? What's your commitment, Mr. Minister?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I know the individual the member is referring to and I have a deep respect for the accomplishments that she has had growing up in this province and having many opportunities, whether it's through the education system, whether it's through the Canada Games, or whether it's through assistance programs that this government and governments before it have had.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister is part of a government that takes more out in sports tax than it puts back into sports. That's the reality of what we're dealing with. The minister talks proudly and, again, as recently as today in his resolution in support for athletes, other provinces are doing more. Saskatchewan, similar size, five times the amount of funding for athletics; Quebec, for example, want their athletes to do well at international competitions so they invest in their athletes. Sports training is hard work and it takes commitment and our athletes have it. My question to the minister is, can the minister detail his commitment to funding Nova Scotian athletes to represent their own province here in Nova Scotia?

[Page 1250]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question and, indeed, I can assure that member of the commitment of this government with respect to our athletes. I can also assure - it's quite ironic, coming from a former Minister of Health, who couldn't even come forward with a tobacco strategy for this province. What that member should have, we were last in the country when it came to tobacco use, coming from that member. We should give him the last but not least award. The end of the line. The bottom of the barrel. That's what that member was when he was Health Minister.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - RRSS STRIKE:

ALTERNATE COSTS - DETAILS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Workers with the Regional Residential Services Society are continuing their fight for wage parity with workers who do the same job in institutional settings. While the strike enters it's third week, private nurses have been hired to care for the vulnerable residents caught in the middle of this terrible situation. Could the minister clarify to the members of this House, who is paying for the rental of Simpson Hall and the private nursing staff caring for the RRSS residents?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing that the strike is dragging on. I know it's very hard on the residents, I know it's hard on the families, and I know it's hard for the employees who are out on the picket line. But with reference to the member's question, RRSS pays the bills and ultimately they come to the Department of Community Services, but it is the private care provider, which is made up of the non-profit board of directors, who provide the care.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has already informed us on who pays the bill, ultimately it comes to the Department of Community Services. The Regional Residential Services Society is forwarding the bills to the Department of Community Services. This government is willing to drag out this strike because they refuse to give sufficient funds to RRSS so they can return to the table with a reasonable offer, yet, at the same time, this government is willing to spend money on rent at Simpson Hall and private nursing services. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how much is his department paying on an hourly basis to the agencies providing care to the RRSS clients?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for again allowing me to point out the support that this government has provided to that sector. Again, I would remind the member that we fund non-profit service providers to care for the residents. There are many of these non-profit service providers. Four years ago, we set standards across the

[Page 1251]

province. We agreed on what would be an appropriate wage and the training that would be needed to meet that wage. Indeed, we increased the funding by up to 50 per cent to that sector. I think most people would agree that 50 per cent over four years is a substantial commitment to those residents and their families.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, most Nova Scotians that I would know would agree to a fair wage for those individuals who are employed in helping the most vulnerable in our province. The Department of Community Services holds its purse strings, and it's only the group that can offer a solution to job action to RRSS. The families affected by this strike have invited all stakeholders, including Community Services, to a meeting tomorrow. I ask the Minister of Community Services, will you attend that meeting and live up to your responsibilities to help resolve this contract dispute?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for again allowing me to point out that across the province we brought geographic wage equity, we set the standards, we invested $28 million to bring this about, and it was agreed that for the training that was required for this, $13.70 an hour was a fair wage. I would suggest that not only did the department fund . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, did you want me to start again? Not only did we fund the $13.70, an increment, we put a pension plan on the table and we enhanced the department's contribution towards the cost of their group plan. This government recognizes the importance of the care for those residents and their families, and we will continue to do so.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - RRSS STRIKE:

EMPLOYER CONTACT - MIN. CONFIRM

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community Services. Repeatedly in this House and even in a press conference outside this House, the minister has been informed about the severe impact that the Regional Residential Services Society strike is having both on the clients and indeed their families. This strike has gone on far too long without any action or concern expressed by this Tory Government. My question to the minister is, could the minister please confirm whether he has spoken with the employer in the last week with the sole purpose of trying to get the parties back to the bargaining table?

[Page 1252]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I believe that it has been said before that this is part of a collective bargaining process. We have to respect the relationship between RRSS and the union and we continue to do so.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Clare on your second supplementary. You have about 20 seconds.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it seems like we see on a daily basis heartbreaking stories of elderly individuals attempting to do their very best to take care of their daughters or sisters. This has been a draining experience for them both physically and emotionally.

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

If I could, with the indulgence of the House, the honourable Premier has an introduction to make at this time - as long as it wasn't the same one?

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are privileged to have in the east gallery today some special guests. Members will remember that the Nova Scotia team conducted itself with great distinction at the recent Canada Games, taking home eight medals. As well, the mission staff, for the second time in a row, received an award as being the exemplary mission staff participating in the games. I could point out that we are the only province in which the mission staff is entirely made up of volunteers. We have with us a number of individuals: Cassaundra Hawley, Sarah Ackermann, Nicole Doucet, James Blood, Joseph Scott, Britney Gennette, Pascal Roberge, Lars Anderson, Brandon Snow, and members of the mission staff. I would ask our guests to please rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

At this time it gives me great pleasure as well to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery two special visitors, Angela Browning who is a Member of Parliament with the United Kingdom, her riding is, and I hope I say this right, Tiverton and Honiton. Accompanying Angela at this time is her husband, David Browning. They're visiting her cousin, Ron Cross and his wife, Karen Cross, of Dartmouth. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House, please. (Applause)

We welcome our special visitors to the gallery today and we hope you enjoy the proceedings.

[Page 1253]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the people of Halifax Fairview have the same concerns and interests that people throughout HRM and throughout the Province of Nova Scotia have. They're concerned about the quality of their health care system, accessibility to family physicians, and health care when they need it. They're concerned about the quality of the education system. They want to make sure that their children, that our children get a good education and there are many reasons to be concerned about that. They're concerned about what's happening in the long-term care sector where seniors are having their assets taken away, assets built up over a lifetime taken away as the price of admission to long-term care. They're concerned about their sons and daughters, and even people of the older generation, who are going into post-secondary education institutions or would if they could afford the tuition. They're concerned about the transportation network. They're concerned about auto insurance.

I could talk about all of those things, but in the special time that's available to me today I would like to focus on three particular issues that are more particular to Halifax Fairview and that, to a certain extent, are somewhat unique to my constituency. For each of these items what I would like to do is to urge the government to act. For each of these items there is something concrete that can be done in order to deal with the particular issue or particular situation.

The first one is the issue of jake brakes. I introduced a piece of legislation in the House earlier today on this. I've introduced it before and I'm hoping to have a conversation about it later today with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. For those of you who don't live close to a 100-Series Highway, this may be a bit of mystery. What is this issue all about? If you do live close to a 100-Series Highway or a major road that has large truck traffic on it, you'll know exactly what it's about. It's the use of the engine-retardant brakes

[Page 1254]

which are very, very loud. People in my constituency, who live beside the Bicentennial Highway, tell me they get jolted out of bed in the middle of the night.

It's a serious issue when you have a major road next to a residential area. In the constituency of Halifax Fairview, there is a street, namely School Avenue, which is closer, I'm told, to a 100-Series Highway than any other residential street in all of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

But it's not just people on that street who have a problem with jake brakes. On the weekend I visited the home of a family who are not one, not two, but four streets over from the Bicentennial Highway. That's what they called me about, that's what they wanted to talk to me about - what can be done about the use of jake brakes? I've been working on this issue for the past - it must be six months now since it was first raised with me by residents of Fairview.

There is something that can be done. First of all, this government, I believe it was this government, brought in a law saying that the use of jake brakes in a 50 zone is illegal. That's fine, that covers the Town of Truro, for example. If you drive into the Town of Truro, it says jake brakes not allowed in the town limits. That's not because of the town bylaw, it's because of the provincial law saying that in a 50 zone you can't use jake brakes. The problem is the particular stretch of Highway No. 102 that we're talking about is not a 50 zone, it's a 70 zone. So it's not illegal to use jake brakes.

I've discussed this issue with representatives of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association which represents many or most of the long-haul truckers and I've also discussed it with the short haul truckers' association. Both of them told me the same thing, that is, except in heavy traffic, there is no need for jake brakes to be used on that particular hill. I met and toured the site with one of the APTA's safety officers and he told me that there is no need for the use of jake brakes on this hill. So why are they being used?

To cut a long story short, he told me that really, there are some truckers who are simply not aware of the impact that they're having on nearby residential areas, or worse, there's a small group that were referred to by both of the truckers' associations as the cowboys - the ones who like the sound of the loud trucks, who are awake in the middle of the night and they want to make sure that everybody else is up with them. Those are the people that we're after - the people who use their air brakes or their engine-retardant brakes, rather, not their air brakes, their engine-retardant brakes when it's not necessary.

That's why I've introduced the bill today. It's very simple, very straightforward and what it does is it gives a municipality the power to forbid the use of jake brakes even outside a 50 zone. Naturally, safety is first, has to be first, will be first. If truckers need to use their engine-retardant brakes for safety purposes, then they will still be able to. But, where it's not necessary, especially at night, this law will permit the municipality to pass a bylaw outlawing

[Page 1255]

the use of jake brakes. It's a good measure, I commend it to the government's attention and to the attention of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, with whom I hope to speak later.

I know there are members on that side - I don't mind naming the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, an experienced trucker, he and I have conversed about this informally and he understands, he knows the issue that I'm talking about. In fact, I think I'm right in saying that I remember that member saying that there were areas of his constituency where it's also an issue. So I commend this piece of legislation to his attention in the earnest hope that working together we can provide a solution for the people who have a problem.

The second constituency issue that I'd like to speak about in the time available to me today is the provincial park that is in my constituency. It may surprise many members of the House - I know it surprised some members of my caucus - since I represent an urban riding, they didn't realize that there's a provincial park in my constituency. But there is. It's Long Lake Provincial Park. It was established in the late 1980s or perhaps as late as 1990 by the former member for that area, John Buchanan, when he represented that entire area before redistribution in 1992. One of his last acts as the MLA was to declare this area to be a provincial park. I guess the key thing to know, Mr. Speaker, is that since that time nothing has happened, absolutely nothing. That's okay, I'm not saying that's John Buchanan's fault. Heaven knows, there's lots that is John Buchanan's fault. We're still dealing with the fallout of John Buchanan's Government every day we sit in here, 13 years after the man resigned, we're still dealing with the financial fallout of that government.

[4:00 p.m.]

It was a good thing. You can't be in government for 12 years and not do some good things, and one of the good things that he did was to declare this area to be a provincial park. But it has been, as far as I know, without a management plan. It's virtually unknown to people, except people who live right around the periphery because there are no set trails, there is no development, there is very little in the way of signage. It has been left undeveloped. It appears to residents and to me, the MLA, that it has been operating without a long-term management plan.

Now there are short-term issues as well. I've been told recently that there are parts of the park that are being torn up by ATVs. These modern vehicles that go into off-road areas can really tear up a place. In a park without any fences, without any gates, without any management plan, without any signs, it's hard to say to somebody, that's not the right thing to do.

So the Department of Natural Resources needs to take both a short-term and a long-term approach. I'm pleased to say that after my request, the Department of Natural Resources is meeting with me tomorrow, and I hope to receive some favourable news, some favourable

[Page 1256]

consideration from that department about what to do with this park which could be a real jewel. Point Pleasant Park is available to residents of the city, but the nearest provincial park to peninsula Halifax is Long Lake Provincial Park. With careful planning and management, it can be a real jewel.

I'm pleased to say the park is shared between myself and my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect and the member for Halifax Atlantic. Together, we are determined to turn this into the jewel that it can be. Appropriate protection, appropriate management is what is needed. I really commend that issue to the Minister of Natural Resources for his consideration.

The third issue that I would like to talk about, Mr. Speaker, in the short time available to me in this context are the lessons that we have to learn from what has happened up in the Fairmount Subdivision in my constituency. There was a very large, very beautiful but very contaminated piece of land, the subject of 40 years of indiscriminate dumping of industrial waste, and really nobody knows for sure what was dumped there because it was truly indiscriminate and unrecorded.

Up until this year, it has defeated the attempts of all developers to clean up the site at a reasonable cost, but a developer came along and came up with a plan and said, I know how to clean this up, I know how to do it in a way that is affordable. Indeed, much to everyone's surprise, the work has gone ahead and lots are being sold. But unusual situations call for unusual remedies, and what's happening is that a never-before used method is being used to deal with this contaminated soil. That is it's being scraped off the property and put at the southern boundary of the property beside the CN Rail line in what's called a containment cell. This use of the containment cell is absolutely new to Nova Scotia. It is the first time there has been any kind of containment cell like this in the open, in a residential area. It's new for everybody.

But there are certain fundamental things that should have been done that were not done, and one is to get security from the developer for the long-term maintenance of this property. The problem is that the developer made long-term commitments. They're going to keep owning this containment cell and they've made commitments far into the future, in perpetuity, essentially, to maintain this containment cell. But the developer, like all developers, set up a paper company to look after the development. The paper company, after the lots are sold, will have no assets, so the promises are being made by a paper company with no assets. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with that. That's the way developers and other companies do business.

The problem is that the government didn't ask for any security. So it was only after the fact, after the work had started, at my request, that the department said, hey, how about some security for that promise. If things don't go the way we planned, where's the financial guarantee that you are going to be able to come up with the money to do what you promised

[Page 1257]

to do? I asked in the last sitting of the House what the government's intention was on this and, again at my request and my insistence, the discussions were underway, but there has been no report back to the House from the Minister of Environment about how that's going. Has security been obtained? And when I say "security", I mean that in the legal, commercial sense of the word. Is there financial security for the developer's promises? This is something very important. It should have been done, and should be done for any future development, because when somebody makes those kind of 25- and 50-year commitments, the nearby residents need to know that it will be carried out.

Those are the issues, Mr. Speaker, some of the issues on which I've been working on behalf of the residents of my constituency. Those are the issues on which I will continue to work and, if my constituents so desire, those are the issues on which I will continue to work after the next election, with the support of the government of the day, whoever that may be.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and offer a few comments as we enter into Supply. I couldn't help but notice - I'm sure as all members of this House have noticed - the sights and the sounds out around Province House with the protestors who have pickets, with some rather concerning pieces of information on them that reflect rather badly upon this government's ability to deal with labour relations in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I find it very disturbing that we have mentally challenged and seriously disabled individuals in this province being shuffled around. (Interruption) Yes, intellectually challenged individuals being moved around in such a callous form and uprooted from their rather wholesome environment that they're accustomed to, all because the government is hiding under the veil of this arm's-length relationship, which it is really not an arm's-length relationship in government, that being the society that's negotiating at the table with the unionized workers who are seeking wage parity on this rather vital issue.

But, Mr. Speaker, let's forget about management, let's forget about labour, and focus specifically on the disabled individuals who are adversely affected. Anyone in this Chamber would have to recognize that they know, either directly or indirectly, someone in the Province of Nova Scotia who is in a situation that requires the government's help and assistance on dealing with this rather social and psychologically difficult situation. It's also a health situation. I can't help but think every time we look over and see the member for Kings South, it's almost as if a cloud is following this member around. When he was Minister of Environment and Labour, what did we have? We had one of the most intrusive labour disruptions in the health care system in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia, and what did the government do? It brought in Bill No. 68 which effectively tried to strip all health care workers in this province from their legal rights on how to stand and fight for what

[Page 1258]

they think is right or wrong - and who was the Minister of Environment and Labour? The member for Kings South.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that wasn't the only strike that that honourable member was involved in in his ministry. Now he's Minister of Community Services, and what has happened? A strike has found its way over into this ministry. No matter where this honourable member goes, there's a strike. There's a strike and there is labour disruption, there's disharmony, and people seem to be adversely affected. You can't help but ask yourself: What's going on with this honourable member? What's going on with this minister? What is it about he and his department that seems to cause so much disruption for so many people in the Province of Nova Scotia?

Mr. Speaker, it's an excellent opportunity for that honourable minister to stand in his place and give some clarity on this issue. Why is it that for more than two weeks we've had these protestors out in front of Province House complaining about a labour relations issue? These health care workers do not want to be out there. They want to be doing what they're trained to do and that is giving the care and the professional attention that they've been trained to do to ensure the health and the well-being of these residents in special needs homes right across the province.

Instead, what the government has done, as a silent partner, as a ghost representative at the table, is allow these individuals and their lives to be disrupted. Not only the family members, but most importantly, those who are mentally challenged, intellectually challenged in so many different ways, in some cases physically disabled, to be disrupted. The disharmony, Mr. Speaker, you can well imagine. If someone in your community was uprooted and moved miles away into an environment to which he or she is not accustomed. Anyone who has had the opportunity to deal with a mentally challenged individual would know that it takes many years of nurturing to develop that very close - almost like a maternalistic relationship - between the patient and the health care provider. To have that ripped apart so surreptitiously, without any consideration - I think it's wrong.

It's wrong and it's wrong for the government to sit here in such a cavalier fashion because it may have a right-wing neo-conservative agenda against what they perceive to be left-wing socialists who are picketing in front of Province House. It's so wrong. It's so wrong-headed for this government to try and develop that mind set that they're only dealing with - oh, they're socialistic, they're NDP radicals out there, just trying to stir up some health care workers so that they can whip up some mischief against the government. Well, it's not quite that simple, Mr. Speaker.

Where does it all go? It all seems to follow the member for Kings North. When he was Minister of Labour, we had one strike after another strike after another strike. Now, he's over in Community Services and we still have a strike. That individual, he's definitely got a cloud over his head.

[Page 1259]

AN HON. MEMBER: Kings South.

MR. MACKINNON: Kings South. Well, maybe he will be Kings North after the next election because the evidence seems to point to him not being the member for Kings South. We have to leave until the jury is out.

The Minister of Environment and Labour who took over his portfolio, he's the silent partner at the table. He should be leading the charge on resolving this labour impasse. He should. Where's the leadership? He's sitting there doing absolutely nothing. I know there's a collective bargaining process, but he can set the tone, he can set the direction and he can certainly encourage the various stakeholders to get to the table. He could appoint a mediator, he could appoint an arbitrator, he can do a lot of things. Rather than just sit idly by and let these individuals, who need special care, go back into the safe, healthy environments that they should be in. That's what I find most disturbing.

I think it was Joseph Howe who once said, I know the value of education by the lack of it. If ever there was an example of a government that should learn from the words of Joseph Howe, this rather esteemed politician, parliamentarian, freedom of the press and a lot of other things, yes, he was a Liberal, that's one of the great things about being Joseph Howe, he had the wisdom and the foresight to know (Interruption) that's right, he was from Colchester.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: This guy over here is a Tory and he's sound asleep.

MR. MACKINNON: I'm not going to comment on the poses of various historical figures, but suffice to say, I think the most important thing to consider is that the government is deliberately and methodically allowing this situation to get worse. Matters are starting to fester to the point where those who need this very special care are not receiving it.

[4:15 p.m.]

I think it's wrong. If the Minister of Community Services or the Minister of Environment and Labour seem to have this very paternalistic neo-conservative mantra about how they think about public policy, that's one thing. But, that's not what Nova Scotia is all about. It's not. It's not what we stand for. We're supposed to be a caring, compassionate, reasonable, fair-minded and yes, prudent and fiscally-responsible government and Legislative Assembly members, but we're not seeing that. We're only seeing one side of the equation. I would hope, like the weather, maybe in two or three day's time, the cloud will lift. The cloud will lift off the head of the member for Kings South. He seems to be going around with this cloud on his head. Whatever department he goes to, you can be guaranteed there's trouble. Ever since he became a Minister of the Crown, there have been nothing but strikes and disharmony. I would submit that the Premier, the Premier, if anyone, should take notice

[Page 1260]

of this, because this is not right and it's not fair to the very innocent people who have been caught in the crossfire.

Mr. Speaker, I'm a little at a loss, the labour representatives on this particular issue have asked the government to appoint a mediator, they've asked. The government seems to want to take hands-off. Why? It's not going to hurt to appoint a mediator or arbitrator or to go to binding arbitration or whatever process the government would like to fast track to, I'm sure all members of the Opposition would certainly agree to that. But we cannot, over nickels and dimes, allow this situation to get any worse, because every day one of those mentally challenged or special needs individuals are out of their own home environment, as they see it, we are adding considerable cost and stress to the system.

The cost of bringing those individuals back into their environment rather than, in some cases, near locking them up in the unit over in Dartmouth, over in the Dartmouth hospital almost to the point of being submitted into an environment with barred doors and windows with heavy padlocks, that's not the way you treat these very special Nova Scotians. Is that the way we treat people who are most vulnerable, who are most at need? I think that's absolutely callous. When the shoe goes on the other foot, you hear the wailing from the members opposite.

When members of the government were on this side of the House, well, every day you heard nothing but bleeding heart after bleeding heart after bleeding heart. The most serious of issues, even to the least serious issue, they all took a strong stand. Now, they're on that side of the House, and you don't even hear the Tory backbenchers on that side of the House stand up for their constituents who are adversely affected by the actions of this government on this labour relations matter. They are absolutely silent, and why? Why are they?

Mr. Speaker, is there a gag order? Is there a gag order for them standing up for these special needs? (Interruptions) Yes, we have Rambo from Colchester County now going to stand up because he doesn't want to register guns in this province. He doesn't believe in gun registry. (Interruptions) We have the Minister of Justice running to Ottawa saying that we shouldn't have gun registry, but he didn't take the time to consult with the RCMP, the regional police officers, the members in the justice system, he didn't consult with the various stakeholders. He went up because he thought it was politically popular to beat up on the federal government because the Auditor General took a stand about the accountability process. So what did they do? They took a serious issue and tried to politicize it because of the neo-Conservative agenda. That's exactly what they did, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

What are they doing for the disabled in this province? What are the doing for the underprivileged? They are doing nothing but sitting there callously. I would submit, stop putting politics back into the justice system. That's what happened under John Buchanan's Government. That's what happened. We recall Royal Commission upon Royal Commission

[Page 1261]

upon inquiry and what happened? That Conservative Government was turfed out on its ears and I would submit that if what we saw from the Minister of Justice during estimates the other day as any indication of that, this government will be out on its ears too. I realize my time is coming close to an end. I look forward to coming back and furthering this debated.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the occasion to rise in the House today on the Supply debate. I'm also pleased to be able to share my time today with the member for the riding of the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I'm going to change and shift some of the discussion right now from my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, and talk about economic development as it relates not only to my area, but throughout Nova Scotia. I'm very pleased and proud to represent the constituency of Cape Breton North. I'm even looking forward more to the fact that my riding does expand. It expands into upper North Sydney, Little Pond, Alder Point, Point Aconi, and the one thing that it is expanding with or with the opportunities within Cape Breton and throughout Nova Scotia as a result of this government's growth strategy, a strategy through opportunities for prosperity, a strategy that seeks to provide vision and clarity where it was lacking for years and years and we've seen that.

I had an opportunity earlier today with my colleague, the member for Colchester North, to meet in Truro at the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce and have engaged in dialogue with them on the issues of importance to chambers from one end of this province to the other. They spoke of both the opportunities and some of the concerns they have. Their concerns, of course, relate to the fact of wanting to see balance and equity. Everyone is very encouraged by the growth and the prosperity here within the capital district, but want to make sure that that opportunity and prosperity goes out throughout the province. I've been pleased to be the minister to travel this province from one end to the other, to be doing it again, meeting at the grassroots level, meeting with community groups, individual businesses, our RDAs, chambers of commerce, and anyone who is committed, the hundreds of volunteers who give of their time to serve in trying to grow the economy and the prosperity of our province and we will be detailing that even further.

So Economic Development, Mr. Speaker, has undergone a structural change and that new model, a hub and spoke with the five Crown Corporations that report to my portfolio as minister, Nova Scotia Business Incorporated, the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation and Novaco, the Waterfront Development Corporation Limited, as well as the World Trade and Convention Centre, all of which are fully integrated in helping to grow opportunities here in the Province of Nova Scotia. As well, I look at how people have come together in co-operation - and we look at the World Juniors - the fact that it wasn't just a Halifax event, that there was opportunity to share that with Sydney, and a great opportunity for people in that area to be fully engaged in that world-class event as well as with an exhibition game that was in Antigonish. As well, we see the opportunities in the film sector.

[Page 1262]

I had an opportunity just last Friday to meet with officials and members of the film community in Cape Breton and explore the opportunities that they see for future opportunities and to listen to the comments they have.

The fact, too, Mr. Speaker, the Chamber of Commerce, they very clearly said that they want to have a voice and they want to see some very clear strategic planning for the future of all sectors. They looked at infrastructure and how important that is. We talked about the discussions we have with the Halifax International Airport Authority on air access and our ability to work and to help facilitate a regional strategy, and my workings with the other ministers from Atlantic Canada, to note that we do want customs pre-clearance for the Halifax International. We do want to see a greater connectivity with the northeastern United States and why? So we can grow the ability to expand networks and opportunities to our regional airports. I am very pleased to see Sou'West Air in Yarmouth start up a service after Air Canada pulled out. I'm very pleased to see them working on air cargo.

We see in Sydney the concerns that the airport authority has there with Air Canada's adjustments and the issues there. We take that very seriously as a government, Mr. Speaker, and we look forward to making sure we move an agenda and seek to identify the opportunities that keep Sydney fully integrated into the air structure. We've talked as well. I have a very personal commitment and interest with regard to rail in the Province of Nova Scotia and its linkages, not just through the Port of Sydney, but obviously into eastern Nova Scotia and the issue we resolved recently with the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway, maintain that strategic infrastructure not only with the challenges of the day, but seeing the long-term future, that it is to the benefit of our economy. We're coordinating with them. We work with CN, other stakeholders and the short-line operators to grow that.

We've seen this government, Mr. Speaker, look to the highways and, where possible, expand time and time again on improvements to our highway network. We see twinning projects in my area - I was very pleased to announce $12 million for the twinning of the highway from Balls Creek to Sydney River, $8.4 million from the Province of Nova Scotia for that. We've seen other improvements on Highway No. 125. We saw improvements again last year in the Sydney-Glace Bay Highway. We will see yet again continued improvements on Route 4 and the TransCanada. We're seeing it everywhere. We see a major investment by this government in refitting the deck of the Seal Island Bridge. Infrastructure and roads in the province, whether it's twinning, we're there as a government, we're expanding our capacity and our infrastructure to ensure that Nova Scotia is fully linked.

Also, Mr. Speaker, whether it's in the Port of Sydney, in the Strait area, in the Port Hawkesbury and Mulgrave areas or, as well, here in the Port of Halifax or Shelburne or Yarmouth, we are fully aware of the need to ensure that our ports are safe, that we have a strategy that looks to the niche opportunities that exist outside of the port area of Halifax, and we're committed once again to do that.

[Page 1263]

This government, from an economic model, ensures that our infrastructure is solid, that we have a firm understanding of what it is we need to do to facilitate better business in the province, and to that I have been very pleased, and I will be articulating further around the Province of Nova Scotia the initiatives that we will be undertaking to support further small business in this province, whether that is dealing with loans, working with the Credit Unions Central, and the Co-operatives Council for Nova Scotia, we're working with the CBDCs, the Community Business Development Corporations and are engaged in dialogue with them to look at how we enhance opportunities.

I've worked directly with Nova Scotia Business Inc., our business promotion and trade advancement wing of government as a private-sector-driven entity. We're working with them to look at what other needs we can have in programming for small business. They're ensuring that we have a full set of opportunities that we can offer to people, but we're doing that in consultation with the regional development authorities, as I say, with individual businesses to ensure that that smallest of businesses in the province have the priority and the attention of this government and indeed the investment of this government to the largest businesses.

I had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to travel to many of the key signature industries in this province, and have ensured that we fully engage ourselves into a dialogue with industry to look at not only the immediate but the long-term needs to strengthen those traditional bases. Whether that's Michelin - and I had a chance to visit all three Michelin plants - whether that's with Stora and our recent $15 million announcement there towards their $90 million expansion to secure 500 full-time jobs in that area and to provide stability to further grow the economy of the Strait area, or whether that's our investment in the telecommunications sector and with the customer interaction centres, we have been there.

We have been a partner, whether that's with industry, with other levels of government and with communities. We've ensured, Mr. Speaker, that this government is listening, this government understands the needs, and this government responds. We've done it solidly. That's why, for the first time in Nova Scotia history, five different times in the last 18 months, we've hit record high levels of employment in this province. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, in March, 436,300 Nova Scotians, an all-time high, because our opportunity for prosperity, the growth strategy is working - and I will be expanding on that with a progress report, and I will be going out yet again and ensuring that we take what it is we see as priorities and hear as priorities from Nova Scotians and put it into action. I'm very pleased as well, as we work with community groups, whether that's the BCA Investment Co-operative and the efforts that they're doing through their CEDAs, gaining more money from the community, exceeding their targets yet again, working with them on their investments they're making in the community, whether that's the condominium development, whether that's faith in the belief in what's going on at Sydport, the Laurentian Energy, where we see groups investing in that, and a proposal for $3.5 million.

[Page 1264]

Half of that money has been put up by the community, by individuals who believe that Cape Breton is on the verge of much more and much better, but they recognize they're putting their money where their mouth is, and they're asking government to be there with them. Well, I'm very pleased to be working with them, to see the Membertou Band Council investing in it, to see BCA Investment Cooperative invest in it, to see the Grow Cape Breton Partnership investing, to see individuals from throughout the community putting their faith into action by putting money on the table, because they know their faith in Cape Breton and their belief that there is a better day and a better future.

That speaks well to industry, and no different than in the Strait area, Mr. Speaker, with the Superport Corp. and their efforts with the infrastructure related to the supply base for offshore. Well, once again, making investments strategic, government is there, and we look forward to other opportunities, dealing with some of the challenges we have, and I speak of, for instance in the Strait area, the U.S. gypsum site. Nova Scotia Business Inc. and this government have been working with proponents that are looking at new and future uses for that site.

[4:30 p.m.]

Most importantly, we're talking to people who want to invest, to do business in the Province of Nova Scotia. Whether it was opportunities in Shelburne County, when we've talked to the Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company that calls Shelburne their home port here in the Province of Nova Scotia because they know it's a good port, they have a consistent reliable workforce there, dedicated to meeting their needs, competing in an international environment.

Whether it's down in Yarmouth County and the businesses that are growing there - customer interactions. Wherever we go in the Province of Nova Scotia, we're seeing one thing loud and clear - people are committed to prosperity, they're committed to competitiveness in the global marketplace and they're committed to ensuring that the quality of living will reach our vision as a government; that by 2010, Nova Scotia will be the best place in Canada to live, to do work, to do business and raise families.

We're going to attain that goal, I'm sure, before 2010 with many more records. When we look to the fact that we have some of the most business-competitive communities. In a recent study, it showed that Halifax, Truro and Sydney are among the most competitive in the world to do business in. It is permeating throughout this province, it's something I'm extremely proud of and I know it's well at work in my riding in Cape Breton North. I'm pleased to represent that area and I'm going to be very pleased to go to the polls and make sure that the good work of this government continues for many years to come. I welcome my colleague, the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 1265]

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I'm very honoured to follow the honourable Minister of Economic Development who did an excellent job in explaining the benefits of living in the Province of Nova Scotia. In fact, I'm very privileged and honoured that the honourable Minister of Economic Development took time out of his busy schedule to meet with some business members in my community, a very important business to Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I'm very pleased with the outcome and I want to thank the honourable minister publicly, as I already have privately.

Again, here we are in the first responsible government in the British Empire and we're privileged today to have a Member of Parliament with us from the United Kingdom. Welcome, MP Browning, and your delegation who are with you. I'm also very honoured that some countries in this great world took time out of what you would have to say is their busy schedule to fight to preserve the democracy and the peace and the freedom that we enjoy in this great country, Canada, and it's delightful that the people from not only England, but the United States and Australia really worked diligently on behalf of all democracies in this great world.

Just to speak ever so briefly on the piece of legislation that was brought forward by the honourable member for Cape Breton-Fairview (Interruption) Halifax Fairview, I apologize. It was an oversight. The honourable member for Cape Breton West refers to his colleagues on the right so often, perhaps it has confounded the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Quite honestly, the legislation that he did bring forward regarding a bill to permit traffic authorities to prohibit the use of diesel engine enhanced braking systems while operating a vehicle on a highway for which the speed limit is more than 50 kilometres per hour was certainly instigated because of concerns that the member has received from members in Halifax Fairview. I know that in my community we have concerns. as well in Brookfield, Musquodoboit Valley, Upper Musquodoboit Valley, with some truckers. The honourable member referred to them, the ones who are a little bit disrespectful, as being cowboys. That label's been around for sometime. Unfortunately, there is a very small percentage that flick on these engine brakes, and it really is noise pollution. As this bill proceeds through this House I would like to speak on this piece of legislation.

We do have some concerns, because the honourable member didn't indicate in the legislation, doesn't represent what speed limit he thinks that prohibition would be reasonable in terms of effect. Is it 60 kilometres per hour, is it 70, is it 80, is it 90, is it 110? Does the honourable member want traffic authorities to have permission to prohibit the use of an engine brake out on a 100-Series Highway or when you're coming off an off-ramp? I think the legislation needs some greater clarification, without question. I know that members of

[Page 1266]

the Atlantic Provinces Truckers' Association would have concerns, and consultation may not have been widely held on this issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I know the time has expired.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[4:35 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption.

[Therefore be it resolved that this government and the Department of Labour has shown a lack of concern for workers, residents and their families by allowing the present labour dispute at group homes to drag on.]

ADJOURNMENT DEBATE

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview

LBR. - RRSS: DISPUTE - EFFECTS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate the strike that's currently ongoing at the Regional Residential Services Society.

Mr. Speaker, what I'd like to start by saying is that Stephen wants to go home, which is odd considering that Stephen's living with his parents, but he's living with his parents for the first time in 10 years because Stephen is 36 years old, he's mentally challenged, he has a seizure disorder and he's a resident of one of the society's homes here in Halifax. It's one of the homes that has had to close because of the strike. One of the residents has gone back to his family in Newfoundland, another one has gone back to his family in Chezzetcook, and Stephen has gone back to his family in my constituency.

I haven't spoken to Stephen but, today, earlier this afternoon I spoke to his mother. His mother wants me to know what's happening to Stephen. When I asked her the impact on the family of having their son back for the first time in 10 years, she wouldn't talk about the burden on her or her husband, she talked about Stephen. Stephen is finding the situation upsetting, more and more upsetting every day. He's more and more restless every day. He wants to know when can he go home because even though today he's living with his mother and father, home is the group home in which he lives in Halifax. That's where his friends are,

[Page 1267]

his mother told me and his friends are what he calls both the other residents of the home and the workers in the home who are on strike.

I asked Stephen's mother today: if you could stand up in the Legislature and talk to the minister, what would you say? What she said to me is that she would stand up here and say to the minister, get busy, get to work, get negotiating. Nothing is going to be resolved if nobody's talking. So that is the message of Stephen's mother for the Minister of Community Services - get to work.

The minister stands up here in this House and says he can't do anything, but he can. The matter is squarely on that minister's shoulders. This matter is squarely in that minister's hands, because the Regional Residential Services Society is funded 100 per cent by that minister's department. That society can't do anything unless that minister says it's okay. That society can't offer the workers any more money unless that minister gives it to them. It is no answer to stand up in this House or outside this House and say it's not his responsibility - this is 100 per cent that minister's responsibility.

This is not fundamentally, at its core, a dispute between the society and the workers' union. As if to underline that point, the society issued a news release today and I'm sorry to say that the gist of the news release is that they are withdrawing, the society is withdrawing from the meeting brokered by the families for tomorrow night. They are not going to attend that meeting. What they say in this news release is that the reason they're not attending is that they believe it would be dishonest to participate because they have nothing new to bring to the table: "We are 100 per cent funded by the Department of Community Services and there is a cap on the salary amount they provide us with. There has been no change in the funding they have made available to us."

Mr. Speaker, I read that news release as a cry for help from the society. The society is saying that they can't do anything unless that minister says it's okay. They have nothing new to bring to the table until that minister gives it to them.

Yesterday I was privileged to walk the picket line with some of the workers. It was only for a couple of hours. There are two homes in my constituency being picketed and I spent an hour at one and an hour at the other and I had a lot of time to talk to the workers about what's going on. One of the many things they pointed out to me was how well funded these homes are during the strike. These workers are on strike because they're earning $13 an hour and it's not enough for their training. It's not enough for them to live on in the City of Halifax. It's not the same as what workers with the same job description are getting at the Nova Scotia Hospital. It is not adequate for people with the responsibilities that they have and yet while they're on strike, replacement workers, or the replacement workers' agency is being paid anywhere from $30 to $50 an hour to replace them. It seems that the department has money when it wants to, but they can't pay the workers a living wage.

[Page 1268]

These people, these workers, are charged with the physical, mental and social well-being of some of the most vulnerable among us and yet they're expected to get by on $13 an hour and all they're asking for is fairness. There is another group of workers doing the same work, or substantially the same work, at the Nova Scotia Hospital and they're being paid over $18 an hour. There is no justification for that difference other than the fact that one group is paid by the Department of Health and the other group is paid by the Department of Community Services. There is no justification for the difference. But what happens when you pay people $13 an hour to do that kind of work is that there's a very high turnover, which is something else that I learned yesterday. There's a very high turnover among workers of the society because they can't make a living. For those with children, with families to support, they can't make a living on $13 an hour and so, some very reluctantly, they move on to other work. They go back to school so that they can earn a living wage.

It is not too much to expect that these workers should get parity and that they should be treated fairly. It is not too much to expect that we should pay workers enough money that they can stay at a job that many of them love and would love to continue at. It tears them up to know that they're not there with the residents. During the strike they're showing a great deal of respect to the residents. For example, one of the decisions they made is that none of them would picket a home at which they worked because if the residents saw them, it might be upsetting. So they only picketed at homes where they did not work.

At one of the picket lines I went to they deliberately had their picket line on the side part of the property because in one of those homes one of the residents liked to sit in front of the window and look out and they didn't do that because he might find it upsetting. Those workers during the strike are showing a great deal of respect for the people for whom they care. They're showing a great deal of restraint. They're being very reasonable in their demands and what they get in return is a minister who says it's not his problem. It is his problem. It is your problem, Minister. It's in your hands, it's on your shoulders. The society cannot make a better wage offer until you say so and until you say so, Minister, Stephen can't go home. I want, when the minister stands up here today, that minister to speak to the workers, to speak to the families about why this has to go on and, most important of all, I want that minister to speak to Stephen and tell Stephen when can he go home.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of this motion. It states: Therefore be it resolved that the government and the Department of Labour, of which the department is part of the government, has shown a lack of concern for workers, residents and their families by allowing the present labour dispute at group homes to drag on.

It just ends at that point with a period, but the situation has now been dragging on for 14 days. Two weeks. There doesn't appear to be any end in sight because of the government's lack of concern and action on this matter. I have here an item from the Halifax

[Page 1269]

Herald, the electronic format, I'll table it. The heading on it is, "No end in sight for group home strike" by Susan Bradley, Staff Reporter. "The strike, now in it's 14th day, affects 178 adults with mental handicaps in 40 group homes in the Halifax Regional Municipality." The strike is not province-wide, it's confined to the Halifax area. But that doesn't make it any less a matter of concern for me than if it were in Sydney. It's a strike that affects people and if it affects and hurts people, then it's a matter of concern that we should all want to see resolved. It should never have taken place in the first place. I said I would table this item, so if there's a tabler here, let it be tabled.

I've been through this kind of thing before. Let me talk in a broad perspective, I've been through this kind of thing with the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government. Oh, yes. I can even tell you, Mr. Speaker, sometime when I have more time, about a strike that I was personally a witness to in Manitoba under the NDP Government of Ed Schreyer. So, let none of us say that it can't happen when our Party is in power, because it does. The thing is that you have to solve it. That's your job if you're the government. You can't just let it drag on and on and on. That's irresponsible. Besides, there's an election coming, and you'd think for that reason they would want to see it solved quickly.

When we were in power it was sort of your ultimate nightmare that something like this would happen on the eve of an election. When we were last in power, we were under the constant threat of an election every day. Every time the honourable Finance Critic - as he was then - for the NDP opened his mouth, we thought, oh, dear, the House is going to fall. Ultimately it did, so we were under the constant threat of an election. Yet, these things still happened. I've been through it, I know the classic arguments from a government point of view, saying it's not really us that's doing it, it's those bad guys over there. Blame them, don't blame us. Yet, the bad guys over there are just a front for the government.

I don't want to compare them to the satellite governments of the people's democracies in Eastern Europe from 1945, or whenever they began, until 1990. But in a very real sense you can make that analogy. They're organizations that have no money except what the government gives them and are not likely to do anything unless they have government backing. I'll tell you what you could safely call it, never mind the people's democracies.

Let's talk about sponsorships. If you and I sponsor a hockey team and pay for the uniforms and the ice time and the sticks and all the things that you need to have a hockey team, are we not ultimately responsible for what that hockey team does? If they go out and do something very bad, like bust up the rink because they lost the game in overtime, the sponsors are responsible. That's what sponsorship involves.

The government here is the sponsor of the organizations against which these workers are on strike and yet the government is just turning its back to the whole matter and saying, oh, well, it will go away, it doesn't matter, it will solve itself. Laissez manger du gateau, as Marie Antoinette said.

[Page 1270]

So, the government has had all kinds of proposals made to it, I have here another item I can table. It's a letter from the President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union to, guess who? The Minister of Community Services saying, Dear Mr. Minister, it's up to you. That's the heading "Re: It's Up To You." It outlines all kinds of ways that it could be solved, if there were the will to do so. Where there's a will there's a way.

I'm reading from the letter, "We have proposed a joint review process, a joint conciliation board, a phase-in approach to a new wage settlement and most recently, binding arbitration. All of these proposals have been rejected by the employer and apparently by you and your Department." as sponsors of our employer.

They've walked away from it. They said, oh well, it's not our concern. It doesn't matter. Let it happen. Let it carry on all summer, we don't care. Is that a consistent message to be getting from a government that's supposed to be seeking re-election and wanting the people to vote for them and say, yes, we like this government, give us more, we would like our $155 cheques in June and if they could be accelerated to come out every month of the year, well, all the better, we will vote for it. A government is doing that much on one front and all these Tory nominating conventions I have in this report I just got today from MacEwan's Sleuth Services, and I hear there's one more nominating convention planned above and beyond the number that are listed here, and how many are there here? I think there are 25, 25 meetings scheduled for the next several weeks to nominate Tory candidates. Here, table this list.

[6:15 p.m.]

Yes, I hear there's one more scheduled above and beyond those 25, in Truro-Bible Hill for the Honourable Jamie Muir, making it 26. Well, that's half the seats in the House where they're going to nominate candidates over the next several weeks. They are getting ready, no question. Whether you're running on that side or on this side, it's time to get your signs screened and your stakes sharpened and order plenty of nails and washers. It's that time of the year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Big heads on the nails.

MR. MACEWAN: Big heads on the nails, yes, so that the NDP doesn't tear them down, but I won't get into that, I won't get into that, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker. (Interruption) You, in Glace Bay have plenty of experience with my washer method in keeping the Liberal signs up. Now, let's get back to the subject under the discussion.

The subject under discussion is all these activities on the one hand to soften the people up to vote Tory once again and put that Hamm Government back into power versus their total lack of concern at all on this matter. They just let the people mill around outside.

[Page 1271]

They don't pay any attention. I don't hear that they have called the police or anything. They certainly haven't brought in that bill that they had for the other group. What was that other group? (Interruptions) Bill No. 68, exactly what I have here on this piece of paper. We had to sit in this House morning, noon and night, 24 hours a day, to pass Bill No. 68 for them, to keep them happy, and then when it was all passed, they said, oh well, we don't need it. We didn't really require it. It was just something we wanted to do along the way. (Interruption) Yes.

That's the record of this group in office. They have taken on the nurses, they have taken on the ambulance attendants. Now they're taking on the group that's currently on strike and I suppose they will keep that pattern up because that's part of their tough boy or tough girl image, you see, they think they can be mean to those who are public enemies. I don't want to get into that kind of discussion either, Mr. Speaker. They're not public enemies, they are people who are trying to help the community and instead of viewing them as adversaries, they will be viewed as part of the team, the whole team, not just the Tory Party, but everybody who's working together to try to make this province a better place to live. That's the way you have to look at it and you have to find the money to do it. Now, they can find the $155 in the month of June, when cheques are scheduled to go out the end of June, but I hear that there are plans under way now to accelerate the release of cheques and get them out earlier in June so that they will come out before election day and not after. (Interruption) That's $68 million.

Well, I have only a minute left to speak, I'm only getting started, Mr. Speaker, but if they have $68 million for that, why couldn't they find maybe one-tenth of that amount, $6.8 million, for this particular matter? You know it's a matter of priorities. What you want is what you get. If you want satisfaction, if you want solution, you will find it and if you don't want that, no matter how hard you go through the motions, you will never get there because where the will is lacking, so is the way. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind our visitors in the gallery that there is to be no applauding, please, during the debate.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have a chance to enter this debate here this evening. I would like to start by saying that the motion that actually was brought forward was more in line with what the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was discussing, rather than the member for Halifax Fairview who spoke on behalf of the NDP. It makes reference to the government and the Department of Labour as it pertains to this dispute.

I would like to start by saying I asked to speak to it because I felt that the resolution was targeting the Department of Labour and I think that all people in this room, and I suspect

[Page 1272]

all people in this Chamber have an appreciation of the role of the Department of Environment and Labour in this. They provide the conciliation services, there's a framework that's in place, it's the collective bargaining process. We have an employer which is one of many wonderful service providers, non-profit groups run by volunteer boards with wonderful employees, too. In addition to that we have the residents who are more vulnerable members of society and in this case the RRSS board is charged with caring for their welfare and watching out for that of their families.

One of the things that I think that everybody would agree, is as much as possible, as the member for Halifax Fairview pointed out, is to try to keep the residents and the families out of this as much as possible. I'm not sure that what took place this evening is necessarily advancing that cause, but with regard to the member for Cape Breton Nova, we are trying to respect the collective bargaining process here and I think the member would respect that. He makes references to times past where Nova Scotians have looked to government to respect the collective bargaining process as we are doing here.

Mr. Speaker, in 1999 the sector got together, the caregivers with the municipal upload of community services to the Department of Community Services, to set standards right across the province that provided ultimately geographic wage equity. They set with those standards a level of training and with the level of training which requires some community college courses, a wage package that was considered to be fair based on the expectations of the people that carry out this wonderful work in caring for the residents. The wage package was set at $13.70 an hour and for some of the caregivers this represented a significant wage increase but for others it represented a very substantial one, because some of them were being paid as little as $6 an hour.

This brought wage equity across the province but also, perhaps more importantly, brought a care equity across the province so that the residents who are in the care of the minister in those homes could be guaranteed the same level of service, regardless of whether they lived in Yarmouth or Sydney or anywhere in between. I think that was a very important achievement and it's one that I think was worked on by people that were in this position long before I became minister. I pay tribute to them for the work that was done, regardless of which government they came from.

With that equity and the standards, this government came up with an additional $28 million that phased that in over that four year period. That works out to the funding based on an FTE of $28,500, which is significant. There are people who make more than $28,500 but there are people who make less. There was a recognition on the part of government that it is a significant responsibility and the salaries, the funding provided to the service providers like RRSS, was adjusted accordingly. So a 50 per cent increase, approximately, over four years. That is significant, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1273]

When we entered this new round of negotiations with the sector, because the department does not fund directly, it funds through the non-profit service providers, the volunteer boards and directors that are often made up of people that perhaps have a family member that's in the care of some of these homes, there was a feeling that in addition to the increment that was being prescribed of 2 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent, that there needed to be something more. Indeed, a pension plan was added to it at a substantial cost and the funding was made available to pay for a greater care of the employees' group insurance plan.

While negotiations did go on for a time, I would take note that three unions found this to be acceptable, others were close to concluding an agreement at the time the strike broke. I would say that it's clear that there are some out there who find the package that is provided by Community Services to fund the sector was acceptable to them.

I would also like to point out that the concern of the RRSS and their volunteer board of directors and Bev Wicks, who's a very respected person in the delivery of these services, has been very much for the care of the residents. They have bent over backwards to try to contact the families. There have been care co-ordinators that have been going out and meeting with the residents and their families that are in the group homes, that are in Simpson Hall, which is a temporary establishment in a former nurses' residence. Because, Mr. Speaker, the residents are more vulnerable members of our society, it is definitely true that they find this difficult to comprehend and as such, the RRSS, Residential Rehabilitation Service Society, is out there trying to work with them to make sure that the best possible care, under the circumstances, is provided for them.

In addition to that, they tried to negotiate with the union to get some sort of reasonable notice of strike. The point being is that, there would not be a need for a contingency plan if they knew that there was going to be a reasonable notice. The union did not agree to that provision so that's where we got into having to make alternative arrangements. The focus clearly always has to be the care of the residents.

I would tell you also, Mr. Speaker, that before the strike began, I personally went to Simpson Hall. I wanted to have comfort that all that could possibly be done to care for the residents, had been done. I met with the person who is in charge there, I met with a number of the service providers and I met with a number of the residents. I would tell you that I was greatly comforted with what I saw, although not happy with the possibility of the impending strike. I am satisfied that RRSS has done all that it could to address the concerns of the residents and the families.

I also regret that the point about the picketing of the group homes is something that is difficult for the residents and that originally there was an acknowledgement by the union that they would prefer not to do this. Unfortunately I see that they have chosen to picket the group homes. That is more difficult for the residents and I guess my request is to try to please

[Page 1274]

leave the residents and the families as much as possible, out of this labour dispute. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for the debate has expired.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[9:05 p.m. CWH on Supply 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 Supply 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 Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

Bill No. 36 - Financial Measures (2003) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move second reading of the Financial Measures (2003) Act, and for those who aren't aware of it, the Financial Measures (2003) Act is a bill which permits the government to implement the budget. Usually there are numerous amendments that are included in that bill, and this one is no exception. It's a comprehensive piece of legislation. Many of these changes were included in the budget that I tabled on April 3rd.

[Page 1275]

It's the major piece of legislation that gives the authority, once again, as I stated, to implement the budget. Chief amongst those measures, obviously, are the changes to the Income Tax Act. Nova Scotians are aware that we've indicated, as part of our four-year plan, that we would give tax relief in year four, and that's where we find ourselves. Nova Scotians will be seeing some of that tax relief this summer. They will also be seeing some of the permanent changes to the Income Tax Act, which will take effect on January 1, 2004.

Mr. Speaker, with these changes that we've tabled, Nova Scotians will know that our government is true to its word, as tax relief will be delivered as John Hamm indicated in his platform. We're doing that not just because we want to be true to our word, but because we also believe that it's the right thing to do for our economy, it's the right to do to ensure that our economy continues to grow. Over the last three years, we have done well in Nova Scotia, and we've exceeded, year over year, the projections by the private forecasters as to how Nova Scotia's economy will do.

One of the reasons is we've diversified our economy. I've said it on previous occasions, that I've looked over the last about 10 years, and Nova Scotia's economy is different than it was before. Many of our traditional industries are still there, but they don't play as much of a dominant role in Nova Scotia as they did in the past. You look at this city of HRM, you look even within 60 or 80 miles of it and you will see many new corporations that are involved both in high-tech; and in the HRM area there is a lot of the life sciences industries, which are doing very well.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that is one of the reasons that our government is bringing forward tax relief in this budget. We believe that it's important that Nova Scotia remain competitive. All 10 provinces in Canada over the last four years had lowered income taxes, all except one, and that one province is Nova Scotia. So what are we doing today as we debate this bill? We are ensuring that Nova Scotia will remain competitive, and that is the thrust of why we're doing this.

Those on the other side, especially the Liberal Party, say they don't agree with it and they will rollback these changes and they will increase taxes to Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is they will defend their decisions, and they will go to the people and explain that they don't feel that comfortable with the economy and they don't really care whether the economy continues to grow. The fact of the matter is that we do.

In this bill, Nova Scotians will see their tax reduction in two formats. The first format is in the payment of $155 for every Nova Scotian who paid income taxes for the years of 2001, 2002 and 2003. Mr. Speaker, that $155 basically represents half of a full year's tax cut, divided by the number of taxpayers in Nova Scotia. That part of it is even, it is divided amongst all Nova Scotians and everyone will receive the same amount. The second part of this tax reduction will come in the form of changes to the Income Tax Act. On that side, the amount that people will receive in a tax reduction will be determined by their income. Our

[Page 1276]

income tax system is a system that continues to grow, the more you make, the more you pay, and everyone knows that. So those who will be making more will pay it.

Mr. Speaker, I hear the Liberal Party on the other side talking, and they'll get their chance to debate this bill and that's fine, but I'm really interested in the Liberal Party's position because about two years ago the Finance Critic - and as was pointed out by the Premier today - the member for Clare was saying that we should have given tax relief at that time. Hansard is the record of this establishment and it records the spoken word. The Liberal Party was on record saying that we should have given tax relief at that time. No matter what they try to say, the word is written and it's recorded, what they said.

Now today they have a new Leader and some time ago he articulated many different positions and how we would handle the whole tax issue, whether he would give tax relief, whether he wouldn't give tax relief. He talked about whether or not he would give the HST back and then whether he wouldn't give tax relief back. The fact of the matter is he was having press conference upon press conference to clarify the previous press conference and it's very confusing. Now I know that the Leader is a new member and I know that there's a learning curve and the learning curve is getting very long. The fact of the matter is lately he has at least said one thing, he's said that if he was elected Premier - which we know won't happen, Mr. Speaker - that he will roll back the changes that we have put forward.

What we're saying here, Mr. Speaker, is that he will campaign door to door here in this province saying that he wants to increase taxes. That is the gospel truth and nothing that you can say will change the fact. Now, the fact of the matter is, as much as that sounds out of character, or frivolous or misunderstood, the facts will speak for themselves and the Liberal Party will go door to door on a tax-up.

On the other issue, the thing that concerns me the most is the lack of understanding by the Liberal Party of being competitive. Every single province in Canada has lowered taxes except the Province of Nova Scotia. Every single province in Canada, whether or not they be Conservative Governments, whether or not they be Liberal Governments, or whether or not they be NDP Governments. The fact of the matter, the reason they have done that - and Hansard will show - is to be competitive. In Nova Scotia we did not lower our taxes in the first three years of our mandate. Why is that? Because we told Nova Scotians we would do that once we balanced the budget. We were as clear as we could be, Mr. Speaker. Why are we doing it now? The reason is that we balanced the budget last year, we balanced the budget again this year. Have we done what we said we would do? The answer is unequivocally yes.

Many people will say, that's refreshing, a government that's doing exactly what it said it would do. The fact of the matter is due to the guidance of our Premier - and, Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Finance, you're only as good as your Leader and our whole caucus is true to that saying, we've received the excellent leadership of Premier Hamm and he's

[Page 1277]

guided our ship from where we set out to where we said we would be and that's exactly where we are today.

Mr. Speaker, this budget, though there are amendments and they're very specific, this budget overall and the bill, the Financial Measures (2003) Act is all about the direction that this government wants to take Nova Scotia. We are showing confidence in its people, we are showing that if we put dollars back into working families' hands, they will know what to do with it. The Liberal Party especially may not trust those people to give them a refund and to know what to do with it. This Party believes that they have common sense and we believe in those Nova Scotians, and that is why we are putting forward the tax changes that we have implemented in this budget.

Mr. Speaker, on the other side, the rabbit tracks of the member for Cape Breton South said tell the people. That's exactly what I'm doing right here and that's we said in our budget. We'll be prepared to go door to door and explain why our economy continues to grow. (Applause) There are some who will say that everyone also . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering if the minister would answer a question by telling Nova Scotians which ones won't qualify for any kind of tax break?

[9:15 p.m.]

MR. LEBLANC: The fact of the matter is, I'm telling you who will get it. The fact of the matter is, we will give it to people who paid income tax. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, in the blue book that the two Opposition Parties are so ready to stand up in the House and say, look what you promised, well, what did we promise? We promised that taxpayers of Nova Scotia who pay income tax will get a reduction in their taxes, so what are we delivering? Exactly that. Nothing less and nothing more. For the members opposite to ask the question is redundant.

In this budget there are other provisions that are included that I should go over. One of which is that we've included in this budget, to stimulate the economy, a three-year extension of the equity tax credit to December 31, 2006. This is an investment strategy used by governments. It's been in place for a long time. We've extended it another three years. We think it's useful in raising equity and capital for new businesses. It's been a success in the past and will continue in the future.

The other thing that we've implemented also is that we've raised the threshold from $30,000 total investment to $50,000. There is a tax credit of 30 per cent of that amount, so 30 per cent before of $30,000 was $9,000. Now it will be 30 per cent of $50,000, which will be $15,000. What this will encourage is for Nova Scotians to invest in businesses in their own communities. That is a good investment strategy, it is one that we're very proud of.

[Page 1278]

We've also done some extensions of other types of investment tools - labour- sponsored venture capital credits have been extended another year. We've also extended the large corporation capital tax another two years to March 31, 2006 as we indicated that we should be making a decision so people can make investments.

The other thing that's included in these changes is one of the commitments that we made in our blue book was to increase the maximum family caregivers tax credit. We've done that in this budget - an additional 75 per cent from $238 to $408. That was a specific promise that was included in our blue book and as such, we've incorporated it into this bill.

There are a number of other administrative and compliance amendments to the Income Tax Act that have been implemented to ensure that the income tax provisions are being followed. Some have been requested by the federal government and have been incorporated into the bill.

There was another amendment within this bill which has a financial impact and that is one regarding the Gaming Control Act. There's been a lot of coverage over the last few days with regard to this and I think it's a good chance for us to articulate the reasoning behind it. One of the reasons that this bill is before the House and this amendment is before the House is that the Casino Nova Scotia was put in place by the previous administration, the Liberal Administration. I believe the contract was signed in 1995-96, I don't have the provisions in front of me. What it incorporated within that contract, was a clause that allowed for the operator to terminate the contract if certain events were to happen. One of the events that could happen is that if a government authority did something to change an applicable law - the interpretation of a government authority is either federal or provincial or a municipal government - that would change the operator's ability to operate the casino without being impaired.

I should point out that some time ago - I would say two or three weeks ago - the casino notified Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, which is the entity responsible for dealing with it on day-to-day matters, indicated that the smoking bylaws would, in their opinion, materially impair their operations. That is putting the province on notice. I should indicate that is not a notice to terminate their contract. The fact of the matter is that they have indicated to government that they are concerned about it.

Now, the other thing that happened, Mr. Speaker, the contract that was signed by the previous Liberal Government talked about the fact that once there is a termination notice that is served upon the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation and such, the provincial government, that there is a 30-day remedy window. In other words, events have to be remedied within 30 days or basically the contract would be breached. So the issue is, what does it mean if the contract is breached? I think Nova Scotians should try to understand that. The legal people are informing us that if it is the (Interruption) I can table the contract and I think I will for the members here. I think it is important that I table it.

[Page 1279]

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the minister will table the legal opinions to which he is referring.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the opinions that I have received are from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation and as such are there. What I will table tonight for the member's edification is the operating contract and the casino option contract. This is what the casino is governed by. I think it is very important to table both of these documents and I shall do so so that the members will have at their disposal all the information. This is a public document that can be obtained by any . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, to be helpful I want to let the minister know that that has been tabled already, the contract several times and we all have it. But what he hasn't agreed to do is table the legal opinion that he has gotten from the Gaming Corporation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Finance, obviously, they have been tabled on a previous occasion but I'm not sure if both have been or not. I know one was. (Interruption) Both have been, then there is no need to table them again. The House has enough copies I think.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the trees have already been cut and the contracts are there. If the members want to go through it again, I have copies and they can ask me for them. But I will point out that in regard to the contract, the contract is very specific and the fact of the matter is that if an operating termination event occurs and then we are served, as the government, we have 30 days to remedy the situation or else the province is in a situation that we have to deal with the operator walking away.

By walking away, what happens, Mr. Speaker, we have to purchase the casino and the undepreciated value of the casino both in Halifax and in Cape Breton is $80 million. We would also have to pay the profits from the day that that occurs to the end of the contract. Now, other costs involved in that would also involve things like termination of contracts with their employees, termination of contracts with suppliers and the list goes on and on. To say that this is a very small decision, the fact of the matter is that it is not. For the members on the other side to say that this is not a serious situation, that is not the case. For the Liberals to say that we should renegotiate a contract seven years after they negotiated it is ludicrous. You are not in a situation where the casino is going to waive their rights.

Mr. Speaker, so why have we put this provision in the bill? That's the question. What we have done is, we have allowed ourselves to be able to react within 30 days. So the fact of the matter is that we have allowed ourselves to do that. Now, you can say, why would you act in advance? This is permissive legislation. By passing this bill, will the bylaws that are in place for both municipalities be absolved or removed? The answer is no. If, at a point in

[Page 1280]

time, the Province of Nova Scotia were to get served with a notice to terminate the contract, we would have the ability within 30 days to make a decision.

Mr. Speaker, you are learned in this House because you have been sitting in that Chair for almost four years and one of the things that you've learned is that somehow getting a bill through the House in 30 days is not always easy. The fact of the matter is, especially when the House isn't sitting, we don't know when an event will happen and to get any bill through if the Opposition, lo and behold, were to forbid it or were to filibuster a bill, we've been known to be here for quite some length of time before it happens. So, why did we put this provision in? What it allows is it allows the Province of Nova Scotia to act within that 30 days and to make a logical decision.

We've been asked by the Opposition, and I believe it was the New Democratic Party who said, well, why don't you just go to a dispute resolution process? There is one mentioned in the very same contract that they don't want me to table, I don't know why they don't want me to table it. The fact of the matter is I probably have a good idea why they don't want me to, but I won't in this instance.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The minister is suggesting that we don't want him to table it. As you, yourself, correctly pointed out, the minister should know that it's already been tabled, we already have copies, so there is no need to kill any more trees. The minister is misspeaking himself.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the trees have already been killed, I can't change that. The issue is in regard to the dispute resolution process, which the NDP Leader was saying, well, you don't need to have this bill because you could just go to the dispute resolution process. The fact of the matter is that if we went to a process to resolve a dispute as to whether or not something was material enough to terminate the contract, what the Leader of the New Democratic Party basically wants to ignore or has ignored is that it takes 90 to 100 days for that to occur, which is well after the 30-day window that we have to remedy it.

Mr. Speaker, if we were to lose, if the province were to lose that dispute resolution mechanism, then we would have to buy the casino. We would have to pay all the profits they would earn from this point to the end. We would also have to pay all their severance costs and so forth. The NDP Party of Nova Scotia may not care about $100 million or $120 million to the taxpayers, but this Party and this government does. (Interruptions)

Further to that, Mr. Speaker, as I articulated earlier on today, if there were to be a termination notice served on government, and there very well may never be one served, and if there is not one served, that is great because all the bylaws that have been passed by whatever municipalities will stay in place. It is not our intent to override them trivially, and we will not do so.

[Page 1281]

If, for instance, there was one, Mr. Speaker, this would allow government, after it did the due diligence on the details that were there, to make a decision within 30 days. If we were to do so, let's say that the government were to do so, then at least we have dealt with it within 30 days, but we are still left, subsequent to that, to go to a dispute resolution, after the fact, and get a determination. If the fact of the matter is that subsequent to that happening, and we had a dispute resolution decision that said that it was not a material breach of the contract, it would permit government to revisit its position and to reverse its removal of the municipal bylaw.

Mr. Speaker, this is a logical approach to a very difficult situation. The Opposition may say that $100 million is trivial; as Minister of Finance, as a member of the Cabinet, as a member of this caucus, I cannot say that $100 million cannot be better spent in schools, hospitals and those in need rather than paying it to a casino operator who has left the province. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is I have no intention as a member of our government to operate a casino. We have had too many bad experiences with steel mills and gas and oil companies. We worked hard to limit the exposure of the taxpayer to industries which cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. Steel mill industries in this province didn't work. We gave it a try, it came to a point in time where we had to move on. Because of that, we've also made some investments in industrial Cape Breton which have transformed that economy, and we believe it will continue to grow. (Applause)

In regard to gas and oil companies, Mr. Speaker, we, as a government, made a determination that we had no business staying in the gas and oil business. There were many people with their own money in their own pockets who could make those investments in the gas and oil. So, what did we do? We sold NSRL and we received almost $400 million which went against the borrowing of this province.

[9:30 p.m.]

We had the Liberal Party, first of all, saying that we shouldn't sell it and their concern about the debt, that $400 million went against the borrowing. We also had the Liberal Party in this House saying that we should have kept Sydney Steel going. I can find Hansard quotes here from the member for Cape Breton South and also the member for Cape Breton Nova just recently saying that we should have kept Sydney Steel going. The fact of the matter is, as much as it's difficult to make changes in that area, we treated the workers at that establishment well and we've moved on and we're prepared to make investments in Cape Breton and we will continue to do so to transform that economy into something which will have long-lasting jobs. (Applause)

[Page 1282]

We have made difficult decisions. This one here we have made changes with regard to the Gaming Control Act, which are logical, which will allow us to deal with the risks of a termination option by the casino. We will also allow, subsequent to that, to get a determination by a dispute resolution process, that will allow us to get a ruling and subsequent to that, to make corrections, if it's required. Nova Scotians will see that as being reasonable and well thought out and in the best interests of the Province of Nova Scotia and its taxpayers. With those few comments, I'm more than proud to move second reading of Bill No. 36. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Financial Measures (2003) Act is an integral part of the budget and has to be considered in the context of the budget because it enacts statutory changes that are made necessary as a result of the budget.

The thread that runs through the minister's defence of this bill and this budget is it's about sustaining an illusion. It's about sustaining a series of illusions because almost every major claim that the government makes about this bill and this budget, on closer examination, turns out to be wrong. Turns out to be incorrect. The minister's panicked overreaction based on a ridiculous reading of the casino contract is only one example, perhaps the best example, of how when you look at the government's justifications, you realize that there's no substance to it. What I'm going to do over the course of my remarks today and on Thursday is to go over some of the claims that the government has made about this bill and this budget and to show how each claim is an illusion.

The Tory election strategy depends on maintaining the illusion just as long as possible - to be more precise, it depends on maintaining the illusion until after the election. I guess part of our challenge here is to say no, this is what is true, this is what is real. What the Tories are trying to make Nova Scotians believe is nothing more than illusion.

The first major claim about the budget, of which this bill is a part, is the claim that the budget is balanced. The first thing I'd like to point out about that particular statement is that we still don't know, and won't until after the election, whether this government has balanced any budget. That minister knows and this government knows, that the Public Accounts for 2002-03 won't come out until the Fall. So far, the only report we've had on the minister's progress is from the minister himself. To say that he has a vested interest in what he reports is to understate the case. When the Auditor General has a look at it, we'll know what the real story is, but we're not going to know that until the Fall.

So this government and this minister continue to claim, continue to try to build the illusion that the budget last year and this year are balanced. They'll say that it's balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but any way you look at it, there is more going out than there is coming in. It would be fine for us to say, well, it's being spent

[Page 1283]

on capital projects if there was any basis for that, but there isn't because capital dollars carry the same interest rate as every other kind of dollar, as an operating dollar, and that's the prize that we seem to have lost sight of and I will talk a little bit more about that later.

The only reason that the 2002-03 budget is balanced is because of a $35 million conjuring trick that this minister has pulled off based on an error in the federal tax sharing agreement. One year he took $35 million off his books and in the following year he added it back on. Last year he added it back on. Now, let's be very clear about this, not one penny, not one nickel, not one dime changed hands between the province and the federal government. It is purely an accounting entry and yet this conjuring trick has allowed the minister to claim $35 million of revenue last year. I want to repeat that. Not one penny, not one nickel, not one dime changed hands, but the minister was able to claim because of an accounting conjuring trick an extra $35 million in revenue and if the minister hadn't done that, his budget last year would be out of balance.

The only reason that this year's budget is balanced, or the minister can claim it's balanced, is because of a similar conjuring trick with pension valuations. Now, when the Liberals were in office, or after they were thrown out of office by hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians who were tired of Liberal Government (Interruptions) I've said a lot that makes sense, Mr. Speaker, I've said a great deal that makes sense. So when that crowd came in, they changed the way the pensions were valued because they knew it would make the Liberals look bad, but this year, when it would make them look bad, when it was worth literally tens of millions of dollars on the accounts, they changed the pension valuation method again and said, oops, we didn't really mean it last time, we really think it's better to do it the other way and that is the only reason that the minister can try to sustain the illusion that this year's budget is balanced.

In the debate last year on the budget and the Financial Measures (2002) Act I pointed out something that is as true today as it was then and that is that what this government has specialized in is not in solving the deficit problem, it is in hiding the deficit, hiding it where accountants don't look, and the best example is one that came up at the Public Accounts Committee a couple of weeks ago and that is the amazing, the astounding, the astonishing statistic coming from the Department of Education itself that our schools need $500 million worth of work just to bring them up to scratch, not to make them as good as new, but to bring them up to the level they would have been at if they had been properly looked after during their life.

Now, the reason that's such an astonishing fact is that you have to consider we have 466 schools in Nova Scotia. So the cost of bringing 466 schools up to scratch is on average over $1 million each. Mr. Speaker, every single one of us can go back to our constituency and every school we look at in our constituency on average needs $1 million worth of work. Every elementary school, every junior high school, every high school needs on average $1 million worth of work. That is astonishing, but it doesn't show up on the province's books

[Page 1284]

and so what has happened over the past number of years is the province has neglected school maintenance.

The Auditor General in this year's report has come out with a terrible indictment of the way that schools are maintained and how the system is set up to provide school boards with a disincentive to do the work. So the province starves the schools of money, the school boards don't spend the money on maintenance because if the schools get bad enough, then the province will pick up the tab. But we've gotten to the point now where lack of school maintenance is a classroom issue. You can't say anymore you have to spend the money in the classroom. The lack of school maintenance is a classroom issue.

What this government has done is it has gone from fire to fire, from crisis to crisis, not dealing with this in any kind of an organized way, but when things get so bad, when students and teachers get so sick, then they talk about extensive renovations or new schools, like at Halifax West, like at - I feel that I owe it to my predecessor to point out that in her time in this House, right from the time she was elected in 1996, I counted 10 times she raised the issue of Halifax West in this House and how sick it was. It was only three or four years later, based on an effort of a very well-organized community group that they finally got the government to listen.

But that's the kind of place that the deficit is hiding. We haven't slayed the deficit dragon, it's only hiding. That's something that this government needs to remember when it's trying to spin the illusion that the budget is balanced, it's not. It's not. There are many other places that I could go to show where the deficit is hiding, and if any of the members on that side are interested in pursuing that line of thought, I would commend to them my speech on the Financial Measures Act last year.

Let's look now at the second illusion, the second grand illusion underlying the Financial Measures (2003) Bill and the budget of which it forms a part, and that is that the debt is under control. The debt is not under control. The debt is growing. More importantly even than that is the fact that the debt-servicing cost is going up. It is not going down. More important even than that is the fact that the percentage of our budget that is going on debt servicing is going not down but up. According to the Department of Finance's own figures, next year and the year after the percentage of our budget going to debt servicing will be higher than it is this year.

How can we maintain this illusion that somehow the debt is under control? It's not under control, it's heading in the wrong direction. But the Tories don't care. All they care about is maintaining the illusion until after the election, maintaining their illusion. There's still no plan for debt control. Mysteriously, the minister did issue what he called a debt management plan a few months ago, but now, even more mysteriously, he says he's about to issue another one. What happened to the first one? What was that document that the

[Page 1285]

minister issued a few months ago, called the debt management plan, when he says just before the election he's about to issue another one?

It's all about maintaining the illusion. It's not about what's true, it's about what you can make people believe, and what this minister and this government want to do with the Financial Measures (2003) Bill is make people believe that they have some plan to deal with the debt. But the truth is that this debt was created largely in the 1980s under John Buchanan. It wasn't my Party that created the debt. It was the Conservative Party that created the debt. Thirteen years after John Buchanan was airlifted off the roof of Province House into the Senate in Ottawa, we still don't have a government with a plan about how to deal with our debt, the debt that John Buchanan and our current Minister of Finance and the current Government House Leader happily ran up when they were sitting around John Buchanan's Cabinet Table. (Interruption)

The Liberals tried to do something about it, and they paid the price for it. John Savage paid the price for it, because I think it shouldn't be forgotten that John Savage wasn't defeated at the polls, John Savage was defeated by his Party. He was thrown out by his own Party before he could complete his first term. In 1993 he was elected with an overwhelming majority, and four years later his own Party threw him out.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that that is probably the first time in Nova Scotia's history that a Premier leading a majority government has been thrown out by his own Party before the end of his first term.

[9:45 p.m.]

HON. JAMIE MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Which Party Leader was he talking about? The NDP Leader, the former NDP Leader or is he talking about the Liberal Leader, about being eaten by their own Party?

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order but he's looking for some clarification. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has a practice of making light of serious issues, and if he wants to do that, that's fine. He can do that outside if he wants to, Mr. Speaker, he can do that in the members' lounge, he can do that back in his constituency. I'm not going to make light of a serious issue. That kind of comment from the Minister of Justice is part of the spinning of the illusion that we've actually got things under control here. It's making light of serious issues and if he wants to do that, that's up to him.

Mr. Speaker, in order to establish debt targets we're going to need some kind of province-wide buy in. We don't need our Minister of Finance, weeks or days before an election, issuing another debt management plan and saying look, we've got it all solved. In

[Page 1286]

order to do the hard work that's necessary in order to deal with our debt problem, we have to have province-wide buy-in. A very good example of how this could work is what Robert Stanfield did after he was elected with the Voluntary Planning Board.

The Voluntary Planning Board is a very different creature today than what it was, but when Robert Stanfield created it, what he did was he created province-wide buy-in among industry groups, labour groups, all kinds of stakeholder groups so that everybody felt that they had a piece of the plan, that they had been heard, that they'd been listened to, that they had a stake in the implementation of the plan. Nothing less than that is what this province needs to do to deal with our debt. We can't go on spinning the illusion that the debt's under control because it is not. It's growing. Debt servicing costs are growing. The percentage of our budget that goes to debt servicing is growing.

What about the illusion that this is a tax cut budget? The government would like nothing better than if we and the Liberals and they talked about nothing but the tax cut as if that's all this provincial budget was about. Over $5 billion of revenue and expenditure and all they want us to talk about is one thing. Well, we didn't fall into their trap but the Liberals did, but that's something the Liberals are going to have to answer for on the doorsteps. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, if they think they can go out on the doorsteps of Clare or Dartmouth East or Cape Breton Nova or Glace Bay and sell a message of anti-tax cuts, I say fine, let them try, that's up to them. They say it's a matter of great principle to them that they think that they deserve that money more than the people do themselves. If the Liberals want to do that, then I say let them try.

The illusion that I don't want this government to get away with is this is a tax cut budget because the truth, in this budget and the Financial Measures (2003) Act - which is an integral part of this budget and contains many taxing measures - the truth is that the province's take from all personal taxes is going, what direction? Is it going down? No, it's going up. At the end of this year, if the plan is followed through, this government will have taken more money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians than it's giving back.

The total cost of the $155 refund is $40 million. Now I know they say it's $68 million, but it's not really. The truth is it's $40 million because of bracket creep and the freezing of the personal exemptions and all those reasons why the government is actually taking more of that money back.

It's giving back $40 million just before the election but it's actually taking in in addition to that another $74 million in personal taxes. Taxes on them, on me and on every one of my constituents and on every one of their constituents. That's the illusion that they don't want burst before the election. This is not a tax cut budget, this is a taxing budget. As a result of this budget, taxes on you and I, Mr. Speaker, and everybody we represent, are going up.

[Page 1287]

Not just personal taxes, but also corporate taxes. There's a number of corporate tax measures in the Financial Measures (2003) Bill, but what I'm not sure that the members on that side realize is that corporate income taxes are going up very substantially, from about $200 million last year to $270 million this year. Corporate taxes are going up. They're not going down, they're not going sideways, they're going way up; way, way up. The main reason for that is that the government has finally gotten around to eliminating a tax credit that wasn't doing its job.

There was a manufacturers' tax credit that according to the Department of Finance's own study, did not achieve its objectives. It represented a large giveaway of taxpayers' money without the corresponding benefit. There are all kinds of complicated reasons for that, but nevertheless, it represented a giveaway of taxpayers' money without achieving the intended benefit. That's not me saying that, that's the Department of Finance saying that. After giving away literally tens of millions of dollars, it's being phased out this year and that's why corporate income taxes are going up from about $200 million to $270 million.

This is not a tax cut budget, corporate taxes are going up, the large corporation tax is being continued for another two years, personal taxes are going up. So the illusion that I don't want any of those members to go away with here is the illusion that you can go out onto the doorsteps of Nova Scotia and say, this is a tax cut budget because it's not. This is a taxing budget. This taxing budget is going to result in more money out of the pockets of our companies, more money out of the pockets of our constituents.

It's just another one of the illusions that the Tories want to spin just as long as it takes them to get through the election. The only problem with it is it's not true. It's not true. I think Nova Scotians are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that it's not true, that, as a result of this budget, they're going to be paying more, not less.

The next illusion that the government's spin doctors have planted in virtually every message you hear about the budget is the illusion that the economy's doing great. When I first got into this business one of the questions I asked somebody who had been around a lot longer than I have, is, how did John Buchanan do it? How did he run such a financially terrible government and yet keep getting re-elected? Part of the reason was that he was a nice guy, he was a friendly guy. People say that there's probably been no better mainstreet politician in Nova Scotia and you know what? That's probably true. It's still going on today. He still remembers everybody's birthday, he still remembers everybody's anniversary. I see it in my own constituency, people that he hasn't represented for 15 years, he still remembers their birthdays and their anniversaries. Good for him. He's a great fellow, you know. He's a great fellow, very friendly guy; as I said, probably one of the best mainstreet politicians this province has ever seen.

[Page 1288]

The problem is, you took the party guy, the guy who was really good at backslapping and you put him in charge of the money. That's the problem. It's like taking the chief party animal at a fraternity and putting him in charge of the money. That is going to have predictable results - exactly the results it had on the balance sheet of Nova Scotia.

Well, I asked this person, this more experienced person, how did he do it? The answer, I thought was very true, very revealing. The answer I got was that just before every election, he was able to create, by cranking up his PR machine - and that's all it was, there was nothing more to it than that - a bubble of prosperity. A bubble of high hopes just before the election. In the famous phrase, prosperity is just around the corner. Of course, after the election it would evaporate, but just before every election he would make people believe that prosperity was just around the corner, and they would duly elect him with a majority government. But that's all it was, it was about what he could make people believe, and this government is doing exactly the same thing.

The truth about job creation - here's the truth about job creation for all of you over there who very shortly are going to have to knock on the doorsteps, including the member for Digby-Annapolis, to try to say to people who are unemployed, who are underemployed that the economy is doing great. The truth is unemployment is going up. Hello over there, everybody on the Conservative side, unemployment is going up. I don't see that in any of your news releases. I don't see you focusing on that in any of your statements. Unemployment is going up.

Mr. Speaker, guess what? Nova Scotia's rate of job creation is below the national average. I think we've all heard that we're creating jobs, and that's a great thing, but what they don't say in their news releases is that once again we're not getting our fair share. Canada right now is a job creation machine. Manitoba's unemployment rate last month dipped below 5 per cent. When that crowd gets this province's unemployment rate below 5 per cent, then they're going to have something to crow about, but it's not. Our unemployment rate is going up, and our rate of job creation is below the national average.

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

MR. STEELE: I have so much more to say, but I will say it on Thursday, and with that thought, Mr. Speaker, I move the debate be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1289]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: The House Leader for the Liberal caucus.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party on tomorrow's hours and orders of business.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow our caucus will be calling Resolution Nos. 429 and 382. The House will sit between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. [I move the House do now rise.]

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

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

[The House rose at 9:57 p.m.]

[Page 1290]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 775

By: Mr. Barry Barnet (Sackville-Beaver Bank)

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

Whereas Hammonds Plains' Adam Wojcik, a member of the Charlottetown Abbies, will be taking part in the Eastern Canadian Tier 2 Championships this week, advancing after winning the Maritime Junior A Hockey League title; and

Whereas after a series of moves, Mr. Wojcik has settled into playing for the Abbies, finishing the regular season with an impressive 60 points, 29 goals and 31 assists in 44 games; and

Whereas the Fred Page Cup is just the beginning for the Abbies as they are hosting the Royal Bank Cup this May;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Adam Wojkic and the Charlottetown Abbies on advancing to the Fred Page Cup and wish them luck in their pursuit of the Royal Bank Cup.

RESOLUTION NO. 776

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas Tineke, Jacobi and Ilana Vanderweit of Windsor consist of what members of the sports media in this province are calling a family dynasty in the sport of badminton; and

Whereas Tineke is only eight years old but won the under 12 Nova Scotia Mixed Doubles Championship before losing to her 11-year-old sister, Jacobi, in the provincial female under 12 championships; and

Whereas Ilana at 13 years of age is the top ranked under 14 female in the province according to the Nova Scotia Badminton Association while also capturing the Atlantic Championship single title and teaming with sister Jacobi to win the Atlantic Doubles title;

[Page 1291]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the tremendous impact the Vanderweit girls from Windsor are having on not only the sport of badminton in Nova Scotia, but across Canada, and wish them continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 777

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Education)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas the Municipality of East Hants is receiving the Model Volunteer Community Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Municipality of East Hants on being named the Model Volunteer Community 2003 and commend its members for their volunteerism.

RESOLUTION NO. 778

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Education)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Les MacIntyre of Antigonish is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

[Page 1292]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Les MacIntyre of Antigonish for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 779

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Education)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Joe Delorey of Antigonish is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Joe Delorey of Antigonish for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 780

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Ken Wilkinson of Liverpool is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

[Page 1293]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ken Wilkinson of Liverpool for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 781

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Judy Merry of Caledonia is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Judy Merry of Caledonia for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 782

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Christine Mulock of Middlewood is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

[Page 1294]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Christine Mulock of Middlewood for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 783

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Donald Gow of Bridgewater is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Donald Gow of Bridgewater for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.