Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thursday, March 28, 1996

Fourth Session

THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
ARRIVAL OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR 1
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE 1
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
An Act Respecting Oaths of Office, Hon. W. Gillis 8
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE:
Moved - Mr. Robert Carruthers 8
Seconded - Mr. Kenneth MacAskill 14
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Dr. J. Hamm 19
Adjourned Debate 23
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Mar. 29th at 11:00 a.m. 23
[Page 1]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

[The Fourth Session of the 56th General Assembly was opened with historic ceremony on a cold and sunny day.

The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable J. James Kinley, preceded by his escort and aides and by Mr. Douglas Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Paul MacEwan; the Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur; and the Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C.

The Speaker, with the Sergeant-at-Arms on his right and the Clerks on either side, took up his position at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: In the name of our Sovereign, I welcome you today to this, the opening of the Fourth Session of the Fifty-Sixth General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mindful that death has recently taken a number of distinguished Nova Scotians from our midst, My Government would like to gratefully acknowledge their lives of dedicated service to this province and mention by name:

1

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Benoit Comeau, a former Leader of the Opposition and a past Member of the Legislative Assembly for Clare.

Buddy Daye, a champion boxer who outside the ring fought racial injustice and served this Legislature as Sergeant-at-Arms.

Howard Fuller, a life-long leader in the farming community and a former President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

Frank Daniels, a legendary figure in Maritime harness horse racing.

The Rev. John Angus Rankin, a zealous Gael who revived the Glendale Fiddlers and gave 39 years of priestly service to the Mi'Kmaq people.

Ira Settle, the well known former Warden of the Municipality of Halifax County.

Joan MacLellan, a former Deputy Warden and long-time Councillor of the Municipality of East Hants.

The Rev. Ed Aitken, the former President of the Atlantic School of Theology.

In every age devoted men and women in this province have made notable contributions to our collective social and economic well-being. In their ranks are many worthy contemporaries. Three of them were recently admitted to membership in the Order of Canada: heritage preservationist Cora Jane Greenaway; a Past President of the Halifax Cerebral Palsy Association, Donald Oliver Mills, both of Dartmouth; and David Sobey, Chairman of Sobeys Incorporated.

Josephine Peck, of the Wagmatcook First Nation, was made the recipient of the Stephen Hamilton Outstanding Achievement Award in Education for Aboriginal Peoples.

Bedford Constable Richard Derek Lane received the St. John Ambulance International Lifesaving Silver Medal, the highest award ever given to a Nova Scotian by the Order of St. John.

[2:15 p.m.]

Undecorated, workaday Nova Scotians are to be commended too. Not unlike My Government, they have been coping in difficult times - making ends meet while resolutely shouldering undiminished social responsibilities. In their fortitude and determination, Nova Scotians have shown resilience, pluck and ingenuity, characteristics which will serve our province well as we prepare to seize new commercial prosperity from an economy ripe for expansion. Indeed it is already under way.

Doubters need only examine the economic signs to know that what My Government says is true. The indicators show bold leadership and rigorous adherence to a carefully crafted fiscal regimen are starting to yield dividends. Payment is being made in the hard currency of increased jobs and foreign exports.

Since My Government took office in June 1993, 26,000 more Nova Scotians have found work. In January Nova Scotia had the lowest unemployment rate of any province in the Atlantic region. And in the last 12-month period, ending in January this year, 12,000 new jobs were created in our province. They came from major new investments from companies like Michelin, Greenbrier, SHL Systemhouse, ECI and Efamol. Their actions are eloquent testimony to confidence in our future.

This month, even Canadian Business Magazine has taken note. Halifax is predicted to gain 6,000 new jobs this year, the same number forecast for Greater Vancouver. The two cities tied for first place standing [Page 3]

in projected job growth, ahead of six other major Canadian urban centres. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council also recognizes Halifax as one of the best labour markets in the region.

Exports and tourism are sources of optimism, too. Foreign exports of Nova Scotia goods were up 14.5 per cent last year over the previous year's figure. Seafood, valued at $798-million in 1995, continued to lead all other Nova Scotia export commodities. The province's 1995 manufacturing shipments were valued at $6.2 billion, an increase of 9 per cent over the previous year, following an annual gain of 8.1 per cent in 1994. Tourism is experiencing sustained growth too. A $925-million industry in Nova Scotia, tourism is expected to crack the $1 billion mark by the year 2000.

These trends mark a new beginning.

Until now, My Government's energies have been consumed largely by efforts to clear away the financial and bureaucratic cobwebs that were suffocating growth and stifling individual initiative. These labours have made room for citizen participation in important endeavours such as education, through school councils, and health care through regional and community health boards. Space has also been made for business and community groups, through partnerships with government, to bring fresh ideas to matters of public policy. All this activity has been undertaken with one goal in mind - to give Nova Scotians a comfortable and secure economic future with opportunities for their children to stay here and earn a good living.

In this session My Government will take another step toward this goal by laying the foundation for a new era of economic growth and diversification. Its cornerstone will be a fully balanced budget - the province's first in 25 years. It heralds a return to self-sufficiency - an end to the crippling cycle of borrowing and escalating indebtedness. Most importantly, it signals Nova Scotia's debut, as a province smartly repositioned for new and varied commercial activity.

To ensure these hard-won gains are not lost, measures will be introduced in this session to prevent any future government from taking our province back to the brink of financial ruin. These measures will also provide for expansion of Nova Scotia's most popular core services, as our finances allow. Principles of debt reduction will also be submitted to you. They will permit My Government to gradually recoup the $1 billion lost annually to debt service charges and reduce the tax burden on our citizens.

This watershed in our economic history has not been reached by chance. Fiscal stability, social responsibility, and the redesign of government have steadily directed My Government's activities, but always with a fourth priority in sight - economic renewal.

For instance, the centrepiece of My Government's recently announced restructuring plan is the new Department of Business and Consumer Services. Not only will it make many of the government's most frequently used services more accessible, it will do it in a way that will improve prospects for development in rural Nova Scotia. Store front offices in

[Page 4]

communities across this province will provide the public with everything from birth certificates to drivers licences, tax information and business registrations. Doing business in rural communities, not just urban centres, will become easier.

Steps will be taken by this new department to streamline the business approval process. Some permits will be eliminated; for others, processing time will be reduced. My Government expects these measures to reduce the cost of doing business in the province. Other actions along this line are contemplated with the co-operation of every department in My Government and partnerships with the private sector. Issues such as property taxation, regulations and other business costs will be examined.

In the same vein, new Environment Department offices were opened in Amherst and Antigonish and another was expanded in Port Hawkesbury this year. Today 90 per cent of all environmental approvals can be obtained from local offices. It all means faster service and less red tape.

The climate for more community development will also improve with the entrenchment in legislation, this session, of Regional Development Authorities. Financial incentives will be unveiled, too, to encourage more Nova Scotians to invest in community development initiatives. And there will be a plan presented to reduce the burden of Securities Commission regulations as they affect these projects.

As an added incentive for business, My Government has brought in the fairest and clearest procurement policy ever adopted in this province. It has also worked with our sister Atlantic Provinces to break down purchasing barriers in the region. These actions mean better value for taxpayers' dollars and equal opportunity for commercial enterprises that want to do business with My Government and its public institutions.

Future public-private partnerships will be guided by a new comprehensive strategy, now in the development stage. This forward-sighted initiative will allow Nova Scotia to take advantage of this new brand of service provision, assured of its efficiency and effectiveness.

My Government will shortly sign a new economic development agreement with Ottawa. Initiatives will also be developed for environmental and health industries, tourism, higher education and other sectors with strong growth potential.

Special emphasis will be placed on areas of the province with high unemployment, including Cape Breton and Southwestern Nova Scotia.

Aware of technology's pre-eminent role in economic development today, My Government recently announced the formation of the Technology and Science Secretariat. It will give leadership and co-ordination to more than $60 million worth of information technology initiatives launched by My Government.

To get the technological word out on Nova Scotia, My Government recently placed a home page on the Internet. International business people and travellers can get information about this province as fast as they can turn on their computers.

Efforts to maximize our traditional economic advantages through careful management and responsible exploitation of our primary resources have not been overlooked either.

[Page 5]

Notably this year, we mark the 75th Anniversary of the launching of the Bluenose from the Rhuland Shipyard in Lunenburg, and celebrate the Year of the Wooden Boat. These vessels were not just the objects of nostalgia we know now, but sturdy commercial enterprises that brought wealth from the sea to our shore.

Today, efforts to capitalize on the commercial potential of non-traditional species such as shrimp, crabs, sea urchins and billfish are showing promise. Nova Scotia's fishing industry, still in transition, has elements of surprising strength which My Government is doing its best to encourage.

Aquaculture, a steady growth area, ended the year with a 37 per cent increase in production. By the turn of the century fish farming in Nova Scotia is expected to be a $45-million industry, employing 950 people. My Government is supporting this new industry by providing training through the Nova Scotia Fisheries School and the Nova Scotia Agriculture College.

Meanwhile, a new mineral policy is in development. Also the work of the Coalition of Nova Scotia Forest Interests in producing a long-term sustainable forest management strategy will soon be ready for public comment.

The future for Nova Scotia's resource-based industries is bright, judging from the scale of recent investments. Stora Forest Industries recently injected $650 million into a new plant. Kimberly-Clark Corporation is spending $22 million to upgrade equipment at its newly acquired mill in Abercrombie. A consortium of Mobil, Shell and Imperial have put up an $86 million work expenditure bid for exploration, west of Sable Island. The recent discovery of kaolin clay deposits in the Musquodoboit and Shubenacadie valley areas of Halifax County is also attracting widespread interest.

To help the farm community, My Government is seeking a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government. Now in the final stages of negotiation, this memorandum will form the basis of future industry stabilization programs and encourage more farm investment.

Worker safety will not be sacrificed for economic growth. This spring My Government will bring forward a bill for a New Occupational Health and Safety Act. Three years of public consultation and labour-management discussion by the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council have gone into its production. New regulations concerning violence in the workplace, indoor air quality and other issues will follow later this year. To underline My Government's commitment to occupational health and safety, new positions will soon be advertised in these areas of expertise.

As an aid to litigation, My Government will introduce an Interprovincial Subpoena Act to give subpoenas issued by courts, inquiries and other tribunals force and effect in other jurisdictions, where reciprocal agreements exist.

Our road to new economic prosperity begins with education. Aware of this truism, The Nova Scotia Community College and Collège de l'Acadie have fast become leaders in matching training with the demands of the market place. Their customized training, which generated record revenues of $9 million last year, is being snapped up by companies like Pure Energy, Pictou Shipyards and Fisherman's Wharf.

[Page 6]

[2:30 p.m.]

Also this session, you will see the results of more than two years of unprecedented partnership between My Government and Nova Scotia's universities. A plan to rejuvenate our university system by focusing on excellence tied to My Government's economic priorities will soon be released. This plan will solidify Nova Scotia's position as an international leader in education and research, with the capability of attracting business and industry.

An aggressive marketing campaign from Boston to the United Arab Emirates has begun to promote and export our educational expertise. This is a collaborative enterprise involving our universities and the Nova Scotia Community College in partnership with the Department of Education and Culture, the Economic Renewal Agency and the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education.

Our international reputation as a leader in educational and technological expertise is on the rise. My Government and a Nova Scotia consortium recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to design, construct and manage an international school in Wuhan, China. More partnerships of this kind are expected.

In the last year, the potential of our educational facilities began to be harnessed for community economic development. In more than 50 branches of our public libraries last year the public gained access to the Internet, and its unbounded storehouse of world-wide research and communications. Also, about 1,500 Nova Scotia learners upgraded their academic qualifications through My Government's Community Learning Initiative.

To help our youth become more business-minded, the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development will open regional Venture Centres around the province, starting in Antigonish. These centres will bring entrepreneurs together with young people, in and out-of-school, to help them start their own business or gain the skills required to do so.

The growing role of arts and culture in our economy has not been lost on My Government. The Nova Scotia Arts Council will offer research and development assistance. This help is expected to lead to improved products and expansion of this diversified multi-million dollar industry.

My Government wants to bring Nova Scotians marginalized by unemployment back into the economic mainstream so they can share in the benefits that come only with full participation. Compass Nova Scotia has had inspiring success in this regard, transforming lives once reliant upon social assistance. Sixty-seven per cent of the people who took part in the program's on-the-job training are now fully employed.

On April 1, My Government will assume responsibility for the delivery of municipal social services in the new regional municipalities of Halifax and Queens. By that date, 65 per cent of Nova Scotians who rely on short-term emergency help, will obtain their benefits through the Department of Community Services. Last year My Government took over the emergency assistance previously provided through the founding partners of the new regional government in the Cape Breton industrial area. Eventually, Nova Scotia will have a uniform one-tier system of social services.

This year, My Government will be looking for better ways to put more in the hands of those who need it most and to help the able-bodied become active participants in our economy again. To speed this process along My Government will be providing 50 new child care spaces for children from low income families. This will bring the number of child care spaces My Government has established in the last three years to 250.

In this session, My Government will introduce amendments to the Children and Family Services Act to improve the protection of children in need. Also a new Adoption Act will be brought forward to make it easier for adoptive children to find their natural parents.

[Page 7]

While the welfare of children is of great concern to My Government, so too is the well-being of our adult population. Tragic incidents of family violence, racial and sexual discrimination, and other unacceptable behaviours add to our social deficit. They hamper members of our society from realizing their potential.

To combat family violence, more than 2,200 justice workers are learning how to respond to these domestic crises. The workers will carry out the new pro-arrest and pro-prosecution policies under the Framework for Action Against Family Violence. In addition, community organizations have been given $500,000 to support victim services. The money pays for transition house-based advocacy and police-based crisis intervention.

A healthy workforce expectant of productive retirement, freed of the financial tyranny of debilitating drug and medical bills, gives Nova Scotia a competitive edge. It makes our province a desirable place to live and work.

Senior citizens have begun to recognize that My Government's stewardship has ensured Pharmacare will remain the best program of its kind in the country. Decisive action rescued the drug plan, last year, from looming financial collapse. As extra insurance that Pharmacare will be here when our elderly need it, My Government has put senior citizens in charge of the program's administration.

Similarly, the wisdom of My Government's health measures is proving itself in better care. The Home Care program, launched last June, has helped more than 13,000 people in communities from Cape North to Cape Sable. In the last six months more than 50 new state-of-the-art ambulances have gone into service across the province as part of a complete overhaul of emergency health services. These new initiatives are proceeding as preparation continues for full activation of regional and community health boards.

My Government has put the weight of the public Treasury behind its commitment to health care and education. Seventy per cent of expenditures this year, excluding debt payments, are going to provide programs in these two areas of responsibility.

In its determination to create the climate for growth, My Government will not shrink from using its influence to protect our province's interests when they are threatened by unreasonable or unfair treatment. Most recently, My Government's vigorous representation against a fee regime to pay for federal marine services succeeded in obtaining modifications that go some distance to preserve the competitive edge of our ports.

To the world, Nova Scotians have a more fundamental identity. We are Canadians. Residents of this province showed how profound and deep this attachment, forged in 1867, has become. At home and in Montreal, last October, Nova Scotians rallied in large numbers to show Quebecers, and each other, the strength of our national bonds. Afterward Nova Scotians doggedly watched the returns of the Quebec referendum see-saw to a victory for our confederation. Having stepped back from the precipice, Nova Scotians have no desire to

[Page 8]

return for a second view. My Government concurs in this sentiment and is committed to supporting the federal government in its efforts to keep this nation united.

God Save the Queen;

God Bless Nova Scotia;

God Bless Canada.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.

The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber preceded by his escort and the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Mr. Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

Honourable ladies and gentlemen, I wish to advise the House that His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to make a speech to the members met here in General Assembly, of which Speech, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy which the Chief Clerk will now read.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I would recommend that the Speech be taken as read.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the motion agreed?

It is agreed.

Now, we have a procedure under which the Attorney General introduces a pro forma bill.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act Respecting Oaths of Office.

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

We will now move to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

The honourable member for Hants East. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I stand before the honourable members of this House of Assembly with great respect and humility.

It is indeed an honour for me to address this revered Assembly as I move the adoption of the Speech from the Throne just presented by this government.

[Page 9]

Mr. Speaker, speaking for all members of this House, I want to thank His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, who has presented the agenda of our government to this Assembly and to the people of Nova Scotia.

From all the citizens of this great province, I extend to Their Honours, the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Kinley, our warmest greetings and pledge of support.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize the presence of numerous visitors in the gallery. Many are family and relatives of this House of Assembly members.

I want to express the gratitude of all members of this House for the continued support and understanding which our families and friends give us. (Applause) With their belief and confidence in the work undertaken by this House of Assembly, we can represent our constituents and provide good governance to the people of Nova Scotia.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, at the opening of the Fourth Session of the Fifty-Sixth General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, I wish to recall with respect the memory of the late Buddy Daye, who so ably served this House as Sergeant-at-Arms.

I also want also to mention the late Joan MacLellan, a former Deputy Warden and long time councillor of the Municipality of East Hants. We will long remember Joan's community service.

I have the privilege to represent the constituency of Hants East. This speech today affords me the opportunity to thank my constituents for the confidence and trust they have placed in me since I was first elected in May 1993. Theirs is a confidence I do not take lightly, for it is a privilege and an honour to serve them as their elected representatives.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and honour for each member of this Assembly to represent all the citizens in our respective ridings. In an age when people shy away from trustworthy responsible leadership, and at a time when politicians face enormous economic and social challenges, we, the elected members of this House, have a unique opportunity to promote and advance the common good of all Nova Scotians. This, we accomplish, through our presence, representations and debates and the enactment of productive legislation.

Mr. Speaker, through the Lieutenant Governor, this government has set forth a legislative agenda that demonstrates bold initiative and an unwavering commitment to securing a future for all Nova Scotians. An agenda that is financially stable and socially responsible.

In the Speech from the Throne, this government again pledges itself to continue building upon and solidifying the many accomplishments and gains brought about by this government in the last three years. We know this government's social and fiscal policies are helping to create an economic climate of confidence. Since 1993, approximately 26,000 more Nova Scotians have found work. (Applause) New employment is to be found not only in the metro area, which is predicted to gain 8,000 new jobs this year, but also in rural areas of this province.

[Page 10]

Although Nova Scotia has the lowest unemployment rate in the Atlantic Region and trade continues to increase, is there more work to be done around job creation? Of course there is, Mr. Speaker! That is why the initiatives and policies outlined in today's Speech from the Throne are so important. They provide a blueprint along the road to a future that is stable.

This government exercises fiscal stability and social responsibility. We have reached a watershed, Mr. Speaker, moment in the history of this province. For the first time in 25 years, this year, Nova Scotia will have a balanced budget which enables the province to be self-sufficient. (Applause) A balanced budget will propel Nova Scotia forward to increased economic growth and development and benefits for all. A balanced budget with legislative assurances that will permit no future government to take us back to the debt load we inherited from previous governments and allow us to be more economically independent.

Mr. Speaker, I represent a very large geographic area. Like many regions of Nova Scotia, Hants East is a composite of urban and rural areas, the urban/rural mix that is so characteristic of Nova Scotia.

Two major arteries, Highway No. 101 and Highway No. 102 traverse the riding of Hants East. Along these arteries runs an urban corridor of communities from Enfield through to Shubenacadie, into communities such as Elmsdale, Lantz and Milford. Along the other main artery we find Mount Uniacke, one of the most vital and fastest growing regions in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, my constituency has an extended shore line along the Bay of Fundy, stretching from Maitland along the Noel Shore to Walton. I need not remind you that the highest recorded tide in the world occurred at Burntcoat Head on this shore. I am just going to take a moment here, because you will hear it when you go from one end of the Bay of Fundy to the other, through more than one province, two or three provinces, any place that has a tributary that even a bit touches on the Bay of Fundy, you see the signs, the highest tides in the world. But with a little, perhaps, oversight from Noah himself, I will have the audacity to tell you that the highest tide in the world, ever recorded anywhere, has been recorded at the Burntcoat Head in Hants East. When we say we have the highest tides, we have the highest tides. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the areas of Kennetcook and Rawdon have seen a resurgence in both the agricultural and forestry industries. The rural sections of Hants East are the home of some of the richest and fertile farming and forestry districts anywhere in this country. We are a proud and hardworking people, with communities that are successful and productive. We continue to welcome many new residents to our area each year, new residents who bring their own skills and abilities to Hants East.

I am very pleased that this government's restructuring of departments and services is making government more responsive to the real needs of Nova Scotia. In particular, Mr. Speaker, I want to mention this government's initiatives relating to making government services more accessible to the people. For far too long, Nova Scotians living in rural areas such as Hants East have had to make do with less accessibility to government services than those in urban areas. Often one could only access government services with great inconveniences of time and long-distance travel.

Well, the good news for Nova Scotians is that this is about to change. With the formation of the Department of Business and Consumer Services, rural and urban Nova Scotians will have greater access to a variety of government services right in their own neighbourhoods.

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(Applause) What's more, Mr. Speaker, the whole approach of government to assist and enable businesses of every kind to operate in this province is being streamlined and it is being simplified.

As a result of these initiatives outlined today, it will be a whole lot easier to do business in Nova Scotia. (Applause) Now, I am not only referring to high-tech businesses, I am also referring to resource-based businesses: farming, fishing, logging, along with every type of enterprise you can think of. The actions and plans outlined today show the commitment of this government to support a healthy, competitive and productive business community in Nova Scotia.

In more rural areas, the establishment of Regional Development Authorities will go a long way to harness the energy and creativity of Nova Scotia's diverse business sector. (Applause)

I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, to note efforts of this government in the agricultural sector, in seeking a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government, which will form the basis of future industry stabilization programs and encourage more farm investment.

In the fishery sector, it is most encouraging for fishers from every part of this province to learn about initiatives this government has to support their industry and promote the development of non-traditional species and of aquaculture.

The recently announced Technology and Science Secretariat will lead the way in seeking increased investment and growth of technology-based industries, industries that will positively impact on all parts of this province.

Mr. Speaker, from my knowledge of Hants East and other parts of this province, I know these initiatives of this government, in harmony with other programs, are benefitting not only the residents of Hants East, but residents of all parts of this province. Locally, I can think of companies such as the Elmsdale Lumber Company who last year confidently undertook a $3 million upgrade, or National Gypsum that annually pumps $5 million to $8 million into the Nova Scotia economy.

In our region, as in other parts of the province, new and exciting industries are developing. The Shaw Group's Eastern Embers that produces wood pellets from traditionally waste wood, and Phase Remediation Inc., who are specialists in the technology of environmental clean-ups.

Mr. Speaker, many people in Hants East and throughout the province view positively, the discovery of high quality kaolin clay deposits in the Shubenacadie Valley and other parts of the province, a clay that is indeed in great demand.

This government's business policies are also supportive of businesses and industries that have been around for many years; businesses such as Enfield Home Centre - Scotian Homes, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary of operation this year.

I think Nova Scotians also have great hopes for increased mineral resources and offshore development, all of which will be undertaken with private funding and not with public tax dollars.

[Page 12]

Mr. Speaker, speaking for all the members who represent rural areas, I want to thank the Premier of this province for his outstanding commitment to safeguarding and promoting the rural areas of this province. (Applause)

We have his commitment to the more rural areas of this province through the policies announced today, immensely important if all regions of Nova Scotia are to grow and benefit together from the efforts of this government.

Mr. Speaker, there are several other initiatives of this government which, while of benefit to urban areas, are so important to the rural areas of this province.

I refer to the new 911 emergency service that will soon be onstream province-wide. We look to April 1st to have the 911 service up and running in the Counties of Colchester and Cumberland, and in the Municipality of Hants East.

An enhanced Emergency Services Program has already put more than 50 new state-of-the-art ambulances throughout the province, with many more to come this year. The entire Emergency Services Program is directed and held together by a new and efficient telecommunications network.

We all benefit from an extensive partnership program linking government, business and community groups. Throughout Nova Scotia highways are the vital links that ribbon across the province, enabling goods and services and people to travel quickly, efficiently and safely.

Rural areas, such as Hants East in particular, depend on quality roadways. The efforts of this government to improve the roadways in rural areas such as my constituency, which had been neglected for many years, must continue. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take a minute and talk about roadways for a second. I think all members of this House, including the Opposition members, certainly they do now, would have to recognize that infrastructure is of significant importance to this province. While we have had great infrastructure programs developed, we must remember that in the rural areas the roads are government-owned. I say government-owned, most of them are owned by the provincial government. That means the traditional infrastructure program does not apply to improving rural arteries.

This is important because when you think of increasing the amount of jobs in this province and we look at good jobs, jobs that long-term keep businesses going, we must look at our construction industry. That means heavy equipment operators, our gravel pits, our construction companies, our truck drivers, these are the people that are the backbone of our communities, they go on for some years and they do it without much government assistance, I must also tell you that. They are the backbone of the economy of Nova Scotia. One way to do this is to install and equip our transportation system, our roadways, properly.

How do you do it? Well, I will tell you how you don't do it. You don't start going around and picking out who your friends are and who you like the best and fix that district. I can tell you that. That is not what this government is about, that is not what this minister is about and that is pretty important stuff.

I hear members of the Opposition laughing. Well, I wouldn't doubt if you were around here for the 16 years and watched them in action you could see why you would laugh also.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I kind of compare it to someone who has a leaky roof. If you have a leaky roof for this business's office building. So what these fellows and ladies used to do, they would go around and they find out whose friends' office was located at a certain spot and that is where they would fix the leak, but that is not where it was leaking. It was leaking over here. They would go over and patch the place over their [Page 13]

friends, but there was not any hole in the roof there. So, what happened? Well, the whole roof caves in. What this government is trying to do is to fix the roof where it is supposed to be fixed. (Applause)

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, to the people of Hants East, we are one of the spots that had the hole for 15 years and now it is starting to get patched. We are thankful of it. We have asked the government to continue, and the minister to continue, with this very important program.

The tourism industry, Mr. Speaker, is of increasing value to Nova Scotia. Through active tourism marketing and offering more important assistance to local community initiatives, Nova Scotia has a vibrant and growing tourism industry.

Tourism is benefitting not only the large urban centres, but more rural and coastal areas as well. Most communities are realizing that the natural beauty and splendour of this province is attractive to many who seek eco-tourism opportunities.

Premier John Savage is bringing this government home to people by redesigning this government. We see how citizens from every part of the province are becoming involved in education at the grass roots level through the school advisory committees.

This government cares, Mr. Speaker, about young people. That is why we reformed our public education system, adding programs to the community colleges and courses that will prepare our young people for the workplace that they will soon enter.

This government cares by partnering with business to construct high-tech schools, such as the two schools that are to be located in Hants East. Mr. Speaker, new facilities for these communities have long been promised but to no avail. Now, this government, through this minister, has put forth a firm construction schedule for these two schools and I expect this government to deliver on its commitment. (Applause)

These schools will put the best resources in the hands of teachers and students. I would be sorely remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I did not mention the programs of this government to support the special education needs of Mi'Kmaq, Acadians and people of colour.

I am very pleased that, again, as in previous years of this government, we were able to put 50 more subsidized day care spaces in this province.

The government cares about helping unemployed persons make the transition back to the workplace. We do this through successful programs such as our Compass Nova Scotia program and other supportive activities that I would like to compliment the minister on. (Applause)

The government cares about the health needs of Nova Scotians, both young and old. Revisions to Pharmacare have made it the best program in Canada, bar none. (Applause) We have secured, Mr. Speaker, cost-effective access to prescription medicine for Nova Scotia

[Page 14]

seniors. Home Care Nova Scotia is another component of the overall health system. It is growing rapidly across this province, and has responded to the health care needs of thousands of Nova Scotians.

Under the leadership of John Savage, this government continues to show it cares about the social needs of Nova Scotians, which is why, on April 1st, this province will assume responsibility for the delivery of municipal social services in the new regional municipalities of Halifax and Queens, as it did last year in the new Regional Municipality of Cape Breton.

The government shows it cares about families and those in vulnerable situations through initiatives against family violence and against its child maintenance enforcement policy.

Under the bold and dynamic leadership of Premier John Savage, I am proud to tell the members of this House, and all Nova Scotians, that this government has turned the Nova Scotia economy around in a very short period of time.

I am proud this government has taken the foresight and the courage to seize the moment and look at ourselves, our structures and policies, and the way we deliver services to the people of Nova Scotia. The result, Mr. Speaker, is a government that is more accountable and better able to serve all Nova Scotians.

I am proud to be part of a government whose decisions are bearing positive and effective results and that are helping to lower the unemployment rate and to stimulate employment growth.

Mr. Speaker, on a the threshold of a great opportunity, this is a time for growth and development. It is rewarding to be a member of an action-oriented government that continues to make informed choices and decisions that guarantee a more prosperous, self-reliant Nova Scotia for our children and our grandchildren.

Mr. Speaker, I move this address be presented to the Lieutenant Governor in reply to the speech which His Honour has delivered to this session of the Legislature and I move that this address do pass.

To His Honour, J. James Kinley, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia, may it please Your Honour that we, Her Majesty's cheerful and loyal subjects, the House of Assembly and the Province of Nova Scotia in session assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for a most gracious speech to open this, the Fourth Session of the Fifty-sixth General Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia. We assure Your Honour of our loyal support and affection. May God bless you all and keep you well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria. (Applause)

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I stand before this Chamber to lend my support to Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne.

If you will allow me the indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I wish to greet the many honoured guests in the gallery this afternoon. I want to mention a special lady from my constituency - besides my wife, of course (Laughter) - who has provided, for our caucus, over the last 25 years, these lovely roses that we wear at the beginning of each session of the Legislature. (Applause) I would ask Mary Barker to stand and receive the warm welcome of all the members of this House. (Applause)

[Page 15]

Mr. Speaker, the tradition of a Speech from the Throne is one that we cherish greatly on this side of the House. We understand the link it provides to our past and to our future. The Speech from the Throne gives a chance for ordinary members to bring forth the concerns of their constituents to the floor of the provincial Legislature. It also gives the opportunity for the Opposition to carefully examine the government's outline for the future.

If this tradition is obsolete, then so is democracy if we follow that course of logic. Our government believes in the democratic traditions of this province. In the province of Joseph Howe, it is only fitting that we continue our democratic traditions in the spirit of responsible government and free speech.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the progress of our government over the past two years. Judging by the Speech from the Throne, I would venture that the government will continue the course of good government - a course established by a two and one-half year period of consistent and compassionate government.

Mr. Speaker, we have faced problems head-on instead of trying to avoid them. We did not take the path of the least resistance, we did not take the easy way out. Our government confronted the problems of the day. (Applause)

Have there been mistakes? I will not deny that there have been mistakes. Have there been successes? Yes, Mr. Speaker, there have been many.

Mr. Speaker, employment levels are up since 1993 and we are finally taking control of the future by ensuring we do not squander it. The North American economy brings with it a great deal of uncertainty and this is no less true in Nova Scotia. The best way to confront uncertainty is by arming ourselves with the confidence that only an education can bring. Education gives us the tools and confidence necessary to meet the challenges of the global economy.

Our community college system is in the process of adapting to the changes of the market place. We cannot afford to train people for jobs that no longer exist but we must train them for the employment opportunities of the new economy. I am pleased that our government has taken steps to improve our community college system so that people can avail themselves of the most modern training programs.

Mr. Speaker, the commitment by the government to create a climate for excellence in our universities is to be applauded.

The shift of resources from the administration of education to the classroom should be recognized as one of the greatest achievements of the present government. There is no question that applying the educational resources effectively requires a dedication by government. It is good to see that we finally have a government with this kind of dedication.

We must not overlook those who may need a helping hand. There are those, because of circumstances, who lack the necessary skills and education to participate in the work force. They have a long ladder to climb. It is incumbent upon the government to recognize the need to help people advance their potential in the job market place.

The rapid change in our economy requires that we constantly upgrade our skills. In such a period of rapid changes, we must help people adapt to change.

[Page 16]

Mr. Speaker, we must break the dependence on government aid by helping social assistance recipients in their search for training and meaningful work. (Applause) The government's Compass Program has been an overwhelming success in this regard. The best form of social assistance is a job.

As outlined in the Speech from the Throne, our Compass Program has seen 60 per cent of its participants find long-term employment. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to continue programs like Compass so that all Nova Scotians have an opportunity to find employment.

Mr. Speaker, we in the more remote areas of Nova Scotia have a lot to offer Nova Scotia. Our people and our natural heritage are our greatest strengths. Government services have not been available in our region. People in remote communities have had to travel hundreds of miles to obtain the most basic government services. The lack of such services makes it difficult to attract investment to rural areas of our province. The problem has been more pronounced in some of the more remote areas of my riding.

Mr. Speaker, the present government is seeking to correct this long-standing problem in rural Nova Scotia. I applaud the government's commitment to open store-front offices throughout rural Nova Scotia. This will improve the many services that once were only available to larger areas.

The government's commitment to balancing the province's finances is welcome news for many Nova Scotians. We must break the bond of dependence on borrowed money. Ordinary people understand debt. They know they cannot spend more money than they earn. They understand that the government is no different and they understand the old saying, "He who pays the piper calls the tune.".

The government of the day realizes that we can no longer be playing the tunes of the bondholders in foreign cities. We understand all too well the price of foreign domination of our economy. I am proud that our government will no longer accept the squandering of our future. Laws requiring that government live within their means are long overdue in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke of the strength inherent in rural communities. This is no less true for the people of Victoria. Victoria covers a vast area of Nova Scotia. We have overcome many challenges in the past and we are prepared for those that may come our way in the future.

We have learned by hard work that the best ways to run our province come from the traditions of our ancestors. The modern world tends to discover the past and reinvent it in a new image; suddenly, everything old is new again. The lessons learned by community initiative are being copied in larger urban communities. Traditional home care is being upgraded with a new and comprehensive line of services.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, people are rediscovering the beauty of the countryside and are choosing to settle in areas like Victoria County. Rural Nova Scotia has been the best kept secret in North America.

[Page 17]

Mr. Speaker, we must preserve our quality of life, but our glorious treasures should be shared with the rest of the globe. This does not mean uncontrolled development, but rather we must preserve our natural heritage because it is worth more than gold.

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne outlines the importance of our growing tourism sector. This is true in Victoria County and in many other regions of Nova Scotia. The natural strengths must be highlighted and our government is marketing our province like no other in the past.

Mr. Speaker, we must build upon the eco-tourism industry. The Economic Renewal Agency's promotion of Nova Scotia includes European and North American tourists. The Cape Breton Highlands National Park has seen a marked growth in the number of European visitors, especially those from Germany.

Last year, European writers and travellers were treated to the most spectacular view of whales available in North America. Mr. Speaker, in Victoria and northern Inverness Counties there is a spectacular whale watching industry poised for great growth. Pleasant Bay, for example, is working on a new Whale Interpretation Centre to accent the natural beauty of whale watching. The government must support this kind of community-based initiative.

Mr. Speaker, the village of Baddeck in my riding has improved its facilities for tourists immensely over the last few years. Their success is due to the hard work and dedication of tourism operators in that area. I am sure that members of all Parties would agree that the Baddeck area is one of the most beautiful in the province. I am very pleased that this success is continuing with the construction of a championship golf course in Baddeck near the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. This private sector initiative has received the support of both the provincial and federal governments. The project will mean a great boost to our region's tourism potential.

Mr. Speaker, we must develop the year-round tourism industry of our great province. While the weather has not always been cooperative, the people of the Ingonish area have salvaged a dying industry and are turning it into a more viable one. The Cape Smokey ski facility has been underdeveloped over the years and its full potential has never been realized. A local community group approached our government with a plan and our government listened. Cape Smokey now has a more modern chair lift and is set to become a very popular winter and summer tourist destination.

Mr. Speaker, as a province we must be confident enough to realize our potential. If we enhance our strengths, we can overcome the many challenges before us.

The promise of legislation to enable regional development authorities to take control of their economic destiny is good news for regions like the region north of Smokey. The North of Smokey Economic Development Authority was established in June 1991. In a spirit of cooperation, they have moved forward on a number of initiatives, including a five year strategic action plan. I am confident that they have the confidence to build a better future in the most remote areas of our province.

Mr. Speaker, health care in Nova Scotia is undergoing great transition. I believe this will result in better health care for all Nova Scotians. The Home Care Program has served over 13,000 people since its inception in June of last year.

[Page 18]

Mr. Speaker, home care is not a new idea; its roots come from the rural tradition of neighbours helping neighbours in times of need. Community support was an important part of health care. Health care was removed from the community and placed in institutions that dealt in sickness and not in wellness. Decision-making was taken away from the rural communities and moved to Halifax. Our government is changing that process. Decision-making is now in the hands of local communities and regional health boards. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the role of hospitals has not diminished, but they have changed. The new hospital in Baddeck, for example, greatly complements health care reform. The new modern building replaces an old wooden structure. Hospitals are becoming more complementary to the health care system. Hospitals are no longer the focal points of health care. In places like Victoria County, new health care is really old health care.

For many years we have had a very effective hospice society in the catchment area of the Baddeck hospital. This hospice society has carried out quality home care for terminally ill patients who wanted to be treated in the comfort of their own homes.

People helping people has always been a trait of Victoria County and the new hospital is a small facility that meets the needs of a population scattered over a wide geographical area. Home care is a necessity in this kind of environment and I am pleased that the government is recognizing this fact by supporting home care.

Mr. Speaker, there are great lessons to be learned by all of society through community cooperation. We must ensure our future by moving forward in a spirit of cooperation. Government, businesses and community organizations must work together for a greater understanding and for the creation of long-term meaningful jobs.

All of Eastern Nova Scotia was happy to see the announcement of the $650 million expansion of Stora Forest Industries. This will mean hundreds of good paying jobs and hundreds more spinoffs. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, Stora has become a model of corporate citizenship in our region.

The success of Stora requires the cooperation of labour and management. The Cape Breton Building and Construction Trades Council and the Construction Management Bureau have reached an agreement that symbolizes labour harmony in Cape Breton. Their cooperative efforts mean the Stora project will move ahead more smoothly. It is also a sign that Cape Breton is an excellent place to do business, because our construction tradespeople are some of the best on the continent.

Mr. Speaker, much has been accomplished but there is much to be done. I am confident that the government wants to tackle our remaining challenges with vigour. We could not confront them unless we had confronted our very serious deficit and debt problem. This, however, has been balanced with our government's commitment to social responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, we have not been harsh or cruel like other governments in Canada; deficit elimination and debt reduction are roads we must travel if we are to ensure health care, education, highways and a high quality of life. Now we must turn our sights to the unacceptable level of unemployment. Progress has been made. There have been 26,000 jobs created since the spring of 1993, but we still have a long way to go in many areas of the province. The present government has committed itself to solving the unemployment problem and it will require the strength of all Nova Scotians to complete our task.

[Page 19]

Mr. Speaker, a healthy democracy requires a dedicated Opposition. I believe that while we have our differences on how we get there, all Parties want a better future for Nova Scotia. The New Democratic Party will select a new Leader this weekend and my esteemed colleague from Halifax Atlantic is vying for that post. I believe I can speak for all members in wishing him well in his upcoming contest. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this year's Speech from the Throne represents Nova Scotia at the crossroads. We can choose to confront our challenges or we can ignore them. The latter approach was the preferred method of the previous government. I know that our Premier, the Honourable John Savage, and his government will not settle for second best. We will act and we will succeed where others have failed.

Mr. Speaker, keeping this in mind, it is a great honour to second Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne in the full confidence that our government is on the appropriate path. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I welcome the opportunity to make remarks on the Speech from the Throne. Before beginning I would like to remind the member for Hants East who made reference to those very high tides that come in in his area of the province, that as sure as that tide comes in, that tide will go out. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I welcome you back to the Speaker's Chair. Mr. Premier and members of the government, I welcome you back to Province House, as well, I welcome the members of the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Speaker, my caucus and I join with the government in marking the passing of those whose names were mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. I am sure that the others won't object if I make special mention of Benoit Comeau and Buddy Daye, whose lives contributed so much to this place. All of those who were mentioned today, their passing will make this province a lesser place.

It is a great honour for me to rise in my place today for the first time as Leader of the Opposition to respond to the Speech from the Throne.

This Opposition is committed to a Nova Scotia which is a place where ambition, hard work and ingenuity are rewarded - where employment is available to all who are capable of working and where there is abundant compassion to the less fortunate who, through no fault of their own, are incapable of helping themselves.

This Opposition is committed to a Nova Scotia with a vibrant and growing economy -developed through partnership and support of the economic community by investment in people and their ideas providing the fertile ground from which our economy can grow.

This Opposition is committed to communities where we support one another in taking risks and achieving success.

This Opposition has a vision of this province as a place where families are valued and people are encouraged to provide care, respect and a stable home environment for the young and elderly and where outside help is available in difficult circumstances.

[Page 20]

This Opposition is committed to a Nova Scotia where the experience and contribution of our elderly are recognized.

Our vision of Nova Scotia is a place which instills optimism and hope in our young people.

This Opposition has a vision of Nova Scotia as a place where the talents of everyone are put to use. (Applause)

The people of Nova Scotia have placed their trust in us and we simply cannot let them down. And we do let them down, Mr. Speaker, when we fail to provide the kind of compassionate leadership which is so lacking in this government.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to table some documents relative to job statistics in this province. I am tabling a copy of a response written to a question dated March 1996 in which the Premier claims that 31,000 more Nova Scotians were working at the end of December 1995 than in May 1993. However, in December 1995, that same Premier in his year-end message said that there are 18,000 more Nova Scotians working than when the government took office in 1993, a minor difference of some 13,000.

[3:30 p.m.]

After two consecutive months of job losses, where we have seen an additional 6,000 jobs go by the wayside, the Premier is now claiming that he has created 26,000 jobs since he took office. The facts of the case, the number of employed Nova Scotians in December 1995 was 395,000. The figures for February 1996 show the number of employed Nova Scotians to be 389,000, a drop of 6,000. The fact of the matter is, from January to January, there are 3,000 fewer full-time jobs in Nova Scotia, the kind of jobs on which Nova Scotians can build a life. Those are the kinds of jobs we are looking for. (Applause)

Nova Scotians elected this government because they were looking for new leadership and a new healthy direction for our province. They were looking for the good ship Nova Scotia. Three years later, after giving the ship of state to the Liberals, Nova Scotians, unfortunately, still have no idea where the voyage is taking them. They are wondering whether to get out the bailers or simply launch the lifeboats.

Nova Scotians are searching for solutions, for answers, for clear direction, direction in health care, direction in education, direction in job creation, in programs and initiatives that will revitalize rather than destroy the integrity of rural Nova Scotia communities. When Nova Scotians read today's Speech from the Throne, they will look for these answers and for the clear vision, a vision for themselves and for their families. Mr. Speaker, it is a thin document with too many pages, very few answers, very little vision.

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege, as Leader of the Opposition, to regularly travel this province from Yarmouth to Amherst to Cape Breton and many points in between. As I travel throughout Nova Scotia, I meet Nova Scotians and they talk from the heart about the decay in their communities. They talk about the impact of disappearing government services. They talk about loss of jobs and the loss of hope for the future. These are not Nova Scotians full of rage and anger, these are Nova Scotians who feel abandoned by this Liberal Government. Now the insult is worse, because so many of those concerned Nova Scotians have found that this government is unwilling even to listen to their pleas and to their ideas for real effective change.

[Page 21]

I have listened to the miners and the business leaders in Cape Breton and the many people who have attempted to provide support at this very difficult time. I understand just how devastating massive cuts in the coal industry can be to the economy of a struggling Cape Breton Island. I have seen the darkened store fronts in industrial Cape Breton and I have seen the large groups of young people on the street corners with nowhere to go and no positive future in Cape Breton to think about. That part of the province crumbles a little more each day. All the Premier and his government do is throw up their hands and respond by saying, "It's a federal responsibility.".

How curious that with the opening of the Legislature looming, the Premier decided to visit with the Prime Minister just a few days ago to discuss the concerns of importance to Cape Breton and all of Nova Scotia. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, and I remind the Premier that those problems may require federal decisions, but they do affect Nova Scotians and they have been festering for months now. It is a cold, crass reaction from our Premier to hear him say, federal responsibilities.

Now, when I first campaigned on the doorsteps in Pictou County and as I speak to Nova Scotians each day, I don't tell them not to bother me with federal issues or with municipal issues. I have pledged to them and I repeat that pledge today, that I will be their Leader no matter what the issue or what the level of government. The concerns of all Nova Scotians are my concern and the concern of my Party. I lead a Party, Mr. Speaker, ready to defend the interests of all Nova Scotians, in Ottawa or anywhere else where their interests require leadership and advocacy.

The people of the southwestern part of the province tell me that they, too, feel disconnected from and forgotten by this government. They tell me that their economy, their jobs and the future of their families depend upon the future of the MV Bluenose. There has been a lot of talk in this province about highways, Mr. Speaker, and the MV Bluenose is the highway for southwestern Nova Scotia to 55 million customers in the northern United States.

The fate of the MV Bluenose has been uncertain since October of last year. Curious, Mr. Speaker, that in conversation recently with Marine Atlantic, I was told that Marine Atlantic hasn't heard from Premier Savage, hasn't heard from Transportation Minister Mann, hasn't heard from Economic Minister Robbie Harrison to discuss solutions to this vitally important issue. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, we have met with the leaders of the tourism industry in southwestern Nova Scotia. We have met with the hotel and motel operators, the food and beverage industry, the pulpwood producers, the lumber exporters, the truckers, and we have met with the local business community who are trying to save that vital link between Nova Scotia and New England. This government's answer to this point has, once again, been, it's a federal responsibility. Too bad a little of this government's energy that we are seeing here today wasn't used in making a simple phone call to get the facts from Marine Atlantic. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor and is entitled to be heard.

[Page 22]

DR. HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The people in Cumberland and Colchester Counties know that highways are a provincial responsibility. The Liberal solution in our province is to build a toll road. The Premier can say it is a federal responsibility, but I pledge to Nova Scotians that a government led by me will ensure the continuation of a viable ferry link to New England and also a continued service between Digby and Saint John, New Brunswick. These are our birthrights and no responsible Nova Scotia Leader can say, it's someone else's responsibility to open those markets to New England and to keep our transportation links open with the rest of the country.

Mr. Speaker, it is not good enough for me as Leader of the Opposition to merely criticize this government, we will provide alternatives. Mr. Premier, are you pledged to listen? I pledge to forge a partnership with the people of this province to create jobs, to provide equal access to health care, to provide education and training for future generations.

This Liberal Government promised jobs through community economic development, but Nova Scotians can't afford job creation Liberal-style: a $140,000 part-time job for the Director of Emergency Services ; and a $107,000 job for a gambling commissioner to run a casino system that isn't working. Is this job creation for Nova Scotians or is it job creation for a chosen few?

Today we learned from the Minister of Finance that 2,000 more civil servants will lose their jobs. The Liberal Government has forgotten its commitment and has forgotten the rural communities of Nova Scotia. There is an opportunity for economic development in rural Nova Scotia. Other provinces have used community economic development bonds to successfully find venture capital to help aid and assist job creation in rural areas. We, in Nova Scotia, can do likewise.

My province, Mr. Speaker, includes rural Nova Scotia. (Applause) All regions of our province have the right to expect economic development, jobs, health care and education. My caucus colleagues and I will work with the people to make Nova Scotia stronger and an even better place in which to live in the years to come.

Nova Scotians are not adverse to change. We are a strong people ready to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world. From Yarmouth to Glace Bay, from Amherst to Bridgewater, Nova Scotians are telling me, we understand the need to reform health care and education, to reduce government spending, to change the way government works, but we want to be part of the change so that we can understand and can help make Nova Scotia a better place in which to live. We want the mandate for change to have community-based health care in place before hospitals close and before four new mini-departments of health are created.

Parents want school board amalgamation to have their childrens' interests first, not the building of seven super school boards, seven bureaucracies that already it is indicated will cost more than the old school boards.

The taxpayer will accept changes in government services, but they want a process that saves dollars, not a process that costs more. Most of all, Nova Scotians want the government to include them in the process and to have the interests of Nova Scotians at the centre of all decision-making. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request an adjournment and request the privilege of continuing my remarks tomorrow.

[Page 23]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried. The debate stands adjourned.

The honourable Premier. (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will not enter any substantive debate, I would just like to indicate that at the conclusion of this session, on your behalf, sir, I would like to invite all members of the House, and all guests, to a reception in the Hollis Street foyer immediately after the conclusion of the debate.

I now move that we rise to meet again at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 11:00 a.m.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 3:45 p.m.]