Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD14-14

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Kevin Murphy

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/



Second Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fraser, Gordon: Services - Support,
946
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee,
946
Law Amendments Committee,
946
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
LAE - Graduate Scholarships,
948
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 237, Mobius Award (2014): Winners - Congrats.,
951
Vote - Affirmative
951
Res. 238, CyberSCAN - Anniv. (1st),
952
Vote - Affirmative
953
Res. 239, Kyte, Jonathan/SMU: Marine Archaeology - Partnerships,
953
Vote - Affirmative
953
Res. 240, N. American Forestry Commn.: Fire Management
Working Group - Welcome, Hon. Z. Churchill »
954
Vote - Affirmative
955
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 37, Protection of Property Act,
955
No. 38, Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act,
955
No. 39, New Graduates and Apprentices Retention Act,
955
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 241, Annand, Ab: Maitland & Dist. Vol. FD - Serv. Thank,
956
Vote - Affirmative
956
Res. 242, Russell, Kristi & Colin - N.S.: Relocation - Thank,
956
Vote - Affirmative
957
Res. 243, Adamson, Louisa/2b Theatre Co.: Intl. Success - Congrats.,
957
Vote - Affirmative
958
Res. 244, Independent Living N.S.: Work - Recognize,
958
Vote - Affirmative
959
Res. 245, ERDT Min.: Yar. Ferry Serv. - Plan Produce,
959
Res. 246, Nat. Res.: Firewood Suppliers - Min. Meet,
959
Res. 247, MacLean, Darlene: Spryfield Boys & Girls Club (10 Yrs.)
- Congrats., Mr. B. Maguire »
960
Vote - Affirmative
961
Res. 248, Hazelton, Don - Umpire Life Membership Award,
961
Vote - Affirmative
961
Res. 249, Chapman, John - N.S. Sr. Baseball League MVP,
961
Vote - Affirmative
962
Res. 250, Amos Pewter - Retail Coun. Can. Award,
962
Vote - Affirmative
963
Res. 251, Denny, Selena: N. American Indigenous Games
- Silver Medal, Mr. T. Houston »
963
Vote - Affirmative
964
Res. 252, Jones, El: Book Release - Congrats.,
964
Vote - Affirmative
964
Res. 253, Rashid, Leila - Ron O'Flaherty Award,
964
Vote - Affirmative
965
Res. 254, Shale Gas: Ban - Oppose,
965
Res. 255, Nat. Res.: Firewood Suppliers - Min. Meet,
966
Res. 256, Black Social Workers Assoc. N.S. - Anniv. (35th),
967
Vote - Affirmative
967
Res. 257, L'Arche - Anniv. (50th),
967
Vote - Affirmative
968
Res. 258, Smithson, Brendon - Recreation N.S. Award,
968
Vote - Affirmative
969
Res. 259, Anderson, Rev. Dr. Lennett: Emmanuel Baptist Church
Pastor - Anniv. (15th), Mr. B. Jessome »
969
Vote - Affirmative
969
Res. 260, Murray, Joan & Wallace: Honey Production - Thank,
970
Vote - Affirmative
970
Res. 261, Hayes, Susan/Shannex: Senior Citizens - Serv. Thank,
970
Vote - Affirmative
971
Res. 262, Hill, James/Jannelle, Anne: Album Release - Congrats.,
971
Vote - Affirmative
972
Res. 263, Campbell, Allie: Selflessness - Thank,
972
Vote - Affirmative
972
Res. 264, Levy, Donna: Duncan MacMillan HS - Serv. (30 Yrs.),
972
Vote - Affirmative
973
Res. 265, BrigaSwim: Participants - Congrats.,
973
Vote - Affirmative
974
Res. 266, Centennial Area: Commun./Cultural Heritage - Recognize,
974
Vote - Affirmative
974
Res. 267, Murray, Mary/Team N.S.: Can. Sr. Games (2014)
- Congrats., Hon. T. Ince « » (by Ms. P. Arab « » )
975
Vote - Affirmative
975
Res. 268, Antigonish Optical - Anniv. (40th),
975
Vote - Affirmative
976
Res. 269, Fraser, Rita - PSC: Long-Service Award (25 Yrs.)
- Congrats., Hon. L. Kousoulis »
976
Vote - Affirmative
977
Res. 270, Wile, Dylan: Shad Valley Prog. - Selection,
977
Vote - Affirmative
977
Res. 271, Garage Guys/Amherst Chrysler - Cumberland Health
Care Fdn. Award, Mr. T. Farrell »
978
Vote - Affirmative
978
Res. 272, Festival acadien de Clare (59e): Organisateurs/Participants
- Félicitations, Mr. Gordon Wilson »
978
Vote - Affirmative
979
Res. 273, Roach, Peyton: BLT Sr. Elem. Sch. - Accessibility,
979
Vote - Affirmative
980
Res. 274, Parsons, Vanessa: Musical Accomplishments - Congrats.,
980
Vote - Affirmative
981
Res. 275, Robicheau, Jessica: Achievement - Congrats.,
981
Vote - Affirmative
982
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS:
No. 103, Prem. - Sask. Shale Gas Dev.: N.S. - Ban Explain,
982
No. 104, Prem. - Nova Star: Funding - Details,
985
No. 105, Prem.: Balanced Budget - Present,
986
No. 106, ERDT - Nova Star: Funding - Accounting,
988
No. 107, Health & Wellness: Front-Line Workers - Protective Clothing,
990
No. 108, Fin.: Grad. Retention Rebate - Cancellation,
992
No. 109, Environ. - Northern Pulp: Emissions - Min. Stance,
993
No. 110, Health & Wellness: ER Care - Min. Actions,
995
No. 111, Health & Wellness: Inverness CT Scanner - Delivery Process,
996
No. 112, Health & Wellness: Lab Techs. (N. Sydney/New Waterford)
- Min. Actions, Hon. F. Corbett « »
998
No. 113, FOIPOP Admin. Positions: Vacancies - Details,
999
No. 114, Health & Wellness: Extended Medicare Coverage - Details,
1000
No. 115, FOI Request - PC Caucus/Chronicle Herald: Estimates
- Breakdown, Mr. A. MacMaster « »
1001
No. 116, Health & Wellness: Family Doctor - Provision,
1003
No. 117, EECD: Three Mile Plains Elem. Sch. - Renovation Proj.,
1005
No. 118, ERDT - N.S. Jobs: Exodus - Stop,
1007
No. 119, Mun. Affs. - Broadband: Lack - Community List,
1008
No. 120, Health & Wellness - Northside Gen. Hosp.: Equipment
- Viability, Mr. E. Orrell « »
1010
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 34, Living within Our Means Act
1011
1015
1017
1020
No. 27, FOIPOP Commissioner Independence Act
1025
1026
1027
1028
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1, House of Assembly: Rules - Amend, Hon. M. Samson « »
Amendment (Hon. P. Dunn » )
1030
1039
1042
1044
1053
Question be now put
Vote - Affirmative
1058
Motion to amend Resolution No. 1 (Hon. P. Dunn « » )
Motion defeated
1058
1058
Motion to move amendments
Vote - Affirmative
1061
Motion to move amendments
Vote - Affirmative
1062
1062
Motion to Amend Resolution No. 1 (Hon. M. Samson « » )
Vote - Affirmative
1063
1063
Vote - Affirmative
1065
HOUSE rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 16th at 12:00 noon
1066
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 276, Silver, George: N.S./Mahone Bay - Contributions,
1067
Res. 277, East. Preston Day Care: Vols./Staff/Mgt
- Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell « »
1067
Res. 278, Jamieson, Craig: Dedication - Recognize,
1068
Res. 279, Jamieson, Jessica: Fundraising Efforts - Thank,
1068
Res. 280, Dr. T. L. Sullivan Junior High: Exchange Students
- Welcome Congrats., Mr. E. Orrell « »
1069
Res. 281, MacKenzie, Chris: Yar. Triathlon - Congrats.,
1069
Res. 282, Cheverie, Amanda/Decus Massage Ctr.:
Dart. East - Welcome, Hon. A. Younger »
1070
Res. 283, Bowie, Glenn: Water Skiing - Dedication,
1070
Res. 284, Attenborough, Bob: Bedford Vol. of Yr. (2014)
- Nomination, Hon. K. Regan « »
1071
Res. 285, Coutts, Carol/Basinview Dr. Commun. Sch.:
Commun. Serv. - Congrats., Hon. K. Regan « »
1071
Res. 286, Team N.S.: Dart. Championships - Nordor Cup,
1072
Res. 287, ABC Insurance - Anniv. (50th),
1072
Res. 288, Tallahassee Commun. Sch.: 60 Minute Kids Club
Challenge - Congrats., Ms. J. Treen « »
1073
Res. 289, Boutilier, Betty: Commun. Commitment - Thank,
1073
Res. 290, Anderson, Catherine: Musquodoboit Hbr. -
Commun. Commitment, The Speaker « » :
1074
Res. 291, Toastmsters Intl. - Anniv. (90th),
1074

[Page 945]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2014

Sixty-second General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Kevin Murphy

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Ms. Margaret Miller

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. We'll begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, may I please make an introduction first?

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MS. MACFARLANE « » : In the west gallery we have Kristi and Colin Russell who are constituents from the beautiful constituency of Pictou West, so I'd like to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause is:

[Page 946]

"We, the undersigned, support the services provided by Gordon Fraser, especially related to the custom work provided to local people in processing our turkeys. We want this service re-instated immediately."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to the petition, as well as my colleagues who graciously did so as well.

Mr. Speaker, there are over 3,000 names on this petition and, unfortunately, there are hundreds left that I just couldn't go all across the province and collect - and I mean hundreds that I am aware of. I would like to table that. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 5 - Government Restructuring (2014) Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 9 - Embalmers and Funeral Directors Act.

Bill No. 10 - Service Nova Scotia Statutory Officers Appointment Act.

Bill No. 12 - Correctional Services Act.

Bill No. 14 - Gas Distribution Act.

[Page 947]

Bill No. 15 - Builders' Lien Act.

Bill No. 16 - Police Act.

Bill No. 17 - Police Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Labour and Advanced Education.

HON. KELLY REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I beg leave to make some introductions.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MS. REGAN « » : I'd like to direct everyone's attention to the east gallery, where I'm honoured to have a few of the bright, talented graduate students who have received some of the 155 graduate scholarships being awarded this year. These individuals are conducting research in our universities that will help Nova Scotia innovate, grow, and succeed, and I'd ask them to stand as I mention their names.

With us today is Jenny Rand, who is a Ph.D. candidate at Dalhousie University. Ms. Rand is from Blomidon, Nova Scotia, and she is exploring ways to help members of our First Nations and Inuit communities take part in sexual health programs.

Haoliang He, a Master of Nutrition student at Mount Saint Vincent, is researching the effects the modern food industry and parents have on obesity and type 2 diabetes among young people.

Crystal Weagle from Danesville, Nova Scotia, is working toward a Ph.D. in Dalhousie's Faculty of Science. Her research will provide further understanding of the serious health risks of long-term exposure to air pollution.

Also with them today is Peter Halpin, who is the executive director of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, which also played a role in our Graduate Scholarship program.

[Page 948]

Thank you, everyone, for giving them a warm welcome to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Labour and Advanced Education.

HON. KELLY REGAN « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to share today with my colleagues in the Legislature a key initiative this government has undertaken to connect students and young people to research opportunities that will create ideas, products, and opportunities right here at home in Nova Scotia. Our students and universities play a key role in building our economy and stimulating innovation, research, and growth. Our role is to make sure young people and students are getting access to the support, training, and opportunities that will help them get good jobs and build lives here in the province.

The graduate scholarships our government announced last Spring are doing just that. These scholarships put money directly into the hands of smart, talented graduate students. This money belongs to the students, not the institutions or the professors, and will allow them to do the valuable research and work that will spur new inventions and create more opportunities.

This year we provided funding that will give up to 155 students access to scholarships, and this is just the beginning. Once the program is fully phased in, government will fund a total of 310 scholarships a year. That's an investment in the future of our youth and our Nova Scotia economy.

Nova Scotia universities compete for graduate students throughout the province, across the country, and around the world. Graduate scholarships help our universities attract and retain the best and brightest minds, and their work in research, linked to Nova Scotia's priority sectors like life sciences and information and communications technology, will benefit our economy and our citizens and help create opportunity.

Research like that is being conducted by Jenny Rand. Ms. Rand is doing her Ph.D. at Dal, and through her research, she's exploring ways to help members of the province's First Nations and Inuit communities participate in HIV and sexual health programs in their communities.

Crystal Weagle is working toward a Ph.D. in Dalhousie's Faculty of Science. We know that too many people in this province suffer from debilitating illnesses like chronic cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and lung cancer. Ms. Weagle is using her graduate scholarship to study the effects of exposure to the particles in our environment that cause these illnesses.

We also recognize the issues of obesity and commend Haoliang He. His research will explore the effects the modern food industry and parents' influence have on obesity and Type 2 diabetes among our young people.

[Page 949]

I'd like to recognize a couple of groups that have been key to the development of this graduate scholarship program. The idea was brought forward to us by Students Nova Scotia, and the program was developed with input from the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, CONSUP. It was a great idea and I'm glad we've been able to work together to make it a reality.

We need to support our universities as they work together to help the bright minds study in our schools for new ideas and new opportunities to life. These scholarships support grad students directly, but will benefit us all - universities, the research community, and Nova Scotians. They'll help encourage exploration, innovation, and job creation. It's just the kind of change we need in Nova Scotia as we continue to support our students during their studies and after they graduate. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

HON. PAT DUNN « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank the minister for providing her speaking notes prior to this. I also welcome any opportunity to speak about students or aspirations or goals, studies, et cetera.

I am pleased some of our bright minds are given the opportunity to research in fields of their interest. Promoting educational and research collaboration with students, faculty, and universities will assist them to enhance their goals, education, and improve our province at the same time.

Two of my sons were given the opportunity to do valuable research at McGill University, in Montreal, and I'm sure that this experience paved the way or career path that they have chosen - Michael is presently an employee with a health company in San Francisco and Mark is in his second year of med school at McGill and, again, they often reflect back on the research that they did during their undergrad years.

This type of co-operation will not only benefit students but the province as a whole. The exchange of academic ideas in research is important if we want to be on the cusp of new inventions, ideas, and projects that may benefit our province. This is a very positive investment for the future.

Funding provided for students will allow them to interact with faculty, staff members, attend research lectures, discussion, and push forward their own personal interests. Nova Scotia has been blessed with intelligent, focused graduate students. Hopefully this initiative will be the catalyst that will provide employment for them and an opportunity to create a life here in Nova Scotia.

Universities working together to promote any type of collaboration, in particular research, will benefit the province.

[Page 950]

In conclusion, easy access to important research opportunities will not only support students but keep us abreast of the current global topics, and I applaud the government for giving students this opportunity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank the minister for a copy of her remarks in advance.

I, on behalf of the NDP, would like to welcome the young graduates who are here today with us in our gallery and congratulate them on no doubt what will be a very interesting, very challenging at times, experience. Pursuing research, pursuing your Ph.D., master's degree, higher learning, is always very rewarding but it is not for the faint of heart and, at times, it can be frustrating.

The scholarships that will be provided to these young students and other researchers, I know will be very much appreciated. I was at the announcement that the minister already made on this particular program when it was made in November, and just to bring us back to this particular program, we can't be remiss in letting the minister off the hook a little bit here. This announcement will see an investment of about $3.7 million in the scholarships over a three-year period, which is welcome, but I would be remiss if I didn't remind members of this House and the public that this government took $50 million, this year alone, out of the budget that went directly into the pockets of young graduates in the Province of Nova Scotia.

At the time, Mr. Speaker, they made a commitment that they would reinvest that money and they said that they would be making exciting announcements for opportunities for young students. As recently as two weeks ago the minister stood in the House in her place and announced a review, a consultation around the university system in our province and in that speech she said there would be exciting announcements coming soon.

When I heard the minister was making an announcement today, I thought this was the new announcement, but in fact, Mr. Speaker, it is an old, recycled announcement that we heard a few months ago in this place. As important and significant as it is, it fails to reinvest the money that was taken out of the pockets of young graduates this year, to the tune of $50 million.

I would imagine that the 110 or so scholarships that are paid out this year would amount to about $1.4 million. So the minister has a long way to go yet to reinvest the money taken from young students and young graduates in our province. We will be holding this government to account with respect to that reinvestment, Mr. Speaker.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 951]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 237

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Mobius Awards of Environmental Excellence are an annual event put on by the Resource Recovery Fund Board and will have their 16th annual ceremony on Wednesday, October 15th, at Pier 21 in Halifax; and

Whereas the Mobius Awards are bestowed upon institutions, businesses, schools, communities, and individual Nova Scotians who have championed the environment and made great efforts towards waste reduction in our province; and

Whereas this year's recipients are: WearWell Garments Limited of Stellarton, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, the Meadows Home for Special Care from Yarmouth, the Last Re-Sort Reuse Centre, the Department of Community Development at Acadia University, Holly Morton of Yarmouth, Tompkins Memorial Elementary of Reserve Mines, Beacon United Church of Yarmouth, with honourable mentions for West Northfield Elementary School and the Association for Textile Recycling;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate and thank the 2014 Mobius Award winners for all their hard work and dedication to a cleaner environment and more beautiful Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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.

HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, before I read the resolution I would like permission to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

[Page 952]

MS. DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I would draw your attention and the attention of my colleagues in the House to the east gallery where we have with us today members of the CyberSCAN investigations team. I would like each of them to rise as I read their name and to remain standing so they can be introduced properly: Roger Merrick, Director of Public Safety Division; Investigator Greg Keagan; Investigator Dana Bowden; Investigator Sonya Ferrara; Investigator Greg Byrne; Investigator Lisa Greenough; Meredith Monk, Case Manager of the Public Safety Investigation Section; Bob Purcell, Executive Director of Public Safety; Glenn Anderson, Director of Legal Services; and Angela Jones, solicitor, Department of Justice.

I ask everyone in the House to please give them a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 238

HON. LENA DIAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas September 30th marked the first anniversary of CyberSCAN, Canada's first cyberbullying investigative unit, dedicated to assisting victims, investigating complaints and resolving cyberbullying situations through a variety of informal and formal legal means; and

Whereas cyberbullying is a complex issue affecting Nova Scotians of all ages and causes real harm to its victims and their families; and

Whereas this special investigative unit has received more than 344 cyberbullying complaints in its first year, with over 70 per cent of those complaints resolved successfully, and has delivered over 224 presentations to youth all across the province to educate them about the dangers and repercussions of cyberbullying;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the CyberSCAN team on their first anniversary and thank them for teaching all Nova Scotians about taking responsibility for their actions and about making better decisions in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 953]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 239

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Nova Scotians have long recognized the significance of the province's vast underwater heritage, from submerged landscapes and eroding shorelines to historic shipwrecks and underwater artifacts; and

Whereas government is partnering with Saint Mary's University to study how we can research, manage and, most importantly, protect the province's invaluable heritage resources; and

Whereas archaeologist Jonathan Kyte is leading the study to help identify options for government and the university to create educational opportunities and build partnerships in the marine archaeology community;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly thank Jonathan Kyte and our partners at Saint Mary's University and wish them success as they work to protect the province's heritage resources.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, before I read the resolution, I would beg permission to make an introduction.

[Page 954]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MR. CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, this week, Nova Scotia is hosting the Fire Management Working Group of the North American Forest Commission, and we have some representatives here today whom I would like to introduce. Representing the Governments of Canada, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, we have Bill de Groot - and I would ask folks to please rise and remain standing - Kim Connors, Walter Fanning and John Ross. From the United States, we have Dale Dague, Patti Hirami, Vicente Arriaga and Jason Steinmetz, and Rick Scott from the North American Forest Commission. From Mexico, we have Juan Manuel Frausto, Jose German Flores Garnica and Alfredo Nolasco Morales. Visiting us from Australia, we have Shane Wiseman, and from Italy, representing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, we have Pieter van Lierop.

Please, I would ask everybody to provide the warm welcome of the House to our guests. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 240

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas wildfires present a significant threat to individuals and their homes, communities and commerce in Nova Scotia, and it's necessary to control and extinguish wildfires as quickly as possible to mitigate that risk; and

Whereas the women and men who work as firefighters, pilots, spotters and coordinators at the Fire Control Centre, co-located at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, are highly trained professionals who protect Nova Scotia and its people from the threat of wildfires every day of every year; and

Whereas Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada are hosting a gathering of the North American Forestry Commission Fire Management Working Group, a forum for exchanging experience and technology for the protection and control of forest fires, and representatives from Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico are participating, and we have guests from Australia and Costa Rica and from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend greetings to the members and guests of the working group who are with us today, and through them, extend our thanks for the vital work they do on behalf of all their home nations.

[Page 955]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Municipal Affairs.

HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Permission granted.

MR. FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to direct the members' attention to the east gallery of the House and introduce His Worship Mayor David Corkum of the beautiful Town of Kentville, and the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. In the first week of November, Mayor Corkum will conclude his year's term as president of the UNSM, and I want to recognize Mayor Corkum and the members of the UNSM for their leadership over this past year.

Mr. Speaker, I'd ask Mr. Corkum to rise, and I'd ask my colleagues in the House to provide him with a warm welcome. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 37- Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 363 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Protection of Property Act. (Mr. Chuck Porter)

Bill No. 38 - Entitled an Act Respecting Pooled Registered Pension Plans. (Hon. Diana Whalen)

Bill No. 39 - Entitled an Act to Support the Retention of New Graduates and Apprentices in Nova Scotia. (Hon. Frank Corbett)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 956]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 241

MS. MARGARET MILLER « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Nova Scotia's volunteer fire departments are made up of individuals who show their dedication by contributing hard work, skills, frequently risking their lives and dealing with incidents of great emotional stress; and

Whereas the Maitland and District Volunteer Fire Department celebrated 40 years of service on July 13, 2014; and

Whereas the Maitland and District Fire Department's past Fire Chief, Ab Annand, was presented with a Certificate of Contribution for his help to ensure the safety of his community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank Mr. Ab Annand for his many years of service to the Maitland and District Volunteer Fire Department.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 242

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Kristi and Colin Russell decided to relocate their family from Ontario to rural Nova Scotia; and

[Page 957]

Whereas they make every effort to live a healthy lifestyle by growing and raising as much of their own food as possible and establishing a small business; and

Whereas Nova Scotia needs more Kristis and Colins and our government needs to support them in every way possible;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank Kristi and Colin for becoming important and hard-working citizens of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 243

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

Whereas 2b theatre company is an innovative and successful theatre company based in the North End of Halifax; and

Whereas 2b theatre company was one of only two Canadian companies to travel to Scotland this summer to perform at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe; and

Whereas Louisa Adamson was awarded the Week 2 Little Devil Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for 2b theatre company's production of The God That Comes;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Louisa Adamson and 2b theatre company for its international success and acclaim, and express its gratitude for promoting great Halifax theatre abroad.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

[Page 958]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 244

MR. ALLAN ROWE « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Independent Living Nova Scotia was founded in 1992 to help persons with disabilities access ways to live independently and fully participate in our community; and

Whereas Independent Living Nova Scotia hosted the Art of Disability Festival on August 1st at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth; and

Whereas the Art of Disability fair showcased performing and visual art by people in Halifax's disability community as an opportunity to bring people together to learn and celebrate diversity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the work of Independent Living Nova Scotia to celebrate diversity in our community and support persons with disabilities to live independently, helping our region reach our potential together.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 959]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 245

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas yesterday we learned the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism was writing another cheque to Nova Star Ferries to the tune of $5 million; and

Whereas yesterday we also learned there is still no plan for winter work for the ferry and the minister still can't tell us what it will cost to tie up the boat for the winter; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism's signature is prominently displayed on this deal;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly call on the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism to finally produce a real plan for viable ferry service in Yarmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 246

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources stated on October 9, 2014, that firewood used by Nova Scotians does not qualify as an energy source; and

Whereas the Liberal Government promised in their election campaign to keep energy costs down; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians, especially in rural Nova Scotia, use wood to heat their homes to reduce their power bills;

[Page 960]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage encourage the Minister of Natural Resources to meet with firewood suppliers to get a better understanding of how the use of firewood can heat a home and reduce power bills.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 247

MR. BRENDAN MAGUIRE « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Boys and Girls Club of Spryfield was constituted in 1997 as a community-led response to the need for more child and youth programming in the Spryfield community; and

Whereas over the last 18 years the club has been providing healthy and enriching programs through their after-school and summer camp programs; and

Whereas the executive director, Darlene MacLean, has been the driving force behind the success of the Boys and Girls Club for the past 10 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Darlene MacLean on her 10-year anniversary with the Boys and Girls Club of Spryfield, and thank her for her dedication to the children and youth of Spryfield.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 961]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 248

MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Brookfield resident Don Hazelton was recently presented with the Fundy Regional Umpires Association Life Membership award; and

Whereas Mr. Hazelton has been umpiring since 1958; and

Whereas Mr. Hazelton plans to continue to umpire in 2015 for an astounding 57th season;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Don Hazelton on receiving his life membership award for his dedicated umpire career and wish him many more seasons of umpiring.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

RESOLUTION NO. 249

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas John Chapman, player and co-coach of the Truro Bearcats, was named the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League MVP; and

[Page 962]

Whereas he was also named a league all-star at third base and co-recipient of Coach of the Year; and

Whereas John was honoured with the Gary MacDonald Gold Glove and Gold Bat Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate John Chapman for his talent, dedication, and sportsmanship, and wish him much success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 250

MS. SUZANNE LOHNES-CROFT « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Retail Council of Canada named Amos Pewter the 2014 Independent Retail Ambassador of the Year; and

Whereas Greg and Suzanne Amos founded the company, which designs and sells pewter gifts and keepsakes, in 1974, and which has been owned by Don Sheehan since 2006; and

Whereas the Mahone Bay-based business was singled out for customer service, community support, and its expansion efforts in Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize the award of Amos Pewter of Mahone Bay as the 2014 Independent Retail Ambassador of the Year, as named by the Retail Council of Canada.

[Page 963]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 251

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Selena Denny of Pictou Landing was one of six local athletes to compete in the North American Indigenous Games held in Regina; and

Whereas Selena won a silver medal as part of the under-19 4 x 100 metre relay team, despite battling injury; and

Whereas sadly Selena's injury forced her to withdraw from the 3K cross-country event, which made her silver medal that much sweeter;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Selena Denny on her win, and wish her well in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 964]

The honourable Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 252

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

Whereas El Jones, the current poet laureate of Halifax and artistic director of Word iz Bond Spoken Word Artist Collective, uses her brilliant poetry for prison outreach, youth engagement, and the promotion of social justice issues; and

Whereas El Jones also contributes to our community by teaching in the Africa-Canadian transition program at NSCC and in the Women's and Gender Studies program at Acadia University; and

Whereas El Jones has recently released her first collection of spoken word poetry, Live from the Afrikan Resistance!;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognizes El Jones' commitment to our community, her dedication to social justice in Halifax and in our province, and congratulate her on the release of her first book.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 253

MS. JOYCE TREEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Leila Rashid, a student at the Eastern Passage Education Centre was recognized and chosen out of 66,000 eligible students to become top female student athlete within our province; and

[Page 965]

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation presented the Ron O'Flaherty Scholar-Athlete Award to recognize the top male and female student-athletes throughout the province; and

Whereas Leila received the Ron O'Flaherty Scholar-Athlete Award, one of only four in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Leila for receiving the Ron O'Flaherty in recognition of her outstanding ability to combine excellence in academics and excellence in athletics.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Argyle-Barrington.

RESOLUTION NO. 254

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Liberal Government has introduced a ban on shale gas development in this province despite the recommendations of the Wheeler report to proceed; and

Whereas Dr. Wheeler's expert panel found that under a low-case scenario the industry would create 1,500 jobs in the province; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has a mature supply chain to the energy industry that is more than capable of successfully developing our onshore energy resources;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in opposing this government's decision to ban an entire industry that has the potential to provide a significant economic boost to this province.

[Page 966]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 255

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources stated on October 9, 2014, that firewood used by Nova Scotians does not qualify as an energy source; and

Whereas the Liberal Government promised in their election campaign to keep energy costs down; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians, especially in rural Nova Scotia, use wood to heat their homes to reduce their power bills;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice encourage the Minister of Natural Resources to meet with firewood suppliers to get a better understanding of how the use of firewood can heat a home and reduce power bills.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 967]

RESOLUTION NO. 256

MR. STEPHEN GOUGH « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this year marks the 35th Anniversary of the Association of Black Social Workers of Nova Scotia; and

Where the Association of Black Social Workers hosted a conference in Dartmouth in commemoration of this tremendous milestone; and

Whereas the theme of the conference was Moving Forward: Pathways to "Culturally Competent" Practice With African Canadians, and featured 200 delegates of numerous social disciplines from Canada, the United States, and beyond;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize and congratulate the Association of Black Social Workers of Nova Scotia on their 35th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Northside-Westmount.

RESOLUTION NO. 257

MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the L'Arche organization was started by Canadian Jean Vanier to create communities where people with developmental disabilities can live and work; and

Whereas L'Arche has established communities in Antigonish, Cape Breton, Halifax, and Wolfville, providing homes for 65 persons with intellectual disabilities and a comparable number of live-in assistants, and seven-day programs providing meaningful and creative out-of-home daytime options for most of L'Arche's residents, and others as well; and

[Page 968]

Whereas for 50 years, L'Arche has forged a community model in Nova Scotia based on the belief that members develop their abilities and talents most fully when given the opportunity to form mutual relationships of friendship with others.

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize L'Arche's 50th Anniversary and the community work they do for people with developmental disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

RESOLUTION NO. 258

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Brendon Smithson is a recreation direction in the Village of Bible Hill and is receiving a Recreation Nova Scotia Innovation Award in Halifax on October 23, 2014; and

Whereas he will be presented with the award during a ceremony, and he has created the Trailblazers project, which is a free outdoor after-school recreation and leadership program for youth;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Brendon Smithson for his dedication and community leadership, and for the recreation initiatives he has brought to Bible Hill.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

[Page 969]

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 Hammonds Plains-Lucasville.

RESOLUTION NO. 259

MR. BEN JESSOME « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Rev. Dr. Lennett J. Anderson serves as the pastor for Emmanuel Baptist Church in Upper Hammonds Plains; and

Whereas Pastor Anderson reaches people in Nova Scotia, across the country, and all over the world with his passion, encouragement, and unyielding dedication, by delivering uplifting services to his congregation; and

Whereas Lennett Anderson has celebrated 15 years leading Emmanuel Baptist Church;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Reverend Dr. Lennett Anderson on reaching this milestone, and further, we look forward to continuing the journey with Reverend Anderson.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 970]

RESOLUTION NO. 260

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Joan Murray and her son Wallace has been producing honey in Lower Barneys River for over 20 years; and

Whereas honey is healthy and delicious and is the only food that includes all the necessary substances to sustain life; and

Whereas honey strengthens our bodies, boosts our energy, cures common ailments and never goes bad;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank Joan and Wallace Murray for continuing the age-old process of producing the golden syrup for our enjoyment and our health.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 261

MR. KEITH IRVING « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Shannex is a family-owned, Maritime-based company that strives to provide outstanding care to Nova Scotia's senior citizens; and

Whereas Blomidon Court is a long-term care home in Greenwich, Kings County, that provides excellent care to our seniors; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce has named Shannex Annapolis Valley-South Shore as the Outstanding Large Business of the Year for 2013;

[Page 971]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate and thank Susan Hayes, regional manager for the Annapolis Valley and South Shore, and her team for their exemplary service to Nova Scotian senior citizens.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 262

MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Brookfield musician James Hill has released his newest ukulele album, titled The Old Silo; and

Whereas James and his wife, cellist Anne Janelle, have been touring and performing together all over the world; and

Whereas along with the new album, James has also released a library of video lessons called The Ukulele Way;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate James Hill and Anne Janelle on the release of the new album and learning resource and wish them success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 972]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 263

MR. BILL HORNE « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Lockview High graduate Allie Campbell is in remission after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma; and

Whereas Allie missed a planned school Me-to-We trip to Africa to help build schools; and

Whereas she chose to travel to Kenya as her wish, helping to build schools with her family, sponsored by the Children's Wish Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly thank and recognize Allie for her selflessness in helping others with her wish.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie.

RESOLUTION NO. 264

MR. LLOYD HINES « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas recently some staff members of Duncan MacMillan High School, located in Sheet Harbour, were honoured; and

[Page 973]

Whereas Ms. Donna Levy was honoured for her 30 years of service as the administrative assistant in the main office; and

Whereas the School Advisory Committee ended the school year with a meal in their honour;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly recognize Mrs. Donna Levy for her dedication to our students, parents and school.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 265

MR. JOACHIM STROINK « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas with the help of Swim Nova Scotia, 34 swimmers participated in the first annual BrigaSwim Harbour Swim on the Halifax waterfront; and

Whereas the event is to help send chronically ill children to the camp of Brigadoon Village; and

Whereas the event raised over $3,000 for Brigadoon Village and will allow three children to attend the camp;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate all swimmers for the great race and best of luck to those who participated.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

[Page 974]

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 Fairview-Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 266

MS. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Centennial Arena has been serving the Fairview-Clayton Park community and surrounding areas since 1967 and will continue to be at the heart of the community for many more years to come; and

Whereas the Centennial Arena is home to the Halifax Hawks, the Halifax West High School boys and girls hockey teams, senior skates, and has hosted many tournaments and community events; and

Whereas following in his father Jack's footsteps, Stuart Poteri has been a driving force behind the arena's success throughout the years and his dedication and love for the arena shows in the daily running and upkeep of the rink;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly proudly recognize the Centennial Arena for its community and cultural heritage and wish it continued success in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Fairview-Clayton Park.

[Page 975]

RESOLUTION NO. 267

MS. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Ms. Mary Murray attended the Canada Senior Games for swimming; and

Whereas Ms. Murray was awarded two bronze and one gold medal as well as a Spirit Excellence Award; and

Whereas 114 people went from Nova Scotia to the Canada Senior Games, winning a total of 57 medals comprised of 21 gold, 17 silver, and 19 bronze;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly take this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Murray and all of Team Nova Scotia for their great success at the 2014 Canada Senior Games.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 268

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a family owned and operated business in Antigonish is celebrating 40 years of providing quality service to its customers; and

Whereas Antigonish Optical was opened in 1974 by Alphonse and Cora Burke, who now work alongside their son Jason and daughter Shelene; and

Whereas the Burke family pride themselves on doing whatever they can to make sure the customer is satisfied;

[Page 976]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Burkes on the success and longevity of their business as we hope Antigonish Optical continues to operate for another 40 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 the Public Service Commission.

RESOLUTION NO. 269

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on September 18, 2014, provincial public servants were presented the Long Service Awards for their dedication to the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Miss Rita Fraser, a resident of Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, currently working with the Executive Council of Nova Scotia, received an award for 25 years of service; and

Whereas Miss Fraser has demonstrated exceptional service and dedication to the Province of Nova Scotia over the course of her career;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly thank Ms. Fraser for her 25 years of service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 977]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 270

HON. MARK FUREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Dylan Wile is a Grade 12 student at Bridgewater Junior Senior High School; and

Whereas Dylan was selected to participate in the Shad Valley program, in July, at the University of Calgary; and

Whereas the Shad Valley program is a competitive program that challenges the students attending in the areas of science, technology, math, engineering, and entrepreneurship;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Dylan Wile for being selected as a student to attend the Shad Valley program, and wish him success in his final year of high school.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 271

[Page 978]

MR. TERRY FARRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Garage Guys, a group of Amherst and area contractors, came together last Fall to raise more than $72,000 for the Cancer Assistance Fund by auctioning off a garage and other services; and

Whereas the Garage Guys of Amherst, and in particular Amherst Chrysler, have been honoured by the Cumberland Health Care Foundation on April 26, 2014, and presented with the Community Distinguished Service Award; and

Whereas the Cancer Assistance Fund depends entirely on donations, and 100 per cent of that funding goes directly to patients - accepting the award on behalf of the Garage Guys was Mike Allen and Tony Mattatall from Amherst Chrysler;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend the Garage Guys and, in particular, Amherst Chrysler for receiving the Cumberland Health Care Foundation's Community Distinguished Service Award and for making an outstanding contribution to their local hospital and community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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 Clare-Digby

RESOLUTION NO. 272

MR. GORDON WILSON « » : Monsieur le Président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que le Festival acadien de Clare, le plus ancien festival acadien au monde, est une célébration annuelle de la culture et du patrimoine acadiens; et

Attendu que nous célébrons le 59e anniversaire du Festival acadien; et

[Page 979]

Attendu que nombreux bénévoles s'engagent chaque année pour assurer l'organisation et le déroulement du festival;

Par conséquent, qu'il soit résolu que les membres de cette Assemblée se joignent à moi pour féliciter et remercier les organisateurs et les participants du 59e Festival acadien de Clare.

Monsieur le Président, je propose l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

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

Whereas the Festival Acadien de Clare, the oldest Acadian festival in the world, is an annual celebration of Acadian culture and heritage; and

Whereas this year is the 59th Anniversary of the Clare Acadian Festival; and

Whereas dedicated volunteers are engaged in the organization of the festival every summer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the organizers and participants of this year's Clare 59th Acadian Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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. 273

MR. IAIN RANKIN « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas 10-year-old Peyton Roach and his family have asked repeatedly for changes to the BLT Senior Elementary School to improve accessiblilty; and

[Page 980]

Whereas since Peyton has started at school some of the requested improvements have been installed, such as the automatic door opener, an asphalt ramp to the sports field, and a temporary track system for Peyton to get to the second level to join his Grade 5 class; and

Whereas Peyton Roach and his family have championed the cause of accessibility at BLT Senior Elementary, resulting in the installation of a chair lift so that all future students will finally have equal access to the school's classrooms, library, and cooking class;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Peyton Roach and his family for drawing attention to this important issue to create a more equal-access environment at BLT Senior Elementary school.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 274

HON. KEITH COLWELL « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Vanessa Parsons was born and brought up in the community of North Preston; and

Whereas as a child she joined the junior choir at her church; and

Whereas Vanessa formed a musical group 10 years ago and became the lead vocalist, singing all over the Maritimes by putting on shows, and Vanessa became known as Asia and her band known as NuGruv; and

Whereas Asia and NuGruv are multiple African Nova Scotian Music Association award winners, and in 2011 they were crowned Group of the Year;

[Page 981]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Vanessa Parsons for her many accomplishments, both here at home and throughout the Maritimes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 275

HON. ZACH CHURCHILL « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Jessica Robicheau, 19, of Yarmouth, participated in the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation sailing venture; and

Whereas Jessica was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2002; and

Whereas this foundation serves the double purpose of teaching persons to sail and of learning to move on after being ill with cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Jessica Robicheau on her tenacity and her achievement and wish her all the best for the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 982]

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 TO MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER « » : Question Period will begin at 1:13 p.m. and will conclude at 2:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM. - SASK. SHALE GAS DEV.: N.S. - BAN EXPLAIN

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. As you know, the Wheeler report called for more research into the issue of shale gas development, something we all agree on.

Let's take a look at the research, Mr. Speaker. A few short years ago, the Province of Saskatchewan faced exactly the same problems that Nova Scotia has today. They had a large debt, they had a declining population, their young people were moving away - mostly to Alberta, which is right next door - they had high unemployment, and their small towns were shrinking. That would sound familiar to all Nova Scotians.

They had a choice. They could put up a "closed for business" sign on their province or they could get serious about natural resource development. As we all know, Mr. Speaker, they chose development.

We learned yesterday that while Nova Scotia lost 8,700 jobs in the last year, Saskatchewan, a similarly-sized province, actually gained 19,000 jobs at the same time.

I'll ask the Premier » : if the Premier of Saskatchewan is able to show real leadership and safely develop shale gas and the jobs that go with it, why can't Nova Scotia's Premier?

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. We're going to continue what we've been doing for the last year: building support across this province to provide government to Nova Scotians in a sustainable way. What we've laid out before this House - and the minister has been debating this and talking about this - is doing exactly what the Wheeler report has asked us to do, which is to do further study to ensure that we do more engagement with communities across this province. That's exactly what we're going to do. What we're going to do is provide the private sector with the knowledge of whether or not we actually have that resource.

[Page 983]

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, we could argue about whether the government is following the Wheeler report or not; In fact, we have had that debate. But one group the government should be following is the people of Nova Scotia themselves, who are crying out for more jobs in the face of such significant loss of jobs. In the first four months of this year, the population of Saskatchewan actually went up by 5,085 people. In that same period Nova Scotia said goodbye to 1,196 of our fellow citizens. They went up and we went down, and I will table that, Mr. Speaker.

To quote directly from the Premier of Saskatchewan about their experience with shale gas development, I will read:

"Here are the incidents that we found related to fracking: Our kids are coming home, they are starting new businesses, we have jobs being created for young people here, and we have a broader tax base in which we can afford education and health-care investment."

Those are the words of the Premier of Saskatchewan. Now what Nova Scotian family wouldn't want that, Mr. Speaker? So I'll ask the Premier, if banning a new way of creating new jobs like shale-gas development is such a good idea for Nova Scotia, what is Saskatchewan doing wrong?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to remind the honourable member that we are not in any way banning anything in this province. What we are doing is doing exactly what the Wheeler report has asked us to do, which is to continue to do more science, to understand whether or not we actually have that resource. That good work is ongoing in the Department of Energy.

In the meantime we made an announcement today in and around the investments on research grants to university students across this province, providing them with their first job opportunity here in Nova Scotia. We have received resounding support from the private sector, when it came to broadening the apprenticeship opportunities to keep more young people in this province.

It is not as simple as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party would like to make it, Mr. Speaker. The reality of it is this government is going to continue to work with the private sector to drive good economic opportunities and, at the same time, put in place a public policy that will ensure that our way forward is a sustainable way.

MR. BAILLIE « » : The fact of the matter is, the government is banning a new way of creating new jobs. They are banning high-volume hydraulic fracturing - we have yet to see the definition, but that is what they are doing. It is actually much more than that. They are banning a chance for Nova Scotians to work here at home. They are banning a chance for Nova Scotia families to be united in one province, their home province, working at real jobs with real opportunity. They are banning future prosperity, or a chance at it, for this province. That is the issue, Mr. Speaker, and here is the result. In the last year 2,172 more Nova Scotians gave up and moved away because there is no work. In Saskatchewan interestingly, 1,222 new people moved in to the province; some of them, no doubt, are Nova Scotians. The government has decided to ban a new way of creating new jobs, even though the Wheeler report said, go slow, but go.

[Page 984]

In Saskatchewan, the research shows they are paying down debt. They are reinvesting in the roads, hospitals and schools. What's not to like about that, Mr. Speaker?

That is what we all want for this province. So I'll ask the Premier, how many more young Nova Scotians have to move away before he will reconsider his ban on future prosperity?

THE PREMIER « » : I want to respond to the one-trick pony. The reality of it is, to suggest that what has happened in Saskatchewan has been based on the issue of hydraulic fracturing is an over-simplification. If you look at the immigration opportunity that the Province of Saskatchewan gets that this province doesn't receive from the federal government, makes it substantive.

While we agree that resource development is an important aspect of how this province is going to move forward, so is investing in the next generation of young Nova Scotians to insure they have the skills they require, so is insuring that we invest in research opportunities to keep young people in this province and drive economic and job opportunities right here at home. It is exactly why we are ensuring that apprentices get their first job opportunity here in Nova Scotia. It is why this government is the only government in Canada to be able to reach an agreement with Alberta that actually tears down the walls between our two provinces, recognizes our education and allows the flow of men and women to and from our respective provinces.

Under that administration, Mr. Speaker, they would be focused on one result, which would be a divisive one across this province with no basis of foundation, no science. All they are willing to do is stand up in this House and look for something to divide Nova Scotians. We are providing an opportunity to unite Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Just before we proceed to the next question, I'm going to respectfully ask the honourable Premier to retract the reference to the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition as a one-trick pony.

THE PREMIER « » : Okay, Mr. Speaker, the single-minded member across the hallway - I do want to recognize the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.

PREM. - NOVA STAR: FUNDING - DETAILS

[Page 985]

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Last November when the Liberal Government signed the final contract for the Nova Star ferry between Yarmouth and Portland, the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism boasted to the media that he had made significant changes to the draft contract in order to better protect public funds.

Mr. Speaker, one such amendment the minister took credit for and clarified was how and when the Nova Star will provide its $3 million contribution. I will table that. We learned yesterday that almost a full year after the Liberal Government signed the final contract, the stipulated $3 million from the operator has not materialized.

My question to the Premier is this, could he explain why his government has provided an extra $5 million to the ferry service when terms and conditions his minister included in the final contract have not been met?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, we are providing additional funding to that service because of the callous and reckless way the previous government went about cutting that service, which devastated small businesses across southwestern Nova Scotia and it is going to take more than four months to restore the good nature and good service that we have become accustomed to.

MS. MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, that is pretty much the answer I expected. For the people in Yarmouth, and indeed the entire province, we all would like to see this ferry succeed and Nova Scotians rightly want to know where this ship is headed.

Yesterday, for the third time in a year, this Liberal Government and this Premier have taken out their chequebook. Mr. Speaker, with the minister yesterday indicating that he was going to proceed with an audit of the Nova Star, I would like to ask the Premier what is the time frame for the completion of this audit and will it be made available to the public?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, we have shared all of the information we have around this service with the public and we are going to continue to be an open and transparent government to the people of this province.

MS. MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism also stated that no ferry service operates anywhere that is not subsidized by taxpayers, which I think isn't actually completely accurate.

My question for the Premier is this, is the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism's contention that public funding is required to operate all ferry services, an indication of this Liberal Government's plans to offer an open-ended, annual subsidy to the Nova Star ferry?

[Page 986]

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to assure her that every decision made by this government will be made on a business case analysis and it will be made in the best interests of all Nova Scotians. It won't be put together on the back of a political napkin and rushed to a decision like was made by the previous government.

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

PREM.: BALANCED BUDGET - PRESENT

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, before I start, I have to say that I'm wondering if "no trick pony" is parliamentary, because no matter what the Premier says, this caucus will never back away from focusing on new ways to create new jobs for the people of Nova Scotia, unlike the government.

One of the things that holds us back is the massive provincial deficit and the pile-up of debt, which over many, many years has now reached a record $15 billion, or $15,500 for each of us. In light of that record, the government has done nothing but take an extremely go-slow approach to balancing the provincial finances. So I would like to ask the Premier, in light of the 8,700 jobs lost in the past year, will his government reconsider their go-slow approach and present a balanced budget for Nova Scotians in the upcoming year?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. We're going to continue to do what we've done for the last year: to work with Nova Scotians to ensure that we move this province in the right direction in a sustainable way with a long-term vision, to ensure that we provide a public education system to the people of this province, that we provide quality health care, and that the most vulnerable citizens of this province will be looked after. At the same time, we'll move this province back to a balanced budget.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, for too many Nova Scotians, the right direction under this government has become west to look for where the jobs are, instead of here at home. The Premier has banned a new way of creating new jobs in the province, but he does have under his control the ability to get our finances in line. The deficit that they are running stands in the way of Nova Scotians and a chance at meaningful tax relief or growing the economy here at home. In fact, the total debt already consumes almost $1 billion in interest costs that someday we'd like to use for something else - like meaningful tax relief or better hospitals or schools. But all they do is add more to the debt.

I'd like to ask the Premier, if he's going to ban new ways of creating jobs in this province, will he at least balance the budget before the long date of 2017?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. We're going to continue to do what we told Nova Scotians we would do: bring this province back to balance in a sustainable way.

[Page 987]

I want to remind all the members of this House that it was the Progressive Conservative Party, that has been boasting about balanced budgets - at a time when the federal government was pumping more cash into this province than ever in our history, at that same time, they were building an unsustainable future for this province.

This Party, this government, will continue to build a sustainable way forward, working hand in hand and side by side with willing Nova Scotians who want to make sure this province sees its real potential.

MR. BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how many years back the Premier has to go before any of that actually matches reality. Nevertheless, we're looking forward.

Nova Scotians want jobs. The Premier said no to one of the new ways to create new jobs in our province. He's saying no today to balancing the budget any time soon - one of the biggest job killers that faces the people of Nova Scotia. But there is a hope: the Wheeler report says that shale gas development could create $1 billion in economic activity for our province. That's $1 billion that could be used for meaningful tax relief, for balancing the budget, for new schools, for new hospitals - just like it's being used for the people of Saskatchewan today. We all want that.

I'll ask the Premier, in light of the fact that 8,700 Nova Scotians lost their job in the past year, how many more Nova Scotian job losses do there have to be before he will either allow new ways of creating jobs or at least present a balanced budget so Nova Scotians can get on with all the things that they want to see in the future?

THE PREMIER « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. During the election campaign, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party promised Nova Scotians $1 billion in tax cuts without ever telling the people of this province where that money was going to come from. Since we've been sitting in this House, he's come up with the idea that we could cap capital construction budgets in this province without actually telling any community across this province that needs that public infrastructure what he's going to do.

What would he tell the people of River Hebert, who are getting construction done to their school? What would he tell the very people of Springhill, who are looking for some improvements to their high school? Would he say sorry, we're going to cap that?

We're going to do this by working with communities across this province. Community by community, year by year, we're going to put this province on a sustainable path forward.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

[Page 988]

ERDT - NOVA STAR: FUNDING - ACCOUNTING

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, we found that the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism was writing another cheque for Nova Star Cruises to the tune of $5 million.

Now, the Progressive Conservative caucus recognizes the Yarmouth ferry is a vital link between our province and the United States. We believe the service can be viable. No one has fought for this service more than I have over the years since it started. (Interruptions) If we remember, the Minister of Natural Resources was elected after me, after those folks decided to cancel the ferry, so let's just put the cards where they are.

We know that there were many of us who worked very hard for the recovery of that ferry service. However, we are concerned about the lack of transparency right now around the millions that taxpayers have poured into this vessel's operations and how that money is going to be spent. The minister knows that there is a FOIPOP asking for where those monies have been dispensed. There's a $15,000 fee to get that information.

All I'm asking is, can the minister provide us with an accounting of where the first $21 million has gone to Nova Star Cruises?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : I want to thank the member for the question. What I could add is I believe that it's very clear, on October 8th of last year and prior to that, thousands of Nova Scotians fought against the decision by the previous government to cut the Yarmouth ferry.

We have done our best to be transparent in this regard. At any time that there have been amendments to the agreement or any additional funds that had to be put in, I have shared that with the media, I've shared that with Nova Scotians. Yesterday was an opportunity to again give them an update on what year one had been, with 59,000 passengers using the Nova Star. But clearly the business did not achieve the economic targets that were hoped for, which is why we were required to invest additional funds, and as well to discuss some of the challenges we face going forward.

I have not seen the freedom of information request that is referred to, but I would certainly suggest that if it's specific information they're asking for, they may wish to amend their request to reflect the specific nature of the info they are asking for.

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : To even simplify it a little bit more - I know the Premier has stood on many occasions now saying we want to be an open government; provide us with the question and we'll provide you with the information. The question is, where did the $21 million go? What's the accounting for it? Just so we have a better feeling that we are going in the correct direction.

[Page 989]

Yesterday, we learned that there is still no plan for winter work, which is, I guess, contrary to some of the things that we've been hearing in the media. When asked, the minister could not say what it would cost to tie up the boat for the winter. The province may even have to cover that cost of winterizing the vessel, and I'll table that document.

Additionally, a KPMG adviser with ferry experience will be auditing Nova Star's costs, looking for savings from varying recommendations on a plan for future years. ST Marine, the company that owns the ferry, will be coming to Nova Scotia to meet with the minister the minute the government says a contribution by ST Marine to ferry costs will be a part of those discussions.

Why didn't the minister put these safeguards and commitments in place for taxpayers before he rushed to sign on that dotted line?

MR. SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I believe CBC quoted me this morning on the fact that - suggesting that we could have changed the operator, we could have changed the business plan or could have changed the owner of the vessel, what vessel was going to be - as I said yesterday, it would be like sitting on a plane and on takeoff, when you hit about 20,000 feet, saying, I think I want to go on a cruise instead - a little too late to change direction at that point.

This process was well on its way. Even to get the boat in the water to start the season, we had to extend the start date due to so many complications that were encountered. We tried to adjust the agreement itself; for example, we made an amendment that the management salaries, that they would only be able to draw half of those salaries if the ferry was not turning a profit.

Those are some of the financial safeguards that were put in there, but when he talks about the winter service, for example, unfortunately the agreement that had been put in place by the previous government assumed there would be winter work for the ferry and there would be no cost. Unfortunately there was no plan B. Yesterday was an opportunity to tell Nova Scotians that that is a challenge we may have to face and we certainly want to hear from Nova Scotians as to how we should meet that challenge.

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : And the added confusion, too, is when Nova Star ferry announced that they would not be running past this last weekend, the long weekend, that there was a possible opportunity for winter; so it seems like that is not coming through and let's hope that it does.

The minister wrote a $21 million forgivable-loan cheque while the company that runs the ferry invested no start-up money. That is the other thing we learned yesterday. Yesterday the minister wrote another $5 million cheque, with no assurances from the ship to find winter work and no commitments from ST Marine for financial support.

[Page 990]

In both instances it is the minister's signature that is on the deal; in fact, he even bragged about it when he stood in this place and told us, last year sometime, that within mere weeks of being in government, our government was able to sign an agreement that would see the Yarmouth ferry restored, and I will table that document too.

Mr. Speaker, he is accountable and he is, in fact, "in the ferry business." How many taxpayers' dollars is the minster prepared to spend and will he release the information on how it is being disbursed, including the terms under which these loans will be forgiven at the expense of the Nova Scotia taxpayer?

MR. SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the member that rather than doing a FOIPOP request he should just simply go online to our accountability website where he will see the agreement. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the new funding agreement that was signed is either posted, or it was certainly shared with the media yesterday so no need to FOIPOP that either. That has already been made available.

Mr. Speaker, we have shared that with Nova Scotians. This has been a challenging file but at the end of the day, I would encourage the member for Argyle-Barrington to speak to Mayor Mood in Yarmouth and maybe put that same question to her of how much more money we should invest in this service, knowing the impact it has had on Yarmouth, knowing the impact it has had on Nova Scotia - an area of this province which had been devastated by the previous administration. We are bringing back hope and economic opportunity to southwestern Nova Scotia, to Yarmouth, and to the entire Province of Nova Scotia.

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

HEALTH & WELLNESS: FRONT-LINE WORKERS

- PROTECTIVE CLOTHING

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : My question today is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. Front-line health care workers are part of the first line of defence when there is a health risk to the entire province. We know some health care workers, Mr. Speaker, have received the one-hour educational video on how to use the new protective clothing that the province has ordered, but that equipment hasn't arrived yet so I'd like to ask the Minister of Health and Wellness if additional equipment for nurses, health care workers hasn't arrived yet, what are nurses, front-line health care workers, and the screeners at the airport using today to protect themselves from this threat?

HON. LEO GLAVINE » : As the member opposite knows, our province is in an extremely low-risk category; I think that needs to be stated first and foremost. We know at the airport they have now moved to a stage two, a higher investigative process of anybody that has had connections, at this point, with West Africa. So those things are moving quickly and that is coming under Health Canada direction.

[Page 991]

MR. DAVID WILSON « » : I'm sure everybody would be aware how those health care workers are concerned and there is a level of anxiety knowing that they don't have that equipment yet that has been ordered.

The Centre for Disease Control, or the CDC in the U.S., is a world-renowned expert when it comes to diseases like Ebola. Can the minister ease the anxiety of health care workers by ensuring the protective clothing on order will meet the approval of the CDC on what protective clothing health care workers should use when dealing with Ebola?

MR. GLAVINE « » : I know this issue is on the minds of many Canadians as well as citizens of our province, but in particular front-line health care workers who may have to deal with somebody in quarantine. We know that what is in place are the best Canadian standards to handle the quarantine area. Those protocols have been developed; they are actually being rehearsed. We are having health care workers go through a mock-up whereby they, in fact, can learn the best procedures, because if there is some break in that process we already know what can take place.

MR. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, the world has turned to the Centre for Disease Control in the U.S. to try to help alleviate and, hopefully, contain the Ebola virus, and I hope the minister recognizes their expertise in that field.

In 2009 when the H1N1 presented itself as a serious risk to Nova Scotians, provincial health care workers from across the region created a unified front, signing a Good Neighbours Protocol, Mr. Speaker - and I'll table that protocol. The agreement broke down provincial barriers and allowed for health care workers' mobility throughout Atlantic Canada.

I'd like to ask the minister, can the minister tell us the status of the 2014 version of the Good Neighbour Protocol, given the risk of Ebola disease here in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, what is taking place at the Department of Health and Wellness, under the lead of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rob Strang, is in fact informing all our regional hospitals, health centres, about the kind of vigilance that is now required - if there is even a remote suspected case to move quickly into quarantine.

We've adopted here in Nova Scotia what in fact are the best practices that are being implemented Canada-wide.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.

FIN.: GRAD. RETENTION REBATE - CANCELLATION

[Page 992]

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. When this Liberal Government cancelled the Graduate Retention Rebate in its first budget, Nova Scotian graduates were handed the largest tax increase in the province's history. At the time the minister justified this $50 million tax increase by saying the program wasn't doing what it was intended to do. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Yarmouth is very enthusiastic about having had that program cancelled, but I'm wondering, does the minister still stand by her justification for cancelling the Graduate Retention Rebate?

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I do stand by my earlier decision. Thank you.

MS. MACDONALD « » : Well, Mr. Speaker, through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request, my office received the department's analysis prepared for the minister on whether or not the Graduate Retention Rebate was actually working, and the Department of Finance analysis says, "The GRR led to an improvement of about . . ." - I hope the member for Yarmouth is listening - ". . . an improvement of about 542 persons per year not leaving the province." I'll table that.

This means that over three years the Graduate Retention Rebate kept more than 1,600 graduates in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, how can she say the GRR wasn't effective when, in effect, the program was doing exactly what it was intended to do - keep more graduates in Nova Scotia?

MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important to remember that all members of the House are continually asking this government to save money and to manage well and to put our money into programs that work effectively. There was no question at all that this program was not only expensive, but ineffective. If it had been working, I would have been the first to stand behind it.

Mr. Speaker, it didn't work; we can't afford that kind of program.

MS. MACDONALD « » : Mr. Speaker, in the last year we've seen the continued exodus of young people, and in the face of the evidence of 1,600 students staying in the province due to that program, it really is hard to believe that this government could ignore that. The minister's own briefing notes state that figures would suggest there was a decline in retention rebates during the period of 2011-12, which were likely the result of incomplete tax data.

Can the minister explain to the many graduates who wrote her to protest her decision to cut the GRR why she made this decision with incomplete tax information?

[Page 993]

MS. WHALEN « » : Mr. Speaker, when we make a decision like that we also look jurisdictionally at other provinces and other places that have tried this. The evidence was clear across the country that it wasn't working, and that it was an expensive program that didn't hit its aim.

What we have said very clearly was that young people have told us - and I know they've told all the members of this House - that they need a job. They're leaving because they don't have the job opportunities. We are announcing the Graduate to Opportunities (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I think we all agree it is not the government's job to create jobs. We create the environment for jobs. That's exactly right. (Applause)

We are deeply in debt. We are running a deficit this year of $278 million, and we can't afford to put money into programs that won't buy any improvement to our province.

We are going to be looking at programs like Graduate to Opportunities, which open the door to young people. We are opening the door in the private sector, and we're also doing our best in our own world. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou West.

ENVIRON. - NORTHERN PULP: EMISSIONS - MIN. STANCE

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, my questions through you are to the Minister of Environment. The most recent round of source emissions testing conducted at Northern Pulp revealed that the company was in violation of its operating approval limits of particulate matter - a confirmed Group 1 carcinogen on each of the tests of the recovery boiler and the power boiler. The information was obviously alarming to the residents of Pictou, Pictou County, and beyond.

My question is, with new evidence that the company continues to exceed the regulated limits of carcinogenic material, does the minister stand by his decision to allow these violations to continue, and are the residents of Pictou County well served by the Department of Environment's failure to enforce its own regulations?

HON. RANDY DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for the question. It's clearly an issue of concern for a lot of people, not just in her constituency but across the entirety of Pictou County.

With respect to standing by my decision and the decision of this government and how we regulate environment, you bet. We stand behind those decisions 100 per cent.

Just with respect to those test results that came out in August, that we published earlier this month from August, I just want to indicate that work was done during September between the point when those tests were taken and the point when we received the test results and posted them online. Again, you don't have to FOIPOP that information. We're quite open and transparent even on those issues and concerns that may be uncomfortable for a government to have to deal with, despite how long-standing the issues are. We made that information available to the public. We don't hide behind the information.

[Page 994]

There was work done in September during a maintenance shutdown. We expect to see improvements in the next round of test results happening this month.

MS. MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answers. I do realize that there is work that was done during the shutdown to install Modo scrubbers, and we hope the tests in October or November will prove that they have made an improvement, but I'm the one who's getting up at 2:00 a.m. with my son, who can't breathe.

As I mentioned, the power boiler at Northern Pulp also failed each of its three stack tests in August. In November 2013 a press release was put out by the minister, and he said, ". . . we recognize that there is more work to be done to improve the air quality in this area. This latest directive will help our staff monitor progress at Northern Pulp very closely to ensure this progress continues." I will table that document.

My question is, in light of the new stack test results, would the minister admit that the November 6th directive has really done nothing to ensure that Northern Pulp has made progress on its air quality impact?

MR. DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, no I won't do that, because the problem with selectively citing excerpts out of material, information, is that it's a little bit confusing to people who may read those excerpts. The member, if she had reviewed the entire release, would understand that the context of that information was with respect to TRS, total reduce sulfur, and not overall air emissions. Thank you.

MS. MACFARLANE « » : Mr. Speaker, the amount of particulate matter that I am breathing in, and the residents of Pictou and Nova Scotians, this particulate matter Nova Scotia Environment permits Northern Pulp to emit greatly, and it exceeds what is permitted in all other jurisdictions in Canada and across the U.S.

If the next operating approval is to be issued by the minister's department in January 2015, and is to include more stringent standards that resemble other environment policies for pulp mills, how can the people of Nova Scotia, especially Pictou, feel confident that this government will enforce new standards when its track record has been to ignore the relaxed emission limits already in place?

MR. DELOREY « » : Mr. Speaker, I want to first of all address some of the personal concerns raised by the member there with respect to the levels of particulate matter being ingested, breathed, by the member and her family and other residents. I want to ensure the member opposite, and all the people of Pictou, that we do have ambient air quality monitoring, that the air, specifically that is being breathed in is not equivalent to what is being emitted from the stack. The concerns and the measure as the ambient level, the atmospheric level that humans do breathe, and on the basis of the monitor that is in place in the area it has not exceeded the national threshold for those emissions.

[Page 995]

I do want to assure the member opposite, and all people of Pictou, based on the data that we do have, it is not presenting an issue of concern at that state. That said, the concerns around the overall emissions certainly are a concern and we will be taking steps with stronger standards in the next operating approval. But also to the actual question, which is: how can we have faith in the steps that we are taking? I think it's very clear that we drew the line in the sand in the August ministerial order, where that line is with respect to failure to adhere to the standards in place and the directives issued in the past.

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

HEALTH & WELLNESS: ER CARE - MIN. ACTIONS

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. As a result of the minister's poor timing, the current ER accountability report hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Many Nova Scotians may not be aware that ER closures increased last year for the first time since 2009. My question to the minister is, why hasn't the minister taken any steps or actions on improving emergency care here in Nova Scotia?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the former minister is taking responsibility for seven months of those 12 that the report covered. But one of the areas that does need to be looked at - if we take a comprehensive look at the report we will see that there are actually three or four ERs that have persisted over a long period of time that have become problematic once again. In fact, a number of ERs have made substantive improvements, and I believe that in the coming year with a provincial locum to be able to fill some of those needs when a doctor unexpectedly leaves an area, becomes sick - and also we're having occasions now where it's a nursing problem as opposed to a physician problem.

MR. DAVID WILSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I can stand on my feet and indicate that under our watch, the emergency room closures went down every single year. The minister opposite can't say that. In 2011-12, the Roseway emergency room wasn't closed at all - not one hour; not one day. In the member for Kings West's first year as minister, the Roseway ER had been closed for 117 hours and counting.

So, Mr. Speaker, through you I'd like to ask the minister, what is the minister doing to address the increasing ER closure, in particular along the South Shore?

[Page 996]

MR. GLAVINE « » : Roseway has become a problem due to nursing shortages in many of those cases and you will see that we will, in fact, be releasing a plan to make sure that we have both nurses and doctors to cover emergency rooms.

MR. DAVID WILSON « » : The Emergency Department Accountability Act states that when there has been an ongoing pattern of closure, such as the case at Fishermen's Memorial Hospital, there must be consultation with the community. So as I said, under the Act that has to happen. So I'd like to ask the minister, how many public consultations has he or the district health authority had with the community in Lunenburg and along the South Shore about the chronic closures that we see in the ER?

MR. GLAVINE « » : I'm pleased to say that the member for Lunenburg has been monitoring Fishermen's Memorial and providing me with considerable information about the concerns of the community. And once again, this is a case where we have indicated that we will meet with the medical community clinicians and others to provide a direction once we take a look at Mary Jane Hampton's report to see what, in fact, is the best course for the future in Lunenburg.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

HEALTH & WELLNESS: INVERNESS CT SCANNER - DELIVERY PROCESS

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : My question is for the Minister of Health. A CT scanner remains stored in shrink wrap in the basement of the hospital in Inverness. Now, the minister responding to questions, my questions here in the House surrounding the purchase of this scanner, responded with a veiled threat: "Mr. Speaker, I guess my message yesterday didn't get out, but perhaps if the member opposite is speaking for his entire riding and he doesn't want the scanner, I know other hospitals who would open their door tomorrow to a new scanner."

So I know the minister is well-briefed on this topic. I know the questions have certainly been threatening to the department, in that when is the last time we've seen a deputy minister, a former deputy minister, a head of a district health authority and the minister himself chime in with letters to the editor? Prior to the delivery of this scanner to Inverness, were all of the company's standard procedures for delivery of a CT scanner followed?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : The Cape Breton District Health Authority went through the process for procurement of the Inverness CT scanner.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Well, I'm afraid that they didn't follow the correct process. (Interruption) And I will, to the member for Cape Breton-Richmond.

[Page 997]

I'd like to refer the minister to Page 30 of the manual that corresponds to the CT scanner make and model that was delivered to the basement of the Inverness hospital. And it is in Section 2.0 - I will table it for the House. It says: Customer System Siting Requirements - "To ensure timely delivery and installation, GE Healthcare recommends that the customer complete all necessary work and schedule a site-ready visit prior to the delivery date."

So my question to the minister is, if GE policy states deliveries are not to be made until the room is ready, why did government purchase a scanner only to have it sitting now in the basement of the hospital?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Sometimes through the procurement process, especially where we're able to use a prior purchase to get the best deal possible, this is a clear case of where the scanner was ready for delivery prior to the final adjustments that needed to be made in order to house the scanner.

MR. MACMASTER « » : It's very strange because there was a big rush on to get the scanner and now the hospital is not ready to put it into use. I know the minister feels it should consider itself grateful to have this scanner. The scanner was actually rushed as solo cargo on an 18-wheel tractor-trailer direct from Ontario, in a big rush. I think it was meant to get there before the opening of the Legislature.

I know that another note - I am going to table this - from the product manual for this very scanner states, caution, SERVICE NOTICE: An improperly prepared site - one that is a state of construction - can result in deleted installation date and/or damage to the system. These are sensitive devices. So it is clear that the protocols were not followed for this scanner and my question is, why not?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's concern for the proper installation, the proper housing of the CT scanner. Sometimes contract work can simply get behind and this is a clear case where the CT scanner will be installed. Staff will be well-serviced in terms of professional development. All those pieces will fall into place and perhaps in time the member will receive those letters of appreciation from our government that they are pleased to have a CT scanner.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

HEALTH & WELLNESS: LAB TECHS. (N. SYDNEY/NEW WATERFORD)

[Page 998]

- MIN. ACTIONS

HON. FRANK CORBETT « » : Through you, Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Health and Wellness. Some of the medical staff in the Cape Breton District Health Authority are concerned that the authority itself is slowly reducing services at some of the hospitals in that authority, particularly North Sydney and New Waterford Consolidated. The health authority responded yesterday saying the relocation of lab services at the hospitals wasn't a sign of things to come, but according to them, they are being forced to move the services, due to a shortage of lab technicians.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister through you is, what is the minister doing to address the shortage of lab technicians to ensure health care services remain in communities like North Sydney and New Waterford?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, we know that the program continues to be offered at the Nova Scotia Community College. Sometimes, however, there are not students from local areas who want to locate or relocate back to their area where they could be employed.

We know there is a great deal of change going on, in terms of lab service, but we know that citizens of the Northside will continue to be able to go to the Northside hospital for blood sampling.

MR. CORBETT « » : Mr. Speaker, we see lab services being closed or greatly reduced in communities across this province, including places like Liverpool, Springhill, Pugwash and Parrsboro. Now before the minister fired the volunteer health authority boards, the chairman from the Cumberland board - and I'll table this - explained, ". . .this is a provincial initiative being rolled out to numerous facilities across the province".

My question through you, Mr. Speaker, is it a simple case of a shortage of lab technicians, like the minister says, or is a provincial initiative being rolled out across this province?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I will do my best to answer but I guess he can get the start date from the former Minister of Health and Wellness, the member for Sackville-Cobequid. We know that lab services are indeed changing; it has been underway now for a number of years. What I can tell Nova Scotians is that a high-quality service remains in our regional hospitals, our community health centres across Nova Scotia.

MR. CORBETT « » : I guess that tells us it is the decision of government to roll back these services and not just simply one of a shortage of lab technicians. So my next question will be very short. What service is that government going to attack next in our health care system?

MR. GLAVINE « » : On April 1st we will have the most progressive, highly-integrated health care system that the province has seen yet.

[Page 999]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

FOIPOP ADMIN. POSITIONS: VACANCIES - DETAILS

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : My question is for the Minister responsible for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The government has claimed that the FOIPOP process is independent, that they are open and transparent, and that there are people in place to address requests. We all know that administrators are essential to ensuring access to government information, and of course there are times when the administrators of those positions may leave government and there is a significant gap. These are positions with a steep learning curve where accuracy is essential. We even talked about that matter yesterday. While there are often alternatives or assistants, they may be occupied with other tasks. So, my question is, is the minister aware of how many vacant FOIPOP administrative positions there are across the government departments?

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : To my knowledge there are no vacant positions because, when a FOIPOP officer leaves, the task of the FOIPOP within that department moves to another member in that department.

MR. MACMASTER « » : One of the points I was trying to make in my first question was sometimes those administrators leave, the tasks are handed to somebody else in the department whose task is something else, and FOIPOP is not their primary task. I believe it is important to ensure a timely flow of access to information. That would be essential. I think we would all agree to a functioning, transparent democracy. FOIPOP administrators do important work. That is why it is important that, should an administrator leave their position, they be replaced quickly. Given that there very well may be vacant positions right now, what is the average time that it takes for one of these administrators to be replaced?

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : The Province of Nova Scotia does not have a policy to tie people to their jobs. People have free will in this country and they can leave jobs as they see fit.

MR. MACMASTER « » : With all due respect, that wasn't what I was asking. Obviously they do have free will and they can leave jobs but what should be important for the government is to actually make sure they will be able to replace those people. There are vacancies. It takes a while, I know the head of the Public Service Commission in Public Accounts Committee recently stated, it often takes an average of three months to hire somebody for a vacant position. So it is far too long to wait two months or three months to replace somebody in a position as key as who would be in charge of responding to these access to information requests. The government needs a plan in place to be able to fill these positions quickly, otherwise, access to information is compromised.

Can the minister table in this House how many FOIPOP requests are currently open and awaiting a response? I respect he probably can't do that at this time but can he indicate if he can do that at some time in the near future for this House, certainly before we rise from the sitting, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1000]

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : As in all aspects of government, when the Province of Nova Scotia provides service to the people of Nova Scotia within departments, we not only have people providing the service but we have support people as well. Any aspect of services in the Government of Nova Scotia is provided in a timely manner. It is provided in a very sustainable manner and it is provided in a very efficient manner. When people leave their positions, we have other people within departments who pick up the slack.

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

HEALTH & WELLNESS: EXTENDED MEDICARE COVERAGE - DETAILS

HON. DAVID WILSON « » : Recently we have heard disturbing accounts of what it cost some cancer patients to continue their treatment from home. There are too many Nova Scotians paying out of pocket for drugs that would be covered if they received that same treatment within a hospital setting. So I'd like to ask, can the minister tell us what drugs and at-home treatments are being considered for extended Medicare coverage here in Nova Scotia?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : We know that there is a constant growing demand to provide a wide range of medications outside of hospital. We have actually started with cancer care drugs, the oral medications that now are a very big source of concern to Nova Scotians, so this is an area that we will be addressing. Very often, it is more of the process, as opposed to people unable to access coverage.

MR. DAVID WILSON « » : I think it's important that the government continue to move in that direction. I was glad to be part of a government that started to fund palliative care drugs if they received them at home, so we need to continue to move in that direction.

Together the federal, provincial, and territorial governments saved millions on prescription drugs in 2012, Mr. Speaker. Bulk purchasing of generic drugs is one way our administration was working to reduce health care costs for cancer patients receiving at-home treatment.

So I'd like to ask the Minister of Health and Wellness, as the minister was unable to attend the October 1st meeting of the Canadian Health Ministers, what follow-up conversations has he had with his counterparts about the Atlantic drug purchasing strategy since October 1st?

MR. GLAVINE « » : In fact, in the last week of October I'm hoping to attend an Atlantic conference in P.E.I. It's a summit with the whole purpose to take a look at what will be the next area, the next group of pharmaceuticals that we can purchase in bulk. There is a lot of work already done in preparation for that meeting, and we are hoping to have something positive to present to Atlantic Canadians within a few weeks.

[Page 1001]

MR. DAVID WILSON « » : I'm a bit disappointed that the minister hasn't indicated that he has talked to some of his counterparts, because those minister meetings are important. All provinces and territories work together to try to come up with solutions. I hope that the minister recognizes the importance of keeping in touch with ministers from across the country.

Patients receiving lifesaving drug treatments shouldn't fall through the cracks because they are able to go home for their treatments. I'd like to ask the minister, if he can answer it, exactly when can cancer patients who are paying for out-of-pocket at-home treatments expect to see changes that will support them with their care at home?

MR. GLAVINE « » : I do want to inform the former Minister of Health and Wellness that I've been able to have some follow-up discussions, primarily with the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, as he puts forth a proposal to the federal government to at least start to look at orphan drugs with a national program.

In June we met as Atlantic Ministers, and interestingly enough, two have changed since that meeting just a couple of months ago, but we will have a follow-up meeting in Prince Edward Island to take a look at the next number of pharmaceuticals that we can purchase as Atlantic Provinces. I know this would be a wonderful step forward in terms of oral cancer drugs.

We are now in the process of getting a very in-depth look at what kind of cost is involved, what way the logistics can be improved, because it's very important to state - and the former minister knows this - that no Nova Scotian is denied oral cancer treatment. No Nova Scotian is denied. (Applause)

What we now have to help Nova Scotians with is quick access to those oral cancer drugs.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

FOI REQUEST - PC CAUCUS/CHRONICLE HERALD:

ESTIMATES - BREAKDOWN

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Internal Services. The Premier has said, and I quote, "if the member opposite or her Party has issues with getting information through freedom of information, bring the issue to the floor and we'll see what we can do for her." Well, let the record stand that I have just asked for the minister to table the number of FOIPOP requests that occur in the open and am awaiting response. But yesterday, we also asked that the Liberal Government explain the discrepancy between a freedom of information request made on behalf of our caucus and a fairly similar request made on behalf of The Chronicle Herald.

[Page 1002]

The Minister of Internal Services said, if the member opposite would like me to look into that, I can do that. Well, Mr. Speaker, we would like to take the government up on their offer. Since The Chronicle Herald has self-identified as an applicant, will the minister commit to tabling the breakdown for both the estimates before the House rises at the end of this legislative session?

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, if the members opposite are having trouble with the freedom of information request, I'd advise them to call the department and ask them what they can do to put forward a better application. It seems like their application was a little vague, and if they nail it down they might get the response they're looking for.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, I don't know what we're supposed to do because the Premier tells us one thing and the minister tells us to call the department. All we're trying to do is to find the information and if everything is on the up and up, then why are we afraid of being transparent before the very Legislature here?

I have a couple of documents to table from the last question. The minister said of his own expense reports: ". . . if I am going to be FOIPOP-ed, I will look at what is the request and I will ensure that it is 100 per cent accurate and I will also ensure that every part of the request is answered completely and factually." The information we requested was about spending decisions made by the minister.

Just so everybody is clear, separately but along the same line we had made a request for information about spending decisions made by the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. Based on the logic being applied by the minister as it relates to his own expenses, it does beg the question of the minister: Under the Liberal's interpretations of the Rules, would the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism have also been afforded the opportunity to look at the request that was made for the information and ensure that every part of it would be answered completely and factually?

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, I can't speak in terms of what the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism would have seen or not seen - that question would have to go to him.

I would ask the member opposite if they have an issue with FOIPOP, they can table something. As I understand, nothing has been tabled until now and if what they have tabled actually requests more information in terms of why they are not getting the information they are looking for, then we can look at that. I would urge them to table exactly what they're looking for and we will do our best to respond.

[Page 1003]

MR. MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, I don't have confidence in that. We're just asking the simple question right before the Legislature and we can't get an answer. Yesterday when defending his interfering in a FOIPOP request regarding his own expenses, the minister said there had been mistakes made by other FOIPOP requests. We had one where a previous minister's expenses were accidentally handed out as the current minister's expense, and I was just ensuring that the same wasn't going to happen.

It seems very reasonable but this process is supposed to be independent of government. My question is, do ministers regularly intervene in the provision of FOIPOP requests in order to make sure mistakes aren't made, or does it just happen when there could be personal risk or when there is risk to the reputation of the government?

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : Mr. Speaker, we're following a process of FOIPOP, the process is working perfectly. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Argyle-Barrington.

HEALTH & WELLNESS: FAMILY DOCTOR - PROVISION

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Health and Wellness said that 94 per cent of people in Nova Scotia have a family doctor. While that's excellent news for the families who do have a physician, the minister overlooked the 6 per cent who do not. Six per cent may seem like a small number when we talk about it here in the House of Assembly but that represents 56,436 Nova Scotians who do not have a family doctor. They are people the government made their campaign promise to. I'm going to bet if we ask for a show of hands in the Legislature, I bet a good 6 per cent or more of us would not have access to a family physician.

Now that he knows the numbers, does the minister stick by his promise to provide a family doctor for all Nova Scotians in the first year?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question and it's one that's relevant to all Nova Scotians because we all know that in fact our family doctor can retire, leave the province and we're always in that state of recruitment and working to retain our family doctors. If the member checks closely, I don't think it said "in the first year," but it said that we would be working to provide all Nova Scotians with a family doctor.

We will soon have the forms going out to all of the doctors who are currently in residencies across Canada and also as many as we can contact across the border who can look at obtaining the first 25 tuition relief programs and to continue for the next four years.

[Page 1004]

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, in a quick poll, just sitting behind me, the member for Pictou West and the member for Queens-Shelburne - they don't have a doctor, and I'm sure there are many others in here who don't. That figure of 56,436 Nova Scotians is the equivalent of Shelburne County, Yarmouth County and Digby County combined.

The emergency rooms are bearing the brunt of this failed commitment. The ER accountability reports show that in many areas of this province, the challenge of keeping them open has persisted and grown. The government needs to see the 6 percent of Nova Scotians without a family doctor as more than just a statistic. That's more than 56,000 men, women and children of all ages.

One year is a long enough wait. When will the recruitment and retention committee complete their report?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, the first phase of the report, which was one of our campaign commitments, was to work on providing 25, I guess, tuition relief programs for new doctors to the province. That can be a doctor who has been actually practising in another province or jurisdiction up to seven years.

We have a great initial interest in the program and it should be out the door within a couple of weeks. The other recommendations will all be announced. We'll all have ongoing work and a plan so that that next generation of doctors for Nova Scotia is starting to be secured, and I think secured strongly, if we can get 100 doctors in place over the next four years.

MR. D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, according to the platform, the Liberal campaign promise to ensure every doctor for every Nova Scotian was taking place in year one at a cost of $3 million. The Nova Scotian in need of a family doctor believed in that commitment and they relied on it, and a year later, 56,000 of them are disappointed.

Since the government could not deliver on its own timeline, more than 56,000 are still without a doctor and forced to rely on the overcrowding of the emergency rooms - and I'll table the Liberal platform just in case the minister forgot the commitment.

My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to making the report by the recruitment and retention committee public, and maybe assign a more realistic date to when every Nova Scotian may have a family doctor?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, within the first 100 days, we started a process to put together a recruitment and retention committee. That initial report is with us now. We will be making the entire report public. We will also have the programmed plan for five years. In order to get your tuition paid for, there's a five-year reimbursement to a doctor. That will be laid out within two weeks. Forms will go out. We anticipate a very quick uptake for the first 25.

[Page 1005]

Also, this year will see the most doctors provided under the CAPP program since it started in our province.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Hants West.

EECD: THREE MILE PLAINS ELEM. SCH. - RENOVATION PROJ.

MR. CHUCK PORTER « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you today will be to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. As the minister may recall, in 2009, there were announcements made with regard to local schools in the Hants West area, one of them being Hantsport. That project finally, after many years, is well underway.

The other project that was announced at the same time was the Three Mile Plains elementary school. Nothing to date has been done there. Unfortunately, we had a change in government in 2009 - or fortunately, I guess, depending on how you look at that, Mr. Speaker. But today here we are, many years later, still no work going on in Three Mile Plains.

Now I know that the school has expressed on many occasions their desire to have that renovation complete, as have others, but new direction was given in 2009-2010 for the boards to decide how things would go.

I would ask the minister today, is she aware of this project? I think she might know the minister from the day that it was announced in 2009. If not, she could certainly confer with the former minister, but I think she is aware. Has new direction been given to the board on how they will submit what projects will move forward?

HON. KAREN CASEY » : Thank you to the member opposite. Late at night, I talk to that former minister because nobody else will talk to me.

On a serious note, I think the member makes a good point that there was an announcement of an enhancement to a school in his area. That announcement was made in 2009. The decision of the new government in 2009 was that they would ask boards to resubmit requests for capital projects, therefore the announcement for Three Mile Plains was off the books and it was the responsibility of the board to resubmit that.

Over the course of time from 2009 until now, as the member would know, that has come in to the department. It came in several times during 2009 to our time in government in 2013, and it was never approved, but it is not because the community and the board did not submit that as a request.

[Page 1006]

MR. PORTER « » : I will table a recent letter that has again gone from the parent support group, Ms. DawnLee Swinamer from Three Mile Plains, re-emphasizing once again their desire to have that renovation done at that school stands regardless of whether the board agrees or not, I guess, and we'll stand here today and lobby on behalf, as well as Windsor Forks. I'm sure you will have documentation from them in the near future; they would like that consideration given. Instead of a new school that was proposed by the board a couple of years ago, the community meetings were held and they were very well attended, and it was clear what the communities, the parents, even the staff wanted.

I would ask the minister would she commit to reviewing this, seriously, and taking into consideration what the community, the schools, and the parents are asking for with regards to Three Mile Plains and Windsor Forks.

MS. CASEY « » : I certainly have received the letter dated October 7th, I've reviewed that and I will be responding to DawnLee Swinamer as a result of her letter expressing her concern, but I do want to mention that as we all know there was a new school review process. One of the reasons we have a new school review process is because the level of trust between communities and school boards had eroded, deteriorated, and nothing very constructive could be done in that toxic environment. We believe that the new process will help to bring communities together so that the needs and the concerns of the community of Three Mile Plains and others will be made clear to the board and the board will understand and respect those concerns.

MR. PORTER « » : Again, I thank the minister for the answer. It is very important, vital actually, that the communities are involved and have some serious input on that decision, and I will also table a response that was written from the superintendent of schools in the Annapolis Valley District School Board standing by their decisions.

Again, I would strongly ask the minister for her consideration, and she has answered that and I accept that and I appreciate that but I'm not sure if she has received this or not but I will table it since I have referenced it, Mr. Speaker, that their decision will be to move forward with a new school regardless of what the communities think. Again, I would like the minister to confirm to our communities in Hants West and all of those, of course, around the province, that the minister is paying attention to what is going on and supports communities in and around this province when it comes to the education of our children. Thank you very much.

MS. CASEY « » : I will get a copy of what is just being tabled now and make a commitment to the member that I will discuss with the board chair the priorities that are being submitted by that particular school board, and all school boards, to ensure that they reflect the needs, the concerns, and the requests of the community.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

[Page 1007]

ERDT - N.S. JOBS: EXODUS - STOP

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's economy is in a tailspin under this government. Hundreds of jobs hang in the balance for workers and communities across the province have to deal with jobs losses every single day. It has been a year and already Nova Scotia has lost more than 9,000 jobs. My question through you to the Minister of ERDT is, can he explain to the House of Assembly and all Nova Scotians what his plan is to stop the exodus of jobs in Nova Scotia?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, one of the first things that we had to do as soon as we got into government was take the chequebook away from Cabinet and choose which companies to invest in and which companies not to invest in. Instead, we now have NSBI, an arm's-length agency, well-respected in this province which is continuing to make investments on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. As well, we will very shortly be announcing the creation and the new board of Invest Nova Scotia, which, again, will be an arm's-length agency which will be making investments on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we have been given a clear mandate. It's to work with the private sector in Nova Scotia to help create the winning conditions for the private sector to grow and put Nova Scotians to work.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the minister for his answer. Marketing the province is but only one piece. As a province, we need to see tangible results with a plan, a plan with job targets that would give the province some measurable success. So, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, what were the job targets he identified over the last year?

MR. SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, we have a plan. It's called jobsHere. (Interruption) No, no, I just, no. I tried in high school and it was bad. It was really bad. Mr. Speaker, I've been waiting a year to use that line, so you'll forgive me.

We've gotten away from the slogans. We've gotten away from the lawn signs. We've gotten away from the paraphernalia with slogans on it to try to convince Nova Scotians of all these lofty dreams. Instead, we work directly with business, and we've asked them, what can we do as a province to help you grow? That's why they came back to us and they said, give us an ability to hire new graduates who do not have experience that costs us a lot of money.

We've also heard from communities that have said, we want to keep our young people at home for the summer, so give us an opportunity to hire more students during the summer. That's why we hired 250 more students. We heard from businesses saying, let us get access to more students through the co-operative program so that they can bring their university experience into our business. We can allow them to get valuable job experience while at the same time bringing them back home. We've invested in more positions in that program. That is part of our plan.

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MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE « » : Mr. Speaker, the only thing that that government has gotten away from is creating jobs. We were looking at the facts - it's 9,000 jobs to date. So Mr. Speaker, identifying targets is what this government stood for while in Opposition. I wonder what has changed now.

As stated by the former critic and now Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and I'll table this from Hansard, which was said many times - this might bring back some memories:

"It's Business 101 - if you don't have targets, if you don't have numbers or outcomes, if you don't have anything you could measure, well, you don't have business, and you certainly have no business being in business development."

So my final question to the minister is, given our struggling economy, why does the minister in this government have no real job targets or measurable outcomes like the former member in Opposition, now the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, was so strong about in this House?

MR. SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, again, we've gotten rid of the fancy slogans. We've gotten rid of the lawn signs. We've gotten rid of the paraphernalia that tries to convince Nova Scotians - a plan that obviously was not working. Instead, our government has reached out to private industry and said, what is it that, as government, we can do to create the winning conditions for your business to grow? I've already gone through a list of some of the initiatives that we are working on. Again, the important message to Nova Scotians is that the investments being made by the people of Nova Scotia are now being done at arm's length and not in the Cabinet Room or at One Government Place.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

MUN. AFFS. - BROADBAND: LACK - COMMUNITY LIST

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. It is well known that thousands of Nova Scotians in rural or remote regions of the province are still without high-speed Internet. That limits business and puts students at a disadvantage compared to areas that do have high-speed Internet.

The federal Industry Minister, James Moore, announced in late July a $305 million plan to bring high-speed Internet to 280,000 households currently without Internet or who have slower Internet access. My question to the minister is, is the minister able to provide today a list of communities in Nova Scotia still looking for high-speed Internet?

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HON. MARK FUREY « » : Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This responsibility falls under my colleague, the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, and I'll defer the question for a response.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, as the members of the House would probably be aware, the rural broadband project started in 2006 under a previous Progressive Conservative administration. It was certainly followed up by the last government and continues to provide challenges, as it did from day one, and it's still providing challenges today.

There are still communities - more importantly, individuals - in certain parts of the province, especially in southwestern Nova Scotia and around the Valley that, due to the remoteness of their communities, do not have access to that service. But I should point out that we are still waiting to find out the exact details of how the federal money is going to flow to the provinces, and we certainly look forward to the ability of seeing that service expanded in Nova Scotia.

MR. LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for that answer. The federal government's plan is to enhance Internet speeds of five megabits per second to 98 per cent of Canadian households between now and 2017. High-speed Internet opens new learning opportunities for students and allows entrepreneurs to grow businesses and create jobs, jobs that we need.

My question to the minister, has the minister - either minister - been in discussion with Nova Scotia companies to see what their plans are about applying for this funding?

MR. SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, we certainly recognize that when the broadband project was announced in 2006, its goal of having every Nova Scotian household having access to high-speed Internet certainly was a lofty goal and it was one that we certainly respected at the time. I believe the government felt it could be accomplished. Unfortunately, here we are in 2014 and we still have Nova Scotia households that either do not have access to any Internet, or certainly the speed that they are getting is insufficient to certainly fall under the definition of high-speed.

We are looking forward to more details from the federal government as to how this money will be made available to our provinces. We're always in close contact with the service providers that we have here in Nova Scotia. Once there are more details from the federal government, I have no doubt that we will be working closely with providers in this province and anyone else who has an interest in making sure that we take advantage of having that five megabits per second available to households throughout Nova Scotia.

MR. LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, the federal government has been in consultation with your government, as based on a July 22nd news release that says:

[Page 1010]

"The maps on the Connecting Canadians website were developed to obtain feedback from Canadians . . . and provincial and territorial governments across the country to identify those communities that are most in need of investment for greater access to high-speed Internet . . . Companies interested in participating in Connecting Canadians will be invited to submit applications . . . this fall . . ."

My question to the minister is, is the minister able to provide a list of Nova Scotia companies who have submitted applications for this funding that will eventually lead to additional high-speed Internet connections in rural and remote Nova Scotia?

MR. SAMSON « » : So, Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, the member is saying that the federal government has invited companies to submit proposals to the federal government for this program and the member is asking me for the list of which companies have submitted proposals to the federal government. I would strongly suggest that that question may be best submitted to the federal government for a response.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Northside-Westmount.

HEALTH & WELLNESS - NORTHSIDE GEN. HOSP.:

EQUIPMENT - VIABILITY

MR. EDDIE ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health and Wellness. Yesterday, I asked the minister how he was going to address the growing problems of the Northside General Hospital. The issues at the Northside are many, and the minister offered to come to North Sydney, but offered little in the way of solutions. For instance, Dr. Amanda Woodhouse told reporters that new blood testing machines being installed at the Northside General Hospital will increase costs and reduce the number of tests that can be done locally.

My question to the minister, was the minister aware of this and why would he encourage the health authority to install equipment that will have a reverse impact than what was expected?

HON. LEO GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, what I want to say to the member who represents the Northside Memorial Hospital is that those decisions are made with the health district, in terms of the services provided, new equipment purchased. Once I do go to Northside to meet with the chief of staff, I will get a first-hand review of what is taking place, what the needs and concerns are for the future and if there are further decisions that need to be supported to make sure of the viability of a good range of services for Northside, that certainly will be put in place.

MR. ORRELL « » : Mr. Speaker, in addition to the costly new machinery, the Northside struggles with staffing levels and lab services. We were told today that lab services will continue in the Northside but the concern is in what time frame, especially in emergency purposes. Dr. Woodhouse explained that because the new equipment is limited, some samples will have to be shipped by taxi to the regional hospital in Sydney.

[Page 1011]

Nova Scotians, including taxi drivers, cannot be comfortable with this as the only option for important health information. So my question to the minister is does the minister feel this is appropriate for such important health tests and how does he plan to address this problem?

MR. GLAVINE « » : Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, we know that testing blood is undergoing a change right across the province. What we need to ensure all the citizens of that area is that they will be able to go to Northside for blood collection, testing and results coming back. Is there a change with point-of-care testing? Absolutely, this is a process now that has been underway for several years in our province and it is probably more the change that is, I think, of greatest concern.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order please. The time allotted for Oral Questions Put by Members to Ministers has expired.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER « » : The House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Mr. Speaker, would you call please Bill No. 34 and just as an aside, I was so caught up in Question Period that I forgot to do the assignments here. The assignments will be for the first bill, 15 minutes and then I'll make the thing for the second bill.

Bill No. 34 - Living within Our Means Act.

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

HON. JAMIE BAILLIE « » : Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise to kick off debate on this bill on limiting government debt. As Leader of the Official Opposition in particular, it is a great honour to be here to talk about this bill and I'll tell you why. Yesterday we introduced this particular bill, along with three others, as part of the Official Opposition plan, the PC plan to kick-start our economy and get our finances in line.

[Page 1012]

We have spent a year now with the new government and quite frankly, a year as the new Official Opposition and we are all adjusting to our roles. To me what this bill says, and the others that we introduced yesterday as part of our jobs plan, is that we are meeting that standard that we set for ourselves, to introduce new ideas that can make Nova Scotia a better place and not be restricted to the traditional definition of Opposition to only criticize.

Mr. Speaker, for all those Nova Scotians, whether they are in this Chamber today, whether they are in the public galleries, whether they are watching on television or in any way paying attention to what their political leaders on all sides do, this bill is for them because for anyone out there who says that they want an Opposition that does more than just criticize the government, here is an example of a new idea coming from the Opposition side that would actually put Nova Scotia on a better path than it is now. We are meeting that test, and I'm proud to be the Leader of the Official Opposition that is meeting that test.

There will be more to come, because if Nova Scotians know anything, they know the serious financial difficulties that our provincial government is in. They know the job losses and lack of opportunity that go hand-in-glove with being so in debt, but they also look around and see the great opportunities and the great resources and the great schools and assets that we have that could be making us prosperous, and wonder why it isn't happening.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we're introducing this bill today and calling it for debate in this House. I will say that I was disappointed in Question Period to hear the Premier ridicule this new idea. Apparently we've learned that he's comfortable with having a never-ending line of credit to draw from as he runs our province.

I wish that he had taken more than a few minutes to consider what we are talking about today, because the idea that the government would be limited in its ability to reach ever further into the next generation of Nova Scotians' pocketbooks and borrow money in their name to infinity, to have our children and our grandchildren indebted further to pay for today's needs - the idea that we might put a limit on that is one that, quite frankly, all members of this House should support.

In fact, we're doing today exactly what the Ivany report challenged us to do, which is to get the fiscal house in order here in Nova Scotia. The Ivany report, entitled Now or Never, actually had a whole section on this, and a very specific recommendation to cap our debt, to cap the government's ability to borrow to infinity - and quite wisely, I might add, the Ivany report said that cap should be related to the size of our economy, to the GDP.

That's why we have a bill today that proposes that by 2024 the Government of Nova Scotia be limited in its ability to borrow to no more than 30 per cent of the province's gross domestic product. That's exactly what the Ivany report recommends, Mr. Speaker, and I've heard members on all sides of this House say that they like the Ivany report and they're interested in it.

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Now, we have a government today, in office for over a year, sitting on an Ivany report that was released last February, that so far is zero for 19. That's not a very good record, but we're prepared to help them out. Here is a bill that can allow the government to check off one of the 19 recommendations in the Ivany report: to limit the ability of the debt in the province to grow forever. I hope that they take it up.

I know that the early response from Question Period today was pretty disappointing. The Premier used the same trick that previous Premiers in different Parties have used, saying, if you want to stop borrowing, that means you must not agree with this school or that hospital. Well, that's ridiculous. The Premier's borrowing the same old excuse that has been used time and time again.

But the Ivany report says that this is a game changer. And to be honest, young Nova Scotians going through school, going through the community college or university or trade, having at some point to decide whether there's hope and opportunity for them here in our province, or whether they have to move away - this is for them, too, as a sign that this is a province that can get its house in order. Without a limit like this, that is never going to happen.

Mr. Speaker, the current debt of the province, the net debt, is $15.1 billion. That is almost $16,000 for every man, woman, and child in the province. A new baby born today in Nova Scotia starts out with a $16,000 credit card bill. No wonder they cry so much, but sadly, when they grow up, no wonder they choose to move away. That is why this bill is important.

With a debt of $15 billion and growing, the interest cost of servicing that debt is $875 million. The minimum payment on the Nova Scotia credit card, basically, is $875 million a year. That is almost $1,000 each. It also is a number that is bigger than the budget of almost every single government department. It is very close to the budget for the entire Department of Community Services. It is also 2.5 times larger - that minimum credit card payment that our province has - it is 2.5 times larger than the budget of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

One can only wonder if we still had the Graduate Retention Rebate today, an important tool to encourage young Nova Scotians to stay and live and work here that the Liberals cancelled, one can only wonder if that rebate would still be in place if we weren't unfortunately diverting so much of our hard-earned tax dollars to servicing the massive debt that we are now carrying.

The bill sets a goal, by 2024, 10 years away, of limiting the government's ability to borrow to 30 per cent of our GDP. What's interesting to note is that today our total debt is 37.5 per cent of GDP. That's the gap that has to be closed; that's the gap that the Ivany report told us to close. I believe we are being quite gentle with the government, actually, by setting a target that is 10 years out. Clearly a government cannot go on for nine years, borrowing at the rate that the Liberal Government is borrowing, and then ever hope to achieve that target in the 10th year.

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All Nova Scotians need a real plan from the government of how we are going to get from here, today, where we are, to there, in 10 years. Isn't that exactly what governments are elected to do, to show Nova Scotians the way forward, to give them hope that we are going in the right direction, to stop the gravy train of debt that has been accumulated and turn it around? Isn't that what they have asked us all to work on here? I believe it is. So this bill allows for that; that is why it is part of the PC plan.

I will tell you very directly, Mr. Speaker, it is part of a jobs plan because debts and deficits, they are job killers. This has been the experience in too many places around the world to ignore. The fact of the matter is that every year that the Liberals continue to run deficits and rack up our debt, as they plan to do, that is one year further into the future before Nova Scotians will ever get meaningful tax relief, or meaningful investment in our economic infrastructure, or meaningful hope for new jobs and opportunity.

Every year that the deficit stays and goes up is a year forward before we can look at HST relief, or small business tax relief, or providing Nova Scotians with a more reasonable cost of living compared to everywhere else in the country. The fact we have one of the highest debts in the country, and we continue to run these deficits that the Liberals are running, is directly related to why we have the highest taxes in all of Canada today: the highest sales tax, the highest personal income tax, the highest corporate tax, and in many places the highest property tax.

We all want Nova Scotia to be number one in some things but those are not the things. Until the government gets its own House in order, those good things that we should all aspire to, to at least be taxed at a level consistent with other Nova Scotians, or at least be average, that's not going to happen. That's why it's not right, Mr. Speaker, to tell Nova Scotians to always wait for a future day, to keep borrowing, and tell them that someday in the future we'll get hold of it. The Ivany report said now or never - with this bill we're saying now; the government's response to this bill and their next budget will tell us whether they're choosing now or whether they're choosing never.

This bill is about jobs for another reason - our debt is 37.4 per cent of the GDP, and it's among the highest in the country. Newfoundland and Labrador's debt is 26.1 per cent, basically a third less than ours. Saskatchewan's debt - we talked about Saskatchewan today in this House - is a measly 6 per cent of their economy; Mr. Speaker, ours is five times that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I can just imagine what a government member is going to say in a minute, they're going to say yes but Newfoundland and Labrador has oil and gas, Saskatchewan has great natural resources. Well I agree with that - and so does Nova Scotia, onshore and offshore, the difference of course is that those two provinces got serious about developing their natural resources to create jobs and opportunity for people at home in their provinces and to generate economic activity that would flow to the government to actually allow them to live within their means.

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Mr. Speaker, that's not what's happening in Nova Scotia. Unlike every other province in Canada, which managed to go from have not to have through the use of their natural resources, this government is saying no to that very path to prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, the final point I want to make is that this bill isn't about cutting, although I'm sure we'll hear that. By focusing on the ratio of our total debt to the size of our economy we give the government a choice - they can either balance the budget and live within their means, which is a good thing to do, or they can grow economy, which is also a good thing to do. So far they have chosen to run deficits for the entire length of their mandate, until the final year, and they've chosen to ban one of the few new ways to create good jobs in our province and grow the economy.

With a bill like this a government could not make bad choices like that, they would be forced to make good choices for the people of Nova Scotia and show them a more prosperous future. That's why this bill is so important.

I'll conclude where I started. For all those who want to see new ideas about how to get our economy going and when it doesn't come from the government it absolutely will come from the Progressive Conservative Opposition, and this bill is the proof. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. TERRY FARRELL « » : I'm very pleased today to rise to speak to Bill No. 34, known as the Living within Our Means Act. This bill appears to limit or purports to limit Nova Scotia's net debt to gross domestic product ratio to 30 per cent or less by the year 2024. The bill reads: "This Act may be cited as the Living within Our Means Act." I submit, Mr. Speaker, that it should be called an Act to Ensure a Crumbling Infrastructure for Nova Scotians.

In bringing this bill forward, the Leader of the Official Opposition seems to be forgetting the numerous commitments that he and his Progressive Conservative MLAs made to Nova Scotians. They landed in Opposition, following the 2013 campaign, after making a promise to cut the HST by two percentage points, Mr. Speaker, and the cost of that promise - $390 million.

At the same time they promised to reduce the small business tax rate to zero, and the cost of that promise - $42 million annually, Mr. Speaker. They also expected Nova Scotians to believe that they could make changes to the Equity Tax Credit that would cost another $9 million per year, and bracket creep $26 million per year, and expand the Seniors Property Tax Rebate at an additional cost of $6.5 million per year. And for the parents and children in the audience, create a parent and teacher tax credit at a cost of $3.9 million. That's almost $500 million in forgone revenue - half a billion dollars per year.

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Once the campaign was completed, the member and his Progressive Conservative MLAs commenced to propose a whole round of new spending on top of all these cuts. They refused to support the removal of the Graduate Retention Rebate - a program that admittedly did not work; a tough decision, but a good one. The cost of retaining that would have been $50 million annually.

The Progressive Conservatives also want the government to immediately, without delay, clean up Boat Harbour, at an immediate cost of $100 million. That's $150 million in new spending proposed by the Progressive Conservatives since the $0.5 million in cuts to taxation that they proposed. When you add the total forgone revenue, the new spending on to the existing deficit that was inherited, that's an amount of $935 million - we might as well call that $1 billion.

So the Tory accounting dream team are somehow prepared to deliver $1 billion removed from the province's budget and removed from our programs and services that are available to Nova Scotians. Where are these dramatic and painful cuts going to be made, Madam Speaker? From infrastructure investment? From capital spending? From social services? Where in the province? Does that mean no new schools, no hospital improvements? Does it mean reduced transportation and infrastructure investment? This makes bad policy for our children, for our health, and for the economy of this province.

Now to put this into perspective, Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Official Opposition is advocating all these measures while still arguing for improvements in his riding and school construction. I'm going to quote from his opinion that was voiced on December 23, 2013, and I'll table this document: "Students, parents and teachers in the River Hebert area have been told time and time again that their school would receive much needed renovations but nothing had been done. Today, they can be proud of the hard work they have done to see this project to fruition. The funding has been allocated, the tender has been awarded, the next step will be to get construction going."

Madam Speaker, that would not have been done in light of the policies that this Opposition is advocating here today. I sincerely hope that the Leader of the Official Opposition is prepared to travel from Halifax to Springhill someday and tell rural Nova Scotians that he doesn't want any more capital investments and spending for them, that they are cut off. Or is he only opposed to cutting off spending in ridings other than his own? I guess that remains to be seen, and I think it will remain to be seen for quite some time.

This bill would also limit the government's ability to respond to economic downturns. That means this bill would result in no stimulus spending, longer recessions, and more economic pain - a frightening concept, Madam Speaker. Think about this: in a recession, the size of our economy shrinks. This bill would mean that given a choice in such a situation, we would have to reduce our debt instead of investing in our people. Instead of providing skills and jobs training and getting people back to work, the Progressive Conservatives would rather see us put that money on the debt.

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What is even more amazing is that the Leader of the Official Opposition did not live up to these principles when he had the chance. When he was on the board of the Halifax International Airport Authority, the long-term debt of that organization grew from $724,000 in 2005 to $283.6 million in 2010. That's a 3,900 per cent debt increase over five years in that organization, and I'll table that document as well. According to the Halifax International Airport Authority's report, the debt was used to finance the capital plan and for general corporate purposes.

Apparently the member thought that some debt was good. This bill doesn't acknowledge that. This bill tries to make us believe that all debt, even that which invests in our education, health care and infrastructure, is bad debt.

Madam Speaker, regardless of the economic climate, this bill will hurt our economy, hurt health care and hurt our education system. This is not a reasonable bill; it is a radical bill; it's radically conservative and I stand here today to say our government does not support this bill.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable Interim Leader of the New Democratic Party.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD « » : Madam Speaker, that was an interesting intervention from a very spirited member of the government. I am not sure if that threw very much light on this really important subject. It seemed to have a bit more heat than light in terms of the content of that particular intervention.

The debt of the province is something that I'm sure all members of this Legislature are concerned about. With all due respect, I think we owe it to the people of the province to have informed discussions about the realities of the debt of the province, not distorted discussions. I often talk with people about the province's finances and I encourage people to become more economically literate about how the economy works and how the finances of the province actually work. If you listen to some conservative commentators, you would think that we were bankrupt and that Nova Scotia is an economic basket case. I hear this frequently and it's not the case. Nova Scotia is not bankrupt. We are not an economic basket case.

Just to try to put the debt of our province in context, I would refer people to a very excellent publication called Boomerang, written by a financial journalist whose name is Michael Lewis, who many people may know because he wrote a very amazing book on baseball that was on the New York Times best seller list for a long time. He wrote this book Boomerang and he looks at a number of economies around the world that really suffered after the financial meltdown in 2008 and those economies are Iceland, Ireland, Greece, United States and I believe Italy is the other one.

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If you go to a country like Greece, which a number of years ago certainly was in the news, their debt ratio as a country, GDP to debt, was something like 185 per cent. What essentially that meant was that their debt was 185 per cent higher than the size of their annual GDP. Imagine - no wonder the leaders of financial institutions who had loaned money to that country were concerned about them defaulting, as well as all of the other countries that are interdependent, particularly in Europe and beyond.

The United States debt to GDP ratio is something like 60 per cent, so our friends to the south who have, we recognize, a massive GDP, their debt load is in the trillions of dollars and we can't even fathom what that means, I can't certainly, and probably most people in our province can't. So what is Nova Scotia's debt load to GDP today?

Our debt load to GDP today is around 34 per cent. So if you look at Greece 185 per cent, if you look at the U.S. more than 60 per cent, or in the 60 per cent range. Nova Scotia is hardly an economic basket case and we're sort of in the ballpark of other Canadian provinces. Actually our debt load to GDP is a bit higher than some of the other Canadian provinces - however, we are not an economic basket case.

So let me address this bill. This bill actually in principle is one that we could support in the NDP caucus, and I look at the Ivany report and the goals of the Ivany report, and Ray Ivany, when the commission released their report, said these are stretched goals, they are goals that the commission established to make us work hard at achieving these goals, and whether or not we get there they feel that if we all pull in the right direction we could get there and it would be to the benefit of our province.

If you think about how much money our province spends annually servicing the current debt it's close to $1 billion. So we spend $1 billion on interest rates, we're sending that outside of our province primarily - we're giving it to wealthy institutions somewhere else, it doesn't have the benefit of being invested in our province and so to reduce our debt, to grow our economy, to improve our GDP to debt ratio would be a very excellent thing to do.

I'm very proud to say, Madam Speaker, that during the NDP Government we in fact improved the debt rate of the province to GDP ratio and we did that during extraordinarily difficult times, times when most of the province was in recession outside of the metropolitan area - we did it in times when we were just coming out of the worst economic crisis and recession that modern times have seen since the Great Depression.

[Page 1019]

It is possible to do this; it is possible to reduce your debt to GDP ratio, and I would say, Madam Speaker, with all due respect to the current government, the current Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, and Premier, this government in its first budget has not demonstrated a commitment to continuing on that path; in fact they have started to see an erosion of that path that we were on and that is something that certainly is of great concern to me and members of this caucus.

We would have expected more from this government, particularly since this government is so well endowed with fiscal conservatives, mostly in the big ticket department on the front benches. I look at the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development who was in fact a Progressive Conservative not so long ago on the Progressive Conservative benches, and the Ministers of Health and Wellness, and Finance and Treasury Board who have well established roots in conservative ideologies and Party.

So we would have imagined that we would see more restraint, more discipline, better planning, and more rigorous budgeting in the government departments. In the first fiscal update the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board had to admit to the media and to the public that she was unable to find a $28 million reduction in a budget that is more than $8 billion. Now that, to me, is pretty shocking, a pretty shocking admission, and we will see as the year progresses how well this government will do in meeting their budget targets, Madam Speaker.

You know this bill, in principle, is a sensible bill. This bill, in principle, is something that you could reasonably set out as a target for yourself. Its objective is to reach these targets over a significant period of time, over a 10-year period. If it was a target that a government could hit, it would certainly result in great benefit to the province. There is no question about that.

The fiscal conservative in me is rooted in the tradition of Tommy Douglas who in his time as Premier of the Saskatchewan Government, over a 40-some-year period was a government that brought in their annual budgets on target, no deficits, and really Douglas preached not only as a Baptist preacher but he preached as a social democrat that the very people who would be most hurt by undisciplined spending would be the working person in the Province of Saskatchewan. For that reason it was his politics that governments had an obligation to be fiscally prudent and conduct their affairs in a way that would result in the ability to provide social programs and other important public services to the residents of their jurisdiction.

For that reason Douglas did not run deficits and he was completely opposed to a growth in debt in his province, which he saw as putting his province in a position where it was beholden to the financiers of the markets in Montreal and New York and probably outside of the Canadian jurisdictions.

[Page 1020]

This is a bill that is worth talking about. It is not accurate, I think, to say that to have good planning around a bill like this would only result in crumbling infrastructure across the province. That's a ridiculous idea. This province is going to continue to see growth in its GDP and there will be revenue to invest and so we should invest. We also need to be mindful of the need to pay down our debt and control the growth of our debt, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of the Public Service Commission.

HON. LABI KOUSOULIS « » : Permission to make an introduction, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Absolutely.

MR. KOUSOULIS « » : Madam Speaker, I'd like to get everyone's attention to the west gallery where we have 14 very dedicated staff professionals from the Public Service Commission. They are in the Administrative Professional Development Program, and a warm round of applause. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Madam Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill No. 34. We did have had a chance to hear from the Liberal Government, led by one of the members who sits on the backbench. He informed us that living within your means is radical - that's where we started with this bill - that living within your means is a radical statement. He then proceeded to say - last time he rose to talk about a bill, he said there's no red tape, there is no red tape. I think what we're doing is we're getting a good understanding of the member's concept of economics.

Actually, we've spent a lot of time in this Chamber over the last few days talking about time and the amount of time we have to talk about things - and I do think it's important to note that the government member spoke to this bill for about eight minutes. A bill talking about an issue that impacts every single Nova Scotian and including these young ladies that have just been introduced in the gallery, welcome. Welcome to your share of . . .

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Order, please. It is unparlimentary to address visitors in our gallery.

MR. HOUSTON « » : Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Every person sitting in the gallery today has a share of the provincial debt - over $15,000, and every child who is born today in the IWK - $15,000. If you think that the amount of debt that this province has is not important to Nova Scotians, it is important to Nova Scotians. We're looking at $15 billion worth of provincial debt. It's completely disingenuous - I think it's important to understand where that debt comes from. About $9 billion of that is from accumulated deficits, and $6 billion from capital expenditures.

[Page 1021]

When you think about economics and we had a big dissertation of what the PC platform talked about in tax relief - I think it's great to know that the Liberal Government is completely against tax relief from what we heard today here. There's an expression that the government knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing and, Madam Speaker, the point of the matter is that there is value from tax relief because it stimulates the economy. So to focus on just what we will lose shows you the short-sightedness of the government that we are dealing with here. You have to understand that if you reduce taxes to small business you give them an opportunity to grow.

This bill is not a radical bill at all. It's a very simple bill, over 10 years to get our debt under control - we're not saying get it under control this year. We're saying limit our debt to 30 per cent of the GDP over 10 years. If want to call that radical, then I think we can understand some of the thinking that comes from some of decisions that we see the government making.

We often talk in the House about bettering things for our children, keeping more families here at home, and attracting new people to our province. Well, when I was in business I would talk to people all the time about coming to Nova Scotia and setting up their business here and being closer to their suppliers or closer to their customers and they would always say right away: Come and set up there? You know what I'm paying in taxes where I am right now - why would I set up there?

The taxes that we pay in this province are stifling our economy. And why are we paying those high taxes? To service the debt - $900 million a year in debt service costs. All we're saying is let's try to get the debt under control. That's all we're saying; that's all this bill is saying. So to have a member stand up from the government's side for an eight-minute theatrical dissertation and say we will not even consider for one millisecond getting the debt under control is a sad day for Nova Scotians.

It's a very sad day because in this Chamber, we should be talking about ways that we can get the spending under control - and really hold to it, really hold to it. Not say we're going to limit departmental spending by 5 per cent and say oops, sorry, we didn't quite hit that one but we're going to try again. Now we're going to cut it by 1 per cent, and we're going to do all kinds of stuff, we're going to reset and try again.

But they're not going to do it, and why, Madam Speaker? Because it doesn't matter to them, they have enough seats. It doesn't matter to the government whether or not they get the debt under control and I'm here to tell you that it matters to Nova Scotians and if you put a piece of legislation like this on the table, it will matter to this majority government and it will matter to future majority governments and that is in the best interest of all Nova Scotians not just Liberal supporters. (Applause)

[Page 1022]

We need to be thinking in this Chamber about decisions we are making today and how they impact future generations. During the time we have here - and every one of us here has a shelf life, Madam Speaker, politicians aren't going to be here forever, as much as we might want to think about it. So while we are here, we should try to make a positive impact and make some decisions that change the province for the better.

This is a simple thing. They are saying over 10 years we are going to rein this in and we are going to keep our debt to a certain limit and that will focus all future governments in the decision-making process.

AN HON. MEMBER: You should have said that to John Buchanan.

MR. HOUSTON « » : Madam Speaker, I think there might be members here that were here at that time, and maybe they should have said something about it. But I'm here today, and what I'm saying today is we should be thinking about the future. This is the way to do it, that's all this is. To dismiss it out of hand and say well we don't care about the future, we're not interested in that, it's just not fair to Nova Scotians.

Getting the debt under control is an important initiative of the Ivany commission report and all Parties in this House agree with the importance of that report - I think they do. We like to talk about it, refer to it and say it's a great thing. We don't see much action towards it. It would be nice to see a little bit of action towards trying to meet some of those goals and this is a chance to do that, that's all it is, Madam Speaker. I would just like to see the government show that it is serious about getting our economy back on track.

It is very easy to sit and say well this government in the past did that or this government in the past didn't do that. You know what, the sad irony is that the current government is just going to be another footnote in that system and they have a chance to be different. They have a chance to be the government that broke a cycle. They are choosing not to do that because they think it's fine - just to repeat the mistakes of the past is apparently okay when you are in government.

We would just like them to think carefully about that and maybe take a small step towards doing better for Nova Scotians, towards making the future better, and that's all we're asking, Madam Speaker.

The title of that Ivany report was Now or Never. That's what the title of that report was. Sadly, the answer to a simple request to try and take steps to meeting those goals is, never. We don't want to try and do that. We don't want to try, Madam Speaker, and I wish it was different. This is something that can be done now. A line can be drawn in the sand today that says yes, over the next decade, over the next 10 years, we will as a government try to take steps to get the debt under control, and that's important to all Nova Scotians.

[Page 1023]

This is a chance to do that today because if we continue to just ignore it, just continue to ignore it and let the debt continue to grow, if we don't put a stop to it, years will pass and governments will pass and then we'll be out five years, 10 years, 20 years and I'll be the one who has to do it, and I'm just asking them to give me a break here and bring the debt a little bit more in line before we're in control of it. It's only going to be harder to achieve in the future, Madam Speaker. Now is the time to try to get the debt under control.

How are we on time, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Five minutes.

MR. HOUSTON « » : Thank you. Nova Scotians are looking to their government to make good decisions, to make responsible decisions, and there is no place better to start than to make responsible decisions in dealing with our debt. By dealing with our debt today, we can ensure that future generations will have access to the same services that Nova Scotians have now, because if we don't deal with the debt, and the debt servicing costs continue to increase - we're in a very, very low rate environment right now. When debt rolls over now, it is being renewed at lower rates.

That's kind of a little windfall to today's government, but that's not a windfall that is going to last forever. When you have $15 billion worth of debt and you are renewing $500 million a year or $600 million a year and all of a sudden those rates start to spike, well, Madam Speaker, I'm sure you know what is going to happen then. Cost is going to go up and services are going to go down.

We need to be thinking about these things now, before it's too late. What we're saying is that over the next 10 years, let's try to get the debt in line to a benchmark against our GDP - 30 per cent of GDP. If you can grow the GDP, you can grow the economy, and there will be a corresponding increase in the amount of debt you can carry, but we need to keep that at a healthy level.

I would submit to you, Madam Speaker, that 30 per cent is certainly not radical. It's a very, very achievable target. It's a softball. But what did we hear? Not a chance. Not going to consider that, don't know how to do it, not going to figure out how to do it.

We have to find the way to take the steps today to do it. It's okay, it's a little bit of fun, maybe it's a little bit of a giggle for the members opposite to stand in here and make a personal attack on a person who has a pretty highly decorated business career, for a member who has probably never spent one day in business, probably never created one job in his entire life, to stand up and try to make an attack on somebody who is a very decorated CEO. (Interruptions) The Liberal talking points.

[Page 1024]

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The honourable member for Pictou East has the floor.

MR. HOUSTON « » : We have an aging population. We know that 1,000 Nova Scotians turn 65 every day. What we're looking at now is people needing more services from the government, not less services from the government. We're going to need to find ways to finance those services. We can't be spending money on debt servicing. We need to put money into the services that matter, and the more debt we have, the less money we have for debt servicing.

There are challenges ahead for this province: the shrinking labour force, shrinking tax base. We need to find more long-term care options to make available to those Nova Scotians who need them.

We know there are challenges, but we need to think ahead and we need to enact policies to attract business, to give families a break, and to bring young Nova Scotians back home here. If we don't do it, if we don't start today, we'll find ourselves in a far worse situation.

This bill is just a small piece of the puzzle. It's a large puzzle, I do concede, Madam Speaker, but this is a piece of it. This bill alone won't fix all the problems of the province. However, this bill will force members in this House to be mindful of what must happen: we must lower our debt. If we have a net debt to GDP ratio of 30 per cent or less, then we can improve the lives of Nova Scotians. It's not reckless, immediate action. It's 10 years to make sure that other policies implemented today make that possible.

Madam Speaker, in closing I would say that we simply cannot afford to maintain the status quo. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Order. Time has lapsed for debate on Bill No. 34.

The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 27.

Bill No. 27 - FOIPOP Commissioner Independence Act.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Madam Speaker, Bill No. 27, amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act changes the title of the Review Officer for the Act to Review Commissioner and it makes the Review Commissioner truly independent by making the commissioner an officer of the Legislature.

[Page 1025]

In democracy, transparency is a key driver of accountability. It enables citizens to judge for themselves how their tax dollars are being spent and to assess whether the people they elect are following through on their commitments. Nova Scotia was once a leader in this area. Back in 1977 our province became the first province to pass access to information legislation. Over the years that legislation has been adjusted and improved. Now it is time to change the legislation again to ensure our freedom of information and protection of privacy process is independent and completely transparent.

In 2012 the Freedom of Information Officer, Dulcie McCallum, raised issues in her annual report and in other places. She felt legislators should modernize Nova Scotia's FOIPOP process and make it more accountable and transparent. I know the Premier has claimed to agree with this. We had much discussion about it today in Question Period so if we are all on the same page, why don't we get ahead with the changes and why don't we support this bill is what I would submit to this Legislature today.

On January 17th, Ms. McCallum was advised by this government that she would not be reappointed as review officer. What does that say about this government's commitment to transparency? A review officer is responsible for implementing this Act in the interests of Nova Scotians. We feel that as long as the sitting government can pick and choose and oversee the review officer, the process will not be truly open and transparent. That's pretty straightforward and I think most Nova Scotians would understand that. We hope that today the government will show that they understand that as well.

This bill will change things. It will put our province on an even footing with the vast majority of Canadian provinces and restore our reputation as a leader in access to information. One of the recommendations previously made by Ms. McCallum, first raised by the review officer, was changing the title from review officer to commissioner. As she pointed out, no other place in the world uses the title review officer and there are many reasons for that. I know we have a very short amount of time to debate this bill so I'm not going to go so much into that. It seems like a modest change and a request that could be easily completed, right here in this sitting.

I don't understand why government wouldn't include this in their agenda of housekeeping legislation. They could even change it and introduce the housekeeping legislation in the future, as they have for numerous other items in this session.

The second issue, one we discussed today in Question Period and was raised in the last FOIPOP office annual report, is the designation of the commissioner as an independent officer of this Legislature. This change would put the commissioner on an equal footing with the Clerk, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Chief Legislative Counsel, the Auditor General, the Ombudsman and the Chief Electoral Officer. All respected positions, all needed to be independent. All positions, I think we in this Legislature agree, should be independent.

[Page 1026]

The review officer correctly stated that it is only from the status of independent officer can the access of the privacy commissioner be truly independent from the government of the day. That comes right from Dulcie McCallum. Again, it's difficult to think why this government would oppose this bill. I hope they are going to stand up and support it.

If they do support it, they will be keeping in tune - if I may use a term related to Celtic Colours - they'll be keeping in tune with the Premier's own comments on this matter. If they do not support it, then they are out of tune. We all know how music sounds when it's out of tune. It doesn't sound very good.

With this bill the government has a real opportunity to fill the Premier's promise of making Nova Scotia the most open and transparent province in Canada. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

MR. BILL HORNE « » : Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak about Bill No. 27, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Act amends Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

A few messages I would like to get across today are that our government has considered and offered a number of comments. I will be clear: Nova Scotians have the right to the information held by their government, and they expect fair and timely access to this information. This government believes in the statement to protect the rights of individuals and the Province of Nova Scotia.

I'd like to point out that the review officer's office is in place to hold the government accountable. It is proven to work. The process is transparent and open. In our view, the system we have in Nova Scotia is working well, and it provides valuable services to Nova Scotians. We see no reason to change it. It works well, and there is no need to change the system. There are no plans at this time to make the FOIPOP review officer an officer of the Legislature. This makes no sense.

It is important to note that there is a new review officer in place now, and I think we need to give her time to get acquainted with this role and what works best in Nova Scotia. Consultation with the new review officer would be appropriate. Finally, piecemeal amendments like this one are not advisable. Our government does not support Bill No. 27. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 1027]

HON. FRANK CORBETT « » : Madam Speaker, I thank the member for bringing the bill forward today, Bill No. 27. FOIPOP bills are always an interesting perspective, and the perspective sure changes from where you sit in this House. From time to time, you are much more amenable to amendments to the FOIPOP legislation when you are in Opposition than when you are in government, but as the fellow said, here we are.

When we were in government, we made some minor changes, especially about accessibility and cost. That's what I would like to speak a little bit about, because from time to time, that's where Nova Scotians have a hard time accessing freedom of information - the cost of it. While I am not against making the head of FOIPOP an officer of the House, there are other issues around FOIPOP that relate to cost that I think we could really - which would bring it into accessibility for Nova Scotians, because that's what it's there for.

I would say that if you did a declining ladder of who FOIPOPs information, it would probably go in descending order something like: political Parties, the media, and then it would drop off considerably after that of who tries to get this information.

With that said, isn't what we should be trying to do here - if we were to make the head of FOIPOP a commissioner and an officer of this House, wouldn't one of the first acts that that officer should do be to look at the cost of how people go about getting information? I'll get to the point of where that causes consternation for governments and some of the senior members of the government, not elected.

For FOIPOP to work, it has to be about accessing the information. Certainly it is important that the person who heads up that very important position is one who is beyond reproach and so on and is not bound by political masters. Just as important a piece of that is that everyday Nova Scotians should be able to access the information of what their government is doing. Every government believes that they are open and transparent to the point that I don't think that registers with people anymore. It's white noise. They say, okay, everyone says that.

What we would need to do is to allow people to get access, besides, if there was ever a debate and this was to go further, a friendly amendment would be that we would look, again, at the cost. This is really one of the larger issues. Now, what also lies within this idea of greater access is the reality that this information just doesn't come out of thin air, we have to put resources forward, and we, I mean the Province of Nova Scotia, more directly, the government, they have to then go and say we need all this information and then it has to go back so the reality is. . .

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Order please, your time has elapsed.

The member honourable for Fairview-Clayton Park.

[Page 1028]

MS. PATRICIA ARAB « » : Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise for an introduction. I'd like to turn the member's attention to the east gallery and introduce my sister, Paula Arab. She is a media and public relations expert living in Calgary, Alberta. I'm very honoured to have her here because it is the first time since my election that she has been able to coincide a visit home with a session of the House so I'd ask her to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. LARRY HARRISON « » : Thank you, Madam Speaker. I just want to say a few words about Bill No. 27. As my colleague has already said, the bill contains two changes. If government adopted these changes, the province would regain its reputation for being a leader in access to government information. Because of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act all public bodies are obliged to adopt policies of accountability, openness, and transparency and provide a right to access to information, of course with limited exemptions.

They are also obliged to ensure protection of an individual's personal privacy. A 2001 court decision has said that the legislation in Nova Scotia is deliberately more generous to its citizens and is intended to give the public greater access to information that might otherwise be contemplated in the other provinces and territories in Canada. Nova Scotia's law makers clearly intended to provide for the disclosure of all government information, with certain exemptions, in order to facilitate informed public participation in policy formulation, ensure fairness in government decision making, and permit the airing in reconciliation of divergent views.

No other province or territory has gone so far in expressing such objectives. I know that a lot of questions have been asked and a lot of answers given in the last few days regarding this, but if I have learned anything in my times of working, perception is everything. The public needs to know that they can participate and the tone, of course, needs to be set by the government because they are the one in power right now.

It will put Nova Scotia's top FOIPOP official on an equal playing field with other counterparts across Canada. It will show that we in Nova Scotia take access to information seriously and that we do have time to deal with the mechanisms that assure Nova Scotians that the people they elected are keeping their commitments.

Secondly, we believe it is time to designate the review commissioner as an independent officer of the Legislature, and this change is the fundamental change. This would mean the commissioner would no longer report to a Cabinet Minister but to all MLAs, and it would mean that the commissioner could act with true independence and not be burdened with the concern that their actions will not please the government of the day or that Opposition Parties won't question what the minister did or did not see or approve.

[Page 1029]

As long as the sitting government has the power to pick and choose the review officer, he or she cannot act with absolute independence, and even though he or she might be operating with the utmost integrity, the review officer's work can be overshadowed by questions about political input. Nova Scotia can and should be a leader in access to information, it does strengthen our democracy and the bill represents an opportunity to do just that.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Madam Speaker, that concludes the Opposition's business for the day. I'll turn it over to the Government House Leader.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : I was going to have fun with the House but no, no it's still too early.

Madam Speaker, may I suggest we recess until 4:00 p.m. and we'll resume Government Business at that point in time?

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The motion is to recess until 4:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[3:52 p.m. The House recessed.]

[4:00 p.m. The House reconvened.]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Madam Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1.

[Page 1030]

Res. No. 1, House of Assembly Rules - Amend - notice given Sept. 26/14 - (Hon. M. Samson)

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. TIM HOUSTON « » : Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and speak to the amendment on Resolution No. 1, which essentially deals with Monday nights, so here I am again, rising to argue for more time in this House, to give the members more time to talk in this House on the issues that are important to Nova Scotians.

Before I launch into that, Madam Speaker, I do want to say that sometimes when you are up talking about things, maybe you say something that is misinterpreted or comes across wrong, through maybe your own fault. I do want to say to the member for Dartmouth East that the comment I made last week was a little bit out of order. It certainly wasn't intended to be and I do apologize for what came across there in my comments - Dartmouth South, sorry - not Dartmouth East, I never got them yet.

There are a lot of opinions in this Chamber and there are lots of good ideas in this Chamber. We all tend to approach things a little differently; we are all different people with different experiences. I think that is the value of this Chamber, if properly used in the right direction, there is a lot of energy there that can do good for the province, but we have to talk that stuff out at some point.

When we are thinking about matters that are important to Nova Scotians, it's a shame to think that some of those matters that are important to Nova Scotians don't get their proper due in the Chamber here; they don't get properly discussed. It could be that something comes forward, a member brings something forward from their constituency, and I will say this happens quite a bit in our caucus and certainly happens with me. I'll be out and I'll be talking to constituents in a certain area and they'll have an issue and I'll understand that issue. I'll take it back to my caucus and they'll say well Tim, don't look at that in isolation - if you look at this, this and this - and I say okay, I never thought about it like that.

We all have that. It happens in our homes, it happens in our offices, it happens in our caucuses; there is no doubt that that will happen here. That can only happen when you have discussion, so the things that come to this floor should get proper discussion because there are decisions that are made by the government, that are made by the elected officials that can only be made in this Chamber.

There are lots of things that can be done outside of here, whether it's helping a constituent or just trying to help somebody get through an issue. A lot of that stuff, everything is in place for that and if we find the right channels then we can fix things and we can help people. We don't need this Chamber for all those things.

[Page 1031]

There are some things that we need this Chamber for and that is the work that can only be done here, the legislation can only be passed here. So we need to make sure that when we are changing the rules of the way this House operates, we are mindful of the fact that there are a lot of things that the people in Nova Scotia would like to see changed or would like to see discussed that can only happen here.

Sometimes you can change a departmental regulation in a back office just by meeting with stakeholders, or talking to people you can reach a conclusion, but if you want to change a piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, it has to come through this House. Pieces of legislation that come forward for discussion in this House should get their proper discussion. That is what I would like to see and I would like to see us not be taking away those opportunities. I don't want to see us reducing the number of hours that are available or the time that's available for us to discuss those things.

If you ask the average Nova Scotian what they think of the political process, you're probably going to get a pretty common answer, no matter if you're in Yarmouth or in Sydney or in Pictou East. People have a perception of what politicians do. It's not always a positive perception, so here we are, and we're talking about reducing the hours of the House to discuss the things that matter to Nova Scotians, when we should be feeding into those people that, yes, we do care; yes, the elected representatives assembled in Halifax do care about your opinions. They do care about the things that matter to you, and they are willing to work on your behalf to effect positive change.

We can only work on behalf of our constituents to effect positive change on legislation when we're here in this Chamber. I know when we talked about this resolution earlier, we talked about how there are a lot of issues that don't get discussed here because they don't make it on the order paper to second reading. Or they don't make it past second reading to Law Amendments. Or they don't make it to third reading.

Maybe if we had more time in here, we could get more things talked through that process in a productive way. We all play a part in the productivity and the level of the discussion in this Chamber, and I'm going to try and do my part to elevate that on the issues that are important to myself and to Nova Scotians. We owe that to Nova Scotians, to talk things through. It doesn't mean we'll agree on things, but I'd like to see things discussed a little more.

I would find it hard to believe that a bill on setting a debt limit as tied to GDP - I just know there are a lot of members of the government who think that that deserves more discussion from their side than eight minutes. I know it deserves more discussion from our side than whatever we had - 20 minutes or something. That's a pretty significant issue facing Nova Scotians. It gets very little discussion.

I heard my colleague talking about the late debates. Late debates are really the only opportunity that the members have to submit a topic and then have a chance for a discussion on it. For most members, it's their only opportunity to put a topic down and say, I'd really like to see this discussed on the floor of the House. How much time do we allocate for late debate? It's 30 minutes, 10 minutes a caucus.

[Page 1032]

I know that when we talk turkey - sometimes we talk a bit of turkey in here, with 30 minutes for late debate on the turkey issue. My colleague tabled a petition today. I think there were over 3,000 signatures on it, and many more that just didn't fit into the process of getting into the queue to get in here today, for whatever reason. My colleague tabled that petition on behalf of 3,000 Nova Scotians, and had 10 minutes to talk about it at that time - not even.

Then you get maybe a couple of questions in Question Period on an issue, but we all know what happens in Question Period. It's not a back-and-forth discussion. It's not a true representation of how members feel about certain issues. It's an end to a means in many ways.

There are more things that we could be discussing, Mr. Speaker, and if we could make the House operate more efficiently, if we can curtail some of the things that take more time than they should and have more time to talk about the things that matter to Nova Scotians, well that's an effective, productive use of time. So what I would say on this amendment is maybe Monday nights could be set aside for that. There are lots of things to discuss. We could have a meaningful discussion on Monday nights about issues that really matter to Nova Scotians, and they might be issues that weren't necessary in a campaign platform. Maybe there weren't issues that were in there, they might not have been foreseen, but they are still issues that are important to Nova Scotians and still should be discussed so we can know what all members think about that.

I know we have a House Leader for the Official Opposition and Leader of the Official Opposition and House Leaders for the other Parties and stuff like that. A lot of times they portray the position of the Party on that issue, but there are a lot of things behind that, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of buildup to a position and it could be that if a member has time to stand up and talk about how they feel about an issue, then somebody sitting on this side might hear something over there and say, okay, now I understand, I have a bit more of an appreciation for that, and maybe that's the way we'll get some compromise on some issues.

It doesn't have to be my way or the highway. My way or the highway is not a good way to lead any group of people and it certainly is not a good way, in my estimation, to lead a province. So we need to be giving members an opportunity to speak about the things that their constituents care about, because it just may be the things that another member's constituents care about, and probably in most cases, Mr. Speaker, be the things that many members' constituents care about because we're all Nova Scotians. When you break it down we all have similar concerns, we have similar hopes and aspirations, and we just need to be giving people the chance to have those understood by the people who govern them.

[Page 1033]

If the government is going to sit here and make decisions that impact the lives of everyday Nova Scotians they should at least hear from some of them, whether it's through their elected representatives, or whether it's through Law Amendments and actually speaking to legislation.

Mr. Speaker, what we should be doing today is to find a way to make not only the House operate more effectively, but the whole governing process. There is always room for improvement on everything that happens in here, so we should be talking about all those things.

So if we talk about Monday nights, and you know there is a lot of talk about well Monday people can spend in their constituency if they don't have to come here to this Chamber on Monday evenings, maybe that gives them a bit more time in their constituency to do more of their constituency work.

I just don't know, Mr. Speaker, that's certainly not the case for everyone. If we sit at 7:00 p.m., I usually leave Pictou East around 3:00 p.m. That's a good part of the day for me in the constituency, and I get a lot of stuff done. Some members have to leave earlier than that, some members certainly they wouldn't have any obligations in this Chamber on Monday at all if we did not sit, but we're representatives for an entire province so everyone is impacted a little differently. And I think if we try to make a blanket statement that the House would be more effective without Mondays, I think that's a tough one, that's a tough one to sell to Nova Scotians, because it's a tough one - I don't believe it, I don't believe that this House would operate more effectively if we drop Monday night. I think Monday night is a chance for us to get on with the business of government.

I've heard arguments saying it will cost - you know the Opposition always wants the cost. They are always looking for savings and maybe it will cost less if the House doesn't sit on Monday. I just don't know, Mr. Speaker, because I look at some of the hours that we have sat and sometimes we'll see what tomorrow brings. We may be in here at midnight tonight, who knows, it certainly wouldn't be new - we've done it before. When this House does that, there's a tremendous cost to that situation: overtime, scheduling, all of these types of issues. I don't think this is an area where you can focus on the costs because I think it's a wash.

Then if we're not going to focus on that, let's think about the benefits of this House sitting on Monday nights. I think the benefits have the potential to be many. There are lots of things on the Order Paper that we would - I would love to take Monday night and talk about the divide between urban Nova Scotia and rural Nova Scotia and how that is being widened by some of the policies that are coming into place.

I'd love to take a Monday night and talk about food safety. I was reading an article last night and a person from Iowa asked a question, how can you tell people that a facility that processes 10,000 cows a day is safer than a facility that processes one a day? That's not an easy thing to explain because I think there is a big disconnect there. That's an issue we could have a meaningful discussion on in this House, we'll say - how do we put food safety first? Because that is obviously what we all want. Nobody wants to jeopardize our food safety, Mr. Speaker. To say you don't care about food safety, that's completely disingenuous, it's just not true. Nobody should be able to say that. We all want people to have a safe food supply.

[Page 1034]

There are many ways to do that. There are different sizes of facilities. We can talk about that and I'm sure that some of the members opposite have lots of ideas on that. Who knows, maybe some of them might be good ideas and maybe a good idea will come from over here and maybe we can - through discussion that can only happen on the floor of this Chamber - make that better. Right now we have a petition from 3,000 people who are pretty upset, pretty worried that they might not be able to grow their own food and they are worried about what their government is doing.

Maybe we could be speaking to that and talking about the choices available, the options available, and then come up with - say this is the way the government feels about this; this is the way the elected officials feel about this, as opposed to maybe this is the way the governing Party feels about this or the way that a subset of the government Party feels about this. These are all things we can talk about in this Chamber. It's the stuff that can only be done here.

I talked a little bit earlier, in another time when I had the opportunity to rise, about the Ivany goals. We hear lots of chat about it here, lots of discussion in this House about the Ivany goals - 19 Ivany goals - they are referred to all the time. I don't know, Ray Ivany's name has probably been said on this floor, he might be reaching a record for references to him on this floor - and across Nova Scotia. It is pretty well respected what that commission did.

Well, Mr. Speaker, have we had any time to talk about any of those goals on this floor? Have we really had any opportunity to talk about any of those 19 goals that the Ivany commission put forward? The 19 goals that we all agree with - we all say we agree with them. I bet there are lots of different ideas from all the people in here and their constituents that they bring forward as to how we can start to work toward meeting some of those goals, because already Nova Scotians are starting to get a little skeptical. It's another report, where is it going? Not hearing anything, another SWOT analysis - situation, alternatives - what are they called? I don't know. Strengths and weaknesses. (Interruption) Opportunities.

So these are all things that people in this House have an obligation to the people of Nova Scotia to talk about, to show them that we're listening. Maybe Monday nights are a good time to do that. Maybe we could set Monday nights aside and say, if the government has no business for Monday nights, maybe we could truly make it the business of the people, where we could talk about Opposition bills or things that can really go toward making the province a better place. I really believe some value would come out of those types of discussions.

[Page 1035]

We all have ideas on different parts, and due to our different backgrounds, we have different things to add to the discussion of each one of those goals. If I'm talking about Education and Early Childhood Development, well, I'll listen to members in here that are former teachers, like my colleague, or former school administrators. They have a perspective on that that I just don't have.

We have all different kinds of perspectives in this Chamber, and it's a shame that we don't get to share those perspectives more. If we have a time set aside on a Monday where we could do that, well, maybe can advance the province. Maybe we can start to solve some of those problems.

I know that sometimes you see, just in the hallway here, you talk to a member opposite, I talk to a member opposite and say, I don't understand your position on that, and they say, well, let me explain it to you. I say, okay, now I understand. It doesn't mean we have to agree, but at least now I understand, and it changes my lens.

That could be happening more, and I think it would be in the interest of Nova Scotians if it was happening more. I think we could start to bring more value to the work that's done in this Chamber if we focused on some of those things in the time that we have, maybe time that's made available for making some of the other things more effective, the way we do things.

There's lots of business that could be brought before this Chamber. There are lots of things we could be discussing in this House, and I would be a proponent of making that more possible, of giving us the opportunity to discuss more things in here. I'm not in favour of reducing the amount of time that we can be here to discuss issues that matter to Nova Scotians. We can do what we do through our routine, we can do that better, we can make that better, we can find ways for that to operate more effectively, and we should be doing that. We should always be doing that. Then we can also find ways to accomplish more of the people's business.

So that's what we'll do. We'll be here later this week, and I'll have some Nova Scotians I've met through this job who are suffering from Lyme disease. They're going to come back to this Chamber at some point to hear more discussion on that, whether it's late debate or whether we call it on Opposition Day.

I think the shame of that is I know there are many members opposite that have opinions on how we can deal with Lyme disease in this province. I know there are many members opposite who have an opinion on whether or not it's an issue we should be discussing. We haven't had a chance to hear from those members. Maybe one time in late debate we heard from the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education who stood up for 10 minutes and talked about it and then when we introduced the bill we had the member for Halifax Atlantic, I think, talked about it. That's two members talking about that issue that is so important to all Nova Scotians. There are many members over there, and I would love to hear their thoughts on that and maybe on a Monday night that's something that they could come in and talk about, and maybe working together, we could come up with a strategy.

[Page 1036]

That's not to say that the bill I introduced to develop a strategy for dealing with Lyme disease, that's a work in progress, I accept that. I'm okay with that, but I want to see the work part of it done, that's what Nova Scotians want to see. They want to know that their elected officials understand the things that are important to them and that they make an effort to help them address them. If they can't, then they can't, and they'll accept that, but what they want to know is that they understand and that they care.

If we reduce the time in this Chamber that gives members a chance to stand up and talk about things that are important to them, then we are doing a disservice to Nova Scotians. This is the only opportunity that we have to really show them because it means something. It means something to a Nova Scotian if I go to a constituent and say I talked about your issue, or I asked your question, or I talked about what you've done and your accomplishments - they're pretty proud. That means something to them.

I don't want to limit the opportunity for Nova Scotians to be proud of their government. If we spend less time in here, less time talking about the issues that are important to Nova Scotians, then we are limiting their opportunity to understand and to hear from us that we care, we listened and we understand, that's really what we should be doing here.

Maybe what we could do is we could take Monday nights and we could go back through the archives and find bills that have been introduced in the past, maybe by members who are now in the government side, and we can talk about those bills and say, when you introduced this bill it meant something to you, there was a reason for it. Does it still mean anything to you? Is it still relevant? Is it something we can discuss? And we could get some continuity in this Chamber instead of what the perception that Nova Scotians have, which is that there is no continuity. When you are on one side of the House you say one thing and when you're on the other you do another and that's just the way Nova Scotians feel about the way this process works.

Monday nights might be an opportunity for us to try to restore some faith back in that system, go back and look at some of these bills and talk about these bills and have the members have an opportunity to stand up and talk about them, not just dismiss them out of hand, not reduce the amount of time that the work of this Chamber can be done. It can only be done here. This is the only place that we can come and do this type of work. It's a privilege to be here and it's a privilege to stand up and talk about things and we should be honouring our constituents by doing it more.

[Page 1037]

By doing it less, it's not respecting our constituents so I would say we put Monday nights - we find a use for Monday nights that makes Nova Scotians proud of their Legislature, that makes Nova Scotians proud of their elected officials. It gives people a chance - ordinary Nova Scotians - to have their voices heard on this floor, because right now they don't have much opportunity for that. So what we do is we listen to Nova Scotians, take it forward to this Chamber, and we talk about the things that matter to them.

Monday nights are the time we can do that, Mr. Speaker. If we take Monday night out of the equation, I don't think it respects the electorate. I don't think it's a good thing. Any way you slice that, there'll be less work done, or work will have to be jammed through in a quicker timetable. If you're going to change legislation, if you're going to introduce legislation that impacts every Nova Scotian, you should do it in an orderly, methodical fashion where it goes through, it gets properly vetted at each stage, people have a chance to register their opinion, and people have a legitimate chance to have their voice heard and to possibly have an impact on how it works.

The Government House Leader is giving the impression that all of that happens in caucus. Well, I'm not in the House Leader's caucus, so I don't have a chance to bring the concerns of Nova Scotians to another Party's caucus. This is my opportunity. So if another Party's caucus decides on a piece of legislation, when is our opportunity? We have to think about - not every Nova Scotian voted for the government. All those people who didn't vote for the government, their voice is over here on this side. I think the government would still respect the voices of those people - well, this is the mechanism that they get to this floor; this is the conduit that brings the voices of those Nova Scotians here to give their opinion on what the government is doing.

There should be more of that, not less of that. You can't assume that everything that comes to this floor is a fait accompli. I think that's an assumption that happens a lot with majority governments, federally and provincially, in all kinds of places. I think that's a weakness in the system, and I don't think we have to feed into that weakness. I think we could rise above that and say, this is the idea - to government with all of its power and all of its might - this is the idea that it has. What do you think?

Then they can listen to the voices of the Nova Scotians who didn't support the government and they can make an informed decision whether or not they want to ignore those voices, or whether those voices aren't raising legitimate points. Both of those things might be true sometimes. But there would be times where they'll say, well, that's okay, I see that. I hadn't thought of that. I don't think the government thinks they think of everything. And maybe they'll hear something from over here sometime that they'll say, okay, we'll work with you on that, we'll try to fix that.

But if we reduce the time for the members to speak in here, then we're reducing the opportunity for that to happen. And we're reducing the opportunities of our constituents to have their voices heard. I think I heard the numbers at one time, that it was 300,000 or 400,000 Nova Scotians who voted for the government. Well, that's a lot that didn't. I had that number at one time, but it was kind of an irrelevant number.

[Page 1038]

The point I'm trying to make is there are a lot of voices on this side that are represented. So when I stand up and talk, I'm speaking on behalf of 15,000 residents in Pictou East. Maybe sometimes they all wish I wasn't speaking for them, Mr. Speaker, but I can assure this House that I listen to what they say. I will certainly change my mind when I hear things, and that's what the people want from their government too. But how can you ever change your mind if you don't want to listen to anything that anyone says?

We should be giving Nova Scotians the opportunity to have their voices heard. Maybe Monday night is the ideal time to do that. It's certainly worth my while to get here and speak on issues that are important to Nova Scotians, important to my constituents, important to me - important to me as a father, as a Nova Scotian, as a husband. I have my own concerns, and we all do, so we should all be taking the time to express those concerns.

If we take Monday night out of the equation and reduce the hours, then we're reducing the time to talk about things that matter to Nova Scotians, and increasing the frustration that Nova Scotians have with their government and the perception they have with their politicians - that they don't listen, that they don't do anything. That's not a good message to be sending, because we do listen to Nova Scotians. We do listen to what Nova Scotians have to say. We assess it, and then we make decisions based on it.

I want to assure this House that the people I am talking to want us to be talking about things that matter to them up here. It's not about our personal perceptions, our personal opinions. It's about the opinions of the people of Nova Scotia.

Right now, we could be talking about any number of issues that Nova Scotians are worried about. They're worried about jobs. They're worried about their economic future. They're worried about the economic state of the province. There are a lot of Nova Scotians who are worried about the status of the transfer payments to this province.

We rely pretty heavily on transfer payments from the federal government. They came into the media quite a bit recently. A number of commentators have been talking about, well, a lot of the pot for transfer payments comes from energy exploration, and if those guys over in Nova Scotia, those folks over there, are not interested in contributing to that, playing along with that industry, then why are we doing all the heavy lifting and sending it down?

We don't want people across Canada thinking of us as, look at those have-nots over there in Nova Scotia, it's a have-not province. They can't get out of their own way, they don't want to get out of their own way.

[Page 1039]

We don't want people thinking that about us, Mr. Speaker, so let's spend some time in here talking about those issues that are so important to Nova Scotians. The time is available to us. Let's use it for those purposes. With those few words, I'll take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Queens-Shelburne.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, certainly this is something that is of deeply personal interest to me, this resolution regarding some rule changes in the House. My focus in my earlier speech has been on the time allotted for Oral Question Period, because I think one of the fundamental principles, or guiding principles, of our parliamentary system is holding the government accountable. I think it's something that all politicians - an important part of our democratic system.

Mr. Speaker, as you recall, I took the time - and I want to confess that I'm not an accountant, and I'm not a lawyer. I know that there are some very well-educated people in this Chamber, and I want to recognize them for their determination in getting to that certain level.

When I pointed out in my earlier speech that we're actually losing 30 minutes in Question Period under this new particular proposal and I suggested there is an average of six weeks in each sitting, each session Spring and Fall session, two a year under our parliamentary system, Mr. Speaker, that's 30 minutes less time each week, 12 weeks, a summary of 360 minutes per year, six hours per year, and we all know with the majority government we have a four-year term, so that's 24 hours less in Question Period per a four-year term.

I also noted, I think this is very interesting because I went home and actually did the math and I wanted to follow this through. The sitting government, for the first time - I have been here eight years - the backbenchers in the earlier opening session were involved in Question Period. In that first session they averaged 20 minutes, Mr. Speaker, in the Liberals asking their own ministers questions. If you add that up that would be 40 minutes per year, for a total of four years is 160 minutes, two hours and 40 minutes, and that would be a grand total of 26 hours and 40 minutes less time in Question Period.

Now this is the point that I went home and reviewed because it is interesting and I want, Mr. Speaker, to bring attention to the well-educated people in this Chamber, the lawyers and the accountants, because this is a simple mathematical equation. If you look at this it's a loss of one session - one session in a four-year term.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I'm not a lawyer, a parliamentary lawyer understanding the parliamentary law, but if I was to just suggest that we're going to elect a Party and give them a four-year mandate and say oh by the way there is no need to go in and hold yourself accountable, just take one of those sessions off, just take one off - pick any one of that four-year term and that's going to be okay.

[Page 1040]

I don't think that is going to get past the smell test, and we're asking the people now to reduce our Question Period time. I think that is a serious flaw and we need to revisit that. To me one session, under the present system, Mr. Speaker, I'm not an accountant, I'm not a lawyer, is 21 hours per session and under this scenario we are going to lose 26 hours and 40 minutes. I think it needs to be addressed and I understand that we had an opportunity to put that off, to study that, and I respect that that particular amendment was defeated. I understand that very clear.

So I'll move on and I'll accept it, but I want to bring that point out to the public. You're asking a government that has a majority to take one session off in four years. I think I made my point; I think I made it very clearly.

There is another interesting point that I picked up over the weekend, Mr. Speaker, and I want to table it. It was the local paper, The Chronicle Herald, and the individual did a nice story and I'm going to table that. I ask all members to review that at their leisure. The story points out in The Chronicle Herald over this weekend regarding questions in Question Period and the columnist concludes: "Could be better prepared." The MLAs could be better prepared for Question Period - and I'll table that without getting into it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read the whole thing.

MR. BELLIVEAU « » : I just want to make the point and I want this point, Mr. Speaker, to go out to all Party members, all their Leaders, all their House Leaders, all their staff, this is an important point - if we do not have the ability to bring a quality question to this House we do not deserve this job. That's for all, I included the Premier, the Parties that are in this House, all the MLAs, including the staff that represents all of us. If we cannot come up with a full hour of qualified questions, we do not deserve this job. The quality of questions is what this House is all about.

I want to point out that 90 per cent of the questions that come into our constituency offices - there are two, one in Shelburne and one in Liverpool - 90 per cent of those concerns or constituency work do not, I repeat, do not make the front page of the news on a daily basis. There are ordinary citizens who have concerns, a whole gamut, a range of questions which are their 911.

Now, the other point that I want to make here is that all politics is local. Now if I'm going to give you a recipe of getting re-elected, and I've heard other members talk about how to get this recipe of getting re-elected and one of those ingredients is all politics - I repeat - all politics is local. If you do not understand that then you do not understand the story behind - which I learned many years ago - of a senior in my community that had her mailbox, or his mailbox cleaned off by a snow plow. Now, you're going to say that at the time I was a local rookie councillor in municipal politics, and one suggestion that came to me was that that's not your jurisdiction, you don't need to get involved with that, that belongs to provincial jurisdiction, and when you pick up the phone, they say it doesn't belong to me, that is a federal jurisdiction because that's the mail - Canada Postal Service.

[Page 1041]

If you don't understand that all politics are local, then you simply need to go and restore and put that mailbox back and that mail service is there the next day. Do you understand local politics? The point I'm trying to make here is that we do not have the opportunity of taking that time away from this House to bring those local issues to this floor. That is why we're sitting here. We're sitting here to be a voice for the people who elect us, and those are the ordinary questions that come into our constituency office on a daily basis. It's the 90 per cent of the questions that don't get to the front page on a daily basis.

To me, it is loud and clear, and I made reference many times to my earlier speech. The people in the fishing industry, from my culture, have a very good saying: you took the bait now I'm going to set the hook. I set that hook because I gave you the equations about the loss of time and now the public is going reel you in because what we see, we've diluted Oral Question Period Put By Members with taking the time away from people who put us here and that is a flaw.

I can assure you that all politics is local and if you want to get re-elected, you're going to do the right thing, you're going to amend this particular resolution that's in front of this House and you're going to do the right thing because the first thing you're going to do is the next time, when the House recesses, you are going to go out to a social, and somebody's going to stop and ask you, oh by the way, did you allow that resolution to get past the House and take away one session during a four year term? And the answer is going to be - I hope it's going to be no, because you need an opportunity to correct it. With that Mr. Speaker, I think I've made my point, I set the hook and now it's time to reel it in. Thank you very much for your time.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie.

MR. LLOYD HINES « » : Mr. Speaker I move that the question now be put.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is for the question on Resolution No. 1 now be put.

The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Mr. Speaker, I was hoping we were going to hear some remarks from the member, it would have given me a little more time to prepare mine. I'm back up here and I understand there may be another amendment coming forth so I'm going to continue speaking.

[Page 1042]

The amendment we're speaking about now is on Monday evening, essentially returning Monday into the mix. I was trying to think about what I might talk about and I thought of the Mamas and the Papas song, "Monday, Monday". Of course, Nova Scotian Denny Doherty was part of that famed group, a group that I certainly enjoy listening to. I actually saw the musical here in Halifax at Neptune Theatre a number of years back. It really was exceptional, I think some of the other members might have seen it as well. I was completely blown away by it; I remember Doris Mason was singing the parts of Mama Cass. Doris who I know - she's from Cape Breton County. I'm not sure if the members can help me on the exact community where she's from, but a fabulous singer.

AN HON. MEMBER: Stellarton.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Oh, she's from Stellarton, I was mistaken. (Interruption) Somebody said, it's a big island, okay. Nonetheless I thought of that song and that great performance. I know Denny Doherty himself, he's now passed on, but I know he did a lot of singing as well for that show and quite impressive that we have a Nova Scotian who loomed so large on the world stage in terms of popular music at that time when those hits were coming out.

In tribute to that I wonder if I might be able to read some of the lines from that song - I'll table it - that might resonate. (Interruption) Oh, you don't want me to start singing. In hopes that maybe some of these lines might turn the tide of debate here. I suppose it's kind of silly but in the absence of anything else:

Monday, Monday, so good to me

Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would be

Oh, Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee

That Monday evening - at which time we usually sit here - you would still be here with me.

I think I've proven my point, I better not read too much more of that. There are a couple of other lines and maybe if there's a Christmas party the member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River and I will do a duet on that one.

MS. ZANN « » : You bet, yes.

MR. MACMASTER « » : I see another line here:

But whenever Monday comes, you can find me crying all the time. . .

[Page 1043]

Oh, Monday, Monday, won't go away, it's here to stay.

Monday, Monday, it's here to stay.

I don't know, I guess after a little more debate here we'll know for sure whether or not Monday will be here to stay. I think I'll change my material here because even I feel a little bit silly about this but I really feel like I've run out of words to talk about here so I'm hoping that amendment comes forth soon. I understand that it's in the works, but until the amendment comes forward, I can't sit down because the member for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie has indicated they are certainly ready go for a vote on this.

Mondays. I know usually for me Mondays I would usually depart Judique or Troy, where I live now, in the morning and do a little work to prepare for the House and I've always enjoyed Monday evenings because I guess it's kind of like when I went to watch the World Cup, I was really impressed watching afternoon games at the World Cup because you'd be seeing players playing in the daylight. Of course, sports here in Canada when we go to watch a sporting event, for me it was often watching a hockey game in a rink and it's indoors and it's dark, there are lights on and to see an event during the day (Interruption) Monday nights were kind of something different because we're always sitting in the day time, of course, unless we're discussing something that is contentious and we're sitting late into the night.

Mr. Speaker, I know Monday nights have always been a little bit different because we're here at a time when there is no Question Period and sometimes maybe the spirit in the House might be a little more relaxed. Sometimes you might get a little business done even outside the Chamber. If there is a matter of importance in the constituency that needs to be discussed - I know a lot of people watching might think that all we do is talk when we are in the Chamber here. I know there are conversations that happen outside the chamber, sometimes even things that are more than conversations. I can think of something I witnessed in the past but I'm not going to get into that.

There is other business that happens in here, Mr. Speaker, when we are together and sometimes that can be very productive, things that maybe sometimes are best handled outside of something like a Question Period. I know on Monday nights in the past I have spent times bringing those matters to the government. I think of a former member who was the member for Timberlea-Prospect, Mr. Bill Estabrooks, who was a member of this Legislature for many years, who had an ability to cut across the political divide, I think, and was well respected by members on all sides. He was, I think, the only member I really saw members of all sides of the House clapping for when he would give responses in Question Period. Maybe that had to do with his charitable nature but I know Mr. Estabrooks was certainly a member - when he was a member of this House - who was easy to approach and was always very open to doing some business, even if you weren't on the same side of the political line as he was. I think there is a lot to be said for that.

We may be lucky to serve in government but often we won't serve in government forever. There is going to be a time when we are in Opposition, some may start in Opposition and move to government, others may do the opposite, but I know if you're able to get some work done for your constituents, in the fray of all of the back and forth in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree it's good for the people we represent and I commend members like Mr. Estabrooks, who in the past was very kind in recognizing that and acting upon it.

[Page 1044]

I suppose I could talk about some other members as well, Mr. Speaker, but he is one who stood out and maybe it's because he's a Boston Bruins fan. I know one tradition that I have kept going was the reading of a special resolution on May 10th recognizing Bobby Orr and his famed goal, which I believe was on May 10, I believe it was 1971, I should know that - I'm a Bruins fan myself and I know Mr. Estabrooks used to . . .

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The level of chatter is getting such that I'm having difficulty hearing the speaker here. The honourable member for Inverness has the floor.

MR. MACMASTER « » : The member for Pictou Centre has just stated to me that there is a rumour that Bobby Orr is actually still in the air after having scored that goal. But certainly one of the hockey greats, Bobby Orr, and I think about some of the other . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: True gentleman.

MR. MACMASTER « » : True gentlemen as well I'm sure he is, certainly any time I've seen him, Mr. Speaker, whether it was on television or I believe I saw him at a dinner one time - very nice man.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Great ambassador for the game.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Great ambassador. So Mr. Speaker, Monday nights have always been part of the Legislature and I think it's good that we're talking about change in the House. We've obviously come to some disagreement on it and we've been talking about it for a long, long time in here. If it were up to me, I wouldn't be talking any more about it, but here we are.

I think that perhaps, seeing that there may be another member willing to get up and offer a few words, I will do everybody a favour and take my place. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.

MS. LENORE ZANN « » : Mr. Speaker, my goodness, all of a sudden we are all fighting over who is going to get up and speak to this topic.

It was interesting listening to the member and hearing this part of our democracy in action, where part of this parliamentary system is to get up and speak to these things, whether or not we really want to. That's part of the House Rules that are very strange for many people, just the idea of filibustering and talking for hours on end about literally nothing, sometimes. For someone looking at this from outside, they would wonder what are we doing here, and are we really spending the people's money wisely?

[Page 1045]

There are many things about these rules I would change, if it were up to me, but for now what we're really looking for here is enough time to hold the government to account with our questions, because that is an important part of democracy. I know that many people who are not politicians and in government seem to think that most of us do nothing, except when we are sitting in the House. When you get out of the House they say, oh, so you're off now, or at the end of the Spring session they might say, oh, so you're going off to the hamburger and hot dog circuit. I usually say no, I don't eat either hamburgers or hot dogs. In fact, I rarely have time to eat at all, because I'm so run off my feet in this job.

In fact, the real work begins when we get out of the House. So I can understand why government would say that they would like to have Mondays so that people can be in their constituencies. I understand that. I also understand that we need to do committee work, and that it's very difficult to schedule committee work while we are all in the House, because again, we're really run off our feet. We work long hours, so to have a set time that we could do committee work does make sense.

In fact, a couple of weeks ago, while we were having lots of protests and talking about Bill No. 1, there was one particular day where I worked 20 hours, basically, with no break - not much sleep, three or four hours each night. I had six or seven or eight cups of coffee and that was it. That wasn't good, Mr. Speaker. It's not a healthy lifestyle, necessarily. So I can understand why we would want to bring some order to the House and to the hours, and to try to bring some normalcy to people's lives, because we don't necessarily live normal lives.

We live very quick, rapid-fire lives. It's almost like when you are in a show. When you are in a show, a play, you spend about two months preparing for it, and you go full speed, sometimes 12-hour days, but the rules always say that you have to have 12 hours off in between. They can't call you back before that. Then you spend all this time getting to know each other, working really hard, learning lines, finding out what the themes are, finding out what the motivation is for your characters, trying to figure out how you're going to present what you really want to say to a public - rather like being here in the Legislature.

The difference is that at the end of those, say, seven weeks or eight weeks, you put on the show and you are busy doing the play each night. Usually you do eight shows a week. When you do it in New York, off Broadway, as I did one year - I think I did 386 performances, or something like that - you do get Mondays off, but Mondays are your only days off there, and there you really do take the day off. You try to rev your system back up to being back to normal again and getting the rest you need and seeing friends and whatever. Then you go back at it again for another six days a week.

[Page 1046]

That's a very intense experience, because you are constantly - well, you are on stage, it's show time. You've got to be on. You can't make mistakes. If you do, you've got to be able to handle them, hopefully, in a graceful manner. Again, that's a little bit like what we're doing here, but the difference, Mr. Speaker, is that here with government, we don't really have the time off after the show closes. The show never closes. This is like a real-life TV where we're on all the time. For us to be sitting in the Legislature twice a year, usually for seven weeks to eight weeks, it's an intense time and the hours that we spend here are extreme. I think most people would never really understand just how much we work and how hard that is.

I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a family and try to look after the family at the same time. I'm lucky, I don't have children. I've got three little dogs and they're happy to see me whenever I come home. Even though they might miss me, they don't give me a hard time and I don't have to feel guilty that I'm going to give them some kind of a crisis or something. But I feel for the people who have families. I really do, and I understand how having regular hours would be a lot better for people, and allow them to live their lives and get home to their families at a timely hour.

Now, whether or not changes to the times that we are in the House officially will actually change things, who knows, because we can always be called for longer hours, depending on the bill, depending on how contentious it is and whether the government wants to push something through, or whether they're willing to make amendments to it, or not.

People used to look up to politicians, and we were chatting in the lunchroom yesterday, all Parties, about the fact that these days when people ask what you do for a living, if you say you're a politician, some people go, oh my gosh, you know, that's the worst thing. That's even worse than lawyers. And it's a shame because I think it used to be an honourable profession.

Part of the reason it has gotten a bad name is because of all the newspaper headlines you see where people have taken advantage of their positions, and either financially they have misappropriated funds, or they've used their position to make certain things happen that are unfair and not right - not an even playing field. So, Mr. Speaker, I think that for those of us who are here, the more that we can actually try to work together and come to agreements, and make amendments to the bills and to resolutions, and agree to some amendments, the better.

When I got into politics the first time people said, oh well, you know, the Opposition bills, they don't usually get passed, and things like this. I always wonder why? If they've got a good bill, why not pass it and say, yes, we did this together. Personally, that's the way I would operate. Again, I think that sometimes the power is weighted too much in one direction rather than everybody actually, honestly, listening to each other and thinking about what the other is saying; seeing two sides to the story or sometimes three sides to the story.

[Page 1047]

One thing that I've learned in this business is that the first story you hear isn't necessarily the truth. You hear one story about something and then you wait and you find out, you dig around a little bit more and then you hear somebody else, and they may open your eyes to seeing the whole thing from a completely different perspective. That's something that I think we need to take into consideration here.

Having Mondays to spend in our constituencies would probably be a good thing, although we here in the NDP have said we are prepared to work, we are prepared to stay here as long as we need to, to debate the bills so that people can see us up on our feet in action, working for them, working for the public good, as Joseph Howe would say.

For the government to say, well, they'd rather not be here on Mondays, makes me wonder. Then, if you add on to that that they want to cut down Question Period time, that makes me wonder if they're afraid of answering questions and being held accountable. That's why, for instance, Prime Minister Harper closed down Parliament a couple of times when he prorogued Parliament. Why did he do that? I think it was because the fire was getting a little bit hot for him. He didn't want to answer those questions of the Opposition anymore so he just shut it all down.

One of the times he shut it down because they were talking about torture, sending Canadians over to be tortured. I never thought I would be living in Canada and face a day where our own government was actually handing people over to a different country, knowing they would be tortured. That makes me very sad, very, very sad, and the fact that he got away with it - our own Prime Minister got away with that - shame, shame. And then he did it a second time.

Those types of things do not sit well with me. I think we need openness and transparency, as we keep talking about, but we need to really do it and live it. Some of the people in my life that I've met over the years who were the most honest, down to earth, straightforward people, they exhibit those qualities of understanding and compassion and always listening and sometimes being the devil's advocate, which is rather what the critic's role is. My dad is actually one of those people. He has always been like that and he has always taught me that anything is possible and that all people are equal and that it doesn't matter what job you have, it doesn't matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter what kind of car you drive - we have never cared about that sort of thing in my family.

These are the kinds of qualities that I think we need to exhibit here in the Legislature and we need to show the public that we can actually come to an agreement on something as simple as House Rules.

[Page 1048]

If it were up to me, I'd probably want to get rid of heckling. I don't necessarily like heckling. I don't like doing it, and I try not to, and I really don't appreciate it when I'm hearing other people screaming and yelling at people who are up with the microphone trying to get their points across. In fact, I think the First Nations people had it right when they had a talking stick in their tribal councils and they would pass the talking stick to each person. When the person had the talking stick, they got to talk and everybody else listens.

I think they had it right and we can learn a lot from our First Nations friends and their leaders about how we should be able to conduct our business in a respectful manner. I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, that would make your job a lot easier too. You wouldn't have to keep interrupting people and telling them to be quiet so that we can even hear the person speaking.

Tone and rhetoric are very important and I think it is very important for democracy. I think when young children come into this House and they see us in action, it does not bode well for them to see adults acting like spoiled brats, or like children who just want their own way who are pouting and taking their toys home because, oh well, if you're not going to do it my way then I'm going to take my toys and go home. That's not good. I think we can all show a little bit more dignity and we can show that we are respectful of each other and, in fact, what I try to tell newer members sometimes is that when I was first in government, I realized it is very much like being in a play where everybody has a role to play and depending on where you sit in this House, your role is going to be different.

When we are sitting on the government benches, we are playing the role of government and we act in a certain way. But the critics have a difficult role, too, it's almost like being "the bad guy" in a show, the villain, because they are always constantly criticizing, but that's their job. If they didn't hold the government to account, then they're not doing their job.

In my former business, in acting, we always looked at the villain or the bad person as a much more interesting role in a way than the lead character. In order to make them human, you have to realize they have a life too; they have a family too. What made them the way they are? What is contributing to their behaviour? What are the resentments that they hold personally, and all of these things - I am focusing, Mr. Speaker. This is called a metaphor. This is a metaphor for life.

As I see it, right now we are on stage. This is the stage. We have cameras; we have media; it's being recorded. Then we have our real lives, where we're in a lunchroom or we're in the back rooms here talking to our friends, talking to our colleagues, talking to each other. It seems to me that's happening a little bit more. We're starting to talk to each other, we're starting to trust each other a little bit more, although there's always the fear, unfortunately, that it could be used against you if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person and they've got the wrong motives behind befriending you.

[Page 1049]

I would like to see a day, Mr. Speaker, when we can all befriend each other and realize that these are roles that we are playing in the House. Whether or not people like it, that's the truth.

I think that having Question Periods for the amounts of time that we have them now is so important, even having the resolutions, being able to speak resolutions. There are backbenchers who don't get a chance to speak very much. They're not ministers, and they don't have bills to contribute. They don't get to speak on all of these different things, so for them this is a great opportunity to get up on their feet, practise speaking out loud - which is very scary for some people, I'm told. In fact, they say that that's one of the scariest things for people, speaking in public.

For backbenchers, I think it's a great opportunity for them to get up, say some good words about people in their community and organizations in their community. Then they can go back to their community and show them what they have said and give them a certificate or show them in Hansard. That means a lot to people, Mr. Speaker. I know, because I've done a number of them over the years now. People love it. They feel so honoured. Then when you can bring them in here to the House and have them actually witness it, and be able to introduce them and to know that is going on the record books for all of history, or as long as this province exists - it's an amazing thing for people. I think it's a shame, if we have to lose that, for those people who don't get the opportunity to speak on a regular basis.

Also, in Question Period I've discovered - which I didn't really pay attention to when I was a backbencher - that there's the Official Opposition, and then there's the Third Party. Because you are the Third Party, you don't really get as many questions and as much time for questions as the Official Opposition. So for us, when we get a chance to ask questions, it's really important. We have different questions than the other Party, because we are different. We have different priorities. In some cases, we have different values about certain things, like fracking, for instance. That has been very clear. We feel differently about that issue.

So for each of the Opposition Parties to get the right amount of time to approach the problems and issues and challenges that they think are important, I think we need as much time here in the House as possible. So I understand why we are fighting to say we would like to have Mondays as well.

The other thing is that I think government needs to be more open to changes and to listening to the public. When these bills and things like this are contentious, the longer we're in here, the longer it gives people a chance to come to the Legislature, to Province House - to the people's House - and speak their minds, whether it's outside with a megaphone or whether it's inside at the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 1050]

I know there are different members on both sides of the House and in the different Parties who feel the same way about different issues, and it doesn't even matter what our Party's stance is on it. I know a number of us feel the same way about different issues. It's a shame that we don't all get a chance to express those opinions, but it's nice to know that we can talk amongst ourselves when we are, as we say, in the back room. I like to call it the green room. That's what we used to call it back in theatre, the green room. So when we have some downtime and we're chatting, it's nice to be able to see that, yes, other people feel the same way as we do and that we want to try and really make a difference in people's lives, after all that's why we're here.

Mr. Speaker, in my earlier years before I came into the House, as I said I worked for a number of different organizations like the CBC, for instance, and the CBC - or say for instance Stratford, Ontario was a big theatre company. Now I never worked at Stratford but a number of my friends did. I was too busy doing film and television and making money doing that and travelling back and forth to the United States.

One of the things that I learned there is that leadership and the tone that the leader of whichever organization it is sets is very important. In our case here it is the Leaders of our Party and it's also the Premier. So the tone that is set by the Leader actually reverberates throughout the whole organization and changes the way people behave with each other.

If the Leader is angry and constantly resentful and petty, then that is going to reflect in the way people treat each other, Mr. Speaker. So I say there is a great responsibility here in this House for our Leaders to show, by example, how we should behave with each other. It's difficult, none of us are saints, although maybe there are, maybe there are a few saints here, a few people who may be saints - they were saints once but . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: My wife's a saint.

MS. ZANN « » : Yes, your wife probably is a saint - but I think we all have good hearts but again, it's not what you say, it's what you do, Mr. Speaker, and so it's very important, I think, for the government that is in power to show restraint, to offer the hand, to say yes let's work together, let's try and get this done, you need this, well we need this, let's come together and form a consolidated, firm plan.

I think that would be healthy here, Mr. Speaker, and I'm hoping that at the present time this is maybe going on behind the scenes, as we speak, that perhaps people are chatting with each other and saying okay enough is enough. Let's stop these shenanigans. Let's work on this. Let's say you need this, we need this, and let's come together and let's move forward so that we can work on other bills that are probably more important and again, that will set the tone for the rest of our tenure because none of us are here forever, even though some of us may want to be, none of us are here forever. It's fleeting, it's ephemeral, and again, as I say, to bring it back to the analogy of a play, we're all playing roles here. We are all actors and we are being moved like a chess game in a chess board with unseen hands that are moving the pieces.

[Page 1051]

In fact, since my colleague to the right of me was going to try and do a song - I'm not going to sing, Mr. Speaker - but on that note I'd like to say the words that mean a lot to me that were a poem that I believe that life is very much like, and it was by, I believe, Omar Khayyam and says "For in and out, above, about, below, 'Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show, Play'd in a Box whose Candle is the Sun, Round which we Phantom Figures come and go." That is something I think we need to all keep in mind.

We have a library here where great people did great speeches. There are books about them. Joseph Howe spoke for - does anybody know how long Joe Howe spoke for?

HON. DIANA WHALEN « » : Six hours.

MS. ZANN « » : Six hours, thank you so much to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. He spoke for six hours about the right for the media to freedom of the press, Mr. Speaker, and that changed history here. Now Mr. Howe is now gone. He is standing over there with his muniments in his hand - his papers in his hand - and he's watching over us but he is gone and I think that we need to keep these things in mind, that we are just filling these seats for now and there will be others filling them after us and for us to keep this in mind that in the fullness of time, why are here? Why are we here?

Why are any of us here right now? I would hope it's because we really want to make a difference to this tiny little province that we all love. To the 900,000 people that are here and who knows how many more we're going to have as our young people keep leaving the province and going out West because they can offer more money than we do. It's not really fair, is it? I don't think so, and it's interesting because when you do read those books that are in the library there about the history of this province and how things change on a dime. I was reading one Throne Speech, from 1992 I think, where Dr. Savage was talking about how they were creating so many jobs here in Nova Scotia that they've created more jobs than they did out West in that particular year.

I would imagine that is also why, that is the particular year they signed an agreement with Northern Pulp, to take on responsibility for any spills or accidents or lawsuits because he was so desperate to keep jobs in this province. If you look at that now, you say wow, all these people were getting jobs here in Nova Scotia and there weren't so many jobs being created out West. What happened?

Newfoundland and Labrador - Newfoundland and Labrador used to be a have-not province. Look at them now. I believe we can create jobs here in Nova Scotia but, again, as I said, when I talked about Bill No. 6, personally I believe there can be new technology, the creative economy, the renewables, and sustainable energy. We are poised, we are in a geographic location that is like gold, sticking out here into the Atlantic Ocean with the wind, the waves, the tides, sometimes sun. We have more sun than we normally get this time of year and I would wonder if that's global warming.

[Page 1052]

So, again, that plays into my attitude as to why I don't think fracking is right for our province right now because, again, global warming and climate change is a huge, huge problem and fracking definitely, definitely plays a part in it - including earthquakes, including geological formations that, for instance, I think it's in Illinois and other places around the world where they're starting to get earthquakes because of the fracking activity that is going on.

In fact, I have a friend out West who is in the oil and gas industry and he very gamely tells me he's made his millions doing that, but when it came time for another company to try to go in underneath his land - because the rules there say that the companies can do so, they can go in under somebody's land if they won't agree and take the resources out - when another rival company wanted to come in on his land and frack by his pond that was stocked with beautiful fish, I asked him what did he do, and he said he got the best lawyer money could buy and he fought them off and there's no way he's going to allow them to frack anywhere near his land - and this a guy who has made his millions doing that.

These are the types of bills and issues that are so important for us to debate, because there are different attitudes out there. We've heard them. We've heard our members beside us talk about why they feel that fracking will lead to jobs, jobs, jobs. Then we've also heard the government say how they feel that now is not the right time. The NDP, we agree, we agree, we've listened to the people, we've heard their concerns and we received the Wheeler report, which we indeed put into action because we wanted to make sure that when the decision finally comes down, people are well-informed and there are scientific facts to back it up.

That takes time. You can make a quick decision and a judgment with the click of a finger or the signature of a pen, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the right decision. So, for all of these different important issues, the longer that we are here debating them in the House, the better it is for the people of Nova Scotia, so that we all might actually listen to each other and change each other's minds a little.

There's a play, Mr. Speaker, called Twelve Angry Men and that's what it's about, it's about a murder/rape case where 11 of these jurors - there were 12 of them and they were sequestered away in a room and they had to decide whether the person was guilty or not, and 11 of them believed that the person was guilty and they should just throw the book at them, but one person did not agree. That person spent the whole time giving their own opinion and their own viewpoint and perception of the world and started to make them wonder whether they were, in fact, correct in their assumption or not.

By the end of the play - there was a movie done about it, too - I shouldn't give the plot away in case people haven't seen it, but I think most people have seen it, in the end they don't decide that this person is guilty because they don't have all the proof. That one person made such a difference, Mr. Speaker. I think that is something else we should consider here, that each and every one of us has something different to offer. I think that respecting each other for our differences as well as our similarities is of utmost importance.

[Page 1053]

Again, we may not be saints, Mr. Speaker, but people look to us and they want us to be better than average. We have to conduct ourselves with higher amounts of dignity and respect and treat others that way as well because we do hold a position that people should be able to look up to us and say, I trust that person, I trust that person with my bank account, I trust that person with my children, I trust that person that they are going to do the best they can for me and my family. I believe that's why they voted for us and that's why all of us are here.

With that, I wonder if anybody else would like to share. I think we have another person who would like to share, Mr. Speaker, so with those few words I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. JOHN LOHR « » : Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to again speak, this time to the amendment to the resolution, and, I guess, speak in defence of maintaining the hours as they are.

As I was thinking about what to say, one of the things that came to mind, in fact, even before the honourable member mentioned Joseph Howe, I was thinking about Joseph Howe and how Joseph Howe spoke and I wasn't aware that it was six hours, I thought it was 24 hours. It is sort of mind-boggling to me but now being here, I can start to begin to appreciate the reasons why that might have happened. I guess that's what we would call democracy in action, that the Opposition has the opportunity to oppose and through opposing, it is basically by speaking to it.

As I was thinking about what to say, one of the things that came to mind, in fact

I'm not sure that any of us, and certainly I don't feel that I can be as persuasive as Joseph Howe, that's for sure, but I was wondering why the push back on this hour thing and times. I guess one thing I will say is that all along it has felt like the hours are capricious, that each day for me personally I realize that we have done some weeks where the hours have been relatively set, but it seems as though every day there is a new twist on the hours and here we are, on Opposition Day, when maybe we expected to be done at 4:00 p.m., we're going to 10:00 p.m

Certainly during maybe the times when, for whatever reason, there has been a sense that the hours the government needed to get something done quicker, then we have been challenged, the government has set hours that have been, for instance, 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. So the sense that the hours are, what is the importance of us having set hours? I guess I would like to speak in defence of set hours. Maybe this is going beyond the amendment, but just this fact that we never know one day to the next what the call for the hours will be. I believe that it would be a lot easier on our staff, ourselves, and maybe even reporters and other people if the hours were more - and the Pages - set, certainly from one day to the next we never know, and now Monday may or may not be taken off the slate, the Mondays.

[Page 1054]

At the same time, when we're here it feels like all of a sudden there's more time needed all the time, not less. More so now we're meeting until - we're talking now about going till 10 o'clock tonight when I know there's a reception in a little while that I'm sure some people wanted to attend. Some of us have other things, I have a conference call tonight to do at a certain time but yet we are going to go till 10 o'clock.

It feels a little bit like - and I don't want to impute ill motive to the Government House Leader at all, I don't mean to do that, but it feels capricious to us here on this side that the hours are constantly being rearranged. I could say the same about the times that the House sits and that also feels capricious when we were of the impression that we would be starting near the end of October. I know that the staff and the Canadian Parliamentary Association are here now because there was an understanding that this room would be free, because normally the House begins sitting late in October.

Even in that sense we were called in early; again, it has a feeling of capriciousness to it and I know that it isn't capricious. I'm sure the Government House Leader has good reason for doing that so I don't want to impute ill motive on him, but at the same time, from our point of view, why the push back? We feel, I think, and I would like to argue in favour of all of this being much more established and much more set. I know that our resolution is calling for this to go back to the House of Assembly Management Commission, I'd like to speak in favour of that.

I think that on things like the Rules of the House, and I respect the fact that the government has a majority and certainly has its agenda, has been given a mandate by the people to pursue their agenda, I totally respect that. On the other hand we represent a portion of the population that voted for our platform, and my colleagues to the left represent a portion of the population that voted and have their similar views. I think this is democracy in action and I respect very much their right to their opinion and their point of view, even if I disagree. I think that we all have an obligation to hear out each member and recognize that each member here has a lot of people that voted for them and these different points of views.

As we're here in this House, like I was saying I respect the fact that the government has a majority but I think in terms of the Rules of the House, which is a little bit different, none of us ran on the Rules of the House; in fact, I had very little understanding of the Rules of the House and still feel even a year in that I really don't have a full grasp of the Rules of the House, and my comment to a colleague here a moment ago: democracy is a strange bird, it's not maybe what I thought it was.

[Page 1055]

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe it's a turkey. (Laughter)

MR. LOHR « » : Maybe it's a turkey. But I have a lot of respect for democracy and this is what it is. We're not in Russia and we don't have Putin deciding what to do or in some other country where . . .

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: North Korea.

MR. LOHR « » : North Korea or Zimbabwe, heaven forbid, where they have a pretense of it but don't really have it. I think that the fundamentals of democracy - the Rules of the House are ultimately the fundamentals of our democracy, the nature of the rules, and that's why I don't believe that a government using a majority should be used to change the rules. I think the rules should be changed with an agreement between all the Parties about the nature of those rules because I believe that those are part of the fundamentals and if the rules are changed, then how the House works is changed.

I certainly don't feel qualified to say that I have a better insight into what the rules should be than 300 years of British Parliamentary tradition. I don't believe that at all, and frankly, I realize that there are much smarter people - there are people in this room right now who have a much deeper insight into the nature of these rules than I do - but my opinion is that these are the fundamentals of democracy, and as strange as it may seem, that is something that we should respect and treat with care.

I realize that society has changed an enormous amount from when these rules were created, and some of the things that are in the rules might seem a little outdated, but I'm not sure about that. I really am not sure. We're here in this House, and a hundred years ago if you were in this House, maybe you'd have a hard time getting outside work done, but now all of us can quite effectively get outside work done with our iPads and our iPhones. We can answer emails and do stuff.

The way that this House interacts with the media probably is fundamentally the biggest change, I think, between a hundred years ago and today. If you think about a hundred years ago, the media was the newspaper, and in a newspaper article, a reporter has the time to enter into presenting sophisticated ideas.

Now we're working for that sound bite. We're looking for a news clip. We're looking in Question Period, we're looking for a clip, and maybe we're all playing to that visual media. Certainly the newspapers are still here, and there is still opportunity to bring more sophisticated ideas, but on the other hand, our electorate is also more preoccupied with many more sources of information.

Maybe a hundred years ago what happened in the Legislature was a bigger part of the life of the average constituent. Today, our average constituent is involved in many different sources of media and information, and we compose a small slice of that. Possibly that's why we see declining numbers of votes in younger people. They're engaged in many different forms of media.

[Page 1056]

The Rules of the House, which embody 300 or 400 years of British Parliamentary tradition, in some ways maybe haven't kept up with the changing media, but I believe that they yet embody a certain wisdom that - again I would say - we need to be very careful in altering. As we discuss these rule changes, my colleague to the left, the member for Shelburne-Queens, made a very articulate analysis of the math of the impact of the loss of time, and I believe those things are significant.

We need to think about that. We shouldn't just say, well, that's okay. We're arguing for more time here in the House. I would again insert my argument that time in the House should be used. The times that are set should be more established. It shouldn't just be that maybe tomorrow the time will be 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. I don't know what time will be called for tomorrow. I would like to argue in favour of more set times. We would come to that, in turn, with more unanimity of agreement. In saying that, I realize that that's putting an onus on us as a Party, too, to be willing to negotiate, but I hope and trust that we are.

Mr. Speaker, this is what I see in the way that we operate. I think that we have to realize that - I know the member for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River was getting quite existential in her comments about life and what we're doing, but I think that we do have to realize that, for any one of us, our moment at the tiller, so to speak, of any organization is really brief. Time goes extremely fast. We have to think about the fact that the rule changes that we make will influence generations to come and we have to think about the history of this House and be careful how we engage in changing the rules.

What is the value of time loss? I think that our constituents believe, rightly so I think, that the matters that concern them are the things that are being brought before this House. I'm not sure that they are overly concerned about rule changes, but I do think that our public has a very strong sense of what is fair and right and I know that they have a very strong sense of anti-bullying.

I do believe in having a strong government and that a majority government - I don't believe a majority government, acting on its mandate, is bullying at all, but I do think a majority government, making rule changes when there was no mandate from the public to make rule changes, without consideration or using that simple majority, I guess I do see that a bit in terms of bullying.

That is another reason why I think that this amendment that we are bringing forward be given to the Assembly Matters Committee, that we keep Mondays. I think that we take a little bit more time. I don't think there's any rush in this. I'm just saying that I do see that in those terms. Maybe not everybody agrees with me on that. Maybe the reasons, the motivation behind the changes, need to be more adequately explained and set out. That's how I see it.

[Page 1057]

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to impute to the government that there is any ill motive in their desire to have these changes. As I said, I do think that, fundamentally, the Rules of the House represent the foundation stones of this building that are holding the House up; the rules of democracy are the foundations of our democracy - the Rules of this House. It is a strange world for me, as a farmer, to be thrust into a world of such strange rules, where we speak to them, but I believe that the way the government goes about changing or altering the Rules of this House is, in a sense, working at the foundation stones of democracy.

I think we have to respect that and be careful about that and not let personal feelings get in the way of making fair decisions. I don't believe that your Party, the government Party, had anything in their platform - in fact, I know they didn't - about the Rules of the House. That wasn't in the platform of the government; it wasn't in our platform and I presume - I'm uninformed about the NDP platform - that changing the Rules of the House wasn't in the NDP platform.

None of us has a mandate to change the Rules of the House. It is for our own pleasure that we change the Rules of the House and I don't believe that these rules should be changed with what would constitute simply using the majority. I realize in speaking in favour, the Rules of the House do provide for that 66 per cent majority to change the Rules of the House. I believe the spirit of democracy would say this needs to be done - because it is so fundamental to the nature of what this House is about - that it should be done with more unanimity than that.

I believe that the times of the House need to be more fixed. I think that is simply a matter of planning, but we should be able to work within the set times of the House as they are, without having them altered. Maybe in saying that, I'm speaking against a Rule of the House. I realize it's easy to say something that is against it. I realize the Rules of the House do provide for the Government House Leader to call hours as he sees fit.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make that point, that I think when we talk about the Rules of the House and how we go about changing them, we're talking about the foundation stones of this building, not the physical building, but in a sense the concept of what we're about and that should be done with care.

With those few - many - words I would take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The House will take a two-minute recess.

[5:51 p.m. The House recessed.]

[Page 1058]

[6:01 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. The House will now recess until 6:10 p.m.

[6:01 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:10 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Order, please. We'll now proceed with the vote on the previous question, which is that the question be now put.

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

The motion is carried.

We'll now proceed with the vote on the amendment as proposed by the honourable member for Pictou Centre.

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

The motion is defeated.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Resolution No. 1. Needless to say it is with mixed emotions that I stand in my place to speak on this resolution. (Interruptions) No, I called it, I didn't move it.

MR. SPEAKER « » : If I recognize the Government House Leader it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Yes, to close debate, it's my pleasure to do that, Mr. Speaker. As I said it's with mixed emotions that I rise to close debate on Resolution No. 1.

As I've indicated, since my election in 1998, I was first involved with an effort to reform the Rules of this House. At the time - I'm not sure the exact date, but those who have good memories will have a sense of how long it was by the fact that John Holm was the House Leader for the NDP and Kevin Deveaux also sat on the committee with me. I believe it was around 1999-2000, under the government of Premier Hamm, where this was first discussed. In fact, our Clerk, Art Fordham - actually, the late Art Fordham - had done a jurisdictional scan for us and worked very closely with us on the rules.

[Page 1059]

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately while there was lots of agreement and lots of discussion there was not agreement at that time to change the rules. We have had several attempts over pretty much every government that has sat - honest attempts, I do believe - but at the end of the day, for a variety of reasons, agreement wasn't able to be reached but certainly there was always a spirit that existed to try to make our House as relevant as possible to the people of Nova Scotia and allow members from all sides to be able to execute their duties.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to just take this opportunity to - for the record and so that there is no confusion as to exactly what these rules are meant to achieve today. Currently the Rules of the House require that the Legislature sit from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Monday evenings. There has been a lot of debate around this and the jurisdictional scan that was provided to the House Leaders, during our discussions, was that we are the only Canadian province left that sits five days a week.

The question then began, how can we use Mondays more productively? Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear now for the House and for all members that there is a clear understanding of what our intentions are. Right now when the House is in session, the only committee that meets on a regular basis is the Public Accounts Committee, which meets on Wednesday mornings. Pretty much all other committees are suspended due to the conflicts with caucus meetings and House hours. It would be our intention that with these changes, committee meetings, while the House is in session, could take place on Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and would rotate between the Standing Committees of the House; Public Accounts would remain on Wednesday.

It is also our attention that the Law Amendments Committee, which we are one of the only provinces that still invites the public to come in and speak on bills once they've cleared second reading, would take place on Monday evenings, where possible, and would sit from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and then from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. as necessary, based on presentations. Mr. Speaker, we believe this would bring some predictability to the work that we do - not only for members but, more importantly, for Nova Scotians who have an interest in the work that we do. The Law Amendments Committee would then be free to sit at other times during the week to consider amendments presented either by those who come to make presentations or by the Opposition Parties.

Mr. Speaker, I will be bringing forward an amendment to the rule changes that were proposed, which was brought forward by the Progressive Conservative caucus wanting some clarification regarding the rules around Monday sittings. This will now clarify that Mondays will be available for the House to sit, when necessary. If there is timely legislation or legislation of an urgent nature, the House can sit on Monday. As well, let me make it clear that unless there is some other agreement as we move forward, when it comes to the estimates around the budget, it would certainly be our intention that estimates would continue to be heard on Mondays.

[Page 1060]

I don't think I'm giving away any secrets here in suggesting that governments of the day like to see their budgets passed as quickly as possible. Our rules are such that one can only do four hours of budget debate a day. I cannot imagine a situation where a government would not want to sit on Mondays to see its budget passed. So hopefully, those who follow politics and our legislative procedures will understand that it is our intention that Mondays will continue to be available for Budget Estimates coming up this Spring.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to indicate that we have heard the debate and the concerns raised by various members of the House. Oh, before I get to that, the other - I'll go through the changes, but just before I get to that, I wanted to indicate that this is not the end. This is a beginning. It is our hope that the Assembly Matters Committee will meet to continue the discussions after the House rises. There are a couple of subjects that are of interest, I believe, to all members of the House.

Our committee structure in this province is not reflective of the realities that we face as legislators or as Nova Scotians. The Department of Health and Wellness consumes over 40 percent of the provincial budget, and yet does not fall under any of our standing committees. That simply doesn't make sense. Whether you are Government or Opposition or anyone, it doesn't make sense. We need to reform our committee structure to better reflect the work of parliamentarians.

I know there has been a lot of talk about how we can reform our estimates debate when it comes to the budget. Currently we spend 80 hours debating departmental estimates. The question is, are there better ways of doing that?

Mr. Speaker, we have heard the concerns of the Opposition regarding bills being brought forward. I can say that there have already been discussions as to how we can improve this, and we are open to more discussions.

I just want to address a few of the other issues. With the change in Monday, the House hours will be, as set in the rules: Tuesday from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., which will also be Opposition Day; Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Notices of Motion, which were usually read by members, up to two per day, will now be tabled when they are of a congratulatory nature. We will now revert instead to Statements by Members, which will be 60 seconds in length, and very reflective of what is being done in Ottawa.

There's also an agreement that Oral Question Period Put By Members To Ministers will start one hour after the commencement of any session of the House. Oral Question Period Put By Members to Ministers, based on the rules that were initially presented here, was going to be for 45 minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Mr. Speaker, this is reflective of a jurisdictional scan around the country, but we have heard the concerns that have been raised by members of the NDP caucus, and I will be bringing forward a motion that will increase the amount of Oral Question Period from 45 minutes to 50 minutes per day, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

[Page 1061]

Mr. Speaker, the last change that I should point out is that in discussion with the Opposition, it has been agreed that late debate will now take place on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., which will be on a rotating basis between the different caucuses, rather than the draw system that we have right now.

As I said, this is probably the most substantial reform to our Rules that we have seen in the last 20 years or so. This could not have happened without a willingness from all elected members of this House. Not only do I want to thank the House Leader for the PC caucus but as well the House Leader for the NDP caucus, and the people who work behind the scenes on their behalf, specifically Nancy Sheppard for the NDP caucus and Lisa Manninger for the PC caucus, who I know have done a lot of work for the members as well.

With that, I believe we have struck a balance in making sure that the Opposition has more opportunities to hold the government to account, while at the same time making this House more reflective of the needs of Nova Scotians and more productive in representing the needs that they have sent us here to do.

Mr. Speaker, I will now move the amendments as proposed. With the unanimous agreement of the House I would move the amendments that I mentioned in my comments earlier.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the honourable Government House Leader be permitted to move this amendment in reply?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The amendments carry.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, we have this amendment for members, if it hasn't been circulated already:

1 Amend Section 1 by adding a new subsection (4) as follows and renumbering subsections (4) and (5) as (5) and (6):

(4) Rule 3 is further amended by adding immediately after paragraph (3) the following paragraph:

[Page 1062]

(3A) Notwithstanding paragraph (3), the House may meet on a Monday and on a Monday the Order of Business for the consideration of the House on a Monday shall be the same as for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday except there shall be no ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS TO MINISTERS.

Mr. Speaker, I would so move that amendment.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Does the House agree that the honourable Government House Leader's amendment be permitted in this reply?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The amendment stands.

The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT « » : Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the Government House Leader for bringing these amendments forward. As we had said, we were worried that taking away the opportunity to meet on a Monday night, ties the hands of government and Opposition Parties as we need to bring important issues forward. There are a number of occasions where the government of all stripes, regardless if it's this government today or a government in the future, might need the opportunity to have extra time in which to consider bills and things that are important to Nova Scotians.

We felt that the bill that was before us, or the resolution that was before us, really didn't allow that. Quite honestly, as much as we take the word of the Government House Leader that he could call Monday nights when he wanted to, quite honestly, because of the way the resolution was written, it would require a unanimous consent vote of the House of Assembly. So in the end, you could actually have a caucus vote no, or one individual say no, they didn't want to sit on that Monday night, and actually get it shot down.

This will allow for when the government needs it or should there be something that comes along that needs discussion, to go along. The other issue is the issue of estimates. We know that the government does need those Monday nights in which to pass a budget. The four hours are ones that are very important for us and we were strapped by that resolution or by that rule change would not allow that. I think as much as we would like to see us sit every Monday night and continue the business we would like to see, I think this is a bit of a compromise, from our position, but it's a compromise on government's position of where they were as well.

I know there is another amendment that's going to come forward, one also that we can agree with as well. We will look forward to a final vote on this, and as I said to the member, the Government House Leader, at that time ring the bells for maybe about 10 minutes so that we can have the final caucus with it. With that, I want to thank the Government House Leader for bringing this forward and look forward to these changes that, of course, will make our House more transparent, make it more efficient, and hopefully more responsive to the needs of Nova Scotians.

[Page 1063]

MR. SPEAKER « » : We'll now proceed with the vote on the amendment to Resolution No. 1 which was just circulated and at the bottom is labelled GHL-1.

Would all those in favour of this amendment please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The amendment stands.

The honourable Government House Leader.

MR. SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, the next amendment, as I indicated, is regarding the length of Question Period under the new rules. The amendment increases it from 45 minutes to 50 minutes a day.

Amend Clause 10(1) (b) to read as follows:

(b) striking out "one hour on a Tuesday and Thursday and for not more than one hour and thirty minutes on a Wednesday" and substituting "fifty minutes."

And I would so move.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

HON. FRANK CORBETT « » : Mr. Speaker, well, we got here, huh? I've been saying to people all week, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. And when is now. These things are never easy because it is change, and you have to appreciate that the government has a majority and that's why I used the term it wasn't if it happens, it's when.

I want to thank them for understanding these amendments, but I also want to thank my colleague for Queens-Shelburne who stood strong on this point and realized it's our role as Opposition to hold the government accountable in Question Period and he saw that the difference in time was too great and we were able to move it much closer - it's only 10 minutes now in the difference; we'll have four days of questioning. So I want to really thank my colleague for being so dogged on that.

Again, I want to thank everybody in this House from all sides and particularly at the table opposite here, Mr. Speaker, and yourself because these are difficult times and some of this stuff is made on the fly and they have to react quickly but, again, thanks everybody. We want to move forward, we want to make this House work for all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

[Page 1064]

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is to amend Clause 10 (1) (b) on the amendment of Resolution No. 1.

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

The motion is carried.

We will now proceed with yet another vote. This is the big one. The vote will be on Resolution No. 1, and this does require two-thirds of the members present in order to pass.

A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells. Call the members.

[6:28 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[6:39 p.m.]

YEAS

Mr. Colwell

Mr. Churchill

Ms. Bernard

Ms. Regan

Mr. Samson

Mr. McNeil

Ms. Whalen

Mr. Glavine

Ms. Casey

Mr. MacLellan

Ms. Diab

Mr. Horne

Mr. Hines

[Page 1065]

Ms. Arab

Mr. Delorey

Mr. Ince

Mr. Kousoulis

Mr. Furey

Mr. Farrell

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Mr. Rankin

Ms. Miller

Mr. Rowe

Ms. Eyking

Ms. Lohnes-Croft

Ms. Treen

Mr. Gough

Mr. Jessome

Mr. Irving

Mr. MacMaster

Mr. Dunn

Mr. Baillie

Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. Corbett

Ms. MacDonald

Mr. David Wilson

Ms. Zann

Ms. Peterson-Rafuse

Mr. Belliveau

Mr. Orrell

Ms. MacFarlane

Mr. Houston

Mr. Porter

Mr. Harrison

Mr. Lohr

THE CLERK » : For, 45. Against, 0.

MR. SPEAKER « » : Resolution No. 1, as amended, is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, in light of the new rules that have been adopted, to provide each caucus with ample opportunity to prepare for the new changes, may I ask unanimous consent of the House to suspend the new rules until Monday, October 27th, at which time the new rules will take effect, but until that time we will continue to proceed with the rules as they currently exist in the House?

[Page 1066]

MR. SPEAKER « » : Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON « » : Mr. Speaker, just before closing I wanted to extend my thanks, as I believe has been done, to our Chief Clerk, the Assistant Clerk, Chief Legislative Counsel, their staff, your office, and all of the staff here at the House who have assisted us in this regard with advice. The work that has been done, in many ways was done fairly quickly to help us get to the point that we've reached here today, so I certainly want to give my thanks, and on a personal note, to our Premier and all of my colleagues for their unending support in seeing Resolution No. 1 become a reality here today.

Mr. Speaker, that does conclude the government's business for today. We will meet again tomorrow on Thursday, October 16th, from the hours of 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m., at which time, following the daily routine and Question Period, we will move into Public Bills for Second Reading and resume debate on Bill No. 6.

If possible, if Bill No. 6 does clear tomorrow, I can advise the House that the Law Amendments Committee will be meeting on Monday night to start hearing presentations on Bill No. 6 - just an incentive for my good friends across the aisle.

We'll also, if time permits, proceed to Second Reading of Bill Nos. 18, 22, 25, 26, and 38. (Interruption) Address in Reply tomorrow as well; we'll make sure that that happens. With that, I would move that the House do now rise to meet again from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 16th.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The motion is that the House now rise to meet again tomorrow, between the hours of 12:00 noon and 4:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 6:44 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

[Page 1067]

RESOLUTION NO. 276

By: Ms. Suzanne Lohnes-Croft « » (Lunenburg)

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

Whereas the Department of Seniors recognizes outstanding seniors who are making their communities better places through leadership, volunteerism and service work; and

Whereas George Silver, 89, was one of three Nova Scotian seniors recognized with the honour, in his case for his tireless years of volunteering; and

Whereas George was honoured in the category of service work for all he has done to make his community of Mahone Bay a better place to live and play;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House Assembly recognize George's contributions to the Province of Nova Scotia and the Town of Mahone Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 277

By: Hon. Keith Colwell « » (Agriculture)

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

Whereas in 1971 as a dream by five visionary women: Joyce Ross, Joyce Gough, Nola Thomas, Mary Thomas and Sheila Ewing of East Preston; and

Whereas they recognized the need for a day care educational centre for the children of their community, which became a reality in 1974 with the construction of a new building in East Preston; and

Whereas over the past 40 years the Day Care Centre has achieved national recognition for being one of the top 10 day care centres in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the volunteers, staff and management of the East Preston Day Care for the excellent care and educational opportunities provided to hundreds of children in the community and wish them much success in the next 40 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 278

[Page 1068]

By: Mr. Lloyd Hines « » (Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie)

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

Whereas Craig Jamieson of Guysborough has been playing an important role in the lives of many families for two decades as a paramedic; and

Whereas on May 27, 2014, he received the Paramedic Long Service Award for his 20 year of service; and

Whereas through Craig's expertise and knowledge he has been helping to improve health care in the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize Craig Jamieson for his dedication and for the difference he has made in the lives of so many.

RESOLUTION NO. 279

By: Ms. Karla MacFarlane « » (Pictou West)

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

Whereas Jessica Jamieson of Pictou has been participating in the Extra Life Marathon Gaming Fundraiser for two years; and

Whereas Jessica will be participating for the third year in a row on October 25th, raising funds for the IWK Children's Hospital; and

Whereas Jessica fundraises year round for the IWK, donating 100 per cent of what she raises;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislative Assembly thank Jessica for her fundraising efforts for such a worthy cause.

RESOLUTION NO. 280

[Page 1069]

By: Mr. Eddie Orrell « » (Northside-Westmount)

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

Whereas Dr. T.L. Sullivan was the first junior high school in Nova Scotia to receive the International Welcoming School Award from Nova Scotia International Students Program Chief Executive Director Paul Millman; and

Whereas Principal Bernadette MacNeil praised her students for going out of their way to make international students welcome in the school and the community; and

Whereas the Cape Breton hospitality shown to these exchange students has had a major impact on these visiting students who in turn share their culture with community members;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the staff and students of Dr. T.L. Sullivan Junior High for showing visiting exchange students such a generous welcome to Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 281

By: Hon. Zach Churchill « » (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas Yarmouth County's Chris MacKenzie won the 31st Yarmouth Triathlon; and

Whereas Chris MacKenzie's time in this Olympic distance triathlon was an impressive 2:07:59; and

Whereas there were 80 finishers in this year's triathlon;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Chris MacKenzie on his fine showing in the Yarmouth Triathlon.

RESOLUTION NO. 282

[Page 1070]

By: Hon. Andrew Younger « » (Energy)

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

Whereas Amanda Cheverie, a Reiki Master/Teacher and small business owner, and a member of the Main Street Business Improvement Association, has opened a massage centre, Decus Massage Centre;

Whereas Decus Massage Centre offers a wide range of services including massage therapy, acupuncture, Reiki sessions and classes in Reiki healing; and

Whereas Decus Massage Centre is a unique enterprise that provides multiple practitioners with a space to build their clientele and provides customized treatments for their clients;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in welcoming Amanda Cheverie and the practitioners at Decus Massage Centre to Dartmouth East and wish them every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 283

By: Hon. Andrew Younger « » (Energy)

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

Whereas Glenn Bowie, a competitive water skier representing Nova Scotia and a resident of the Dartmouth East riding, won gold at the Canadian Water Ski Championships held in Ontario in August 2014; and

Whereas the annual Canadian Water Ski Championships are hosted by Water Ski & Wakeboard Canada, a non-profit organization which is the sole national sport-governing body and recognized water skiing/wakeboard authority in Canada; and

Whereas Glenn Bowie, part of a nine-member provincial team, won a gold medal in the men's four figures;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Glenn Bowie for his dedication to the sport of water skiing and his gold medal win, and wish him every success in future competitions.

RESOLUTION NO 284

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By: Hon. Kelly Regan, MLA (Labour and Advanced Education)

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

Whereas Bob Attenborough has been an active member of all Saints Anglican Church for over 15 years, serving as Church Warden, property manager and occasional auditor, and assisting at the Annual Lobster Supper and Olde Fashioned Christmas Dinner; and

Whereas Bob is dedicated, dependable, a great team player and has volunteered in his community for seven years as manager of his son's soccer team, travelling across the country to attend national tournaments; and

Whereas he was nominated by All Saints Anglican Church for the 2014 Bedford Volunteer Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the House congratulate Bob Attenborough for being a nominee for Bedford Volunteer of the Year 2014 and for his dedication to making Bedford a better place to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 285

By: Hon. Kelly Regan, MLA (Labour and Advanced Education)

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

Whereas Basinview Drive Community School recorded a CD titled Music is Our Playground, that involved all 500 students under the direction of their teacher, Carol Coutts, with participation by Canadian artists Joel Plaskett, David Myles, Hawksley Workman, Meaghan Smith, Thom Swift, Jeremy Fisher, Ashley Moffat, Mark Bragg, Willie Stratton and Keith Mullins; and

Whereas the school choir performed at the ECMA Children's Showcase during the April 2014 awards week in Charlottetown and the CD was nominated by Music Nova Scotia for Children's Album of the Year and by the ECMAs for Children's Recording of the Year; and

Whereas all proceeds from the CD are contributed to the new all-inclusive playground and community park at Basinview;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Carol Coutts and the students of Basinview Drive Community School on their outstanding creativity in service to their school and community.

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RESOLUTION NO. 286

By: Hon. Joanne Bernard « » (Community Services)

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

Whereas the sport of darts has been popular since the 19th century with origins in the United Kingdom; and

Whereas May 14-16 saw the Canadian National Dart Championships held at the Ramada Hotel in Burnside in the constituency of Dartmouth North; and

Whereas the 2014 Nordor Cup, celebrating the best Canadian Youth Dart Team, was awarded to Team Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating team Nova Scotia on winning the Nordor Cup and offer best wishes for continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 287

By: Hon. Joanne Bernard « » (Community Services)

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

Whereas founded in 1964, ABC Insurance (Anderson Brown Company) are proud to be 100 per cent locally owned and operated, conveniently located in Darmouth North near MacDonald Bridge; and

Whereas ABC Insurance celebrated their 50th Anniversary on April 17, 2014 with a gala reception at Brightwood Golf and Country Club, also located in Darmouth North; and

Whereas the Anderson Brown Company are committed to helping the community through sponsorships like " Light The Night" - a night walk for Leukemia and Lymphoma, as well as fundraising events for Feed Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the many years of service and commitment of ABC Insurance and its dedicated staff to our community, and wish them another 50 years of doing business.

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RESOLUTION NO. 288

By: Ms. Joyce Treen « » (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage)

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

Whereas Tallahassee Community School, in Eastern Passage, took an active role in participating in the 60 Minute Kids Club Challenge from April 15 to June 1, 2014, along with over 400 schools in Canada; and

Whereas the students went online and tracked their six healthy behaviors over the 45-day period, demonstrating great teamwork; and

Whereas the final results were Tallahassee Community School placed second in Nova Scotia and fifth overall in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating all students of Tallahassee Community School for taking part in this wonderful event and achieving great success.

RESOLUTION NO. 289

By: Hon. Kevin Murphy » (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Betty Boutilier, a resident of Musquodoboit Harbour, is a devoted wife and mother; and

Whereas Betty Boutilier is a dedicated Wee Bears instructor, employed by Halifax Recreation in Musquodoboit Harbour; and

Whereas Betty Boutilier gives of her free time to costume designing and stage crew for all Oyster Pond Academy play productions, and is a dedicated volunteer at the St. James Anglican Church in Musquodoboit Harbour;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly join me in thanking Betty Boutilier for giving of her time, and her commitment to her community and the Eastern Shore.

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RESOLUTION NO. 290

By: Hon. Kevin Murphy « » (The Speaker)

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

Whereas Catherine Anderson, a lifelong resident of Musquodoboit Harbour, is a devoted mother, grandmother, and pillar of her community; and

Whereas Catherine has selflessly given of her time in order to support her community, specifically The Birches Nursing Home and the Heart and Stroke Foundation; and

Whereas Catherine has faced a number of life challenges she has remained a positive influence and role model for her community, inspiring others to take an active role as well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly join me in thanking Catherine Anderson for her ongoing commitment to the Community of Musquodoboit Harbour and recognizing the benefits to giving back to your community.

RESOLUTION NO. 291

By: Hon. Jamie Baillie « » (Leader of the Opposition)

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

Whereas Toastmasters International has been assisting its members develop clear and effective communication skills, while promoting good fellowship for 90 years; and

Whereas membership in Toastmasters International has grown in this province to 480 members, with 313,000 members worldwide; and

Whereas the success and expansion of Toastmasters International is directly attributable to the outstanding skills and knowledge it provides its members;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Toastmasters International for their outstanding contributions to its members here in Nova Scotia, and around the world, as it celebrates its 90th Anniversary.

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