The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned on
November 20, 2014

HANSARD 03/04-35

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Agric. & Fish.: Financial Aid - Discuss, Mr. C. O'Donnell 2843
Com. Serv.: Family Violence - End, Hon. C. Clarke 2844
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1188, Sports - East. Passage Educ. Ctr.: Phoenix Hockey Team -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 2844
Vote - Affirmative 2845
Res. 1189, Econ. (N.S.) - Leadership: Lack - Recognize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2845
Res. 1190, Hilden Fire Brigade: Chief/Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. B. Taylor 2845
Vote - Affirmative 2846
Res. 1191, Wood, Nadine: Nat'l. Women's Baseball Team - Tryouts,
Mr. J. MacDonell 2846
Vote - Affirmative 2847
Res. 1192, Sports: Clare Acadiens Bantam Team -
SEDMHA Tournament, Mr. W. Gaudet 2847
Vote - Affirmative 2847
Res. 1193, PM: Election - Call, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2848
Res. 1194, Knox Amateur Dinner Theatre Players: Knox Tale Soup -
Luck Wish, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2848
Vote - Affirmative 2849
Res. 1195, Senate: PM - Elected Representation, Mr. M. Parent 2850
Res. 1196, NSLC - Mgt. Irregularities: Account - Table,
Mr. K. Colwell 2851
Res. 1197, Yarmouth Dist. Mun. - Anniv. (125th), Mr. R. Hurlburt 2852
Vote - Affirmative 2852
Res. 1198, Health - Medicare: Romanow Report - Affirm,
Mr. D. Dexter 2852
Vote - Affirmative 2853
Res. 1199, Educ.: Post-Secondary Funding - Prioritize, Mr. L. Glavine 2853
Res. 1200, Mem. Composite HS Students - Cdn. Skills Comp.,
Hon. C. Clarke 2854
Vote - Affirmative 2855
Res. 1201, Dominion Commun. Hawks Club: Commun. Support -
Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 2855
Vote - Affirmative 2855
Res. 1202, Digby FD - RRFB Mobius Award, Mr. H. Theriault 2856
Vote - Affirmative 2856
Res. 1203, Stanley, Chris: Hockey Achievements - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 2856
Vote - Affirmative 2857
Res. 1204, Arnell Lands (Purcells Cove) - Donation: Family -
Commend, Ms. M. Raymond 2857
Vote - Affirmative 2858
Res. 1205, HMCS Athabaskan - Sinking: Anniv. - Recognize,
Mr. S. McNeil 2858
Vote - Affirmative 2859
Res. 1206, Forbes, Mae: Vol. Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2859
Vote - Affirmative 2859
Res. 1207, MacKaracher, Doris: Vol. Service - Thanks, Mr. J. Pye 2860
Vote - Affirmative 2860
Res. 1208, Hip Hip Hooray (Pictou Co.): Organizer/Participants -
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 2860
Vote - Affirmative 2861
Res. 1209, Lees, Sarah Jean/White, Mary - 4-H Exchange (MB),
Mr. C. Parker 2861
Vote - Affirmative 2862
Res. 1210, Houle, Martin: Hockey Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Gosse 2862
Vote - Affirmative 2863
Res. 1211, Bay Rd. FD - Firefighters: Awards - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2863
Vote - Affirmative 2863
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Report of the Chief Electoral Officer, Hon. R. Russell 2864
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 357, Health - QE II Surgery: Review - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 2864
No. 358, Health - QE II CJD Case: Dept. Min. - Visit Confirm,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2866
No. 359, Prem.: Mar. Life Takeover - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 2867
No. 360, Prem.: Gov't. (N.S.)/Gov't. (Can.)/HRM - Interactions,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2868
No. 361, Justice: Corr. Serv. Employment Systems Review -
Implement, Mr. K. Deveaux 2870
No. 362, TPW: Transportation Auth. - Composition, Mr. R. MacKinnon 2871
No. 363, Health: Addiction Serv. - Action Plan, Mr. G. Gosse 2873
No. 364, TPW: Hwy. No. 101 - Digby/Weymouth Extension,
Mr. H. Theriault 2874
No. 365, Environ. & Lbr. - NSP: Regs. - Bypassing Explain,
Ms. J. Massey 2875
No. 366, Com. Serv.: Affordable Housing - Dev. Plans,
Ms. M. Raymond 2876
No. 367, Fin.: User Fees/Taxes - Announcement, Ms. D. Whalen 2878
No. 368, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Bluenose II Preservation Trust:
Societies Act - Controls, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2879
No. 369, Justice - Unlimited Liability Companies: MB - Registration,
Ms. D. Whalen 2880
No. 370, TPW - Toll Rds.: Const. - Plans, Mr. C. Parker 2881
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. M. Raymond 2883
Mr. W. Gaudet 2886
Mr. M. Parent 2890
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:18 P.M. 2894
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 2894
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Rural N.S.: Challenges - Response:
Mr. H. Theriault 2895
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2896
Mr. M. Parent 2898
Mr. C. Parker 2899
Mr. K. Colwell 2902
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 2903
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:51 P.M. 2903
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 62, Financial Measures (2004) Act 2904
Mr. G. Steele 2904
Ms. D. Whalen 2912
Adjourned debate 2923
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 30th at 9:00 a.m. 2923
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1212, Muir, William - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. J. DeWolfe 2924
Res. 1213, Kaiser, Ruby - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2924
Res. 1214, Breen, Evangeline - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2925
Res. 1215, Williams, Roger - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2925
Res. 1216, Munroe, Lawrence - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 2926
Res. 1217, Hansen, Peter - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Hon. C. D'Entremont 2926
Res. 1218, LeCaine, Lois - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Hon. R. Hurlburt 2927
Res. 1219, Brehaut - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. M. Parent 2927
Res. 1220, Foote, George - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. M. Parent 2928
Res. 1221, Brown, Blair - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. C. O'Donnell 2929
Res. 1222, McGray, Norma - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. C. O'Donnell 2929
Res. 1223, Moore, Elaine - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. C. O'Donnell 2930
Res. 1224, Bower, Annie - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Mr. C. O'Donnell 2930
Res. 1225, Nickerson, Verna - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Mr. C. O'Donnell 2931
Res. 1226, Penney, Eugene - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Hon. K. Morash 2931
Res. 1227, Foley, Barbara - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Hon. K. Morash 2932
Res. 1228, Richard, Lois - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), Hon. R. Hurlburt 2932
Res. 1229, Chiasson, Annie Rose - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2933
Res. 1230, Thompson, Tim - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 2934
Res. 1231, Purdy, Edith - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), The Speaker 2934
Res. 1232, Lucas, John - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), The Speaker 2935
Res. 1233, Dickson, Jean - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004), The Speaker 2935
Res. 1234, ICON Electric & Control Inc.: Contributions -
Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 2936
Res. 1235, RESPECT Day - Gaetz Brook JHS, Mr. W. Dooks 2936
Res. 1236, Embree, Justin - Basketball Award, The Speaker 2937
Res. 1237, Ellis, Matt - Scholar Athlete Award, The Speaker 2937
Res. 1238, McPhee, Shelby: Skating Achievement - Congrats.,
The Speaker 2938
Res. 1239, Wort, Chief Jonathan/Up. Stewiacke FD - Commend,
Mr. B. Taylor 2938
Res. 1240, Neilsen, Chief Rod/Brookfield FD - Commend,
Mr. B. Taylor 2939
Res. 1241, Ruggles, Chief Craig/Mid. Musquodoboit FD - Commend,
Mr. B. Taylor 2939
Res. 1242, Swaine, Suzanne: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2940
Res. 1243, Hinchey, Adam: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 2940
Res. 1244, McNeil, Jenna: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. J. Muir 2941
Res. 1245, Crouse, Megan: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. J. Muir 2941
Res. 1246, Laforest, Krystal-lynn: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. J. Muir 2942
Res. 1247, Ritacco, Rachel: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. J. Muir 2942
Res. 1248, LeBlanc, Aaron: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 2943
Res. 1249, Mason, Geoffrey: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Hon. K. Morash 2943
Res. 1250, Rae, Luke/Baxter, Matthew: Can.-Wide Science Fair -
Selection, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 2944
Res. 1251, Dugas, Ian/McDonald, Jaime: Can.-Wide Science Fair -
Selection, Mr. M. Parent 2944
Res. 1252, Frenette, Julia: Can.-Wide Science Fair - Selection,
Mr. M. Parent 2945
Res. 1253, Black Pt. FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2945
Res. 1254, Chester Basin FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2946
Res. 1255, Blandford FD (Dist. 1): Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2946
Res. 1256, Hubbards FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2947
Res. 1257, Seabright FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2947
Res. 1258, West. Shore FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2948
Res. 1259, New Ross FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2948
Res. 1260, Chester FD: Exec./Firefighters - Commend,
Mr. J. Chataway 2949
Res. 1261, Swim, Chris - Web Site: Development - Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 2949
Res. 1262, Rubber Assoc. Can.: Be Tire Smart Wk. (04/25-05/05/04) -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 2950

[Page 2843]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Russell MacKinnon

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel:

Therefore be it resolved that the government has failed to address the economic and demographic challenges faced by rural Nova Scotia.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 1,659 fish plant workers in Nova Scotia stating, "We the undersigned . . . the Fish Plant Workers of Nova Scotia request Nova Scotia's Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to immediately begin the process of setting up a meeting with the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to discuss an immediate financial-aid package for Nova Scotia fish plant workers that will enable them to maintain their way of life across Nova Scotia." I have affixed my signature to this petition.

2843

[Page 2844]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that was presented to me and I have affixed my signature. It is relating to Family Violence Prevention Week and it contains the signatures of 4,121 Cape Bretoners who have signed a personal commitment to working towards ending family violence.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1188

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

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre Phoenix hockey team had another successful season; and

Whereas the Phoenix went undefeated for the year, finishing first in their league; and

Whereas the Phoenix won the Akerley Zone Championship and finished second in the capital region;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Eastern Passage Education Centre's Phoenix hockey team, coach Jean Robert, assistant coach Grant Walsh and all the players and volunteers for a successful season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2845]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1189

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

Whereas recent statistics on economic growth clearly demonstrate that the Nova Scotia economy has stalled; and

Whereas instead of dealing with this issue the government continues to tell Nova Scotians that everything is fine; and

Whereas the rural economy is suffering from the neglect by this government on issues from agriculture to the offshore;

Therefore be it resolved that the government recognize that the Nova Scotia economy is in desperate need of leadership by this government, leadership that has been sadly lacking.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1190

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities, who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Hilden Fire Brigade answers a number of local alarms annually, while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

[Page 2846]

Whereas the Hilden Fire Brigade held their annual awards banquet and ceremony on April 24th, in which they were so kind to invite their local MLA to attend a wonderful evening which included a hot meal;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend Fire Chief Mike Arseneau, the executive and firefighters from the Hilden Fire Brigade for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1191

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

Whereas baseball has long been the sport of summer throughout North America; and

Whereas Baseball Canada will be holding tryouts for the women's national team from May 21st to May 24th; and

Whereas Nadine Wood of Elmsdale has been one of the only two Nova Scotians invited to the tryouts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Nadine Wood on her opportunity to try out for the National Women's Baseball Team and wish her good luck in her attempt to make the team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2847]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1192

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

Whereas the Clare Acadiens Bantam Team participated in the SEDMHA International Minor Hockey Tournament in Dartmouth, from April 8 to April 11, 2004; and

Whereas the team played against Dartmouth in the Odyssey Division Final; and

Whereas the SEDMHA International Hockey Tournament is one of the largest and most respected multi-level hockey tournaments in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Clare Acadiens Bantam team and their coaches for winning the Odyssey Division final during the 27th Annual SEDMHA International Minor Hockey Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

[Page 2848]

RESOLUTION NO. 1193

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

Whereas Prime Minister Paul Martin is under enormous stress right now as to when to call a federal general election, knowing full well the result will be far from what was forecast last November; and

Whereas a Canadian Press story reports skittish Liberal MPs are urging the Prime Minister to fire some of his people because the B-team is in charge, and they are wrecking the joint; and

Whereas one Ontario Liberal MP referred to the Prime Minister's current alleged brain trust as the no-brainer trust, going one step further to call them the mistake-a-day club;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly, especially the Third Party members, encourage the Prime Minister to alleviate his stress level now by calling an election and facing the electorate instead of parading around the country, pretending he is actually governing.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1194

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Knox Amateur Dinner Theatre Players have been entertaining members of Knox United Church and residents of Sackville for many years; and

Whereas this year's production, Knox Tale Soup, written by Paul Cooper and Malcolm Johnson, and directed by Vanessa Voerman, is sure to be a crowd pleaser; and

Whereas the performances on April 30th and May 1st at Knox United Church in Lower Sackville will continue the tradition of bringing great family entertainment to the community;

[Page 2849]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature send best wishes for a successful performance to writers Paul Cooper and Malcolm Johnson, director Vanessa Voerman, and all the members of the Knox Amateur Dinner Theatre Players for their upcoming performance of Knox Tale Soup.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley on an introduction.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce, in the east gallery, 11 students and two leaders from Thomas Aquinas Centre. Their leaders are Shelly MacNeil and Dae Jon, and I ask the members of the Legislature to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[12:15 p.m.]

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

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery where there are two visitors from the Halifax Clayton Park riding, if you would like to stand. Their names are Kathy MacLean and Joel Lemoyre, and I would like us to welcome them to the House, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our guests to the gallery.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

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

[Page 2850]

Whereas the Rubber Association of Canada will sponsor the first-ever Be Tire Smart Week from April 25 to May 5, 2004; and

Whereas it is a great opportunity to increase the awareness of the importance and benefits of proper tire inflation and maintenance; and (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Whereas by following a few simple steps (Interruptions)

I can't do it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We won't ask the honourable member to repeat that.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1195

MR. MARK PARENT: I hope that doesn't become contagious, Mr. Speaker.

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

Whereas the Canadian people are looking for a more responsive Senate, one whose membership is based on elections by the people of the province the individual represents; and

Whereas reform of the Senate, otherwise known as the Chamber of sober second thought has been the subject of much debate by all political Parties and the Canadian public for decades; and

Whereas the Prime Minister's action plan for democratic reform states that "Democratic institutions must constantly adapt and change in order to ensure that the process continues to work the way it was intended.";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the Prime Minister to refrain from making any new appointments on Nova Scotia's behalf to the Canadian Senate until that representative is an elected representative.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2851]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday during Question Period I tabled a letter to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. It later came to my attention that although the Department of Transportation and Public Works had discussions with this person based on the letter, the minister had not, in fact, received the letter. I spoke with him earlier about this. I would like to withdraw the letter and I will instead table the correspondence between Transportation and Public Works and express my apology to the minister if that caused him any embarrassment. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for that information.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1196

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

Whereas concerns about the management of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation have been raised both in committee and in this House; and

Whereas neither the chairman of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation Board nor the minister has provided adequate responses to any of these concerns; and

Whereas the profitability of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation has a direct effect on the revenues of the province and will influence the government's so-called balanced budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation provide this House with a complete and detailed account of the management irregularities and the steps being taken to rectify them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2852]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1197

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

Whereas the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth was incorporated in 1879 when provincial legislation brought forth municipal incorporation to all of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth kicked off their 125th Anniversary celebration on April 1st with the reception at the Yarmouth County Museum; and

Whereas a variety of events are scheduled throughout the coming year to celebrate this milestone and to celebrate the people who make Yarmouth such a wonderful place to live;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the 125th Anniversary of the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth and express their appreciation to all the dedicated men and women who have served the municipality for the past 125 years.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1198

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

[Page 2853]

Whereas the Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care concluded that public funding, delivery and administration of medically necessary health care was the most efficient approach, as well as the most cost-effective and most in line with Canadian values; and

Whereas in recent days the federal Health Minister seemed to open the door to increased private-for-profit health care; and

Whereas, in response, other provinces and the Prime Minister have reaffirmed the Romanow Commission recommendations to renew Medicare;

Therefore be it resolved that this House reaffirms the Romanow Commission recommendation that, rather than subsidizing private facilities with public dollars, government should choose to ensure that the public system has sufficient capacity to be universally accessible.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1199

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's post-secondary students have student debt loads considerably higher than the national average; and

Whereas tuition at our universities and NSCC continue to escalate above the national average; and

[Page 2854]

Whereas student debt burden is very onerous, and the misguided editorial of The Daily News makes no mention of Nova Scotia statistics, students' line of credit and other personal arrangements to finish their education;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commit to the reality of student debt burden in Nova Scotia and a course of action that makes university education and its funding a higher priority.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 1200

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

Whereas five students from Memorial Composite High School in Sydney Mines will compete against students from across the country at the 10th Canadian Skills Competition in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and

Whereas Kathy Lantz, A. J. Ford, Stephen Sorrey, Brandon Inder and Norman Samways will travel to the national competition in May; and

Whereas the students will be accompanied by Memorial High School vocational technical program coordinator and team leader Fred Martell;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in congratulating Kathy Lantz, A. J. Ford, Stephen Sorrey, Brandon Inder and Norman Samways on being selected to attend the 10th Canadian Skills Competition and wish them much success at this event.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 2855]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1201

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

Whereas the Dominion Community Hawks Club was organized in 1989 and received its charter in 1996; and

Whereas Dominion Community Hawks Club was steadfast in community support for such things as minor baseball, Seaside Daze, and other community-minded projects; and

Whereas this Saturday, May 1st, the Dominion Community Hawks Club is holding their annual Appreciation Night;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Dominion Community Hawks Club for all its community endeavours and wish them many more years of success in their good work.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 2856]

RESOLUTION NO. 1202

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

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board's aim is to promote responsible solid waste management by industry, as well as residents, through numerous stewardship programs and promotion; and

Whereas on April 22, 2004, the RRFB handed out their annual Mobius Environment Awards; and

Whereas the Digby Fire Department's Annual Auction received the award for the Volunteer of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Digby Fire Department's Annual Auction and all recipients of these awards.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1203

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

Whereas Chris Stanley of the Dalhousie University Tigers is the 2003-04 Canadian Inter-University Sport Men's Hockey Player of the Year; and

[Page 2857]

Whereas Chris Stanley has had an extraordinary university career, both athletically and academically, being named to the CIS all-rookie team, twice earning all-Canadian honours, three times earning academic all-Canadian recognition and was named the Atlantic University Sport Men's Hockey MVP the last two years; and

Whereas Chris Stanley because of his leadership both on and off the ice in the 200-04 season was Dalhousie's nominee for the James Bayer Award and was the Atlantic University Sport nominee for the TSN Dr. Randy Gregg Award, won the Dr. Bill Godfrey award for best demonstrating the spirit of intercollegiate hockey, was Dalhousie's Male Athlete of the Year, and President's Award winner;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Chris Stanley on his individual awards and nominations for his four-year contribution to the Dalhousie men's hockey program and for demonstrating in great measure the best characteristics of a university athlete.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 1204

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

Whereas Captain Jack Arnell, Harbourmaster at Hamilton, Bermuda, knew a good thing when he saw it; and

Whereas Captain Arnell, like other Bermudians, thought that his family would appreciate the chance to spend the heat of summer in the cooler climate of Nova Scotia, and therefore in 1929 bought land at Purcells Cove; and

[Page 2858]

Whereas the people of Purcells Cove have for generations enjoyed the Arnell lands, hiking back to Flat Lake, exploring the old quarries and swimming at Purcells Pond;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the seven sons of Captain Arnell's daughter Jill, for their prescience and generosity in donating this piece of wild land in the city to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust for permanent preservation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1205

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

Whereas in the early dawn hours of April 29, 1944, 60 years ago today, the HMCS Athabaskan was struck by a torpedo and plunged to the depths of the English Channel; and

Whereas 128 Canadians gave their lives in service to their country that day, including her Captain, Lieutenant Commander J.H. Stubbs, and another 38 of the crew were taken as prisoners of war; and

Whereas we continue to owe those men and their families a great debt of gratitude for the sacrifice they made;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the anniversary of this most tragic event and honour the men who served on the HMCS Athabaskan.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2859]

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 Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1206

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

Whereas volunteers play an essential role in making our communities better places to live; and

Whereas 93-year old Mae Forbes of Bridgewater has volunteered for the South Shore Regional Hospital for 57 years; and

Whereas today, Ms. Forbes, still works three days a week at the Daisy, which sells used clothing to raise funds money for South Shore Regional Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the worthwhile efforts of Mae Forbes and thank her for her many years of service to the South Shore Regional Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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 2860]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1207

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

Whereas volunteers give so generously of their energies, skills and family time and are the unsung heroes and backbones of our communities; and

Whereas April 18th to April 24th is National Volunteer Week, a week dedicated to honouring many volunteers who are the key of community success; and

Whereas Doris MacKaracher was recognized by the Halifax Regional Municipality for her many efforts in the community, including Past President of the ABC Non-Profit Health Care Association, Team Leader of the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club Breakfast Program, Membership Coordinator of the Lamont Scottish Clan Society, organizer of the Holy Trinity Clothing Depot and Treasurer of District 9 Citizens Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the important role volunteers play in our lives and pay tribute to Doris MacKaracher for her outstanding volunteer service, which has contributed to the well-being of the community of Dartmouth North.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1208

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

[Page 2861]

Whereas without the valued medical expertise of orthopaedic surgeons Dr. Chabra and Dr. Haider, and organizer Diane MacKenzie, Pictou County's first Hip Hop Hooray event would not have been possible this past Sunday; and

[12:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Hip Hop Hooray event is a symbolic walk which raises money for orthopaedic joints, education and equipment; and

Whereas the Pictou County event saw 93 registered walkers take part, all who have had replacement joints, with another 250 people in attendance to show their support;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs compliment organizer Diane MacKenzie and all participants for their hand in raising more than $20,000 in Pictou County's first Hip Hop Hooray event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1209

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

Whereas the Salt Springs 4-H Club in Pictou County has been active for many years; and

Whereas over those years many volunteer leaders have contributed to the host of programs that are offered; and

Whereas the club is sending two members to Manitoba on the 4-H interprovincial exchange for 10 days this spring.

[Page 2862]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate Sarah Jean Lees and Mary White for being selected for the 4-H interprovincial exchange and wish them and the Salt Springs 4-H Club continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1210

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

Whereas Cape Breton Screaming Eagles goaltender, Martin Houle was selected a first team All-Star in March of this year; and

Whereas he was also presented the Jacques Plante trophy awarded to the goaltender with the best individual goals-against average; and

Whereas he finished the regular season play with a record of 34 wins, 15 losses, 1 tie with a goals-against average of 2.32;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate Martin Houle for his noteworthy accomplishments during a very successful season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2863]

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. 1211

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

Whereas on Saturday April 3rd, the Bay Road Fire Department Station No. 59 held its Appreciation Banquet; and

Whereas Tim Chisholm was named as Firefighter of the Year, Paul Yorke as Top Responder, Andrew Church as Officer of the Year and Michael Orr as Rookie of the Year; and

Whereas special recognition went to long-term veterans of the Bay Road Fire Department, Larry Foren, Bim Blackadar, Bill Marr, John Ethridge, John Hubley, Gary Schnare and Clyde Keddy.

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate these firefighters on their recent awards and thank them for their contribution to our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the House I would like to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

[Page 2864]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I beg leave to table the report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the recommended changes to the boundary between the electoral districts of Bedford, and Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

Question Period will begin at 12:35 p.m. and end at 1:35 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

HEALTH - QE II SURGERY: REVIEW - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there is a substantial public concern about

the apparent breakdown in protocols around the safety of surgeries and surgical equipment at the QE II. Surgeries were postponed, surgical instruments were quarantined, and 26 patients were notified that they may have been exposed to potentially contaminated equipment.

Mr. Speaker, it's clear that preventative steps should have taken place immediately upon the discovery of a suspicious lab specimen. The hospital's CEO has admitted that the system did not work. A breakdown of this nature is naturally very upsetting to the patients involved, and also to people's confidence in the protocols that protect patient safety. My question is, will the minister tell this House what the investigation is that is currently underway, who is conducting it, and under what authority?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr Speaker, the honourable member has brought forward a question which of course is very timely and appropriate. I can say that we have been working very closely with Capital Health and Health Canada. The information that became available yesterday afternoon is information that is of concern to all of us. We are satisfied that as information became available, Capital Health reacted appropriately, and we have confidence in that.

[Page 2865]

However, as the honourable member pointed out, the process that was in place with respect to the sharing of information is a situation that deserves a review. We will be conducting that review, it will be conducted by the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health; by Capital Health; and by Health Canada. We want to receive the results of that review in a very timely fashion.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that the Minister of Health actually got to the answer that I was looking for. The province's obligation of course is to ensure that hospitals have the human and financial resources necessary to meet the required standards for patient safety, including the safety of equipment. I don't think the Minister of Health can take a hand-off approach with respect to this, so I'm going to repeat the question, Mr. Speaker. What we want to know is, what investigation is underway, who is conducting it, and what authority?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I've indicated the early part of the investigations that were going on were the communications that were taking place between the department, in particular, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health of the province and Capital Health. As information became available relative to the instruments in question, appropriate action was taken. The investigation that will continue as I have just described it, will be performed under the authorities that I have relative to the administration of health for this province. The report will be made to me, and I will make that report public as soon as I receive it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, This is not the first time that surgical instruments and other health equipment have come into question. Recently surgeries were cancelled at the Colchester Regional Hospital when staff identified a residue on surgical equipment. Nova Scotians deserve assurance that the reasons for these breakdowns in hospital protocols will be properly identified and corrected. My question for the minister is, what is the minister prepared to do to ensure that there is a transparent investigation, and that there is regular reporting to the public with respect to this issue?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the situation, as difficult as it is, is a situation which obviously presents an opportunity to learn from the circumstances that have occurred. It is our intention to learn as much as we can from this, and to share that, not just with the health authorities in the province, but with the public.

We also have involved Health Canada to assist us because indeed there are lessons here that could possibly have a nation-wide application. It is our attention to learn as much as we can from this situation and indeed, the honourable member has made reference to other situations, and we need to ensure that we put in place appropriate protocols throughout our system and that will be my objective with respect to this investigation. As I said, as unfortunate as this situation is, it is an opportunity for us to put right, processes throughout

[Page 2866]

the province, and we are taking that view of it and, as I said, Health Canada, I believe, will provide us with some level of nationwide credibility with respect to this process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - QE II CJD CASE: DEP. MIN. - VISIT CONFIRM

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Today we learned that the lines of communication broke down, with respect to the probable case of CJD at the QE II. While the case is still probable, it's absolutely mandatory that the people of Nova Scotia can trust their health care system. It would appear that, given media reports today, this trust has been somewhat shaken. According to the Health Act, the Deputy Minister of Health, when he considers is necessary, may visit any part of the province to investigate any matter that he considers relevant to the public health. My question to the minister is, could the minister please confirm whether the Deputy Minister of Health exercised this power and visited the QE II when he first became aware of the situation?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member and the House is that the Acting Deputy Minister of Health - because the deputy minister is out of the province - has been on this situation from the very first. The Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province has been involved in the situation from day one. There have been constant communications between the deputy minister's office and Capital Health, as well as the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Capital Health with respect to this, and the involvement of Health Canada. I cannot say whether there was an actual physical visit to the facility or not, but I can certainly assure the House and the people of this province that the deputy minister has made this his priority since he first learned of it.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that the minister issued a press release stating that the deputy minister would be remaining on the job until June 1st, he may not have been present to do his job as outlined in the Health Act. There's been a void at the highest level that has resulted in some serious damage when it comes to whether or not people can trust our health care system. My question to the minister is, while this serious situation exists at the QE II, who exactly is steering the ship at the Department of Health?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm steering that ship, and I have the able (Interruptions) I have the very able assistance of the Acting Deputy Minister of Health for this province, Dr. Rippey and the senior staff of the department. As I indicated, they have been making this their priority since they first learned of it.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the fact that the minister boasts about steering that ship leaves something to be desired. That ship may be on the rocks. I'm left only to repeat that the trust has been shaken, the trust of the public has been shaken, and

[Page 2867]

this minister has done nothing here today to restore that trust. There are spin doctors and the minister, all that's left holding the credibility of this government together when it comes to the handling of the CJD issue. Lines of communication broke down, the end result is that 26 people are living in fear, that is until the Premier changes the figures again. My final question to the minister is, will the minister immediately instruct the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and senior staff in his department to begin a complete investigation of the CJD situation at the QE II?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I won't go there. What I can tell the House is that I have, in fact, as I indicated in answer to a previous question, put in place an investigative team that is going to review all of the processes that have taken place and, indeed, all of the decisions and reactions relative to this particular situation. As I indicated, that team will involve the Chief Medical Officer of Health for this province, it will involve Health Canada, and it will involve Capital Health. I indicated that the object of this is to learn as much as we can, to improve and put in place processes that will be failsafe for the future. That is what we are going to accomplish, and I can tell all of the people of this province that as information became available, appropriate action was taken. What we need to ensure is that we have a better system of monitoring and sharing that information.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

PREM.: MAR. LIFE TAKEOVER - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Yesterday the takeover by Manulife Financial of Maritime Life was made official, having garnered regulatory approval. While this was going on, no one from this government made any statement or gave any reassurance to the families of those employed by Maritime Life or the many local companies with whom they do business. In fact, the employees were left to wonder and speculate about their future and the cuts they expect in the corporate office and investment and actuarial divisions. The company is one of Halifax's largest employers so I want to ask the Premier, why is it that this government was silent on what the future holds for these employees and their families?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the government has been concerned in a very, very major way, ever since we received the news that the headquarters for Maritime Life would no longer be in Nova Scotia. From that early time, the government has worked to investigate, promote and identify opportunities for all of the employees of Maritime Life, to achieve the put-backs that we must now be looking at, as we are in the process of losing what was a very important head office in Nova Scotia. I can assure the member opposite and, through him, the people of Nova Scotia, and in particular the

[Page 2868]

employees, we are doing all of those things that government can do to provide replacement opportunities within that corporate umbrella.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, each and every one of the employees at Maritime Life has helped build our economy and the government should be working actively to keep these jobs in Nova Scotia. The loss of up to 1,100 jobs in this city and the province would be an economic blow, and once these employees and their families are forced to move elsewhere for work, we will be hard pressed to lure them back. My question for the Premier is, he has known now of this impending merger for nearly eight months, when does his government expect that the uncertainty about the future of Maritime Life will be resolved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Acting Minister of Economic Development.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the comments of the Premier on this matter and assure the honourable member and all members of this House that the government has taken this seriously since we became aware of it. I think we would agree that all these employees have a sophisticated set of skills and ones that the Minister of Economic Development has taken a direct interest in working. We will continue to do what we are doing, and that is to work on the solid business case that those employees provide for us for new activity here, in Halifax.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, members of this House are well aware that corporate headquarters and the associated jobs are of particular importance to local economies, this makes the situation with Maritime Life that much more important. My question is, will the Premier tell this House what personal involvement he has in ensuring Nova Scotia retains as many of these jobs as possible?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome that opportunity. First of all when the information became available to the Premier's office, that we immediately started to coordinate an action team to work and provide as much remediation, relative to the loss of the headquarters. I personally was involved in some of the meetings and received briefings and had opportunities to discuss this with officials of the soon-to-be company. So there was very active participation by the Premier's office, by myself, in those two aspects. First of all, direct communication with those involved and, secondly, coordinating a response.

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

PREM.: GOV'T. (N.S.)/GOV'T. (CAN.)/HRM - INTERACTIONS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier is rapidly losing the confidence of all Nova Scotians. More importantly, Nova Scotians are learning they can't trust this government. The Premier says he wants minority government to

[Page 2869]

work, but his actions suggest otherwise. When it comes to the federal government, this Premier does not negotiate. Instead, he plays the blame game.

Yesterday the Halifax Regional Municipality issued a press release indicating that the province is not co-operating with the establishment of a Capital Transportation Authority. Another release from HRM indicates the province and the municipality are in dispute over the assessment of the Imperial Oil Refinery in Dartmouth. So my first question to the Premier is, when is the Premier going to step down from his high horse and start building bridges instead of burning them with other levels of government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because the Imperial Oil Refinery is a very important issue. We have seen one refinery leave Nova Scotia, the Ultramar Refinery, which was a very unfortunate day for Nova Scotians. We know we only have two refineries supplying the market here; we have the one in New Brunswick and we have Imperial Oil. It's very, very important for those people who work at the Imperial Oil Refinery that we find a way for them to continue with their jobs, but it's also very important that the gas purchasers in Nova Scotia have the advantage of at least two suppliers. We will do everything that is humanly possible as a government to make sure that that refinery remains in Nova Scotia.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will table those two press releases that were issued by HRM yesterday. These press releases indicate that this government is failing to work with municipalities. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality wants to take the province to court and the mayor believes that their economy is in chaos. The Halifax Regional Municipality believes it is being short-changed with the establishment of the Capital Transportation Authority and the Imperial Oil assessment. The Town of Canso is being harassed by the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister for not completing a study on the town's future.

So my next question to the Premier is, could the Premier explain why he has such poor relationships with Nova Scotia municipalities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have 55 municipalities in our province and they do represent a level of government that from to time finds itself perhaps objecting to some of the initiatives of the provincial government, but by and large I think we have a good working relationship with municipalities. There will never be a day that the two levels of government, particularly when we're dealing with 55 governments, will always be totally in sync, but what I can say is we have a Minister of Municipal Relations who is working very hard. He visits and talks with those municipalities. He listens to their concerns and then he comes back to government and tries to achieve within the total umbrella of government reasonable solutions to their concerns and we'll continue to use that approach.

[Page 2870]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, whether it's the federal government or municipalities, this Premier is doing a terrible job maintaining positive relationships. The Premier has lost his ability to co-operate. So my final question to the Premier is, when does the Premier expect to regain that ability?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if I answer the question, I'm admitting that we have lost the ability, but I can assure the member opposite that, like all governments from time to time, there are differences with various municipalities. There are 55 of them, there used to be 65 and I believe at one point, 66. Regardless of the numbers, there will always be areas of differences of opinion, but what we have formulated and have committed to is a way in which we can deal with those issues. We have a minister who has shown the energy and the desire to go out and meet with the municipalities - he's done that - he will deal with their issues, either collectively when it's appropriate or individually when it's appropriate. He'll deal with them effectively.

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

JUSTICE: CORR. SERV. EMPLOYMENT

SYSTEMS REVIEW - IMPLEMENT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Correctional Services Employment Systems Review was released yesterday and it presented some disturbing findings. One of the particular findings was that there are systemic barriers to employment equity for all staff within Correctional Services within the Department of Justice. The report cites in particular a strong gender bias in Correctional Services. It says that staff make inappropriate comments to females and some staff are not supportive of females within Correctional Services. There are many time-sensitive recommendations in this report. Yet the minister says he's going to need 60 days to look at the report. So my question to the minister is, why is his government choosing to stall the implementation of this report instead of acting immediately?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: The honourable member is absolutely correct. The report does raise very important public policy questions. That's why, frankly, we commissioned the report in the first place. We commissioned the report because we were concerned about those matters and we wanted to make an attempt to improve the situation for all of our employees and for prospective employees in Correctional Services. That's why, Mr. Speaker, we owe it to them to take the time to make sure our response is correct.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, indeed, this report is dated March 31, 2004 so it's been in the hands of the minister for one month already and he says he needs another 60 days. I would argue quite frankly that it's a no-brainer. A lot of these recommendations are clear-cut and need to be implemented immediately and that is what's being said by this report. The report recommends that the government encourage zero tolerance with regard to

[Page 2871]

discrimination and harassment and provide training by September 2004, which is only five months from now. Given this finding and the evidence of intimidation in the report, will the minister explain to this House why his department preaches zero tolerance with regard to offenders but refuses to apply the same criteria with regard to staff in Correctional Services?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Again, he raises a very important question. That is one of the matters raised in that report and I can assure you that I take those matters very seriously, as do senior department officials. I can also assure you that one of the matters we have to look at is that of collective agreements because there are issues around collective agreements, as the honourable member would know, and those issues around collective agreements also need to be looked at in determining how to properly implement the recommendations of the report.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, one of the report's key recommendations was that interview panels should include female representatives and representative of designated groups. There are on-going competitions within Correctional Services. We saw them on the Web site and the deadline is May 11th for those competitions. So I will ask the Minister of Justice, will he commit at least to ensuring that the hiring committees for these positions that are currently open will include female representatives and representatives of designated groups?

MR. BAKER: I thank the honourable member for the question. It's a reasonable question, I'll take it under advisement and get back to the member.

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

TPW: TRANSPORTATION AUTH. - COMPOSITION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works with regard to the Capital Transportation Authority. The press release, that was referred to a little earlier, put out by Mayor Peter Kelly has a number of significant quotes and I'd like to put those on the record. One, "'Naturally, we were shocked . . . when we read comments attributed to Transportation Minister Ron Russell, who apparently made it clear to reporters (Tuesday) that HRM will not be in charge of the authority,'" and, secondly, he said that until I read the minister's comments in the newspaper today, the province has never taken issue with our concept of the Transportation Authority. Would the minister please confirm as to whether there has been a change of heart by the province as to what the composition of the Transportation Authority would be?

[Page 2872]

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: No, Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. Unfortunately, some of the remarks that I made to the media at the press conference yesterday - I won't say were misreported, but were taken perhaps out of context in that there have been no decisions made as to what the composition of the Transportation Authority will be. There have been no decisions made with regard to how people will be appointed to that authority; in other words, that is just a framework in which the province is quite willing to work and we understood, until yesterday, that HRM was willing to work as well to form an authority that would represent the best interests of not only HRM but the provincial government as well.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this is a complete flip-flop by the minister and the government. I will quote comments that were made by a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus at the Economic Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 10, 2004, with regard to the composition of the commission: "Three members of Council, three residents of HRM appointed by Council, three members of HRM staff . . . two members appointed by the province." That was the proposal that was brought forth before the committee. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley wanted to know who put this proposal forth and Mr. McLellan responded: "Easily, Mr. Chairman. That structure was originally put forth by the provincial side." So my question to the minister is, why have you changed your position?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have not changed. I don't know exactly where that composition was conveyed to HRM or by whom, but I do know that it has always been the opinion of Cabinet and of the department that the composition was something that had to be worked out between the two parties. When Mr. McLellan made that statement, it could quite easily have been based on some discussions that he had with staff from either the province as a whole or from the Department of Transportation, I don't know but, as I say, yesterday, when I was speaking to the media, I thought I was making my point that this was just a framework and that there were a lot of details to be worked out. HRM were aware of the bill. They had a copy.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I believe that Mr. George McLellan has a tremendous amount of credibility in the Halifax Regional Municipality and I believe the confidence of this process has been shaken by the fact that the minister, quite clearly, was very confusing in his comments when he had his press conference - plus, coupled with the fact that the mayor's comments were very, very strong and straightforward. So my question to the minister is, will the minister give an undertaking that he will sit down with the municipality and negotiate, instead of issuing an edict from a higher position without any consultation?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I had a conversation with the mayor a couple of days ago and, as a result of that conversation, I thought that he understood perfectly where the province was coming from with regard to the authority. That authority is very, very

[Page 2873]

important, not only for HRM but for the province as well. I don't think that the province wants to take over busing responsibilities within the city, or the ferries, those are things that remain with the city but they are part of the authority when it's formed. So, Mr. Speaker, there has to be a lot of discussions. I understand that those discussions will continue and I hope to have the authority in place by the end of this calendar year.

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

HEALTH: ADDICTION SERV. - ACTION PLAN

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to read from a letter that was e-mailed to our caucus office from Lee Nuss of Florida, "It is truly a shame, what is going on with the Drug OXYCONTIN. I live in Palm Coast FL. and last year, May 1st., 2003, I lost my 18 year old Son, Randall M. Nuss, to an accidental Overdose of OXYCODONE. Last year in FL alone, we lost 3,200 Lives, to Prescription Drugs."

Mr. Speaker, all week we've been asking the government to take action to stop the toll that OxyContin is taking on Cape Breton, and all week we've had no real answers. Staff who work in addiction services are concerned about the lack of consistency across the province with respect to services available and the lack of provincial vision. My question to the Minister of Health is, given the serious drug problem in Cape Breton and the relative lack of service there, could he tell us what is being done to create an overall vision for addiction services across the province?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that we are working very closely with the people in that part of the province with respect to this particular problem. We are awaiting recommendations that will come forward from that group, and I can tell the honourable member that the Minister of Justice has indeed made an offer to the police chief in CBRM, with respect to the enforcement problem, and we will continue to work in that direction.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the government stood by when the 21-day residential program was closed; the government stood by when the Strait Detox Unit closed temporarily due to a lack of resources; and the government is standing by and prefers to point fingers at the Cape Breton police for an OxyContin problem. The people in Cape Breton Island can't afford to wait while the government stands by. Will the government commit today to tabling a substantive action plan and resources to deal with the OxyContin plague in Cape Breton?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member makes reference to changes in the delivery of treatment in the Cape Breton area, and I can tell the honourable member that all of the funding that was available for that treatment is still there, it is being used more effectively and efficiently than previously. That is based on the recommendation of experts in the field of addiction services. There is no blame on the part of this government directed

[Page 2874]

toward the police force of Cape Breton, there is simply an offer on the table with respect to addressing the very serious problem related to this drug, and that is the illegal activity and that illegal activity must be addressed as part of the overall solution.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier finally admitted yesterday that OxyContin is a very dangerous drug, despite his earlier statements that it's just good pain medication. The CMA guidelines for prescribing OxyContin indicate that it should be prescribed for expected, moderate pain but, to be fair, they do warn doctors that there is the potential for abuse of this drug. Groups in the United States have been working to have OxyContin reclassified to ensure that it is only prescribed for the most severe pain. My question, through you, to the Premier today is, given the Premier's own realization that this is a dangerous drug, will he work with the doctors and the CMA here to have that reflected in prescription guidelines?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member brings an interesting perspective to the drug, to the attention of the members of the House. As the member opposite is aware, some of the issues surrounding OxyContin are federal issues that are determined by the provisions under which the drug is approved. The specific answer to are we prepared to work with municipal and federal authorities to come to a reasonable approach to the use of OxyContin, and, in particular with municipal authorities, the abuse of the use of OxyContin, are we prepared to co-operate and put our shoulder to the wheel, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

TPW: HWY. NO. 101 - DIGBY/WEYMOUTH EXTENSION

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. There is the No. 1 highway in western Nova Scotia that carries traffic from two major ferries; one is an international, and the other is a national ferry. They bring cars and trucks to western Nova Scotia, up to three loads per day, to travel on this No. 1 highway.

Western Nova Scotia has the biggest fishing industry in all of the Atlantic Provinces. All these fish are hauled over this No. 1 highway in 18-wheelers at 100 kilometres per hour. This highway is between Weymouth and Digby and it runs by hundreds of homes, schools and churches, as close as 15 feet to the edge of the highway. My question is, where on the priority list is the Weymouth to Digby extension of the Highway No. 101 controlled access highway?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is part of the Highway No. 101 program to close the gap between Digby and Weymouth. As federal funding becomes available it will be completed. However, as the honourable minister is aware, that present highway is under the National Highway System, so therefore the province will not proceed until federal funding is available.

[Page 2875]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, the highway from Bedford to Yarmouth is 300 kilometres long. From Weymouth to Digby the 26-kilometres section in the middle has never been touched. I would like to table two drawings that were completed, one in 1992, and one in 1999 by this province. There has been nothing followed up on this to give to my constituents a safely-constructed controlled access highway from Digby to Weymouth. This very day, over 6,000 cars and trucks including heavy transports will use the No. 1 highway. My question to the minister again, can he give the constituents of Digby some kind of an indication that 18-wheelers will not be driving 100 kilometres per hour, 15 feet from their doorsteps much longer?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly give assurance to the member that we will continue to press the federal government for cost-sharing dollars to compete that section of Highway No. 101. I can assure the member that it is high on our priority list of 100-Series Highway projects to be completed.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker the people of Digby-Annapolis just want to know if this will ever get off the drawing board. It has been 15 years and they would like to see it become a reality. I hear this from them every day. They fear for their children getting off the school buses, they fear for the children playing in their yards. The people live in fear along this highway, on their doorsteps. All I'm asking for on behalf of my constituents, is a decent, two-lane controlled access highway from Weymouth to Digby. Will the minister responsible help make this happen for the improvement of people's lives in Digby-Anapolis, and the travellers on this highway.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I said before, I can assure the honourable member that I will do everything possible to secure funding to complete that section. As the honourable member may be aware, we are doing some work on that particular stretch of highway between Digby and Yarmouth, but it's construction past Weymouth with overpasses and I forget the names of all the roads, I know Brooklyn Road is one, and I think there are two others further down towards the Yarmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - NSP: REGS. -BYPASSING EXPLAIN

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The environmental assessment regulations have been set up to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians and it is this government's job to make sure the rules are followed. Yet the Minister of Environment and Labour has said that Nova Scotia Power is going to be able to bypass these rules and install a new generator without having to undergo a Class II environmental assessment. My question for the Minister of Environment and Labour is, why are you allowing Nova Scotia Power to bypass these rules?

[Page 2876]

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly will be doing everything we can to make sure that all people who apply for any kind of expansion to their industrial process go through the proper regulations and procedures to ensure that the province is protected.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, the Tufts Cove plant is within the top 10 polluters of this province. Before we add another generator to that site, we need a thorough assessment. Luckily, the rules demand that such a large generator undergo a Class II environmental assessment, but the minister has been trying to argue this new 47-megawatt generator that can power an additional 10,000 households should skip the Class II assessment because it is really just an expansion. My question to the minister is, how can you expect anyone to take these rules seriously when your department appears to arbitrarily decide how to use them?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, a good point was made that this is an extension of an existing facility where certainly a lot of time and effort has been spent with regard to the environment. A lot of time and effort is still being spent to do everything we can to reduce pollution from that facility, along with the owner, and we will do everything that we can in the future to make sure that the province is protected, the environment is protected, and the people are protected.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, our Department of Environment and Labour and Nova Scotia Power should be working together to figure out how to conserve energy, not create more. Reducing energy use would help us meet our Kyoto targets and reduce our greenhouse gases and improve our air and our health in this province. My question to the minister is, when is your government going to present a serious strategy to increase energy efficiency in Nova Scotia?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, that's something that we do on an ongoing basis and we are in consultation with the Department of Energy. We are doing everything we can in the long term to reduce energy consumption within the province and ensure that we have a green province for our grandchildren.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

COM. SERV.: AFFORDABLE HOUSING - DEV. PLANS

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, in 2002 the federal and provincial governments signed a $37 million agreement to provide affordable housing for Nova Scotians. As we know, very little of that money has been used - only 21 new units have been constructed. In my community the lack of affordable housing is making it increasingly difficult for families to get by. My question to the minister responsible for Nova Scotia's

[Page 2877]

Affordable Housing Program is, how many more units will the government develop in Nova Scotia during the next year?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, one of my favourite topics because good things are happening in affordable housing. It's great to have the federal government back partnering with us, after they abandoned affordable housing in 1993, and we are working together and we're doing good things in this 50/50 agreement. As the member opposite would know, a request for proposals for 200 new units just went out a couple months ago and we look forward to answers to the request for proposals.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, in the Greystone area of my community, which is subsidized provincial housing, there is at least one block of affordable housing units which has been boarded up for a long time - far more than a year. I've been told these units are not in use because they're too big. Some are three bedrooms, some are four bedrooms, and two of them have five bedrooms. I've also been told that these units are to be levelled. My question to the minister responsible for affordable housing is, why have you not made use of these units, simply because they're too spacious?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, I'm sure where it's from her own constituency, would be aware that it was, in fact, her own association that wanted to reduce the number of these units. They are not in good condition. There were some negotiations between the housing authority and community association and we came to an agreement that they would only close down nine of them as opposed to a larger number, which came forward originally from the association but since the member is from the area, I'm sure that she would be aware this.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, given the affordable housing track record of this government, there's a lot of mistrust amongst the residents, members of that association, about the very future of their homes.

Some constituents have been telling me they're afraid the Greystone housing project units may be sold. The property manager has been told that this isn't the case, but I'm unable to receive confirmation from the department. I would like to ask the minister, would you please dispel the fears of these people. Will you commit in this House today that the department has no plans to sell or transfer ownership of the Greystone housing project?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'd pleased to make that commitment here in the House and I would encourage the honourable member to speak with the president of the association so that she can be more apprised of what's going on in her own community. (Interruption)

[Page 2878]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

FIN.: USER FEES/TAXES - ANNOUNCEMENT

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. In responding to my question on user fees on April 20th, the Minister of Finance blustered loudly, "What I can tell this House is this government will never follow Ottawa's example." Apparently that means Nova Scotians cannot expect this government to follow Ottawa's policy of transparency when it comes to user fees. My question to the Minister of Finance is, why didn't he just tell . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. WHALEN: . . . couldn't he just tell Nova Scotians the truth on March 31st and admit he was raising taxes rather than waiting and bearing the information in the Financial Measures (2004)Act?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is, by the wording, insinuating that the honourable member was not truthful in this House. I'll ask the honourable member to rephrase the question, please.

MS. WHALEN: Okay, can we change the word to, why was he not straightforward with the taxes?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I guess the honourable member's question is, why didn't we tell them about the fees? Well, we did. We announced the fees. We put out all the fees, we published them. It was very clear. I didn't send that honourable member a package of them but, if she wishes, I will get one for her.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, clearly the government has once again been caught with its proverbial pants down. (Interruptions) Can I say that? I can say that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that fees are only for cost-recovery and anything above that is a tax, and what were announced on March 31st, were couched as user fees. My question for the minister is, will he table the documentation justifying the increases to all of the user fees that are not currently mentioned in the Financial Measures (2004) Act?

[Page 2879]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the departments look at those different fees and charges and they look at the areas of what it takes to perform all of those. I indicated that the departments review those to see and ensure that they're working towards cost-recoveries and that's the position we have taken, and that's where we still are.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are becoming accustomed to this government's lack of openness and transparency. My final question is again to the Minister of Finance. Will the minister commit to introducing legislation in this House that achieves the goals of the federal Bill C-212 of openness and accountability in the setting of user fees?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we have been made aware of that bill that the federal government is putting through. We'll have a look at it, but as I indicated before, where Ottawa goes is not always where we want to be.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - BLUENOSE II PRESERVATION TRUST: SOCIETIES ACT - CONTROLS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Yesterday morning the Bluenose II Preservation Trust Society appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on the issue of funding. Perhaps one of the most troubling elements of the agreement between the province and the society is the chronic lack of accountability since its inception. The trust is governed by the Societies Act, but unlike most societies, it does not hold public annual meetings and the membership on the board is limited to an exclusive circle. My question to the minister is, why are stricter controls not in place on the Bluenose II Preservation Trust as a society under the Societies Act?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, all societies in Nova Scotia are required to act within the laws of Nova Scotia. In the event that this one is not, we will bring it to the attention of our staff and we will ensure that they do that.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, there's a power struggle going on in this province and the province is losing. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage asked for audited financial statements and was ignored. This minister has been turned down repeatedly when requesting that the Bluenose II appear at key events. Letters from the society either chastize the government for publishing photos of the ship or seek annual funding for the use of these photos. My question to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage is, when will he finally ensure that this situation comes to an end?

[Page 2880]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member for the question. Indeed, I have written letters in the past with respect to many issues, including those issues the member mentioned. We have put in a process and I imagine within the next week we'll be announcing the transition team so we can move forward on the process we initiated back in December.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, this body is not fully accountable to the government which owns its sole purpose for being the Bluenose II. We have yet to receive any assurances that the new body, which Senator Moore is helping to create, will be any more accountable to the public than the trust before. So my question to the minister is, what will happen to the significant financial assets of the trust when its agreements lapse?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, certainly I do agree with the member. I will point out again the deal signed by the previous Liberal Government - a seven-year deal - but, I won't go there. What I want to point out and to assure that member and all members that the financial accountabilities and assets which need to be in place for the new entity will be there. It will be very open, very accountable to this House and to the people of our province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

JUSTICE - UNLIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES:

MB - REGISTRATION

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice concerning unlimited liability companies registered in Canada. As the minister knows, unlimited liability companies are popular vehicles for U.S. companies doing business in Canada. When structured properly they create favourable tax savings for those U.S. corporations. Nova Scotia was for 10 years the only province in Canada that allowed these types of corporations. They generate business for legal and accounting firms as well as many taxes for our province. Unfortunately, Nova Scotia is no longer going to be the only corporate jurisdiction in Canada to allow this type of company - Alberta recently announced that they too will begin allowing unlimited liability companies. So my question for the minister is, were you aware of Alberta's intention to begin allowing unlimited liability companies to register there?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Yes.

MS. WHALEN: Very good. Clearly this move by Alberta is going to cut into the provincial revenues but to make it worse, this government has decided to double the fee paid by these offshore companies to register here in Nova Scotia. As of April 1, 2004, the fee doubled from $2,000 to $4,000 to incorporate and doubled from $1,000 to $2,000 for the

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annual renewal. My first supplementary to the minister is, given that you were aware of Alberta's intention to allow unlimited liability companies, why did you decide to double the fee that will impact the revenues of this province?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: I thank the honourable member for the question. I suppose there are two components to the answer. The first is obvious, which is I can't do anything about what Alberta does with respect to their own company law; I don't control the Province of Alberta's legislative jurisdiction and therefore I can't worry about what Alberta is going to do. What I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, is that we believe the fee we are charging is fair and reasonable.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest that by doubling the fee at this time, with Alberta entering the market, if you would put it that way for this kind of business, we will actually be losing a great deal of revenue. So my question is, considering the negative impact this decision will have on the revenue generated by this fee and revenue earned by our local accounting and legal firms, is the minister willing to review this user fee to determine whether or not it was a good idea to double it at this time?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The question itself is a Financial Measures Act question about a specific part of the Financial Measures (2004) Act, so I will disallow it.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW - TOLL RDS.: CONST. - PLANS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. At a bill briefing regarding the Capital Transportation Authority the minister was asked about toll roads. The majority of Nova Scotians, as you would know, made it very clear that they are not in favour of toll roads. Yet the minister's answer yesterday was unclear. So I would like to give the minister an opportunity to clarify his position. I ask the minister, will this government allow toll roads to be constructed in the Province of Nova Scotia, yes or no?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, for greater clarity, the province has no intention of building toll roads in Nova Scotia.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, the minister stated the other day that if the Capital Transportation Authority proposed toll roads, the province would be willing to consider it, and that's after he stated that he was not in favour of toll roads. So I think with that wishy-washy answer Nova Scotians deserve to know the government's firm stand on toll roads. So my question to the minister is, haven't Nova Scotians paid enough with gas taxes and existing highway and bridge tolls?

[Page 2882]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the honourable member has one of these in his desk. I would encourage him to put it on. (Laughter) I said the provincial government has no intention of building toll roads in Nova Scotia.

MR. PARKER: Well, like I said, his answer was wishy-washy yesterday (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, we know that members of the Tory caucus have actively proposed a toll road between Bedford and Dartmouth. The future of the Capital Transportation Authority is in question today, but this issue isn't going to go away any time soon. So I ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works again, what assurances can you offer the people of Nova Scotia that there will be no more toll roads in this province under your watch?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on my watch we will not be building any toll roads in Nova Scotia.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Minister responsible for what used to be the Ministry of Economic Development that is now an office. Everybody knows that this government has turned its back on rural Nova Scotia. Our young people are leaving at an alarming rate. Between 1991 and 2001, there was a 9 per cent decrease in young people, between the ages of 15 to 24 in rural Nova Scotia. As of 2001, 707,000 people were living in rural communities, that is 75 per cent of this province. Unemployment rates in rural Nova Scotia are substantially higher than the national average and that is a shame.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 2883]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity because my riding of Halifax Atlantic demonstrates many of the issues facing Nova Scotia as a whole today. Like Nova Scotia, Halifax . . .

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

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. RAYMOND: Like Nova Scotia, Halifax Atlantic is an area in transition, on the cusp of great things or much lesser. The greatest thing I think that we have to face in my riding, and perhaps in the province as a whole, is a failure of stewardship. Stewardship is waste and waste is inevitably the enemy, whether it is of time, money, energy, land, buildings, materials or people. We are, at the moment, in the midst of an intricate process of setting the priorities and preparing to put into action the measures which will make concrete the priorities and demonstrate what we value most as a society and as a province. Some of them are unquestionable.

There is very little question amongst Nova Scotians at all that the most important thing is health; without health human beings are, in fact, wasted. Health, of course, has a couple of components, several components, but we typically divide it into physical and mental health. We are aware of many of the factors which contribute to the wide variety of physical illnesses that beset us today, but one of the most important, underlying common threads is in fact a threat to the mental health of the populace. I would say that it is very important that we address this with all the strength that we have and with as much commitment as we do the issues of physical health.

We have major problems with addiction, in various forms. I find it interesting to note that according to the psychiatric annals of July 2003, 44 per cent of the cigarettes smoked in North America are consumed by people who have suffered from a psychiatric problem within the past 30 days; that's 44 per cent of all the cigarettes smoked. It's also interesting to note that the leading causes of death for the chronically mentally ill are, in order: heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Look at the leading causes of death amongst the chronically mentally ill. Look at the possible causes. Tobacco use, a leading cause of cancer. Tobacco use, a leading cause of heart disease. Tobacco use, the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These are unusual coincidences.

When you look at the effects or the relationship between youth and tobacco, you will note that out of those people currently using tobacco, who continue into adulthood, half will die prematurely of tobacco-related illness. If current patterns continue, 250 children alive today will die prematurely from tobacco, and that was said in 1996 by the World Health Organization. Perhaps, most importantly, cigarette use by adolescents is a powerful

[Page 2884]

determinant of developing profound depressive symptoms. And, also from the American Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, cigarette smoking in adolescents appears to be a very strong marker of future psychopathology. We cannot afford to ignore these coincidences. We cannot afford to indulge this kind of institutionalized addiction.

Similar statistics apply, of course, to gambling, which, as we know, is an important part of our provincial economy and, I would argue, should not be. These are the direct physical effects, there's also an immeasurable toll taken on human beings daily by living with chronic mental disease. Perhaps this is my opportunity to say that I think we should, perhaps as a progressive province, as a research-centred province, as a province with enormous resources at our disposal, be looking at some of the effects of the patterns of lifestyle which we are following right now.

I worry - I am not joking when I say that I worry - about the lack of sleep amongst adolescents. There is huge sleep deprivation, and you will notice that studies in the United States, and a number of institutions in the United States are taking active measures to ensure that sleep, as we do nutrition with the breakfast program at school, is supplemented at school, when necessary. Duke University has, in fact, enacted such a program and so have a variety of high schools. Sleep is a tremendous determinant of mental health. Stress is a tremendous result of lack of sleep. I think we have a variety of elements, working conditions, in this province which are contributing to a global lack of sleep - ridiculous as it may sound.

Another basic need for any human being is, of course, decent nutrition. Once again, studies have shown over and over again that as much as one might lecture about the virtues of a nutritious diet, a nutritious diet is not cheap. It's no accident, and it is very important that this government ensure that its help translates directly into food, of a respectable nature, on the table.

Another dreadful form of waste of people can be an inability for people to get the education that they need. I think I referred yesterday to the fact that there are powerful determinants as well between education and health, both mental and physical. It is essential that we as a province ensure that people are able to reach their full potential, that we also look at the stages of life, because there are people who begin their careers in one fashion, perhaps as manual labourers and are unable to continue, and a number of those people then come to the belief, as they reach an age at which manual labour is no longer possible, that it will not be possible to continue in any way, shape or form. Unemployment is also powerfully related to depression.

No one really wants to see this happen. Nobody wants to see people wasted, so how do we avoid it? We do it by ensuring that people are our first priority, ensuring that needs are met, and that as a society we can, in fact, tell the difference between need and want. We need air, food, water and shelter. Tearing down existing housing, leaving housing empty is a waste. Nova Scotia has a long history and the highest rate of home ownership in this country - 70

[Page 2885]

per cent - and yet Nova Scotia is wasting this gift for short-term questionable profits. The practice of property assessments rising as rapidly as does the value placed on the land is tearing away at the capital of our people and their ability to keep roofs over their heads. The recent crisis over long-term care is only now beginning to end the long-standing practice in this province, once again, of harvesting the accumulated assets of seniors and their families, depriving future generations of the ability to satisfy that basic need - a roof over their heads.

We have a number of other forms of institutionalized waste. One of the most distressing in my riding is that of the commercial buildings and former light industrial sites which have gone unused - in some cases for decades - boarded up, annoying to the people of the constituency and they are not quite sure why it is so annoying. I would say it's the sight of this waste. The National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment, a federal agency, has recommended that there be a brownfield redevelopment strategy. I would argue that the Province of Nova Scotia should be leading in this because the Province of Nova Scotia has a long history of industrial use, a long history of now abandoned and light industrial sites. We should, in fact, be taking advantage of that hand being extended to us by the federal government and partnering with them to ensure that these brownfield sites are redeveloped and taking our own initiative to ensure that as a province we do demand remediation of sites which may be newly contaminated. This is not a deterrent.

[1:45 p.m.]

Nova Scotians seem to, shall we say, have low esteem perhaps, or have a low opinion of the value of this province and there is a belief that setting standards for conducting business in this province will, in fact, make it a completely undesirable place to exist. I would argue that that is not the case. I have been told for years and years that I am so fortunate to live here and I have friends from all over the world who only wish that they could live here. It is not because we have the best casinos. It is not because we have the newest buildings.

AN HON. MEMBER: The best government.

MS. RAYMOND: It is not because we can find the government, no, we are in an enviable position and I really hope that, as a province, we will continue to be proud of that enviable position. The example perhaps that I would leave you with is that of my experience near a scrap of land, which I may have told, Deadmans Island, which was thought to be perhaps of some value, might be of heritage value. It's a little piece of land in the Northwest Arm, and whether or not I've told this story before, there was an anxiety to leave that scrap of land undeveloped.

We asked the question, why is it called Deadmans Island, did the research, and although the City of Halifax felt that it was not worth the designation of heritage and the province by extension because of somewhat weak municipal heritage laws, although that was not worthy of designation as heritage, at the moment the American Foreign Legion is

[Page 2886]

preparing to erect a monument there. The French Government is interested and the Spanish Government is interested, as well, because Deadmans Island is the burial site of some 450 - I won't break it down for you - people from around the world, because people from around the world at different times, either as prisoners, as quarantine patients, or as refugees, were brought to Melville Island to be housed by the Royal Navy, either as prisoners or receiving sanctuary and of those people, a good number died. Those people were buried in unmarked graves on Deadman's Island, a place not worthy of heritage designation.

Luckily, that much at least is now being corrected, but it is as a result of the pressure of governments from outside this province. Others believe in the value of this place and I do believe that we have no need to sell ourselves short. People know that this is a place in which Nova Scotians can live with a great deal of health and happiness if we apply ourselves to that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . and dignity.

MS. RAYMOND: . . . and dignity. It's important, as well, that we not waste the time or the energy of Nova Scotians and I would say perhaps, in closing, my father always used to say that he never invested in anything at all that he wouldn't have minded being stuck with. So I hope that none of us in Nova Scotia would mind being stuck with what we have here because what we have is a real natural gift. We must not waste it and even if no one else wants it, we have it. We must cherish this place.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak, going into Supply. I want to focus on one line from last Thursday's Budget Speech that caught my attention. On Page 14, "And despite the fact that 94 per cent of Nova Scotians have a family doctor . . .". Well, what exactly does that represent, 94 per cent of Nova Scotians have a family doctor? When I look at the pocket budget that was provided to us by the Minister of Finance, we see that the population of Nova Scotia as of July 1, 2003, was 966,025.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much. I'd like to thank the honourable member for allowing me the opportunity to make an introduction.

Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery today we are joined by a young man who has been in the news lately. His name is Jeremy Hinzman. He's a young man from South Dakota in the United States, who has been refused conscientious objector status by the American

[Page 2887]

Government. He is here in Canada seeking refugee status. His hearing will be in the next few weeks. I would ask Jeremy to stand and receive the welcome of members in this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, I certainly welcome our guest to the gallery today. I thank the honourable member for that.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again, looking at the fact that only 94 per cent of Nova Scotians have family doctors, out of 936,000 Nova Scotians, we recognize that 879,863 have a family doctor.

Mr. Speaker, these Nova Scotians are very fortunate to have a family doctor. Sometimes we take things for granted. These individuals don't have to think about having no family doctors, unlike 6 per cent of Nova Scotians do. That 6 per cent represents 56,000 Nova Scotians who don't have family doctors. It's hard to imagine that 56,000 Nova Scotians don't have a family doctor in this province. Among those 56,000 Nova Scotians, many people are in the western end of the province.

Today I want to focus on the need for more doctors, especially for the people in my riding of Clare. We used to have five family doctors in Clare, now we only have three doctors. The people of Clare are very fortunate to have three outstanding and dedicated family physicians, Dr. Michelle Dow, Dr. Alban Comeau and my family doctor, Dr. Lionel d'Entremont.

A few months ago we lost one of our family doctors, Dr. Marie Josee McGraw. She decided to move back home to Moncton. Approximately four to five years ago, we lost Dr. Leslie Griffen, who decided to continue his studies. We're also very fortunate to have two other family doctors in the neighbouring community of Weymouth, Dr. Barbara O'Neil and Dr. Don Westbe, who have accepted many people from Clare into their medical practices, and we're very grateful for the service that they provide.

However, Mr. Speaker, practically every day I hear from someone from Clare who doesn't have a family doctor. Many have called up the offices in Clare and in the neighboring community of Weymouth, to see if these doctors are willing to take them as patients. Unfortunately, our family doctors have full practices, which doesn't give them the opportunity to accept any new patients.

These family doctors have recognized, however, the need of these people who have no family physicians and have set up a daily on-call system for medical urgent needs. An urgent need being a medical urgency that needs to be dealt with within 24 hours. Every day at home in Clare or in Weymouth, there is one physician on call to deal with these medical

[Page 2888]

urgencies, Mr. Speaker. Being one hour away from the Digby General Hospital or from the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, the system gives reassurance and comfort to our residents.

Of course, the system is not perfect because non-urgent visits are very high in numbers. This, of course, is happening because of the large number of patients per practice. Even for the patient who has a family physician, making appointments is not easily accessible due to high patient numbers. Usually appointments are delayed anywhere between four to six weeks. These physicians may see in the range of 50 - 75 patients on any given day on these on-call days. It certainly does not make it an easy day for everyone - even after the office is closed for these doctors, after a full day of work, the doctors remain on call until 8:30 a.m. the next morning. So during that time it is not unusual for these doctors to return to their offices or even to make house calls.

A second option for some of our residents that don't have doctors is driving to emergency at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital or to the Digby General Hospital. That's another problem - there are many people in the Yarmouth area who don't have a family doctor. Looking at the department's Web page, looking at Physician Recruitment, we see that there's a need for three family doctors in the Yarmouth area.

There are many people in the Yarmouth area who don't have a family physician. There's no on-call service available in the Yarmouth area. So the only option available right now is to go to emergency at the hospital. So you hear stories from people driving up to the hospital - it's not unusual for people to wait a minimum of six hours. I've heard stories of people waiting 10 hours. Speaking with the Director of Nursing at the Yarmouth hospital a few months ago, she indicated that the hospital is looking at other options to address this particular need.

I want to share with you a few stories that I've heard from residents of Clare who don't have family doctors. I remember last year getting a call from an elderly man from home. This individual went to the QE II for an operation and before he left he was asked by his doctor in Halifax to whom he should send his reports. Unfortunately this elderly man did not have a doctor and told the specialist that he didn't have a family doctor. Of course, the specialist not knowing our situation at home, wanted to know why this man did not have a family doctor. The old man broke down and started crying. When he called me a few days later, he broke down again. He wanted to know what he should do. I tried to comfort him and reassure him that he wasn't alone and that this problem would be addressed eventually.

Again, just last Friday I was speaking with a mother from Clare. She told me that her son had gone up to Halifax for an operation. Once he returned home, she asked her own family doctor to accept her son in his practice during his recovery period from major surgery. Unfortunately, this was not possible, so, no OR report, or discharge summary could be forwarded to a family doctor at home so therefore the specialist in Halifax had the responsibility for the post-operative visits and extra workload on his end.

[Page 2889]

[2:00 p.m.]

There are many rural communities like Clare throughout Nova Scotia, in need of family physicians. Again in Thursday's Budget Speech we heard the government talk about a renewed effort to recruit doctors, particularly for rural Nova Scotia. I'm afraid that if the government does not hurry up with recruiting, we're going to lose some doctors because of heavy work days, long hours and, especially, burnout. The number of patients per practice is certainly beyond acceptable numbers.

I understand according to the Canadian Medical Association, that the acceptable number of patients for a rural family physician is between 1,600 and 2,000. I remember asking one of our doctors from home how many patients he had in his practice, and I was told he had too many - 3,000, 4,000, 5,000. That certainly is not acceptable. Many residents are expressing their concerns for the well-being of these physicians. Quite a few of them are afraid that they will lose their own family doctor because of their heavy workloads. These dedicated professionals, men and women doctors, deserve a better working environment.

In closing Mr. Speaker, when you look at the fact that 879,863 Nova Scotians don't realize how fortunate that they are to have a family doctor, let's not forget that 56,000 Nova Scotians don't have family doctors. When you look at the Web site of the Department of Health, on the page where the Department of Health is identifying positions available for family physicians around Nova Scotia, many of these postings, many of these opportunities are in rural Nova Scotia's communities.

I'm glad to hear the government talking about a renewed effort in trying to recruit doctors for many of these communities. I would certainly call upon the government about the need to hurry up, because in many of these communities the doctors who are there now have overloaded medical practices. They are trying to cover for doctors who have retired, who have moved away. The workload - how they manage to do it, is certainly beyond my comprehension. So, again, this government needs to show leadership in helping many rural communities throughout Nova Scotia in attracting family physicians.

I know in our situation, in the Municipality of Clare, it was just not the responsibility of the provincial government, the responsibility of the Minister of Health. In the Municipality of Clare, there were many different partners inside our community who helped out recruiting doctors in the past. Again, Mr. Speaker, there are many different partners in many of these rural communities who want to help out.

So, Mr. Speaker, in closing, I think it's absolutely critical that this government treats all Nova Scotians equally, regardless of where they live. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2890]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to join in the debate on Supply on behalf of my constituents and my own behalf. There's a bumper sticker that you'll often see on the back of cars that says if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. I like the message behind that bumper sticker because I think it says something that we would all agree on in this Chamber, that education is critical to a healthy province and to a strong country.

There are, of course, critics of our educational system. On the left, you have the philosopher Ivan Ilych who has some criticisms that our Schools Act is institutions that really brainwash people and drive out true knowledge. You have those on the right and the Fundamentalist Church in the States, Billy Sunday, for example, who decried the overemphasis on education and the lack of emphasis upon the church and you have those nowadays who are worried that our education is being dominated by a technological emphasis rather than a broad emphasis upon education as a whole.

George Grant, the great Canadian philosopher, a former professor at Dalhousie, is probably an example of this school of thought and I have some sympathy with this myself but, nonetheless, these provisos aside, I think we would all agree that the importance of education can never be understated in a modern democratic society for at least three reasons. One is that education helps build a person's self respect and sense of self dignity and I think that's an important reason, in and of itself, to pursue education. Secondly, it helps give someone an understanding of their role in society, of the civic vision and, hopefully, a civic participation. Mr. Speaker, for any democratic society to exist, we need educated people who are willing to involve themselves within the democratic process and speak and hold governments accountable, bring forth new ideas, and help to make a democracy work. That, after all, is what a democracy is all about.

Then there's the issue of employability. We know from statistics that there are many jobs out there, but they're available, not for people with only Grade 12 education, but they need some form of post-secondary education. We know that the job market is changing in that and that a Grade 12 education, although it may have been adequate in the past, is quickly becoming only a stepping stone to something else, that a post-secondary education is necessary.

Mr. Speaker, like yourself and like others in this Chamber, I'm constantly dealing with people who come to me for help, who dropped out of school perhaps, and I see a very bleak horizon for them unless I can encourage them to get back and upgrade their education, which I try to do. I spend a lot of time working with such people and so I'm delighted with our government's decision that was announced last year to fund the Nova Scotia Community College to the tune of $123 million, the largest funding and infusion of cash in Nova Scotia history.

[Page 2891]

Mr. Speaker, I'm particularly delighted, as the member for Kings North, that Kingstec Campus, just on the border of the Town of Kentville in Kings County, was chosen to receive the largest amount of cash, the largest expansion of any campus outside of the metro area. I'm delighted for that. It will receive $13 million which will result in 469 new seats and a renovated campus. The work has already begun on that. They started work back in October and it's going on, you can see the bulldozers at work, with a new campus commons and with a new trades wing. It's slated to be completed in 2006, but already the sense of enthusiasm, the energy, the vision that has been created by our government's decision, is palpable not only on Kingstec Campus, but throughout Kings County as a whole and when you look at the money throughout the Nova Scotia Community College throughout the province as a whole.

I participated with the Premier, the Honourable David Morse and Mr. Scott Brison, when he was still on the right side of things, as we planted bulbs to symbolize the hope that would come.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where does he stand on gun registry? Where does Scott Brison stand?

MR. PARENT: I think he's changing his tune very quickly about many things, Mr. Speaker, but we will have to let Mr. Brison speak for himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: What Party is he with?

MR. PARENT: I don't know, following the bouncing ball is not my - anyway, I'm being heckled, Mr. Speaker, by members of my own House.

Speaking about members of my own House, Mr. Speaker, if I can deviate from education and Kingstec Campus as my focus. I want to speak a little bit about the Senate, because I brought in a resolution that I hoped to get passed through the House. Historically the Senate, as you know, has been seen as a check on the House of Commons, as the forum for sober second thought, but another feature of the Senate that was very important is the feature that leads me to make this resolution, and I will be following up with a letter to the Prime Minister as well, asking him not to appoint a Senator for Nova Scotia until the First Ministers have had a look at this, and hopefully we can have some form of an election that would make the Senator represent the province. But that was one of the original features, that the Senate would represent the regions and would help to balance things out. I believe in that.

Because of the predominance of population in Ontario and in Quebec, both the West and the East, oftentimes we feel like the periphery, that the decisions are made in the centre and because of the system in the House of Commons, they have control of the House of Commons. There's no question about that. The only balance to that is, I feel, an elected Senate. Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit

[Page 2892]

Valley - I try to forget where he's from at times - gave a Nay, I understand, to this resolution, because of the sort of simplistic attitude toward Senate reform.

There is an attitude out there that it's not working. I agree it's not working, so they just said get rid of it. That's a simplistic solution. Mr. Speaker, I cannot let my opponents . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I appreciate the viewpoints of my honourable colleague, the member for Kings North, but I want to be consistent in my support of the abolition of the Senate. The $70 million or $80 million that is spent in that glorified chatting room could be better spent on the homelessness and child poverty in this country. I would suggest that that's where that $70 million or $80 million should go, rather than to this chamber of second sober thought that sits there until they're 75, if they live that long.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order. It's certainly another point of view.

The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I cannot let my opponent's ignorance, however vast, prejudice my own knowledge, however small. (Interruptions) I stick by my call for an elected Senate, and if the honourable member will let me finish, the reason why an elected Senate is good is because it provides this regional representation, this balance on the predominance of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, which will always dominate and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, on a point of order?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the honourable member would entertain a short question.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Kings North allow for a question?

MR. PARENT: . . . more gracious than he had shown yesterday and will entertain a question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a question.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I think the last hyperbole was a little unfair, because I had entertained questions from his caucus colleagues. I wanted to go on the record as well, unlike the member, I have already written the Prime Minister on this issue of an elected Senate. I wanted to put it on the record for the honourable member, when I do receive

[Page 2893]

a reply I will provide the information accordingly, because my understanding is the Prime Minister does support reform of the Senate and is in favour of an elected Senate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North has the floor.

MR. PARENT: Thank you very much for that very helpful interjection. I will look forward to hearing from your letter, because I understand, too, that the Prime Minister is calling for reform of the Senate, an open reform of the Senate, and that's why it's timely that we put forward these sorts of proposals. As I said, the important thing about an elected Senate is the ability that it gives it to represent the regions in a much fairer manner than we now have in the House of Commons. If one looks at the number of seats, for example, currently, you could see that if you divide it into regions, in a Senate, the central provinces have 48 per cent and we have 30 per cent, if the number of Senators remained as it is right now, 105 Senators. So you can see that, and that's compared to the percentage that we have

in the House of Commons which is only about 3 per cent.

[2:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: How many Liberal senators?

MR. PARENT: That's the problem, of course. The problem is - it's not that the Senate's broken, the problem is the appointment method is broken. It has become a patronage chamber for the Prime Minister. That's why you have this predominance of Liberal senators who represent what the Prime Minister wants rather than representing their regions and having the freedom to be that house of sober second thought.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I'd like to inform the good member that in my opinion there are 100 senators there now and I believe 88 have been appointed by Liberal Governments.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. It's not a point of order, but certainly a clarification of facts for the House.

MR. PARENT: We need an elected Senate. The point is that we should have an elected Senate, where the senators can do two things: represent the regions, which is what they're supposed to do; and provide a brake, a school of second sober thought. So I appreciate the interjection of the honourable member who supported me in this proposal of an elected Senate, and I think he did vote for the resolution and I thank him for that and appreciate his support of that, because an elected Senate will do those two things. It will help provide regional balance, and it will help provide this forum for sober second thought - but if and only if the senators are elected, and not if they're appointed by the Prime Minister and it becomes a forum for patronage, as we've seen.

[Page 2894]

In fact, the last selection for Nova Scotia was in many senses quite frustrating for Nova Scotians. That's why it's timely that Mr. Martin has called for proposals by the provinces, and that's why I wanted to put the resolution forward and follow up with the letter to Mr. Martin saying please hold off on making a Senate appointment - there is one coming up very soon - until this new system is in place and we can ensure that senators will represent and will speak for Nova Scotian interests.

Although we're a small province, we're a very proud province, with a great history and much to contribute to the Canadian nation. We do it through our MPs, of course, but because of the small number of MPs in the large House it's sometimes difficult to be heard, but in an elected Senate we would have a far larger voice. I've already given you the statistics and they speak for themselves - they should be persuasive even for the honourable member who said Nay to my resolution - 30 per cent of the senators come from Atlantic Canada versus 3 per cent for Nova Scotia, versus about 9 per cent for the Atlantic Provinces when you look at the House of Commons - 30 per cent versus about 9 per cent. That shows you the clout that we would have in the House if the senators represented the region rather than being put in simply on the whim of the Prime Minister.

So I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker, I got off Kingstec education, which I wanted to speak on, Kingtec college, because I'm so happy about what's being done there, so proud of what the government has done and so thrilled at the sense of energy that this brings to not only the Town of Kentville, but to the region of Kings. I'm sorry for following this rabbit track, but it is an important rabbit track to follow, an elected Senate, and I thank you for allowing me to participate in this debate on Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:18 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Russell MacKinnon in the Chair.]

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption.

[Therefore be it resolved that the government has failed to address the economic and demographic challenges faced by rural Nova Scotia.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 2895]

ECON. DEV. - RURAL N.S.: CHALLENGES - RESPONSE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this resolution regarding rural economic development. I have lived in a rural area of Nova Scotia for 13 generations, and my son and his son make 15 generations. I believe in rural Nova Scotia.

Our Party has put together a comprehensive package of initiatives that we believe will stimulate our rural economies and keep them growing for future generations to come. Our Party has listened to the concerns of rural business and we understand the frustration that they must feel when you try to take your products to market or try to attract customers to your business. The crumbling infrastructure in rural Nova Scotia places an unfair burden on you, and in many cases, discourages investment in the first place. Unfortunately, the government and the NDP seem to have forgotten about rural Nova Scotia. Their thoughts seem to be focused on the big city.

Mr. Speaker, I remember back in October when I put forward a resolution that recognized the problem of rural depopulation, and it was voted down. It was very disturbing that other members of this House would not support my resolution. No wonder the people I represent feel like the forgotten people of rural Nova Scotia.

Since 1996, 13 of Nova Scotia's 18 counties saw their population drop, and rural depopulation is still one of the greatest impediments to economic growth. It means there are fewer economic opportunities, and it means our young people are being forced to leave, to come to the city and cities all across this country. We are losing one of the greatest resources to other provinces.

Mr. Speaker, Digby County has lost 5 per cent of its population, and Annapolis County has lost 2.5 per cent, and it's continuing to depopulate. This cannot continue. It is a situation that needs to be addressed by all Parties in all levels of government. The lack of attention to rural economic development is hurting all of Nova Scotia, not just rural areas. We learned, yesterday, from Statistics Canada that the province has experienced the slowest economic growth since 1996. How can that be? I'll tell you how.

Our young people are leaving this province and our growth is stagnant, if not in decline. To grow this province, we need to grow our population. I thought those $155 cheques were going to grow the economy, but a lot of parents gave them to their children to help them get to Alberta. The economy did not grow, it just helped get rid of more of our greatest resource. Nova Scotia had the worst economic growth of any province in Canada last year, because this government has forgotten about economic development in our rural areas.

[Page 2896]

Back in 1999-2000, Nova Scotia saw the greatest growth in a generation, and it's been downhill ever since, because the city is full to capacity and now they are leaving the province for a greater chance to find work. Economic development growth has not had any impact on rural Nova Scotia; more must be done. I have talked to grandparents who are also moving West for fear of never seeing their grandchildren again. People in rural Nova Scotia need to know that we care about this problem. They need to know that we care about keeping some of our young people home. They need to know that government is paying attention, so they will have hope for rural Nova Scotia.

What has the government's response been? There is no response. The government gutted the Department of Economic Development, and the results are showing today. Government is not investing in infrastructure, even Highway No. 101, from Weymouth to Digby, is not a controlled-access highway, and the forgotten people there feel it never will be. Twinning Highway No. 101 is important, but in some places there is no controlled-access highway. This only shows rural Nova Scotia that doubling the roads into the city is the top priority, nothing less. How can businesses rely on transportation infrastructure to get their goods to market when there is a substandard infrastructure in place in the rural areas? Government is not paying enough attention to the needs of agriculture or the fishery. Farmers and fishermen are out there in the rural areas living a threatened way of life. A lot of them feel it's just a matter of time before they are finished off by government.

The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that this government has not recognized the problem of rural Nova Scotia and what it means to the people who live there. Before we can work on a solution, we must all recognize the problem facing this province, especially rural Nova Scotia. Once that is done, government should without delay appoint a minister of rural economic development and put together one of the best rural economic development teams this province can find to work and make our province grow and then that will be the day when we see our province prosper.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise and make a few comments and to share my time with my colleague, the member for Kings North, and have the opportunity to say a few words on what is a very important issue. Certainly coming from a rural area of our province, I feel quite strongly about this issue and, of course, I have different views on this topic than perhaps the previous speaker had and perhaps understandably so.

Mr. Speaker, I represent an area on Cape Breton Island which tends to come up in this House quite a bit and which runs from Port Hawkesbury to the northern tip of Cape Breton, about three hours in length, and is very diverse, not only in its geography but also in our culture and our heritage. What I was reminded of when I was listening to the member speak

[Page 2897]

about the doom and gloom of perhaps what the members of the Third Party are seeing, I see it in a much different light.

When I drive into my riding, Mr. Speaker, and I go across the causeway and I drive towards Port Hawkesbury, I drive into a town in which the front sign in the town is "Believe It". That's what it says, it says believe it, and there is a photo of a new Civic Centre going up in our area. To me, that speaks of the attitude that is happening right now in the Port Hawkesbury and the Strait area, certainly in that part of my riding, and I know in the area which affects Richmond, Guysborough and Antigonish, and there are many positive things happening in that area.

Why, Mr. Speaker? Because we have, I believe, a provincial government that is working with our local community. Why? Because the federal government is also working with the local area. Our municipalities of the various Strait areas are working together, including that of the Town of Port Hawkesbury, and there really is a can-do attitude with our Chamber of Commerce and our RDA -whether it's the Civic Centre which we have invested in, the Justice Centre which is currently going up, the expansion at Stora Forest Industries, or the TMP plant, Ocean Nutrition Ltd. which is having record growth - in fact the official opening just last week, the super-port activity, the EDS call centre which does have some challenges, but if you looked at our area six years ago under the previous government and compare it to today, there is no comparison in what is happening, certainly in my riding and my part of Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, it's much more than just seeing some of those investments. We have to focus very diversely in what we're doing. The community college is another example. We have an expansion happening there in the Strait area - 80 new spaces being created. It's part of the $125 million expansion which is happening right across our province. In order to grow the economy, in order to provide the skilled workforce that we need to, we need to make investments right across the board in our education, also in working with our local RDAs, and working with our small businesses. I respect that there are issues in that member's particular riding and I face many of the same issues, because I see many people having to leave our local area and moving away.

There are challenges but, Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, there are many ways to address that. I think back in 1993 when the previous government came in and we were making in this province, the previous six, seven years before that, a major investment in highway infrastructure between the areas of Port Hastings and Port Hood. Funny enough, there was a lot of talk about what we refer to as the missing link - a very important part of highway infrastructure. That important piece of highway infrastructure was neglected - neglected for six full years under the previous government, but that changed.

[Page 2898]

In 1999 when my colleague, the Minister of Transportation, came - he recognized the need to make an investment there. It wasn't done in one year, it was done over three years - and I realize my time is getting cut short soon - but my colleague recognized the need for an investment there. That is the type of investment we need to see in rural Nova Scotia if we want to keep young people home. It is more than just businesses, it's infrastructure, water and sewer projects and many other aspects. I realize my time is getting short, and I'm going to share the rest with my colleague, the member for Kings North, and I will hand it over to him. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I too want to thank the member for Digby-Annapolis for bringing forth the issue of economic development in the rural areas and the issue of rural depopulation. I remember reading quite a few years ago now, Alvin Toffler's book The Third Wave - he's a futureologist - and he was predicting that in the future rather than concentration in urban centres because of the new technology, we'd be depopulating the urban centres and populating the periphery.

Some of that has come true, but it hasn't materialized to the level he expected on a national level, indeed on a global level. The city I grew up in in Bolivia, when I left in the 1970s had 500,000, it now has 1,500,000 as the rural area moves into the urban areas. So, it is an issue that he raises and certainly one that concerns me as a member for a rural riding.

But what I want to challenge the member for Digby-Annapolis and his colleagues who have spoken on this important issue is that there's something very important that they can do as individuals and as a caucus to help in the economic development of the rural riding that I represent and that is to lobby with their federal counterparts, particularly MP Robert Thibault and the Liberal MP for Kings Hants, Scott Brison, in order to ensure funding for Highway No. 101. They may not be aware right now, but one of the reasons why I worked so hard, starting in 1999 for twinning of Highway No. 101 and upgrades beyond that to the area represented by the honourable member, was not simply because of safety - that was predominant, of course, we're losing many, many lives along that section because of the lack of twinning - but also I realized with the demise of the railway that in order to have the economic linkage into the city that we needed a twinned highway.

There were two reasons why we pushed this issue. I pushed this issue very, very strongly when I met with the then Leader of the Third Party, now Premier of the province, thankfully, he asked me what the number-one issue was in 1999 that I was concerned about and along with agriculture was the twinning of Highway No. 101 for reasons of safety but also for reasons of economic development. I'm a little worried right now because the highway is going to Avonport, but the federal government to date has refused to come in and reach some sort of memorandum of understanding to continue the next section. When the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Tony Valeri was here, I went to the announcement

[Page 2899]

expecting when they opened the first section of Highway No. 101 he would then announce that they had entered into agreement with the provincial government to continue the next section from Avonport on to Coldbrook and then beyond that.

But there was no announcement. None at all. It was a bit disappointing. I was very glad to see him in the area, glad to see the focus. I made sure that various people asked him and Mr. Brison questions that would put them on the record as saying that they were in favour of moving the twinning to Coldbrook and then moving on with interchange upgrades and passing lanes. So at least they're on the record, but that's all we have so far.

So if the honourable members from the Liberal caucus want to do something to help rural development in Kings County and Annapolis County and the county that the member represents, then please do something besides bring forth these resolutions in the House. Do something that you can - lobby with your federal brothers and sisters and get some real action on moving Highway No. 101 forward instead of leaving it where it is. You have the opportunity now. Instead of empty rhetoric from Mr. Thibault and Mr. Brison, let's have some action, let's have some concrete action on moving Highway No. 101 forward from Avonport and that will help rural development in Kings County, that will help rural development in Annapolis County, that will help rural development in Digby County, and that will be a real driver for economic development.

You know the twinned highway, when it goes forward, the highway is upgraded, you'll be able to have the transportation linkage into Halifax. Let's see it happen, let's use the muscle that you have with your federal counterparts. Let's lobby with your other members and let's get this thing going because, right now, the federal government is doing nothing beyond Avonport. They have not come to the table, and we'd like to see them come to the table, because I believe in rural development, I believe in what you're talking about, and I think that a twinned Highway No. 101 will help rural development in my county, and in your counties. So let's get going and let's work with both these MPs to see it done. Thank you.

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, being a member from rural Nova Scotia, as well, I certainly welcome this opportunity to have a few minutes to speak about economic and demographic challenges we are facing in this province. I want to thank the member for Halifax Citadel, who introduced the resolution, as brought forward by the member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 2900]

It reads, "Therefore be it resolved that the government has failed to address the economic and demographic challenges faced by rural Nova Scotia." Certainly I agree with some of the information that's been given by all the members who spoke this evening on the challenges faced here in Nova Scotia.

There are really two parts to the resolution, one is on demographics, one is on economics. The word demographics, Mr. Speaker, I looked up a definition of it and it " . . . refers to the characteristics that describe a population and changes that take place within a population." As we all know in rural Nova Scotia, that's certainly going on with our demographics and changing populations throughout Nova Scotia.

I want to refer to this report, it's called Painting The Landscape of Rural Nova Scotia, and it was put out by the Coastal Communities Network and some folks from Dalhousie University. In it there are a number of interesting facts that refer to rural Nova Scotia and how the demographics are changing. It mentions, for example, depending on how you define rural, between 60 per cent and 75 per cent of Nova Scotia's population lives in the rural area. Really, it's only Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford that you might consider urban in this province and anything outside of that core, really, is rural Nova Scotia. That means that small towns like Kentville or Pictou or Port Hawkesbury, Truro, even though they're 10,000 or 12,000 people, they're in rural Nova Scotia.

In the report it also mentions that since 1986, the population has increased in the core area of Halifax and it has decreased in the rest of the province. In rural Nova Scotia the average age is higher than in urban areas, and it is increasing. Some interesting facts from the report. It also mentions that "Between 1991-2001, there was a 9 % decrease in young people (ages of 15-24) in rural Nova Scotia, with substantial variation across the province and among regions."

There is also an income gap between urban and rural Nova Scotia, and certainly in the rural parts of this province, the income average is lower than in metro. It's also lower than most rural areas across Canada; in many ways we are the poorest of the poor. Nova Scotia, overall, is considered more rural than Canada as a whole, and it's more rural than most other provinces across this country. We are sort of in a unique situation in Nova Scotia in that 60 per cent to 75 per cent of our population is considered rural, and that's a much higher percentage than most parts of Canada.

Also mentioned in this report is the counties in our province that are declining - 13 out of 18 counties in Nova Scotia are on the decline, and the most prominent amongst those are counties like Richmond, Cape Breton, and perhaps the worst decline has been in the County of Guysborough. In the county that I come from, Pictou County, our population also has declined since 1986. At that time we had a population of 50,700 people and by 2002, that was down to just over 49,180. We've lost over 1,500 people during that time period and that may still be declining. Of course it's our young people that are leaving that's causing that de-

[Page 2901]

population. Some are coming here to metro and some are going to other provinces, other territories across the country.

Obviously the demographics of rural Nova Scotia are changing and as the resolution said, this government has failed to address the challenges that are occurring in rural Nova Scotia.

The other part of the resolution, Mr. Speaker, is concerned with economics. There are some interesting facts also from this report and I will table these when I'm finished my remarks here. On the economy in rural Nova Scotia, our unemployment rates are substantially higher than the national average of rural areas. It also mentions that the number of people employed in the fishery has been decreasing even though the total value of the commercial fishery is up and there are higher landings but less people employed.

I know one factor that could really help keep our fishing communities strong in rural Nova Scotia would be to make sure that the fleet separation policy and the owner/operator policy under the DFO program is enforced, is regulated, is allowed to continue. Certainly we have a number of young fish harvesters who are having difficulty getting capital and they're turning to processors who will lend them the money and really it should be private money that's available, either through banks or credit unions or maybe through the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board, but young fishermen are having difficulty accessing that money.

What is happening is that we're getting trust agreements between young fishermen and fish processors that's tying up the relationship between the owner/operator and the fish processors. That's bad when that happens and I think it hurts rural communities. It's more important to keep fishing families strong and to keep fishing boats and gear and licences in the hands of the families in the coastal communities and not allowed to become vertically integrated into the large fish packers.

It also mentions, Mr. Speaker, that the farm debt has been greater than the farm receipts in Nova Scotia since 1998, and the gap between the two is widening. Certainly in rural Nova Scotia, the farming agricultural community is very important. In the part of the province that I come from, agriculture is an important component of our rural community. With the recent difficulties that beef farmers have been facing, it's even more important than ever that government put an economic investment into our agriculture communities and allow, again, farm families to remain strong and when that happens our rural economy is going to thrive and not only survive, but thrive.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, it mentions here that tourism contributes to the rural Nova Scotia economy and is subject to periods of growth and decline, depending on factors such as weather and international political conflict. I certainly agree with that but I think what it doesn't mention is that tourism is also very much affected by the condition of our rural

[Page 2902]

infrastructure and especially our rural roads. I'm going to speak to that in a minute but I will table these documents.

I want to talk about how tourism is affected by the lack of investment in our rural roads. I've spoken previously in the House here, Mr. Speaker, on how Stonehame Chalets in Scotsburn are affected by the very poor roads. There have been a number of complaints received by tourism operators, calling the roads atrocious, that we'd be better off with gravel roads. In this case Jeff Gunn operates Stonehame Chalets and has said that good transportation is crucial to the industry and he wants to make his business a year-round industry. I think by investing in our rural infrastructure we could be increasing the economy in rural Nova Scotia and creating more jobs, not less.

My time is drawing to a close, Mr. Speaker, but basically I think government has to continue to invest in rural Nova Scotia, invest in our primary industries like farming, fishing and forestry. By investing in our rural communities and investing in our rural families we have a much stronger Nova Scotia. So this resolution has some truth to it and I think we have to turn it around by investing in the types of infrastructure that I have mentioned. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: There is approximately four minutes, which would belong to the Liberal Party if there is a member who would like to take advantage of it.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Rural economic development is a very important issue for me. You look at the rural areas and a lot of rural areas have very little opportunity for employment. Usually, there are no big companies there, there are no big employers, unless they're resource based and we know what the resource-based industry has been in Nova Scotia. But in order to develop and create economic development in rural areas, you need the infrastructure in place.

I don't mean that you need great big factories to support some small businesses, I mean you need things in place such as high-speed Internet; you need a convenient transportation system, and roads are an issue in the province, as everybody knows; and you need other things such as cell-phone service. All the things you need to run a business on a day-to-day basis that, if you live in the regional municipality here or in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, they are just taken for granted. But if you live in a small rural area where you don't have those services, it's really impossible to do business.

I recall years ago a friend of mine had a small business and he moved it from the Eastern Shore into Porters Lake. Now, he's still in a rural area, but Porters Lake, at least, every time he picked the phone up and called a supplier in Burnside it wasn't a long-distance phone call. Every time he had to pick something up, it wasn't an hour's trip one way, it was

[Page 2903]

a 15-minute trip; it made a big difference. That's the type of infrastructure you have to have in the rural areas to make sure that things happen efficiently.

So you need a good transportation system and good suppliers that can bring you products that you don't have to travel long distance to get, if you're a manufacturer. We also have to target the industries that don't need heavy equipment moved around, more things you can do with technology and you have to encourage that. You have to encourage that and keep our young people in the rural areas, because there is no better place to live than rural Nova Scotia.

The lifestyle that you can get here and have in rural Nova Scotia is second to none. But if you can't earn a living there, it just simply doesn't work. You see so many young people leaving Nova Scotia, going to Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Alberta, and we're losing our brightest and best talent. That means that the jobs of the future aren't going to be here, the jobs are going to be in other places, other places that we can't afford to have them. We have the young people here, we have got to encourage them to stay here and we have to make sure they do stay here. Most of all, if we can get them to stay in the rural areas and work in the rural areas to build a base of knowledge and technology, well, without that, you have to have the services.

I remember years ago trying to get a bank machine in Sheet Harbour when I was the MLA for Eastern Shore. It was a major accomplishment because that meant that tourists could come in town, go to the bank and get some money out to spend at a local restaurant or whatever it was. That was before you had the Interac cards and all those things happened. We did get that, we made it happen and it made a difference in the community. Thank goodness now we have Interac cards, we have that convenient system in place, that electronically you can get funds almost any place and you can spend money any place in the tourism industry.

The tourism industry is also a vital factor in the rural economic development in rural areas. You can take a beautiful area . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Time has expired on the late date. I would like to thank the members for taking part in the debate.

The House will now resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Acting Deputy Speaker Ms. Joan Massey in the Chair.]

[6:51 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

[Page 2904]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 62.

Bill No. 62 - Financial Measures (2004) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I will just ask you to let me know, I think I have a rough idea of how much time I have, but perhaps you could let me know so I could time my remarks accordingly. I think I will just begin, in any event, and you can let me know as I go on.

Mr. Speaker, the last time that I rose on this bill, the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, was on Tuesday. I was talking about some of the themes in the bill and some of the problematic parts of this particular bill. As it is every year, the Financial Measures (2004) Bill is an omnibus bill. It contains a large number of provisions having nothing to do with each other, the theory of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill being it's all the statutory changes made necessary by the budget and, to a large extent, that's what it is, but there are a number of provisions that do not belong in this Financial Measures (2004) Bill. (Interruptions) I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker, I missed the time.

MR. SPEAKER: You have 32 minutes, 31 minutes now.

[Page 2905]

MR. STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I left off the other day, I was talking about some of the pension changes in the bill and how that is one example of provisions that do not belong in this bill. They weren't announced in the budget, they weren't part of the budget. They don't affect the budget. Some of the pension changes don't even apply to the province's own pension funds and yet we find them in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. What are they doing here? Anything to do with pensions is bound to be complex and technical and with an absolute minimum of background information, and not just a minimum of explanation but no explanation from the minister about what they're for, what the implications are, who's affected, who stands to win and who stands to lose, we find a number of changes to Nova Scotia's pension laws here in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill.

That's where I left off the other day, Mr. Speaker, and what I would like to move on to now is to talk about the portion of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill dealing with the Provincial Finance Act and to the members on the other side who were carefully following along my remarks, that's Part XV of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill.

There is a provision in there that is very good. The Public Accounts are now going to be required to be delivered earlier than they have been in previous years. They're now going to be required to be delivered by September 30th instead of by December 31st and that's a good thing, bearing in mind that the fiscal year ends on March 31st. But the government has a continuing problem with reporting from governmental agencies. Although the province's own accounts have to now be delivered earlier and in a more timely way, every member of this Legislature knows that many annual reports and financial statements are delivered to this House, in many cases, not just a few cases, but in many cases, after a full year or more has elapsed.

Sometimes annual reports are tabled in this House, and have been just very recently within the past week, covering more than one year - covering up to three or four years. That kind of information is the next best thing to useless in this House, to deliver to MLAs information relating to the conduct of the agency two or three or four years ago. So the government has a great deal of work to do to pull up its socks on this score and it's good to see in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill that the government is imposing that discipline on itself by requiring that the Public Accounts, in other words, the province's year-end financial statements, now have to be delivered by September 30th.

Then we get to the portion of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill dealing with the debt retirement fund. The much-ballyhooed debt retirement fund, so ballyhooed that the last Minister of Finance, last June, in the lead-up to an election - everybody knew an election was coming - and just a few weeks before the call, the last Minister of Finance marched into the Red Room, the most ornate Chamber in the House and he had a row of flags behind him and he had the screens and he had all the visuals in place announcing that Nova Scotia was finally going to have a debt retirement fund.

[Page 2906]

Good news, you would think and I suppose the thought's good, but that's pretty much all the government did on this subject. I have two thoughts on the debt retirement fund that is contained in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill and the first thought is this and this was revealed to us by the Auditor General in his extraordinary special report of November 14, 2003 and that is that when that Minister of Finance marched into the Red Room last year to announce his debt retirement fund, he was using figures that he knew at the time were wrong. He knew that he was understating the province's debt by $0.5 billion and it was in a news release two weeks later on a Friday afternoon before the July long weekend, less than a week before the election was called, that the government owned up to the real debt figure.

That's a serious matter and I don't think we should underplay it. This province's Minister of Finance, not the current incumbent but the last incumbent, walked into a news conference on the eve of an election with a debt retirement plan based on a figure that that minister knew at the time to be wrong. That's my first thought of the debt retirement fund that's contained in this Financial Measures (2004) Bill.

My second thought is this: it's all just for show. It's all just for show. It doesn't actually accomplish anything. When we ask Finance officials why, why would you take the money and put it in a separate fund which then is used later to pay down the debt, why would you do that rather than just paying off the debt directly? You know what, Mr. Speaker? They have no answer. There is no good answer to that question because it amounts to the same thing.

Why don't they just take the money that they're putting into the debt retirement fund so it can earn some interest and that they're going to use to pay down the debt a few years from now - why don't they just pay it this year directly and save the interest payments on the debt? It is the same thing. It doesn't matter what the last Minister of Finance says, it doesn't matter what this Minister of Finance says, there is no difference. The only difference is show. What it amounts to is what you might call their restricted surplus. It's like a mandatory surplus, you have to have a surplus of this amount every year, and it can be used for only one purpose, which is to put it into the fund.

[7:00 p.m.]

It's all just for show, Mr. Speaker. It doesn't actually make any difference than if they just took the money that's going in the fund and paid it directly on the debt. So, if Nova Scotians feel that something is being done about their debt, as in last June's news conference and this year's budget, that they're actually getting somewhere and paying down this enormous debt, I'm afraid they're mistaken. That's too bad. That is one of the biggest things holding us back as a province, as a Legislature, in doing what we're elected to do on behalf of the people who elected us, is this mountain of debt that we have.

[Page 2907]

Mr. Speaker, I never miss an opportunity, and I don't think this House should ever forget where the debt came from, the debt was created by a Progressive Conservative Government. It was created almost entirely in the 1980s by the Buchanan Progressive Conservative Government that year after year ran large deficits. We all know, and we say it so often in this House that it almost becomes a cliché, that the debt we run up today has to be paid off by our children and our grandchildren. We just have to look at the fact that the debt that we're struggling with today was run up 20 years ago, 25 years ago, and did any of the politicians sitting in this House at that time think about who was going to pay for it? Well, we now know it's us.

We are paying for it every day that we struggle to pay for health care, every day we struggle to pay for a quality education system, or to have quality roads that will help boost our economy or any of the other things this government does. The reason why we struggle so hard to find the money to do that is because of the mountain of debt that John Buchanan and his governments ran up. We should never forget where it came from.

Now when the Liberals were elected in 1993, they tried for a little while, they tried for a little while to rein it in, but it didn't work very well and they didn't try very hard. By the time 1997 rolled around, well, they had gotten rid of their Leader, they had a new Leader, and, boy oh boy, that debt just took right off again. Mr. Speaker, you should see the charts. Under the Buchanan years, it goes up sharply, still going up under Savage but levelling off a little bit, and then under MacLellan, back up to going sharply, and this crowd, they've put the brakes on it again, but it's still going up. They haven't stopped it, they haven't reversed it, they've only stopped the rate of growth at which the debt is growing. And their answer to that is this debt retirement fund which is just for show.

We have a debt of over $12 billion, twelve, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero dollars, and this government is segregating $6 million and putting it off in a fund, and saying, hey look, look what we're doing about our debt. Well, what do we save when we put money aside on the debt? We save, on average, about 7 per cent of whatever we put aside, because that's, roughly speaking, the average interest rate that we pay on our debt. So if you take $6 million that we're putting aside this year and you multiply that by 7 per cent, you get $420,000; $420,000 a year is what we're saving. As has been pointed out in the Health estimates, the health care system will eat that up in - if I'm not misquoting the figures - less than two hours. That's the small amount of money that this government is actually saving with their debt retirement fund.

Mr. Speaker, let me move on then to a part of the bill that I was hoping to spend more time on but in a different way, and that's Part XVI of the bill, the bit dealing with the Public Service Act. Why was I hoping to spend time on it in a different way? Well, because this government introduced it in the House as a stand-alone bill, Bill No. 45. I've been saying throughout my remarks on the Financial Measures (2004) Bill that there are a number of provisions in this bill that do not belong in this bill because they have nothing to do with the

[Page 2908]

budget, and if anybody in this House wants the proof, just look at the provisions of this bill dealing with the Public Service. How do I know it doesn't belong here? Because it was already introduced in the House as a stand-alone bill before the budget. It has nothing to do with the budget. This is the provision about firing CEOs of organizations who don't do what the government tells them to do.

I'd like to spend a bit of time on that, Mr. Speaker, because as a member of this Legislature I had the right to stand on second reading and talk on that bill and explain why it is so misguided, but some bright spark somewhere in government decided that the way they were going to get this controversial provision through was to slam it into the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, where it did not belong, in order that it would get passed without it skipping right over the controversy that the government anticipated if they'd actually called Bill No. 45 for debate.

Since I'm being denied the opportunity to speak to second reading of Bill No. 45, I'm going to essentially give my second reading speech here in the provision on the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, because, Mr. Speaker, the provisions of the Financial Measures (2004 Bill that I'm talking about are identical to Bill No. 45. This is not something that's approximately the same as Bill No. 45 or borrows some ideas from Bill No. 45, it is exactly the same words, and it has been buried here in the Financial Measures (2004) Act where it doesn't belong.

This is a very peculiar bill; it has nothing to do with finance. What it does is it changes the province's employment law. What it does is it designates, it deems - to use the lawyers' word - certain actions on the part of certain people to be firing offences. By definition they wouldn't be firing offences otherwise, because if they were already firing offences you wouldn't need a law deeming them to be firing offences.

These are things, which by definition, if somebody did them today they couldn't be fired for. What's being changed is the province's employment law. As if that's not peculiar enough, it is directed at people that the province doesn't employee. These are people who have employment contracts, not with the Province of Nova Scotia, but with other public agencies like school boards, district health authorities and all of the dozens of other government units that are out there. Yes, they're part of the public sector, but the province has set these agencies up as stand-alone agencies for a reason, Mr. Speaker. It is those agencies who employee these people; it is those people who do the searches, those people who do the hiring process, those people who negotiate the terms of employment, and it's those people who sign the contracts of employment.

The province is coming in and saying that whatever your contract says we reserve the right to fire the person that you've hired, because we don't like what they're doing. That's very strange to say the least. The province is giving itself the right to fire people for something that's not currently a firing offence - people who the province doesn't employee.

[Page 2909]

The natural question would be, does the province have the support of the organizations that actually employee these people? Well, it appears from media reports that the answer is no, this came as a complete surprise to them. They have no idea what the government is getting at here, because they weren't consulted. So the province, which doesn't employee these people and without any consultation with the real employer is saying they reserve the right to fire somebody, for what? As if this bill is not bizarre enough, it doesn't even specify what the firing offence is.

Three years ago, when this crowd had their majority government and they could do whatever they wanted, and they did do whatever they wanted - they passed a bill called the Government Restructuring Act. We said at the time and we will say again today, the government gave itself powers that were far too broad, that were disrespectful of this Legislature because it gave them powers to do things that aught to go through this Legislature. One of them was that they gave themselves the power to issue this thing called an administrative directive. Well, what is that Mr. Speaker? Is it a law? No, it's not a law, because it didn't go through this House. Is it a regulation? No, it's not a regulation because there's a process for enacting a regulation - you know, public scrutiny, public comment, they have to be published, all that kind of stuff. No, it's not that, it's something else again. They created a whole new category of things, that people have to obey, but it doesn't have to be passed through the regular legal process.

The minister can just wake up one morning, sign an administrative directive, and everybody that it applies to has to follow it. Sounds a bit like something a Roman emperor would do, doesn't it? They just said, I've decided there's going be this new law and I'm going to sign it, and from that day forward, everybody has to follow it. There's a reason we have a Legislature, and that is because the laws deserve to be debated and passed upon by people elected by the citizens of the province. That's why we're here.

But the government gave itself the power to issue these administrative directives, and it is for breach of one of these administrative directives that CEOs of these government agencies can now be fired. What is it that a CEO has to do to be fired? We don't know. We don't know, because it's not in the bill, it's not in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, it's not in any of the material the government has issued around this bill. We don't know. It can be whatever the government chooses it to be. Now, one of the things that the minister said, or it was in one of the media briefings from the government was that - well, you know, if a CEO does something financially not in compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, that would be a firing offence.

The problem of course, is that there are other government directives that are not themselves in compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Do the members on that side know, for example, that if municipalities and school boards follow the rules laid down for them by this government, the accounting manuals laid down by this government, they will not be in compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles? The

[Page 2910]

Department of Education has an accounting manual which the school boards are required to follow, and that manual is not in keeping with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The same goes for municipalities. Mr. Speaker, you can't have it both ways. You can't direct them on the one hand not to comply with GAAP, and on the other hand, if you don't, we are going to fire your CEO.

Here's another peculiar part. I've already talked about several layers of bizarreness in this particular provision of the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. Let me talk about another one. The government, whatever it's trying to achieve here, because we don't really know what they are trying to achieve, could accomplish exactly the same thing, by writing this provision into all future employment contracts. They could issue an administrative directive, and say when you hire somebody, when you hire a CEO, you have to write this into the contract. We command you. We, the emperors of Hollis Street, tell you that you must do this. That's not what the government's doing. Mr. Speaker, there is only one conclusion. There is only one conclusion from this, because of the way the government has handled this, because of all the things I have talked about, and because they are clearly trying to rush it through with a minimum of debate by putting it in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill.

There is only one conclusion and that is that somebody is out there that they want to fire. There is somebody with an existing employment contract that they want to fire. There is no other reasonable explanation. Because if that is not what they are doing, all they have to do is write this as a term into all future employment contracts. But the fact that they're rushing it through the House, the fact that there is all these layers of peculiarity about what they're trying to accomplish, it can mean only one thing - there is somebody out there the government wants to fire but they don't want to say who it is. There is somebody out there right now that they've got their eye on and they want to get rid of that person, because, if that's the case, this is the only way they could do it. This is the only way they could do it.

[7:15 p.m.]

Who is that person? Well, some people said when Bill No. 45 was released, this must be about Jack Sullivan, the Strait Regional School Board. He's already gone, they don't need any excuse to fire him, besides what he did, I think, or what we know of what he did is very obviously a firing offence, they don't need to give themselves the power to fire somebody like that who's already gone. So who's the government after? Who is the government after?

Mr. Speaker, I said in my remarks earlier that we accept and acknowledge that the Financial Measures (2004) Bill is a matter of confidence in the government. If the Financial Measures (2004) Bill is defeated, the government falls. This is part of the budget. We talk about the budget kind of loosely as being the estimates, but in Nova Scotia the budget has several parts and one of them is the Financial Measures Act. This is the government's plan for how it's going to use its taxation power and, as such, it is a matter of confidence in the government. I also said that in this environment where the government has put provisions in

[Page 2911]

the bill that clearly do not belong in the bill, that have nothing to do with this budget, that have nothing to do with finance or the government's taxation power, the government should not take for granted that we will vote for every clause in this bill in Committee of the Whole House lest the government fall.

There are provisions of this bill that we believe can be extracted from the bill, if necessary; I'm not saying we've decided to do that, but we reserve the right to do that. To defeat these clauses, of course it will take a vote of the Liberal Party as well as our Party to defeat any clause. I don't know what they're going to do. I will listen with interest to speakers from the Liberal Party on this bill; they'll be getting up shortly and we'll hear what their intentions are. As for us, our message to the government on this bill, we will support it on second reading so that it can move along. We're not at the stage yet where we're ready to decide yes or no to the whole Financial Measures (2004) Bill, yes or no to the budget, for the reasons that I gave in my reply to the budget. We're not ready to do that yet. So we will be supporting this bill on second reading, but the government should not take for granted that we will support every clause of this bill as it moves through Committee of the Whole House.

There are at least a couple of candidates, Mr. Speaker, for that happening. Our caucus will have to very carefully consider its position on this, and if there was one candidate for that happening, it would be the clauses of the bill that deal with this firing of CEOs. A most peculiar thing. If the government has something they want to tell us about why this is here, well, then tell us. Tell us publicly, tell us privately, it doesn't matter, but there is more going on here than the government is letting on, because there is no other explanation for such a bizarre piece of legislation.

If there is another candidate for some good, hard debate, it's the provisions of this bill dealing with amendments to the Education Act and in particular with what's going on in the Southwest Regional School Board. As I mentioned the other day, Mr. Speaker, these provisions that are being amended in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill have nothing to do with the budget. The provisions that are being amended were enacted in the year 2000 by an Act to Amend the Education Act. If it can be enacted that way, it should be amended that way. These things do not belong in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. The government has not been forthcoming with information about how the pilot project in the Southwest Region has gone. Without that information, we, certainly in this Party and I may say on this side of the House, are in no position to pass judgment on whether government is doing the right thing. So, if there is a second candidate for defeat in Committee of the Whole House, it would be the provisions of this bill dealing with the amendments to the Education Act.

In conclusion, let me say this, I have gone through in somewhat more detail than is normal on second reading with the different provisions of the bill, but of course the reason for that is that there is no coherent principle through an omnibus bill like the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. The principle thing being achieved by this bill has to do with user fees and taxes. It's a very difficult subject, something the government has relied far too much on.

[Page 2912]

Certainly the Public Accounts Committee will be interested in seeing more about the government's plans and proposals on that score next week when we have the Deputy Minister of the Treasury and Policy Board before us.

There are some troubling features of this bill that we make no promises on passing. We'll listen with interest to the debate from the Liberal Party, but this is one bill, Mr. Speaker, where it might be useful for the responsible minister to stand up and address some of these issues and concerns that I have spoken about in my remarks on second reading. We're going to have to assume that if the government cannot offer a good explanation for these passages with which I've expressed some difficulty, we'll have to assume there is no good reason for it. That will speak in its own way.

With that, Mr. Speaker, let me close and say I look forward to hearing the remarks of all other members of this House who choose to speak on second reading of this bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise today and speak as the Finance Critic for the Liberal Party on the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. I've listened with great interest to the comments made previously and I think, as a starting point, certainly this bill does include all manner of changes, many of which are not financial. It, in fact, includes - just as an overview - changes to the debt retirement fund, outlining it; corporate taxes, it reverses the tax cut and outlines the new tax rates; it indicates a new deadline for the Public Accounts; it talks about tuition support; a change in governance in school boards; it cancels any increase in the MLAs' pays related to the study that was recently done; and it touches on user fees and taxes. That's to name just a few.

There are, in fact, 21 different Acts that are amended through this Financial Measures (2004) Bill. I found a lot of it to be semantics, a lot of it to be just fee changes going from one fee to another - some of it structural changes and some of them actually talking about new programs, such as the tuition agreements that will come into place.

Basically, it captures everything but the kitchen sink, I think we could say, or use the word omnibus bill. It's very broad and there's a great deal that can be said about it. I think that it's important that we do go through it in great detail because of the fact there's every opportunity for things to be, not deliberately hidden, but because of the depth of it that it could, in fact, be overlooked. I think it's really important that all members of the Opposition go through it with a fine-tooth comb and pay a great deal of attention to each of the Acts that are changed.

[Page 2913]

One thing that is different this year is that to defeat this bill could trigger the fall of a government. That this bill goes, as was pointed out, hand in hand with the budget. So it is important for members of the government side to recognize that once the budget passes, this government is not entirely out of the woods. If anything is hidden in the budget that is not disclosed by government during estimates, we will get a second crack at this bill. I urge the governing members to take this into consideration when we are discussing and asking questions during estimates.

I wanted to cover the issue of user fees because there's a great number of them in this bill. As you go through, there are many, many of them and they have to be referenced back to the Act in which they come. There were a number of questions asked lately in Question Period, it's very clear that the Supreme Court of Canada has said that user fees must be simply cost recovery; they must relate to the cost of providing a service for government. If they go beyond that, they are, in fact, taxes and need to be fully disclosed and dealt with differently here in the House.

So although we heard on March 30th, I believe it was, the introduction of many new taxes or user fees, 508 to be exact, we have seen a number of them acknowledged here to be more than user fees but to, in fact, be taxes. I think that's very important because it speaks to the clarity and it speaks to the transparency of government, whether or not people are aware of what's being done and how things are coached. The wording that we use is very important for whether or not the public fully understands what's being done in very important matters that affect the cost of doing business, the cost of living in a community, the cost of running a car, registering a car and so on.

There are so many fees and taxes that we're faced with daily that it's important to be clear and up front in all of those cases. Although it may seem a massive task to go through and itemize and explain 508 new fees or taxes, it's really important that that system be put into place and begin now and that the departments that are responsible for these individual taxes and fees take responsibility and begin to just improve the integrity of the user fee and tax system so that people have greater confidence and greater trust in government as these changes are made.

In fact, when these changes came in, the minister was interviewed on a show and said that, yes, most of them were 6.5 per cent on average and were cost recovery. I asked that question recently, actually I think it was April 20th in the House, I have a copy of the Hansard here, but the answer I got when I asked that the calculations be provided, the Minister of Finance answered me that some of those fees will be addressed in the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, which we do see here today, although I would suggest that not very many are indicated here as taxes out of 508. He goes on to say, ". . . which will be tabled in this House in the next few days. Some of those fees were just done through regulations, but we can indicate, as I indicated at the time of the fees, these were just cost-of-living adjustments to enable us to provide the service Nova Scotians want at a reasonable rate and fee."

[Page 2914]

Although that is what the minister has said, I feel that there's a great number of them that are not accounted for fully and the information for that should be brought here and perhaps we'll learn more about that when we do discuss user fees at the upcoming Public Accounts Committee meeting, but I think it's very important that we dwell on that and really look at the integrity of the system that's in place right now. In fact, since the year 2000 it would appear that with all the user fee increases, we're up to about $230 million a year in additional revenues that are being collected by the province. So this is much larger than the $12 million that we're talking about right now. The latest round of user fees, the 508 user fees, that were just increased amount to about $12 million annually in revenue, but consider that in the context of user fees that have gone up since 2000 and that is a total of $230 million per year.

So basically what we're doing in this bill by identifying certain of those user fees that are clearly taxes, according to the Minister of Justice, we're simply protecting ourselves from any court challenges and I think that that is important because we don't want to leave the province exposed, but better to analyze it in the first place and make these changes in a more structured manner. I think it's very important to note - and I realize we are at the start of a new fiscal year - these user fees were announced in a big block, en masse, at the very end of one fiscal year. So it's done in such a way that, once again, because of the enormity of the number of fees we are looking at, it's very difficult to zero in and really analyze and understand the implications of each and every one. Some of them do have some very negative implications to either business or individuals. So I think it makes more difficult and perhaps that is not such a bad thing, but it keeps the Opposition very busy in trying to analyze and understand all the implications of those changes.

In the months since the election in August, which was my arrival here in the Legislature, the Finance Minister has held a couple of briefings for members of the Opposition and that was done at our request. Now we have a new system in place, we have a minority government, I think the public genuinely expects that in a minority government all of the Parties involved will have a voice and will have some influence and it was accepted by the Minister of Finance that, yes, indeed, we would have some advanced briefings before some announcements were made, but those have really been very few and far between. Certainly in September and again in December we had an advanced look at the quarterly reports as they were coming out, but that advanced warning was only a matter of, you know, less than an hour before the figures and the position was made public through a press conference.

So, I would have to say that that level of consultation is extremely superficial. The gesture is appreciated, but it really has not gone far enough. I think that the members of the Opposition would agree that we need to have a greater dialogue, because it's very difficult to expect support on measures that will cost new resources or on new measures to restructure government in any way when we're not fully apprised of the situation in government. If we don't know fully the cost, if we don't know fully the situation as the year is unfolding, it's

[Page 2915]

very difficult for us to provide support for whatever measures are being suggested here in the House.

One of the things that the government did fail to disclose, and was pointed out again by the Auditor General in his November 14th report, and it is very significant, was some of the lack of clarity, and I use that word rather loosely, I guess we could say lack of transparency that the government provided for changes that were being made to certain accounting practices. It has to be noted that although these practices conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, their adoption and the timing of their adoption created favourable conditions, by and large, for the government and for the reporting of the provincial records.

One thing that didn't was the addition of $500 million to our debt, and the debt shot up because of a change in accounting rules, primarily, but that was well known, that change had been studied. In fact, the Auditor General was calling for that change. It should have been adopted at some point anyway, but when the debt management plan was announced, as we heard earlier today, in late June or mid-June, it was fully known to the government that that change was coming and that the debt would go up by a substantial amount, by $0.5 billion, $500 million. At the same time, those figures were not disclosed. It made the debt management plan look that much more rosy.

The plan itself, coming as it did on the very eve of an election, and really because it was one plank or one piece of the puzzle that had been promised by the government and never delivered, so with the election looming, the government scurried, pulled together the pieces, announced a debt management plan, but didn't come fully clean in terms of telling us, entirely, what the implications were going to be, knowing that this accounting change was just around the corner, in fact just two weeks around the corner. And, again announced on the eve of a long weekend, where it would attract very little attention.

So those sorts of things have left a distinct atmosphere of - certainly caution and perhaps distrust in terms of our relationship with the government. Those things are not upfront and they're not straightforward, and they're not really being fully accountable to the public.

We would like to make the demand that the government begin to pay more than lip service to our demands for fuller inquiries and for fuller information, so that we can begin to play a larger role in the measures that are before us and even in terms of support for the budget, because, again, it is very difficult, where the balance does lie with the Opposition Parties to pass the budget, if we don't have the co-operation of government. It has certainly been in short supply this Spring, in spite of government's spin to the contrary.

I wanted to go a little bit into some of the stages that we're at, since I have the opportunity today and I'm being given the time to speak to the Financial Measures (2004) Bill. One of the very favourite charts that we're seeing lately, by the government - and I will

[Page 2916]

table this for you, but it's in the budget highlights, so it's something that the members of the House have received - is a chart that shows the differential between the provincial and the federal income, the revenue that we receive from our own source revenues within the province and those that are generated or received through transfer payments, either for health and social services or for equalization.

The point that has been made a number of times by the Premier and by other members of the government, and in fact he had a large chart like this behind him when he announced the reversal of the tax cut as part of his rationale for blaming Ottawa for the fact that he had to reverse the position on the tax cut. Part of the reason he does that is because there's a large differential between our own source revenue and our government revenue, but what should be remembered is the sharp rise in our source revenue, the fact that Nova Scotians, more of them are working, more of them are paying taxes, and more companies are profitable and doing well, and that means we've generated more money. In fact, for our own coffers, we've generated an extra $1 billion from 1999-2000 to this expected year, 2004-05, and that's very clear on the chart, right here in our budget highlights.

That is a very positive thing, $1 billion more available to this government to service our debt and provide the many services that the public requires, the many departments that we're going through, one by one, line item by line item. We're looking very carefully at the services that government provides to Nova Scotians, and many of those are very important, very essential. In fact, I would venture to say they all are. I realize the challenge for government is setting priorities and being able to balance them, but I don't think it's fair to take that chart that shows that the government revenues have gone up to just about $2 billion and that our own source revenues have risen to $4 billion, and say that there's anything wrong with that, because that shows a greater capacity within Nova Scotia that we should be relying upon ourselves a lot more. The spread actually indicates increased prosperity, and I think that needs to be mentioned. Again, if we simply look at Ottawa and how much money comes from the federal government, we see it has increased in the last number of years.

Just to speak briefly to the volatility of the equalization payments which I know is a subject of great debate among members of the government, the equalization formula has been set for many years, and it's well-known to the government that if our provinces that are richer and have larger economies don't do well, there's less money in the pot to distribute to those provinces that receive equalization payments. Given the news throughout the summer of SARS and forest fires and difficulties with BSE in our cattle industry, it was well-known that there would be less profitability, less money in the pot for distribution among all of the provinces that receive money, and Nova Scotia is among them.

So, it was not an unexpected thing. I think the tone of the government in blaming Ottawa for these things, it should be balanced with the fact that it was not unexpected, it was predictable. The fact that there is volatility in that formula is a problem, and the formula does need to be amended so that some of those bumps can be taken out and the sharp increases or

[Page 2917]

decreases that you might benefit or suffer from can be removed. The formula has been well-known and set for a long time, I think that we can't go around just referring to that alone.

In your own corporate plan which came out January 16, 2004, the same chart is given again with a little more detail. Again, it shows the same thing, that the revenues are up by $1 billion and, in fact, government money from the federal government is increasing. I'm kind of tired of that argument coming from government. There's no recognition of the fact that we have an increased capacity to pay our bills and to look after our people. I really have to say that there's been a failure on the part of the Conservative Government, five years after a mandate began, to still be complaining about these kinds of factors when you've enjoyed five of the best years that have come to Nova Scotia in many years. You have enjoyed the benefit of spending large amounts of capital projects related to the oil industry, new people coming onboard, moving to our province spending and contributing to our province.

I think that it's been very good times and it's kind of a sad commentary that we're at this point in time, still complaining about an inability to fund our activities and to look after the basic needs of some people in our society. I would say it's a poor record for the Conservative Government to have to live by.

The ordinary revenues that we generate ourselves are significantly up, and I think that's the point that has to be made there.

Again, just in the general sense of how this budget goes I guess in setting the stage for this budget, we were given, as well, during the budget presentation, a small briefing of budget highlight, essentially. One of the very first things that jumped out at me in that budget highlight, which is the very top of it - once again, Mr. Speaker, everybody has a copy of this. I could table it, but everybody has that copy. In the very beginning on the budget summary, it shows our ordinary revenues and it shows our net program expenses. In the figures there it provides the percentage change. What it shows is that our ordinary revenues are projected to be up by 4.2 per cent this year but our net program expenses are rising faster, they're rising at 5.4 per cent. The same thing was true last year when we compared this to the same chart in last year's budget highlights. That is a continuing trend where our ordinary revenues and the increase in them is not matching the increases that are being seen in our program expenses. That's simply not sustainable in the long run. That doesn't even take into account capital projects and new debt that will be adding to this. It simply indicates, in a nutshell, that we can't afford the way we're currently growing and spending our money. So there isn't a balance between the growth in what we're spending and the growth in our revenues that are available to us, and so it is a concern to me and it should be to Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

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

[Page 2918]

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As I say, I think it points very strongly to whether or not there is sustainability in the balance in our financial house here in Nova Scotia and some real concerns there.

Another point that I would like to raise in this, since it's part of the overview of the budget, is the expected revenues that we're looking at from a number of sources, which I think, again, just points to some aspects of the budget that may be a little bit - not just unsustainable, but unrealistic. That would be primarily the growth that is expected in retail sales. This year it is expected that our retail sales will grow from 2003, being only less than 1 per cent - it was 0.8 per cent growth - and we're expecting now that suddenly that will recover and grow to 4.5 per cent in this year, 2004-05. That just doesn't seem realistic to me - if we've gone from less than 1 per cent, that we're suddenly going to have some major influx of capital or money that is going to create that bump in spending.

When I questioned the Finance Department officials about that, I was told that it was related to recovery in the American market and I think, again, that's very unpredictable and very volatile because their economists in the United States are disagreeing right now about where their economy is going because they had what looked like a recovery and then, six months later, it has crashed and hasn't followed the normal process; also, the spending and the way the government is behaving in the United States is very precarious. They're actually looking at a deficit this year, something in the range of $1 trillion, and to run an economy in that way is very unsustainable as well. I don't think that it has actually had the impact that they've hoped.

Now, I would hope that there are great sales in the U.S. and that they buy lots of our products, which pumps more money into Nova Scotia and then as a result we will see some big increase in retail sales, hopefully in the range of 4 per cent or 5 per cent. But I just think that we have to be very cautious in planning or estimating what kind of revenue we will be able to generate because we have to live within that through the year, and if it doesn't materialize we're going to be faced with the same problems we had this year, which is getting partway into the year and starting to have to make cuts in our programs or defer spending or create greater hardship for Nova Scotians. That's not where we want to be as the year progresses, so it's better to start out, I think, with an estimate that's realistic and cautious rather than overestimating.

Another one, just by way of interest, that we've overestimated I believe would be the increase in our revenue from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. We're looking at what would amount to just over a 9 per cent increase in profit or revenue from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, and that's not substantiated in any way. I don't at all expect that Nova Scotians will be consuming 9 per cent more alcohol, and I would hope that we're not looking at some huge increases in taxes or the cost of that product - we haven't heard anything to that effect. But something is leading the economists or the forecasters in the estimate to put an increase of 9 per cent on the profits for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.

[Page 2919]

Again, we've heard today that they've hired new people and they're expanding their communications department and doing other things, so I don't think there is belt-tightening going on in that end either. So something is amiss I think in terms of putting that much emphasis on the sales from the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.

I would say, just as a way of caution, I had a look at the Gaming Corporation and their revenues are expected to be flat, the same as last year, which I thought was good because I wouldn't want to think that we were expecting a great deal more gambling in that sense. So those are some of my concerns in terms of the general - just the background in setting the stage for this current Financial Measures (2004) Bill and the budget that's before us as well.

In the debt management plan there is a large section in this Financial Measures (2004) Bill that deals with debt and how you're going to enshrine the debt management plan that was announced in June into the legislation and make it law. It's probably a good thing to put it in legislation simply to formalize it. I think that is better than just a road show, essentially, you know, what you might describe the original press release as, because there was a press conference held and I think it was mentioned - unfortunately I wasn't there last June - that it was to great fanfare that the debt management plan was announced. Again, I would say that members of the Opposition had raised the issue that this government had no plan for retiring debt and that that was one of the major gaps in the entire financial management of the province.

So, it was done on the fly. I think it was done definitely in haste in order to prepare for an election and feel that all your ducks were in order, Mr. Speaker. I think it's a good thing that we have a plan. This Opposition Party, our Liberal Party has criticized the government for not having a better plan for spending in health care, for example. We've said it's one thing to put money in, but you need to plan.

[7:45 p.m.]

It's good that a debt management plan has been formulated, but I have some doubts about how well it can actually be implemented. Some of the figures that we've talked about for this year alone would be to put $10 million away through two different funds, a debt retirement fund and debt contingency, I guess a retirement contingency fund. But essentially putting $10 million aside this year in the hopes of this fund growing to a point where you could actually put, I believe it's $70 million down on the debt. The debt is continuing to grow, from now until 2007 I believe it is.

When I looked at the original press release for the debt reduction plan, which came out June 11th, it pretty much follows exactly what we see in our estimates given. It's Schedule 20 of the financial year. It's the Nova Scotia budget for the financial year, it's pretty light, a small one. But it's the last chart in that book - it's Schedule 20 - it does outline there how the

[Page 2920]

hoped-for surpluses from year to year, each annual surplus, if they materialize will over time lead to having $106 million in the debt retirement plan, which can then go against the debt, and hopefully also cover all the capital purchases. I think this is highly optimistic. In order to actually retire any debt you also have to get control of the increase each year and the net book value of our capital assets. That's going to be very difficult to do, Mr. Speaker. It's not that I'm not hopeful that it could be done, I just don't feel that it's very sustainable when you actually look at what we are hoping to achieve in those few years.

I think it is good to mention that the debt rose so dramatically under the Progressive Conservative Government of John Buchanan, and left this province really crippled. In the early 1990s there is no question that this province was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was crippled financially. We have recovered significantly in that time, but this is the burden that we're left to carry, and that's the debt that we're still asked, and probably for generations will be asked to manage.

Volume two of the financial statements shows that the debt servicing cost in 2003, which is the most recent year available, was in fact $1.79 billion. In that year alone, it exceeded the $1 billion mark. It's a shocking amount of money to come out of our Treasury, essentially and not be spent on important services for Nova Scotians. I think while we are talking about debt and the debt management plan, you really can't speak about that without looking at that debt servicing cost that amounts to over $1 billion a year. The money we spend for interest payments and on the debt is money that isn't available for education, for university students, for health, for our seniors and for the many others who depend on government services.

In our constituencies, I know all of us as MLAs deal with many calls. I'm as a new MLA learning more about that. Many calls are coming in from people who have difficulty accessing a certain health care service, home care, maybe it's community services. These people are trying to live on very little, and it's almost impossible for them to maintain their lives. That's because we don't have the money in this province to anywhere near match what's available in other provinces. In some of the health care areas we are unable to afford services.

We again and again come up as the lowest in terms of the services we provide to our people. In fact, the alternative budget put out by the alternative provincial budget which was published recently by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said that we have the lowest per capita spending on programs of any province in the country. That just mirrors what we hear again and again, that we have the worst indicators for so many things. Our debt per capita being so high, our provincial debt being among the highest. Our health indicators being among the lowest. Our spending on our people per capita, the lowest in Canada.

[Page 2921]

We have a tremendous need to improve our performance in the situation we're in and the debt levels that we carry make it very, very difficult for us to help those people who call and say that they can't live, either because of their disability or infirmity, on the money that's available to them. That's a sorry thing to say about Nova Scotia which is a province that we all love and I think we're all very proud to be from and live in. All of us, I'm sure, regardless of any Party politics, are very disturbed to see that that's the situation in Nova Scotia today.

So there's an awful lot of need to do something about debt. I don't want to minimize the need for us to act on it, but this debt will only stop growing in three years time if everything goes according to plan and the plan has just so many if's. We can't even deal with this year's budget without wondering whether, you know, with a million different factors that could alter by just a fraction, we won't hit any kind of a surplus either. We're talking about a razor-thin surplus that's estimated at $2.1 million on a budget of over $6 billion. So there are so many uncertainties and when you try to look down the road to even imagine that we could have enough money in that debt retirement fund, that we could find an extra $70 million a year to put into that debt retirement fund, is pretty hard to imagine. So I think that that leaves us with a lot of concerns.

Mr. Speaker, the whole debt management exercise really does look like a public relations exercise and I wish I had been there last June because I think it would be even more clear to me had I been there at the press conference when it was all unveiled. It's a telling thing when there are so many pressing needs and so little ability to do it. The reality is that in order to attain this plan, the government will have to attain surpluses that are big enough to offset the borrowing for tangible capital assets, which means our roads and our school projects, et cetera, and that's a significant amount of money. In fact, in the year that we're looking at beginning retiring debt, 2007-08, we're up to $86.8 million. So we would have to have that kind of a surplus in order to even begin to retire any debt. As I say, we're hopeful, we'll certainly support the idea of a plan. I don't want to belittle the idea that we are planning, I just feel that it's an enormous task before us.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak a little bit about the tax cut that was before us as well. I think I will go on to economic growth, we'll talk about that. I think the government side is tired of hearing about the tax cut so I'm going to talk a little bit about the revenue side of the ledger and economic growth because another part of this bill talks about certain measures, certain taxes and fees and so on, but what is difficult is that really the government has failed to address certain measures that could grow our economy. The only way that the government is going to be able to attain the surplus that we talked about, the need to continue that tremendous growth that you have enjoyed, the $1 billion extra in owned-source revenue, is to grow the economy and to see that some of the sectors that are slowing down, we need to either replace them with another sector or find some new measure, a new method, to raise money. So it's very important to continue to look at the revenue side and the economy of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2922]

As I said, I believe that this budget really has failed to consider any measures that will grow our economy. The only way that we'll get the surplus we need is to do just that. There is nothing in this bill that addresses it and nothing that I see in the budget. There were no measures to improve rural economic development or to stimulate business or the economy. In fact, there are portions of this bill, the Financial Measures (2004) Bill, which will, in fact, slow the economy. In particular, the large corporations capital tax will have a negative effect on investment. Companies will not be willing to invest here if, in fact, it's cheaper for them to go elsewhere and especially even in Atlantic Canada.

A lot of our largest employers are companies that have operations in the States, or elsewhere in the world, or across Canada, and I think if Michelin or Bowater, or Stora Enso, all of those have other operations that they could choose to invest in. What we've done by increasing the capital tax for corporations is we've punished those firms because if they want to invest here to upgrade, to create better facilities, more efficient manufacturing facilities, they actually have to pay a larger tax here than they would in New Brunswick or in other jurisdictions. So we've created not a level playing field. We've had this tax which should have been removed anyway two years ago, according to the original agreement; we've now not only extended it, we've increased it, and that means that it's not a level playing field, it's a penalty, on companies or employers that want to improve their facilities here, expand and hire more Nova Scotians.

I had a press release from the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters that I'd like to refer to if I could. The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, in Nova Scotia alone, their employers employ over 50,000 people. That's in their press release - it's quite a staggering number to think of. I had spoken of them as an organization that employed thousands of people, but 50,000 employees in Nova Scotia employed by the 1,400 members of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association.

In their press release which was sent out April 22nd in relation to the budget, they do say very clearly and I'll just quote from Kent MacIntyre who's the chair of the CME in Nova Scotia: I'm extremely disappointed with the increase in the large corporations tax which should have been phased out two years ago. CME members who are part of the 1,400 corporations being taxed will have to bear a major part of the extra $12.6 million being collected. So you can see that's going to hit a very small number of employers. Yes, they're large corporations, but if they lose confidence or lose heart in expanding or employing more people in Nova Scotia, that has a devastating effect on our economy.

Now, at the same time, the small business sector is getting a small increase in the threshold they're receiving, but discussions with the Canadian Federation of Small Business indicated that this was a change that was coming anyway, it's just been advanced slightly and really, very few companies will benefit on the small business side. It's a good gesture but it's not going to cost Nova Scotia very much money in terms of our budget so it's more of a gesture. Again, it's a little bit of lip service to small business.

[Page 2923]

But I think it's really important that we consider the impact in many of our communities. A lot of these very large employers are not here in Halifax - they're actually around the province.

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

MS. WHALEN: Yes, I'd be happy to move adjournment of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The business of the day will be the Committee of the Whole House on Supply. When we've completed four hours of deliberations in committee, we will adjourn for the day.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 9:00 a.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 is adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]

[Page 2924]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1212

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas William Muir has been selected by the Town of Westville as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to William Muir for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Muir and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1213

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Ruby Kaiser has been selected by the District of St. Mary's as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

[Page 2925]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Ruby Kaiser for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Kaiser and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1214

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas the volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Evangeline Breen has been selected by the Town of Mulgrave as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Evangeline Breen for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Breen and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1215

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 2926]

Whereas Roger Williams has been selected by the District of Guysborough as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Roger Williams for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Williams and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1216

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Lawrence Munroe has been selected by the Town of Canso as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Lawrence Munroe for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Munroe and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1217

By: Hon. Christopher d'Entremont (Agriculture and Fisheries)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

[Page 2927]

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Peter Hansen has been selected by the Municipality of the District of Argyle as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Peter Hansen for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Hansen and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1218

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Lois LeCaine has been selected by the Town of Yarmouth as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Lois LeCaine for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. LeCaine and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1219

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

[Page 2928]

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Linda Brehaut has been selected by the Town of Kentville as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Linda Brehaut for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Brehaut and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1220

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas George Foote has been selected by the County of Kings as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to George Foote for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Foote and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

[Page 2929]

RESOLUTION NO. 1221

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Blair Brown has been selected by the District of Barrington as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Blair Brown for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Brown and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1222

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Norma McGray has been selected by the District of Shelburne as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

[Page 2930]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Norma McGray for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. McGray and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1223

By: Mr. Cecile O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Elaine Moore has been selected by the Town of Lockeport as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Elaine Moore for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Moore and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1224

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 2931]

Whereas Annie Bower has been selected by the Town of Shelburne as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Annie Bower for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Bower and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1225

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Verna Nickerson has been selected by the Town of Clark's Harbour as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Verna Nickerson for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Nickerson and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1226

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

[Page 2932]

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Eugene Penney has been selected by the Region of Queens as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Eugene Penney for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Penney and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1227

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Barbara Foley has been selected by the Region of Queens as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Barbara Foley for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Foley and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1228

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

[Page 2933]

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Lois Richard has been selected by the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Lois Richard for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Richard and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1229

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Annie Rose Chiasson has been selected by the County of Inverness as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Annie Rose Chiasson for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Chiasson and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

[Page 2934]

RESOLUTION NO. 1230

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Tim Thompson has been selected by the Town of Port Hawkesbury as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Tim Thompson for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Thompson and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1231

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Edith Purdy has been selected by Cumberland County as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

[Page 2935]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Edith Purdy for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Purdy and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1232

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas John Lucas has been selected by the Town of Parrsboro as its Volunteer of the Year for his long-standing and unselfish commitment to his community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to John Lucas for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Mr. Lucas and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1233

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 2936]

Whereas Jean Dickson has been selected by the Town of Springhill as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Jean Dickson for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Dickson and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1234

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas ICON Electric and Control Inc. in Porters Lake is one such company that is making a positive contribution to the economy of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing ICON Electric and Control Inc. in Porters Lake for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1235

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas RESPECT day was held on April 14th at Gaetz Brook Junior High School; and

Whereas the one-day conference involved workshops on peace, justice, multiculturalism, inclusiveness, relationships, human rights and responsibilities, and protecting the environment; and

[Page 2937]

Whereas this event is a collaborative effort between Gaetz Brook Junior High School and Youth Against Racism, a program of the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia and funded by the Metro United Way;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of RESPECT day and extend our support to this worthwhile effort to expose students to broad social issues and foster an inclusive, respectful environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 1236

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Justin Embree of Springhill, a member of the Springhill Junior Boys Basketball Team was honoured at the Basketball Association's award night in April 2004; and

Whereas Justin shared the award for the Most Valuable Player for his team this year; and

Whereas Justin has made a strong contribution to the Springhill Junior Boys Basketball Team and earned the title of Most Valuable Player;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Justin Embree on this outstanding award and wish him all the best and continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1237

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Matt Ellis of Springhill, a member of the Springhill Junior Boys Basketball Team was honoured at the Basketball Association's award night in April 2204; and

Whereas Matt was honoured with the award for the Top Scholar Athlete for his team this year; and

Whereas Matt has made a strong contribution to the Springhill Junior Boys Basketball Team and has worked hard to help make his team a strong force;

[Page 2938]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Matt Ellis on this outstanding award and wish him all the best and continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1238

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Shelby McPhee from Springhill, Nova Scotia, is sporting yet another gold medal; and

Whereas Shelby is a member of the Amherst Skating Club and came home from the Farmers Dairy Twist & Go 2004 Scotia Star Skate Championship in Kentville with medals; and

Whereas Shelby, who earned the gold medal in the pre-preliminary group, has been skating for quite a few years now and has a vast selection of medals that she has worked very hard for;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Shelby on this outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in her skating.

RESOLUTION NO. 1239

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

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Upper Stewiacke Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas the Upper Stewiacke Fire Department held their annual awards banquet and ceremony on March 20th;

[Page 2939]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend Chief Jonathan Wort, the executive and firefighters from the Upper Stewiacke Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1240

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

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Brookfield Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas the Brookfield Fire Department held their annual awards banquet and ceremony on March 6th;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend Chief Rod Neilsen, the executive and firefighters from the Brookfield Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1241

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

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Middle Musquodoboit Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas the Middle Musquodoboit Fire Department held their annual awards banquet and ceremony on April 3rd;

[Page 2940]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend Chief Craig Ruggles, the executive and firefighters from the Middle Musquodoboit Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1242

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Health)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Dr. J. H. Gillis Regional Grade 11 student Suzanne Swaine presented her project, Artificial Muscles;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Suzanne Swaine on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish her much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1243

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Health)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas St. Andrew Junior High School Grade 8 student Adam Hinchey presented his project, The Full Meal Deal;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Adam Hinchey on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish him much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1244

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Cobequid Education Centre Grade 10 student Jenna McNeil presented her project, Explosive Colour;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jenna McNeil on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish her much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1245

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Bible Hill Junior High School Grade 9 student Megan Crouse presented her project, So You Think You've Got Gas?;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Megan Crouse on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish her much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1246

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Bible Hill Junior High School Grade 9 student Krystal-lynn Laforest presented her project, Wind Beneath My Wings;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Krystal-lynn Laforest on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish her much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1247

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Truro Junior High School Grade 8 student Rachel Ritacco presented her project, Less Is More;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rachel Ritacco on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish her much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1248

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Maple Grove Education Centre Grade 9 student Aaron LeBlanc presented his project, Rabbit Holes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Aaron LeBlanc on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish him much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1249

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas South Queens Junior High School Grade 9 student Geoffrey Mason presented his project, Energy Production Utilizing Temperature Differentials;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Geoffrey Mason on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish him much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1250

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Park View Education Centre Grade 12 students Luke Rae and Matthew Baxter presented their project, Electrostatic Flight;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Luke Rae and Matthew Baxter on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish them much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1251

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Horton High School Grade 12 students Ian Dugas and Jaime McDonald presented their project, Bugs and Blueberries;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ian Dugas and Jaime McDonald on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish them much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1252

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's brightest young scientific minds and innovators gathered last week for the Team Nova Scotia Showcase; and

Whereas the students who will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada-wide Science Fair had the opportunity to display their award-winning projects at this signature event of Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and

Whereas Horton High School Grade 12 student Julia Frenette presented her project, Clue;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Julia Frenette on being selected to represent the province at the Canada-Wide Science Fair and wish her much success at this event.

RESOLUTION NO. 1253

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Black Point Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing whom they could call at a time of peril or distress;

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Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Black Point Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1254

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are summoned in times of need regardless of the time of day or night; and

Whereas the Chester Basin Fire Department answers a number of alarms annually; and

Whereas a community without the dedication of volunteer firefighters would be a community at great risk because of the uncertainty of when an emergency can arise;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Chester Basin Fire Department for their excellent response in times of need while wishing them continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1255

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are summoned in times of need regardless of the time of day or night; and

Whereas the District No. 1 Blandford Fire Department answers a number of alarms annually; and

Whereas a community without the dedication of volunteer firefighters would be a community at great risk because of the uncertainty of when an emergency can arise;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the District No. 1 Blandford Fire Department for their excellent response in times of need while wishing them continued success.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1256

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are summoned in times of need regardless of the time of day or night; and

Whereas the Hubbards Fire Department answers a number of alarms annually; and

Whereas a community without the dedication of volunteer firefighters would be a community at great risk because of the uncertainty of when an emergency can arise;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Hubbards Fire Department for their excellent response in times of need while wishing them continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1257

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are summoned in times of need regardless of the time of day or night; and

Whereas the Seabright Fire Department answers a number of alarms annually; and

Whereas a community without the dedication of volunteer firefighters would be a community at great risk because of the uncertainty of when an emergency can arise;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Seabright Fire Department for their excellent response in times of need while wishing them continued success.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1258

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Western Shore Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing whom they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Western Shore Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1259

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the New Ross Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing whom they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the New Ross Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1260

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas firefighters are the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia communities who are called out at any given time of the day or night; and

Whereas the Chester Fire Department answers a number of local alarms annually, including crashes on Highway No. 103, while always being ready to assist fellow fire departments with mutual aid assistance; and

Whereas a community without the devotion of volunteer firefighters would be a community living on the edge, not knowing whom they could call at a time of peril or distress;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House commend the executive and firefighters from the Chester Fire Department for their passion and zeal in responding to alarms when required.

RESOLUTION NO. 1261

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Clark's Harbour resident and sports enthusiast Chris Swim has developed his own sports Web site; and

Whereas this Web site is and will continue to be a wealth of information on the Shelburne County sports scene; and

Whereas Chris' Web site just went online less than three months ago and already has more than 2,250 hits;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Clark's Harbour's Chris Swim on his ingenuity and wish him every success as he promotes Shelburne County sports through information technology.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1262

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas the Rubber Association of Canada will sponsor the first-ever Be Tire Smart Week from April 25 to May 5, 2004; and

Whereas it is a great opportunity to increase awareness of the importance and benefits of proper tire inflation and maintenance; and

Whereas by following a few simple steps, drivers will increase their own safety, fuel economy and extend the life of their tires;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Rubber Association of Canada and encourage all Nova Scotians to practice tire safety.