The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 10-22

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

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

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

Second Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 1356
TIR - Ridge Rd. (RR 2): Reconstruction - Demand,
Mr. H. Theriault 1356
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 742, C.B. Health Auth./Partners: Healthy Food Policy - Revision,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1357
Vote - Affirmative 1357
Res. 743, Hoyte, Shawna: Lorne Clarke Award - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Paris 1357
Vote - Affirmative 1358
Res. 744, Federation Literacy Award: Application - Encourage,
The Premier 1358
Vote - Affirmative 1359
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 47, Education Act,
Hon. M. More 1359
No. 48, Elections Act,
Hon. S. McNeil 1359
No. 49, Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club Act,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1359
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 745, Prem: Bottled Water Decision - Announcement,
Hon. S. McNeil 1359
Res. 746, Singh, Kaia et al: Fair Trade Ambassadors - Recognize,
Hon. K. Casey 1360
Vote - Affirmative 1361
Res. 747, Autism Awareness Walk: Importance Recognize,
Hon. R. Landry 1361
Vote - Affirmative 1361
Res. 748, N. Cumb. Mem. Hosp.: ER Closures - Explain,
Mr. L. Glavine 1362
Res. 749, Reddick, Clarence: Educ. Wk. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacMaster 1362
Vote - Affirmative 1363
Res. 750, Sir John A. Macdonald Leadership Dev. Class:
Juvenile Diabetes - Fundraising, Hon. W. Estabrooks 1363
Vote - Affirmative 1364
Res. 751, Digby Gen. Hosp.: ER Closures - Explain,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1364
Res. 752, Beazley, Chief Frank: Serv. (40 Yrs.) - Thank,
Hon. M. Scott 1365
Vote - Affirmative 1365
Res. 753, Harnish, Mr. Rhys - Shore Club: Summer Opening - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 1365
Vote - Affirmative 1366
Res. 754, Fishermen's Mem. Hosp.: ER Closures - Explain,
Ms. D. Whalen 1366
Res. 755, CBRM Learn to Swim Prog.: Sponsors - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1367
Vote - Affirmative 1367
Res. 756, Wallace, CWO Glenn: Military Serv. - Congrats.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1368
Vote - Affirmative 1368
Res. 757, Gullage, Rachel: Bedford Youth Vol. of Yr. (2010)
- Congrats., Ms. K. Regan 1368
Vote - Affirmative 1369
Res. 758, Burgess, Pat: Legion Award - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 1369
Vote - Affirmative 1370
Res. 759, Kean, Lynnette - The Adventures of Fella the Crow:
Publication - Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 1370
Vote - Affirmative 1371
Res. 760, C.P. Allen HS Model UN Team: Robichaud Award
- Congrats., Ms. K. Regan 1371
Vote - Affirmative 1371
Res. 761, N. Sydney Rotary Club: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 1372
Vote - Affirmative 1372
Res. 762, Antigonish Co. Mun.: Dewatering Truck
- Prov./Mun. Partnership, Mr. M. Smith 1372
Vote - Affirmative 1373
Res. 763, Barton Cons. Sch. - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. H. Theriault 1373
Vote - Affirmative 1374
Res. 764, Pictou East MLA - Southwestern N.S.: Support
- Change Explain, Hon. C. d'Entremont 1374
Res. 765, Annapolis Valley Lbr. Coun.: Natl. Day of Mourning
- Commitment, Mr. J. Morton 1375
Vote - Affirmative 1376
Res. 766, Parker Street Food/Furniture Bank: Work - Congrats.,
Mr. A. Younger 1376
Vote - Affirmative 1377
Res. 767, MacKenzie, Rindress & Gavinna - Anniv. (71st),
Mr. K. Bain 1377
Vote - Affirmative 1377
Res. 768, PeeWee B Hockey Tournament (2010): Organizing Comm.
- Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 1377
Vote - Affirmative 1378
Res. 769, Shaw, John: NSCC Skills Comp. - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 1378
Vote - Affirmative 1379
Res. 770, Legion: Commun. Role - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 1379
Vote - Affirmative 1380
Res. 771, Boat Hbr.: Cleanup - Commitment Honour,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1380
Res. 772, Fish. & Aquaculture: Fish - Grow,
Mr. H. Theriault 1380
Res. 773, Duffus-Harris, Pat - Birthday (90th),
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1381
Vote - Affirmative 1382
Res. 774, Peters, Celia: Athletic Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Bain 1382
Vote - Affirmative 1383
Res. 775, NewPage/Minacs/Hfx. Biomedical
- Sustainable Employment Growth, Mr. A. MacMaster 1383
Vote - Affirmative 1383
Res. 776, Good Time Band: Warm Wishes - Offer,
Mr. C. Porter 1384
Vote - Affirmative 1384
Res. 777, St. John's Anglican Church (N. Sydney) - Recreational Space,
Hon. C. Clarke 1384
Vote - Affirmative 1385
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 202, Prem. - Southwestern N.S.: Unemployment Rate - Reduction,
Hon. S. McNeil 1385
No. 203, Prem. - Bottled Water Announcement: Environ. Min.
- Consultation, Hon. K. Casey 1387
No. 204, Prem.: Cavanaugh Press Release - Stance,
Hon. S. McNeil 1388
No. 205, NSLC - Bd. Appt.: Applicants - Names Release,
Hon. M. Samson 1389
No. 206, TIR - Indian Sluice Bridge: Work - Time Frame,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1391^^
No. 207, Prem. - Yarmouth Ferry: MP - Involvement,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1393
No. 208, Sysco: Sydney Mines Site - Remediation,
Hon. C. Clarke 1394
No. 209, Gaming: Anielski Mgt. Report - Min. Read,
Mr. L. Glavine 1396
No. 210, TIR - Wagmatcook: Prov. Rds.- Pave,
Mr. K. Bain 1397
No. 211, Energy - Renewable Energy Plan: Targets - Entrench,
Mr. A. Younger 1399
No. 212, Com. Serv. - Caregiver Allowance: Bent Fam. - Details,
Mr. H. Theriault 1400
No. 213, Iomairtean Na Gàidhlig: Prógraman As Deaghaidh Uairean Na
Sgoile - Bronntanais Ghàidhlig,
Mr. A. MacMaster 1402
No. 214, TIR: Ingramport Interchange - Plans,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1404
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 24, Financial Measures (2010) Act
Hon. G. Steele 1406
Mr. L. Glavine 1412
Mr. A. MacMaster 1417
Ms. D. Whalen 1425
Hon. C. Clarke 1438
Hon. G. Steele 1447
Vote - Affirmative 1448
No. 19, Motor Vehicle Act
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1448
Hon. W. Gaudet 1449
Hon. M. Scott 1450
Hon. W. Estabrooks 1450
Vote - Affirmative 1451
No. 41, Volunteer Fire Services Act
Hon. M. More 1451
Mr. L. Glavine 1452
Mr. K. Bain 1453
Mr. C. Porter 1453
Hon. M. More 1454
Vote - Affirmative 1454
No. 23, Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets Day Act
The Premier 1454
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1455
Mr. A. MacLeod 1462
Mr. L. Glavine 1464
The Premier 1465
Vote - Affirmative 1466
No. 36, Engineering Profession Act
Hon. R. Landry 1466
Vote - Affirmative 1466
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Landry 1467
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 13, Motor Vehicle Act
Hon. R. Jennex 1467
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1469
Mr. A. MacMaster 1470
Hon. R. Jennex 1470
Vote - Affirmative 1470
No. 18, Vital Statistics Act
Hon. R. Jennex 1471
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1471
Mr. A. MacMaster 1471
^Hon. R. Jennex 1471
Vote - Affirmative 1471
No. 29, Municipal Government Act
Hon. R. Jennex 1472
Vote - Affirmative 1473
No. 33, Securities Transfer Act
Hon. R. Jennex 1473
Mr. A. MacMaster 1474
Hon. R. Jennex 1474
Vote - Affirmative 1474
ADJOURNMENT:
^MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TCH: Hector Heritage Quay - Funding:
Mr. K. Bain 1475
Hon. P. Paris 1476
Mr. H. Theriault 1479
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 28th at 2 p.m. 1480
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 778, Cumb. Co. Blues: Hockey Championship - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1481
Res. 779, Hall, Shirley: Bedford Vol. Serv. - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1481
Res. 780, Powell, Hardy: Bedford Vol. Serv. (50 Yrs.) - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1482
Res. 781, Banks, Susan: Bedford Vol. Serv. - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1482
Res. 782, Duffus, Roslyn: Bedford Vol. Serv. - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1483
Res. 783, Rogers, Mary: Bedford Vol. Serv. - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1483
Res. 784, Ward, Bill: CTV's Maritimer of the Wk. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1484
Res. 785, Hoffman-Ortan, Helga: Aramark Award - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 1484
Res. 786, Bent, Susan: Innovative Teacher Recognition - Congrats.,
Hon. S. McNeil 1485
Res. 787, Oxford Bantam Jr. Bears - Basketball Tournament Championship,
Hon. M. Scott 1486

[Page 1355]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Gordon Gosse, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Alfie MacLeod

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, we'll get underway with today's proceedings.

Before the daily routine I want to read out the topic for the late debate under Rule 5(5):

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage agree that they have made another rash decision not to fund the Hector Heritage Quay, and find a way to work with the Town of Pictou to keep this important tourism, culture and heritage venue afloat.

That will be debated at the hour of 6:00 p.m., here in late debate, and was submitted by the honourable member for Inverness.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 1356]

1355

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, this would be day 21 of the Nova Scotia Legislature, and of course it is day 21 of broken promises as a result of this headline that was in the provincial paper on May 13th. It says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises." As a result of that, he has broken promises, and now a petition is circulating throughout Cumberland County. The prayer says:

"We, the residents of Cumberland County implore that Premier Darrell Dexter keep his word and build a correctional facility in Cumberland County!"

It is signed by 148 constituents, Mr. Speaker, bringing the total to date to 2,323 with many more to come, and I have signed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition which states:

"We the undersigned citizens of Acaciaville, Hillgrove, North Range, South Range and surrounding areas are demanding fast action and expecting proper reconstruction of Ridge Road (RR #2) all the way from Conway to the end of Hillgrove."

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by 505 residents of Digby County and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

[Page 1357]

RESOLUTION NO. 742

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

Whereas the Cape Breton District Health Authority is making the healthy choice the easy choice for staff, patients, and the public by revising its healthy food policy; and

Whereas this summer, the Cape Breton District Health Authority will begin work on a three-year plan to create healthier menus for staff, visitors, and patients at its facilities; and

Whereas this work is part of the district's focus on healthy workplaces, healthy communities, and healthy policies and is in keeping with the work of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection and partner departments to increase access to healthy foods and beverages in schools and child care settings;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the health authority for making the healthy choice the easy choice.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 743

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

Whereas Shawna Hoyte has committed her time to ensuring justice for everyone through years of groundbreaking efforts in work and volunteer roles; and

[Page 1358]

Whereas Ms. Hoyte, who is a lawyer for Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, also serves as a clinician with the IWK mental health crisis team and was president of the Community Justice Society Board and a past member of the Board of Examiners for the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers; and

Whereas on Friday, April 16th, Ms. Hoyte received the inaugural Honourable Lorne Clarke Access to Justice Award from the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Shawna Hoyte for her 15 years of dedicated work as a legal aid lawyer and congratulate her on being the first recipient of the prestigious Honourable Lorne Clarke Access to Justice Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 744

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas each year the Premier's Council of the Federation Literacy Award recognizes an exceptional adult literacy student who will be honoured in the Fall; and

Whereas Nova Scotians who improve their literacy skills not only improve their own lives, they also improve upon the lives of their families and help contribute to the overall economic prosperity of our province and

Whereas the deadline for the nominations for this year's award is April 30th;

[Page 1359]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage anyone who is eligible for the Federation Literacy Award to apply, and that the members recognize the importance of literacy and its benefits to individual learners, their families, and communities, as well as the efforts being made by all adult learners across the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education Act. (Hon. M. More)

Bill No. 48 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 140 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Elections Act. (Hon. S. McNeil)

Bill No. 49 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 283 of the Acts of 1903. An Act to Incorporate the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club. (Hon. Manning MacDonald)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 745

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

Whereas desperate for a message to deliver at the CUPE gathering, the Premier announced a government policy decision on bottled water; and

[Page 1360]

Whereas in the Premier's haste to make this announcement, he forgot to inform the honourable Minister of Environment that the Premier's Office is now responsible for environmental policy; and

Whereas yesterday's debacle was reminiscent of Abbott and Costello's routine of "Who's on first?";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier acknowledge once and for all that he is both the Premier and minister responsible for everything, eerily similar to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's governing style in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 746

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

Whereas the aim of the Fair Trade movement is to ensure that workers have decent working conditions, that Fair Trade terms exist for farmers and workers, and that better prices are secured for farmers, workers and entrepreneurs in developing countries; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's North Shore youth Kaia Singh, Emma Bush, Anna Dawson, Shaani Singh and Colin Belt have produced a 30-minute movie about the movement and products available, hoping to make young people more aware of the hardships facing many producers, and also to make young people aware of the part they can play; and

Whereas this movie is now becoming a sought-after item to view, not only by youth, but by adults as well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the work of these young people and congratulate them on being excellent Fair Trade ambassadors.

[Page 1361]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 747

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

Whereas the Pictou County Children with Autism Association recently held their second annual Autism Awareness Walk; and

Whereas the walk had over 200 participants who walked to raise awareness for autism; and

Whereas the event provided residents of Pictou County the opportunity to learn more about the effects of autism on children who live in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize the importance of events like the Autism Awareness Walk that provide an opportunity for individuals to learn more information about autism.

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.

[Page 1362]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 748

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

Whereas in June 2009, the NDP campaigned on a promise that all emergency rooms in Nova Scotia will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and

Whereas two months after being elected, the NDP engaged a consultant who is poised to make recommendations, which will enable the NDP to back away from this campaign promise; and

Whereas the hiring of outside consultants has been a hallmark of this NDP Government and has allowed the NDP to break other significant campaign promises including not balancing the budget, making program cuts and hiking the HST;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP Government explain to the residents of Pugwash who access emergency room services at the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital why they promised that they would keep all ERs open 24/7 during the election and now find it acceptable to break their promise.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 749

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

[Page 1363]

Whereas April 19th marked the beginning of Education Week; and

Whereas as part of these festivities, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association presents their annual Education Week Partner Award and this year Clarence Reddick, African Nova Scotian Representative on the Strait Regional School Board was named its recipient; and

Whereas Clarence Reddick was recognized for his support of the Afrikan Canadian Heritage & Friendship Centre and bursaries for African Nova Scotian students in the area he represents;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Clarence Reddick and acknowledge his contribution to the education system in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 750

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

Whereas the Sir John A. Macdonald High School Leadership Development class held on Saturday, April 14th, 2010, a Cyclebetes Fundraiser for Juvenile Diabetes Research; and

Whereas thirteen teams of students biked non-stop for over twelve hours raising $10,200; and

Whereas these exceptional Sir John A. Macdonald students have demonstrated true leadership;

[Page 1364]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank the Leadership Development class of Sir John A. Macdonald High School on raising funds for juvenile diabetes research.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 751

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

Whereas in June 2009, the NDP campaigned on a promise that all emergency rooms in Nova Scotia will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and

Whereas two months after being elected, the NDP engaged a consultant who is poised to make recommendations, which will enable the NDP to back away from this campaign promise; and

Whereas the hiring of outside consultants has been a hallmark of this NDP Government and has allowed the NDP to break other significant campaign promises including not balancing the budget, making program cuts and hiking the HST;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP Government explain to the residents of Digby and Clare who access emergency room services at the Digby General why they promised that they could keep all ERs open 24/7 during the election and now find it acceptable to break their promise.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1365]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 752

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, when I table this resolution, I will also table some documents that might be of interest to the House.

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

Whereas Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley was recently named an HRM "Heritage Property"; and

Whereas this designation was bestowed on Chief Beazley in recognition of his 40 years as a police officer and for his love of history; and

Whereas in front of officers, civilians, members of the Halifax Regional Council and Mayor Peter Kelly, Chief Beazley also received a specially designed walker fitted with a set of flashing police lights;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley for his 40 years of dedicated service, and commend Mayor Peter Kelly for recognizing such a unique heritage property.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1366]

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 753

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

Whereas April 24th marked the opening of the 65th summer season of the Hubbard Shore Club, a landmark on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, and marked the unofficial start of summer; and

Whereas the Shore Club has always been owned and operated by Mr. Rhys Harnish and his family and is known as one of the last great dance halls; and

Whereas the May issue of Canadian Living magazine recognizes the Shore Club as one of five places in Canada to celebrate Mother's Day;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend to Mr. Rhys Harnish, and his staff, best wishes for a successful season and another wonderful summer of memories for young and old alike.

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 Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 754

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

Whereas in June 2009 the NDP campaigned on a promise that all emergency rooms in Nova Scotia will remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and

[Page 1367]

Whereas two months later the NDP engaged a consultant who is poised to make recommendations which will enable the NDP to back away from this campaign promise; and

Whereas the hiring of outside consultants has been a hallmark of this NDP Government and has allowed the NDP to break other significant campaign promises which include not balancing the budget, making program cuts, and hiking the HST;

Therefore be it resolved that the honourable member for Lunenburg explain to her constituents, who access emergency room services at Fishermen's Memorial, why she promised to keep all ERs open 24/7 during the election and now finds it acceptable to break this campaign promise.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 755

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

Whereas the Lifesaving Society is an organization dedicated to preventing drowning and water-related incidents through public education on lifeguarding and lifesaving; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Lifesaving Society presented their certificates of merit to the sponsors of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's Learn to Swim Program; and

Whereas Georgina Byrne, Christine Hines, Irene Lahey, Norma MacDonald, and Rita Wojtyniak each received the recognition for their outstanding work in the Lifesaving Society's 2009 learn to swim program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the sponsors of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's Learn to Swim program and thank them for making water safety a priority in our province.

[Page 1368]

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. 756

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

Whereas Foxbrook, Pictou County, resident Glenn Wallace joined the Canadian Forces in 1979 as a finance and resources manager, and spent his career years in Canada, the Golan Heights, and Germany; and

Whereas Glenn Wallace retired as a chief warrant officer in June of last year to Pictou County; and

Whereas the Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean, has invested Glenn Wallace as a member of the Order of Military Merit for his exceptional service and performance on duty;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Chief Warrant Officer Glenn Wallace for his years of service to his country, both at home and abroad.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1369]

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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 757

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

Whereas Rachel Gullage was honoured on Sunday, April 18th, as Bedford's Youth Volunteer of the Year; and

Whereas Rachel has been a Girl Guide for 10 years and is a recipient of the Canada Cord - the highest award a Pathfinder can receive - and has been a junior leader with the 1st Bedford Guides for two years, helping to plan camps, unit meetings, district events and the program celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Guide movement, and is currently working on a Duke of Edinburgh Award; and

Whereas Rachel is in Grade 11 of the IB Program at Charles P. Allen High School where she is co-chair of the World Vision Club, co-chair of the 30 Hour Famine, and a member of the Me to We Committee, worked on set design for school musicals and is a member of the jazz band, a member of the symphonic band, and a pit band member;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rachel Gullage on being named Bedford's 2010 Youth Volunteer of the Year and wish her well in her no doubt many and varied future volunteer activities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1370]

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 758

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

Whereas whenever a Lions Club gets together, problems get smaller and communities get better because they help where help is needed - in our communities and around the world - with unmatched integrity and energy; and

Whereas Lion Pat Burgess was recently presented with the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, which is the most prestigious award in Lionism, for her involvement with the Windsor & District Lions Club; and

Whereas besides being the treasurer for three years, for many years Pat has chaired the education committee, handling the selection of bursary recipients and the Speak Out contests and been tasked with the handling of the applicants for the Apple Blossom Festival princesses;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Pat on this very deserving award and wish her all the best with her continued support of the Lions.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 759

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

[Page 1371]

Whereas Lynnette Kean is both a teacher and a writer who has just published The Adventures of Fella the Crow, a new children's storybook; and

Whereas Ms. Kean has produced children's stories, numerous works of poetry, even diaries as tools to inspire writing creativity in her students; and

Whereas the reading and presentation of this publication in her school has rewarded her with congratulations and hugs from present and past students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Lynnette Kean on the publication of her new storybook, The Adventures of Fella the Crow, and the sharing of this publication with her students.

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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 760

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

Whereas St. Thomas University hosted the 2009 John Peters Humphrey Model United Nations in May 2009; and

Whereas the team from Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford won the Gary Robichaud Award as the top school; and

Whereas the team consisted of Seung Woo Back, Carol St. Gelais, Andrew Cormier, Aziz Alawahdi, Robbie Ruddick, Matthew Holland, Noah Brownstone, Mitchell MacInnis, Jenna Nowlan, Ryan Haley, Nila Joshi and Timothy Kim;

[Page 1372]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate these future leaders, and wish them well in their future studies and careers.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 761

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

Whereas the North Sydney Rotary Club was chartered in 1938 and has provided continuous service, meeting some of the greatest needs within the community, in partnership with other community providers; and

Whereas the club's community service contributions include support for families in need with disabled children, including wheelchairs, lifts, hearing devices, computers, scholarships and sailing programs, as well as youth citizenship investments, minor sports activities, and travel support for medical travel; and

Whereas the club also supports youth exchanges, study exchanges and adopt-a-library programs that are supported through year-round fundraising activities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend the North Sydney Rotary Club for their outstanding work, as evidenced by the production of a fundraising Rotary Business Directory, to be released Wednesday, April 28th, at the North Sydney Volunteer Fire Hall.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1373]

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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 762

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

Whereas the Environmental Trade and Innovative Branch of the Department of Environment teamed with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish to purchase a mobile dewatering truck to be used in the County of Antigonish; and

Whereas the dewatering truck, which was manufactured here in Nova Scotia by ABCO Industries Limited of Lunenburg, continues the province's commitment to using new and innovative technology to deal with environmental challenges; and

Whereas the province and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish launched the municipality's mobile dewatering truck on January 19, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the partnership between the province and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish in adding this innovative dewatering truck to part of the municipality's fleet of vehicles.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1374]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 763

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 Barton Consolidated School has, since it opened its doors in 1960, consistently provided the young people of the Brighton, Barton, North Range, Plympton and Plympton Station area with an outstanding, solid foundation of educational and social skills, widely recognized as one of superior quality; and

Whereas the students of Barton Consolidated School have, for 50 years, shown dramatically that they excel and are well prepared to face the challenges of their future, thus distinguishing themselves in a variety of careers and facets of life; and

Whereas the Barton Consolidated School is a stunning example of how important rural schools are as centres of their communities and how vital they are to Nova Scotia and to Canada, emphasizing and personifying its motto that "A little school goes a long way," thereby instilling in its community vibrant pride of place and faith in its future;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate and honour Barton Consolidated School for 50 years of exceptional educational and skill-building service to its students and for strengthening its 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 member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 764

[Page 1375]

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

Whereas the honourable member for Pictou East rose in this historic Chamber on November 28, 2007, wanting to know what the then government was doing about infrastructure in southwestern Nova Scotia and what was being done to ensure that ferry services remained intact and in service in that region of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the member for Pictou East was also so eloquent that evening in late November, nearly three years ago, when he demanded that the previous government ensure the ferry service remain in existence between Maine and Yarmouth so that jobs would be created and prosperity remain in southwestern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the member for Pictou East now resides on the back benches of the NDP Government and was very quiet when his government cut the ferry service last December, and said nothing when 500 jobs disappeared shortly after;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly implore the honourable member for Pictou East to provide an explanation to the residents of southwestern Nova Scotia as to why he supported them with such vigour only to turn his back on them once he became a part of government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery to introduce Rev. Dr. Randy Crozsman, who is a resident of New Minas and the minister of St. Paul and St. Stephen United Church in Kentville. He's president of the Kentville Rotary Club, a leader in our community, and someone who takes a keen interest in the workings of this House, and he's my friend, but I'd just like everybody to give him a warm welcome.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 1376]

RESOLUTION NO. 765

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Labour Council provides a coordinated voice for workers in the Annapolis Valley; and

Whereas the Labour Council works tirelessly to promote the safety of all workplaces in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the council has for several years provided leadership by organizing a National Day of Mourning event in the Annapolis Valley;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Annapolis Valley Labour Council for its commitment to the safety of workers and for its leadership in ensuring that killed and injured workers are recognized through sponsoring events in honour of a National Day of Mourning.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 766

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

Whereas the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank is a not-for-profit organization that has been providing food, furniture, and mentorship and sports services to residents of HRM since 1983; and

[Page 1377]

Whereas the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank provides food to approximately 250 families per week and in 2009 gave over $1.7 million back to the local community; and

Whereas the second annual Pull for Parker Street fundraiser will take place Sunday, May 2nd at Dartmouth Crossing;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank on the work they do assisting our local community and wish them well on their fundraising efforts on Sunday, May 2nd.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 767

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

Whereas on April 22, 1939, Rindress and Gavinna MacKenzie of Boularderie were joined in marriage; and

Whereas along with raising seven children, Gavinna for many years operated the telephone office in her home and Rindress was a mechanic with the then Department of Highways, as well as a founding member of the Big Bras d'Or Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas both Gavinna and Rindress continue to be very active in their church and community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Rindress and Gavinna MacKenzie on 71 years of marriage, and wish them many more years of health and happiness together.

[Page 1378]

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 768

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

Whereas the 2010 Peewee B Championships were hosted by the Clare Minor Hockey Association March 26th to March 28th in Clare; and

Whereas teams from across the province, including Port Hood, Dartmouth, Berwick, Pictou, and Clare, participated in this hockey tournament; and

Whereas the success of this tournament is attributed to the co-chairs, Steven Gaudet and Scott Robicheau, Clare Minor Hockey Association, its sponsors, hockey teams and the many volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the organizing committee of the 2010 Pee Wee B Hockey Tournament for their outstanding work for organizing this three-day tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[12:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1379]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 769

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

Whereas a first year digital animation student at the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro is one step closer to becoming a professional animator; and

Whereas John Shaw, a 19-year-old resident of Valley, Colchester County, has taken first place in a 2D animation contest through Nova Scotia Skills competition held at the community college; and

Whereas John has produced a short animated scene, which is 20 seconds in length, but took six hours to complete;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House Assembly congratulate John for winning his competition and wish him good luck with his future endeavours in the animation industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 770

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

[Page 1380]

Whereas the Ortona Branch 69 Royal Canadian Legion in Berwick, Nova Scotia, was named in honour of the Battle of Ortona, which was one of the most important battles Canada fought during World War II; and

Whereas Gordon Spinney suggested the name to recognize the many contributions the West Nova Scotia Regiment, Tactical Formation No. 69 made to securing the town and forcing the Germans to retreat; and

Whereas although the Legion has undergone many changes, it is still used today as a place where the community can gather, Legion members can go and be greeted with the walls full of photos and memorabilia and enjoy a game of crib or a friendly chat;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the role Legions have played in our communities and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 771

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

Whereas the people of Pictou Landing First Nation have long dealt with the negative environmental impacts of the contaminated site at Boat Harbour; and

Whereas in 2008, the Minister of Transportation at the time, committed in a letter to taking the appropriate action to remedy this long-standing wrong; and

[Page 1381]

Whereas despite a campaign promise that they would indeed keep all commitments of the previous government, the current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal said the clean-up is not the focus of where his government is going;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly urge the Dexter NDP Government to honour their campaign commitments and follow through to help the people of the Aboriginal community clean up the environmental mess as promised.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 772

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

Whereas many people in Nova Scotia believe the moratorium on Georges Bank should not be lifted to drill for oil and gas because the risk to one of North America's greatest fishing banks is too great; and

Whereas this government is looking for ways to create wealth and they believe that drilling on Georges may help them do this, but many believe there is another way to create wealth for this province; and

Whereas, as the Minister of Finance stated, the greatest wealth for this province is through personal income taxes, so to create greater wealth we need to increase our work force;

Therefore be it resolved that this government forget about drilling on Georges, forget about raising taxes and start creating thousands more jobs in our coastal waters by growing fish that will be in much greater demand in the future than oil - this government needs to think twice and act once.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 1382]

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 773

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

Whereas on March 21, 2010, family and friends gathered together to celebrate the life of Pat Duffus-Harris on the occasion of her 90th birthday, which was on March 17, 2010; and

Whereas Pat joined the Progressive Conservative Party in 1941, in her early 20's, and has been an active member provincially and federally, and remains one of the most active members of the Yarmouth association today; and

Whereas Pat served as secretary of the PC Women's Association of Nova Scotia, served as president of the Yarmouth PC Women's Association four times, has worked on every election except two and, at the age of 89, went door-to-door during the last campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Pat Duffus-Harris on this remarkable milestone in her life, and thank her for the unwavering dedication and contributions to the PC Party, and wish her many more happy birthdays.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 774

[Page 1383]

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

Whereas New Glasgow's Celia Peters has reached the end of her track career as a student at Dalhousie University; and

Whereas Peters was a three-time Dalhousie Athlete of the Week, a two-time AUS Athlete of the Week, and co-captain of the Women's Track and Field Team; and

Whereas Celia holds the Dalhousie record in the 800 metre and 1,000 metre events, as well as shattering a 15-year-old Atlantic university sport record in the 600 metre event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Celia for being selected as Dalhousie University's Female Athlete of the Year and Women's Track and Field Most Valuable Player, as well as being named an AUS First Team All-Star, the AUS Track and Field MVP, and the AUS Athlete of the Year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 775

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

Whereas NewPage and Nova Scotia Power recently announced plans to build a biomass co-generation facility which will create 150 jobs and 50 person years of construction jobs; and

[Page 1384]

Whereas Aditya Birla Minacs recently announced a new contract with a customer which will return between 170 to 230 people to work at their Port Hawkesbury facility; and

Whereas Mabou-based Halifax Biomedical announced plans to create 75 new, knowledge economy jobs in the next five years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize these three employers for proving that sustainable private sector employment growth is possible in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 776

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

Whereas a well-established and legendary community musical group in Windsor, West Hants and Hantsport, known as the Good Time Band, recently played their last get-together after more than two decades of constantly keeping a smile on people's faces; and

Whereas the Good Time Band had that special touch about them where they could arrive at any get-together and have people enjoying music a great deal; and

Whereas the Good Time Band consisted of Harold Reynolds of Falmouth, Art Benedict of Windsor, Andy Devine from the Falmouth Back Road, Emma and John Devenney of Windsor Forks, Wilbur Davis from Hants Border and at one time - the late John Smith of Vaughan;

[Page 1385]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly offer our warmest wishes to a talented group of musicians which featured vocalists Harold Reynolds, Emma and John Devenney, and the late Mr. Smith along with keyboardist Wilbur Davis and fiddler Art Benedict who kept folks in Windsor-West Hants entertained for more than two decades.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 777

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

Whereas in 1959, when St. John's Anglican Church in North Sydney was destroyed by fire, the congregation constructed a hall that also served as a church space until a new church could be built; and

Whereas the hall has a rich history in the town of North Sydney being used for numerous church, family, and community functions and gatherings, marking decades of good use and countless memories; and

Whereas in January 2010, the parish decided to demolish the hall and make way for new uses for the land and how it might be best used to minister to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating the congregation of St. John's Anglican Church on making way for a new recreational space that will benefit the youth in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1386]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We'll soon be going into Oral Question Period. Just a friendly reminder that no electronic equipment during Question Period is to be on and certainly also to direct your questions and your answers here, through the Chair.

The time now is 12:56 p.m. Oral Question Period will end at 1:56 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

PREM. - SOUTHWESTERN N.S.: UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

- REDUCTION

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The people of southwestern Nova Scotia are faced with a grim reality; the unemployment rate in the area has topped 17 per cent and the NDP Government has left them with no hope for this tourism season.

Mr. Speaker, the international ferry service was cut with absolutely no plan in place for job creation. My question to the Premier is, what is your plan to reduce the 17 per cent unemployment rate in southwestern Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I realize that the Leader of the Official Opposition perhaps hasn't been paying as close attention to this as he might otherwise but there is, in fact, good news in Yarmouth as well. We noticed, of course, that housing prices have increased quite dramatically. Those are good indications of a good economy. In addition, the government has already met with the council and other stakeholders down there. We've agreed to put additional money into the promotional budget for the Maritime tourism sector, so that we can bring more people down into southwestern Nova Scotia.

That is one that is an indicator that things are all not as dark as the member opposite might like to portray and also that the government is aware that it has a responsibility to the

[Page 1387]

area, in terms of creating further economic development. That is just one thing, there are lots more we can talk about.

MR. MCNEIL: I'm sure we're going to get an opportunity to talk about them, Mr. Speaker. The summer is approaching and students are returning home; however, it is clear that in southwestern Nova Scotia they are not returning home to jobs. The Premier has ensured that businesses in the hospitality industry will not be hiring students this summer; they will be struggling just to keep their doors open. Once again we'll watch as our young people go elsewhere to look for work.

My question to the Premier is, what is your plan to keep young people working in southwestern Nova Scotia this season?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course this is a matter of concern to us. That's why we are co-leading Team Southwest that is to look at the whole question of strengthening the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia. We have taken this on, both seriously and comprehensively, ensuring that there are representatives from all the departments of government responsible directly to that committee. I've met with Mr. Ashfield, who is the minister responsible for ACOA. I've told him that I'm committed to an overall strategy for southwestern Nova Scotia and he has said likewise. That is why that committee is being co-led by both the province and the federal government.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the only thing the Premier has been able to do is add more confusion for the people of southwestern Nova Scotia. The Premier has no plan for the economy and has no plan for southwestern Nova Scotia. He cut off an entire region from its largest source of tourists, he raised taxes which will hit the hospitality industry especially hard, he tries to politically out-manoeuvre the federal representative of the region instead of working with him to fix the mess he made. He continually puts political optics above policy and as the unemployment rate passes 17 per cent in southwestern Nova Scotia and as young people pack up and leave the region to look for work, it becomes more and more clear that the Premier has no plan.

My question for the Premier is, what are you doing to ensure that Yarmouth does not become a ghost town by the end of this summer?

[1:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I've already outlined for the member our participation in Team Southwest, I've already outlined some of the initiatives we're taking. We have, of course, a comprehensive program looking for additional economic opportunities in southwestern Nova Scotia. We have already had investments there, which I have outlined in the past, and we intend to continue to do that.

[Page 1388]

Mr. Speaker, we're making sure we're paying close attention to this. We want to work with the stakeholders who are there, contrary to absolutely everything that the member opposite has just said; in fact we are willing to work with the federal government, we are willing to work with the stakeholders there to strengthen the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia, and in fact that is what I said from the very first day that this announcement was made - that we need to transform the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia so it will be stable, so it will provide good jobs for young people in the long term.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

PREM. - BOTTLED WATER ANNOUNCEMENT: ENVIRON. MIN.

- CONSULTATION

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier, in his address at the CUPE convention, announced that he had asked the Department of Environment to develop a policy that banned the purchase of bottled water in provincial facilities. My question, through you, to the Premier is, what consultation and discussion did the Premier have with his Minister of Environment prior to asking staff to develop a policy, and prior to making the announcement yesterday?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just so we're clear - what I actually said at the convention yesterday was that the departments would no longer purchase bottled water for the use of the department or for the provision of people who may be at the department for one reason or another. That's different than banning the purchase within the departments and they would know some of those differences. What I can say is that the request went from my office over to the Department of Environment in advance; in fact the Department of Environment is already doing this work. Their officials were asked to develop that policy, and when the policy gets to a stage where it can be brought to the Executive Council, they're aware of the process, then it would come to the minister.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, this is not a question of water, this is a question of leadership. When the Minister of Environment was approached on the same question yesterday, he responded, "I've been in the car for four hours, I don't know." So my question to the Premier is this, when did the Premier begin the practice of making decisions and announcements for his ministers regarding policy development within their departments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of different answers to that question. I think it's as simple as this: What was announced in that speech of course was a request that went to the department that set out our intention to move toward a particular policy. (Interruption) You can read the speech, I'm happy to give you a copy.

The minister, of course, will be completely involved in the whole drafting of the policy and I'm sure he's looking forward to actually presenting it to Executive Council.

[Page 1389]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the Premier's statement at the annual CUPE convention was endorsed by CUPE President Danny Cavanaugh. Here is a Premier and a CUPE president who have a working knowledge of policy development; here is a minister whose only answer was "I don't know." It appears to be a common practice that the Premier and union presidents are making major decisions that affect the province, without the knowledge or participation of the appropriate minister. My question to the Premier is this, who is making the decisions within our government departments, the Premier, the minister, or union presidents?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know that among the list there would be people who would be flattered to think they were making the decisions, but the reality is that all the decisions of government get made by myself and by the ministers. We do that by also involving members of our caucus - we try to do as broad an outreach as we can. I would bring you back again to the fact that what we said yesterday was that we were putting forward a request to the department to develop the policy that would lead us to this conclusion. That's the important thing, to lead and in fact, the direction that comes out of the Premier's office is to do just exactly that, to lead the province.

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

PREM.: CAVANAUGH PRESS RELEASE - STANCE

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier addressed a breakfast meeting at the CUPE convention in Sydney. Last Friday, CUPE issued a nasty press release, and I'll table that. The Premier's friend, Danny Cavanagh, attacked small business owners in this province, small business owners who invest in the economy and create half the jobs in our province. My question to the Premier is, do you agree with the opinions expressed by your friend in this release?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I actually haven't seen the release. I don't know what Mr. Cavanagh has said. He speaks for himself, I speak for myself, I speak for the government. We're obviously open to advice from members of the trade union movement, as we are from members of the business community, as we are from members of communities. That's because this is an open government.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, last week another of the Premier's friends, Joan Jessome of the NSGEU, called on a boycott of small business. Now his friend in CUPE is bullying the same group. I know you spoke of the evils of bottled water at the CUPE gathering in Sydney. My question to the Premier is, did you tell the gathering to stop bullying small business in this province, a topic I dare say is a little more important than bottled water?

[Page 1390]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I was there at the invitation of the convention to address them about the important issues before the province today - the getting back to balance, ensuring that we're able to afford to support good public services - issues that I think are of importance, not just to the convention, but to people broadly. With respect to these other issues, they're entitled to their opinion just as anyone else is. I speak for the policy of the government and for those issues on which I should be focusing my attention.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the leadership of CUPE is a friend to this Premier; they spent a lot of money convincing their members and Nova Scotians to vote NDP in the last election. The Premier just alluded, in his response, to the first question I gave him today, that he's responsible to stick up for all groups in this province. Well, one of those groups is small business. My question to the Premier is, are you silent on small business because your union leadership friends have muzzled you?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm the leader of a government that was proud over the course of this budget to make sure we brought forward a very balanced approach to the finances of the province, which included a decrease in the small business tax rate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

NSLC - BD. APPT.: APPLICANTS - NAMES RELEASE

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this morning the Minister of Finance asked the Human Resources Committee to approve Sherry Porter as the new chairman of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. The Liquor Corporation brings in net revenue in excess of $220 million. For a government that is seeking more revenue, this corporation is of tremendous importance.

The form presented with Sherry Porter's nomination has a clause that states, "It is my opinion as the Minister responsible for the agency, board, or commission that from the candidates that applied to the position that this is the best qualified person to carry out the duties of the position." This form is signed by the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. While the documentation shows that 35 other individuals applied for the position, the minister has concluded that Sherry Porter was the best qualified. A motion requesting that the Minister of Finance provide the committee with the names of the 35 applicants who were not successful in order to truly determine if the minister's choice was the best qualified person was defeated by the NDP members of the Human Resources Committee.

My question is, will the Minister of Finance explain why this government will not release the names of all applicants for the board of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation?

[Page 1391]

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the proceedings of the Human Resources Committee are laid out in extensive details in the Rules of the House. As soon as the Rules of the House are changed, I will follow the new Rules. Until then, I will follow the Rules that have been laid down.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that we conducted a full, open, very extensive process and I am extremely proud that we have somebody of the character and integrity and the ability of Sherry Porter but I know why the Opposition won't recognize a process like that, because they never did it.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in an opinion piece written by the member for Halifax Fairview, now the Minister of Finance, on January 5, 2002, he commented on the appointments to the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. In it he said, "For the NSLC Board of Directors there were 84 applicants. Who were they? What were their qualifications? What criteria were applied? Only the Minister knows and he's not telling. There were no published qualifications, no interviews, no public information about the qualifications of the 77 unlucky candidates, so how do we know we got the people best able to run a $374 million per year retail liquor corporation? Because the Minister says so."

He went on further to say, "We should never lose sight of the fact that appointing a 'qualified' person is not as good as appointing the 'best qualified' person. Why should we settle for someone who meets minimum standards, when the trust and responsibility of the job suggests that appointees should be the very best available?"

My question to the Minister of Finance is this, if Sherry Porter is the best-qualified candidate for the Chair of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, will you do as you challenged the minister of the day and prove it?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I served on the Human Resources Committee for a number of years and I understand the flaws in the process. I tried very hard, without success, to get the previous governments and the Liberal Party to understand why change is needed.

The Human Resources process is laid out in detail in the Rules of the House. It is not my prerogative to declare that I will create my own set of Rules and then follow them. As soon as this House changes the Rules, I will follow the new Rules.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Rules of this House will change when this government shows leadership and actually seeks change, something they advocated for when they were in Opposition. With a majority government, this government can determine what changes will be made to the Rules of this House, yet the government has yet to even address this. Almost 10 months into their mandate, the government has yet to even discuss a willingness to be able to make changes to committees such as the Human Resources Committee.

[Page 1392]

Mr. Speaker, the record speaks for itself. The Minister of Finance in Opposition criticized the process, the member for Pictou West criticized the process, and the former member for Dartmouth East criticized the process. Nova Scotians were told the NDP would do things differently. I raised this issue in the Fall, and the Premier said he was going to take it under advisement and was going to show some leadership on the matter. So my final supplementary to the Premier is, what leadership have you shown on changing the Human Resources Committee process?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite would know - I think he would know - the fact of the matter is that in order to change the Rules of the House it is a two-thirds majority which would require, of course, the assistance - and I have never heard from anyone on the Opposition benches. I have received nothing (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, order.

THE PREMIER: . . . in terms of suggestion as to how the Rules of the House would be changed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

TIR - INDIAN SLUICE BRIDGE: WORK - TIME FRAME

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, since we didn't get a chance to ask him questions in estimates. The residents of Surette's Island have been very patient (Interruptions)

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

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: The residents of Surette's Island have been very patient regarding the replacement of their 100-year old structure. The minister has very graciously met with the community liaison group that was formed to work with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal on bridge replacement. Mr. Minister, that was a month ago now. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what can the minister state that the work will occur this year or what work will start this year on the Indian Sluice bridge?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand in this place and address issues of this nature, as we probably should have done during estimates. First of all, I want to recognize the member opposite for the manner which I appreciate he's handled

[Page 1393]

it so diplomatically. The next time you're in my office, you should see that wonderful photo that was given to me, it's proudly displayed in the office. At this time, those decisions have not been made. I'll be meeting with the staff over the next week or so as we look at the tenders that are going to be released, but I do appreciate you bringing the matter to the attention on the floor of the House and thank you for the proper way in which you've addressed the issue in the past.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the House, in 1996 a commercial truck collapsed a section of the bridge. Fire trucks must cross the bridge without water because of the weight restriction. In 2008, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal made a written commitment to the residents of Surette's Island that the bridge would be replaced by 2013. The purpose was to take the expensive cost of the bridge and spread it out over a reasonable time frame. The minister knows that the people are reasonable and given the large investment being made this year into infrastructure, the opportunity to follow through on this promise is now. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to advancing the work on Indian Sluice bridge to begin this year with the design phase and have the bridge soon to be revealed or have the bridge set up with a five year plan?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member opposite. For those members, I do appreciate the history and it was given to me earlier. The concern, of course, this is a massive structure that has a long history and is crucial to that particular part of your constituency. I want the member opposite to know that it is one of those important projects that we will be looking at in the future, you're quite correct, over a number of years as the project unfolds. At this time I can't give you that commitment on the floor of the Legislature.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the minister for meeting with the liaison group again but I know that they are wondering as the new budget comes in place, as the new road budget is laid out, they want to know whether they're going to be seeing some work happen to the Indian Sluice bridge. Finally, because of the three questions we get to ask here, I'll ask the minister once again, what news can I bring to the residents of Surette's Island on the replacement of their bridge?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, you can tell your constituents that you, as the MLA, are doing an excellent job bringing this concern to the minister's attention, either privately in his home, privately in his office, but you're not sending me a napkin with the list of projects you need.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

PREM. - YARMOUTH FERRY: MP - INVOLVEMENT

[Page 1394]

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. It's clear that while the Premier is posturing to score political points in southwestern Nova Scotia, the region is suffering and things will only get worse. An important international transportation link has been cut by this NDP Government. This Premier has a responsibility to ensure the federal government is aware of the seriousness of this problem and not simply try to upstage them with a Team West/Team Southwest rivalry.

The people of southwestern Nova Scotia need a government that will put politics aside and strike a true partnership. My first question to the Premier is, have you spoken to the federal representative of West Nova about his involvement in ensuring this vital international transportation link is restored?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, I spoke to the Member for West Nova. I raised with him - this was a while ago - the whole question of federal funding. I told him our information was that there was no federal funding in place to support that link. In fact, that continues to be our information. However, further to that, as the member knows, the minister responsible for ACOA came down to help set up Team Southwest and that's a process that we are leading with them. Certainly, the federal government, as represented from the bureaucracy of the federal government is there and, of course, I would expect that they would have a relationship with the Member for West Nova, as well, at the very least to report progress as would be the normal case.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, ACOA has taken issue with how this government distorts the facts and they have rejected this Premier's claim that they are focused solely on Yarmouth. Both teams are regional, both teams have representatives from various levels of government, but the left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing. It makes no sense that the Premier wants to divide up scarce resources into two teams when he could combine the strength of both teams.

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame that this Premier cannot get past his own political games and do something real for the people of southwest Nova Scotia. The Premier should be ensuring that the federal government is committed to this international transportation link.

So my question again to the Premier is, have you asked the federal government to invest money into this vital international transportation link?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, officials from my office asked whether or not the federal government was interested in putting money into the support of that link, and the answer was no.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, if this was a road with pavement, I don't think that we would still be having this conversation months after the NDP cut this international link. But what is clear is that while this link is not made of pavement, it is just as vital a link as a paved road. So my final question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to the people of

[Page 1395]

southwest Nova Scotia that he will finally put political optics aside and enter into discussions with the federal government to ensure that this international transportation link is restored?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, you should know that I don't have to put them aside because they have never been in place in the first place. We don't make decisions on the basis of political affiliation or otherwise. We do what we believe is in the best interest of the province and in the best interest of the region.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, as you know, that particular transportation link had declined and declined and declined for a considerable period of time. We were literally paying more than $400 for every person who stepped off the ferry in Yarmouth. It clearly was not sustainable in that form.

So, what we're looking for is a way to be able to invest in the region, to work with our federal government partners, to work with municipal representatives, to strengthen the economy of southwest Nova Scotia. That is the intention of government.

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

SYSCO: SYDNEY MINES SITE - REMEDIATION

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Sysco. The minister is aware that Nova Scotia Lands Inc. is responsible for other off-site Sysco properties and their environmental remediation. The Sysco property on the Halfway Road in Sydney Mines has had an environmental assessment and cleanup analysis. Would the minister inform this House what his plans are to ensure that the site is remediated, similar to the adjacent site previously completed by the Department of Natural Resources?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing this issue forward. I am aware of this ongoing project and I am also aware of the fact that this is a concern in your community. It was of some note when I learned of the Halfway Road, and I had it returned as Tobin Road, but I understand that there is a problem there. I have also had an opportunity to look at some rather descriptive photos, either aerial photographs or the continuing problem with the dump that just continues to keep on growing.

I want the member to know that there has been preliminary work when it comes to an environmental assessment. I share your concern and I assure you that it will be a matter that will be taken care of.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister responsible for Sysco again, I do appreciate that response because as he knows there are open mine and air shafts that are exposed, partially caved-in surface areas and undermining do pose a threat to human health and safety. Area residents have participated in a collaborative and proactive manner

[Page 1396]

to realize a remediation project that will turn this dangerous land into usable quality green space for recreational purposes that they seek. So can the minister further assure the residents of the area that Nova Scotia Lands Incorporated will be given the resources to move forward with site remediation and, if possible, this year?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I know personally that my staff has been working with the local residents and I compliment and congratulate the local community on how they're handling this issue. The safety factor particularly, when it was brought to my attention, the concern with young people in the community, the concern of course with the ideas of the environment, and I use the term with some understanding of bootleg coal mines, it says to me that there is a danger there and a danger that must be addressed. I assure the member opposite that danger will be addressed.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister and I know the residents will be very pleased with that response and that things will continue to move forward.

Again to the minister, the Halfway Road project is one of two community remediation priorities, the second being the actual original steel plant site on Atlantic Street in Sydney Mines. We all know this site is highly contaminated and it has a large footprint requiring significant work. The foundations are still intact and watercourses do put contaminated substances directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

Would the minister please commit to the House that he would look at - there has been an environment assessment done -we recognize it's a large project but the area residents and others are looking to see if the environmental assessment can be looked at again and an action plan formulated for that so the site can be remediated.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I thank the community for its patience and I also want to thank the member because of the history lesson that I've been fortunate enough to receive when it comes to the Sydney Mines site. When you're looking at the community and the long-time commitment - I had this past weekend in midst of other social activities, the member for Cape Breton Nova took me on an extensive tour of the various parts of his community. He took me to the Northside, we had a look at some of these sites.

The communities which you represent have a long history, a long commitment to an industry that now is causing problems in your community. I will assure the member opposite that that remains a concern and a priority for this government, for the people of your community, and the people of Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

GAMING: ANIELSKI MGT. REPORT - MIN. READ

[Page 1397]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation and it is simply this, has the minister read the report on gaming which was submitted by Anielski Management Incorporated on June 22nd of last year?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, there is no report, of course. What there is, is a work in progress and there is also an independent steering committee set up by the previous government to review the standards to which that report was being written. That committee, as I understand it, told the consultant repeatedly what he needed to do in order to meet the professional standard that was expected and the product was never produced that met that professional standard.

MR. GLAVINE: Well, Mr. Speaker, certainly there was Part I of the report. It is very concerning that this government insists on covering up information the taxpayers have paid for. It would be interesting to know if the minister's views on transparency and openness in government have changed since 2000 when he acted as counsel for Dan O'Connor and took the government of the day to task for suppressing information.

My, how things have changed, Mr. Speaker. After gaining power, the minister no longer has a problem with government secrecy and suppression. I will ask the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation the same question I asked him last week and this time I hope he will not dodge the question.

Will the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation urge the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development to end the secrecy and release this report to the public so that they can decide whether it's too confusing or poor methodology?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I refer that question to the Minister responsible for Part II of the Gaming Control Act.

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, there has been considerable discussion of this process in the media the last couple of weeks, and I've been consistent in suggesting that this government bases decisions on reliable information. Certainly the expert advisory panel that was set up by the previous government had a lot of serious concerns about the methodology being used to reach certain conclusions and comparisons, but they have recommended that that process be stopped, and that's what my department did.

[Page 1398]

These issues are important to Nova Scotians, we understand that, and as other jurisdictions perhaps develop some processes that are more reliable in a scientific way I will be following that very closely, but the information is not reliable and it cannot be used in a helpful fashion.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, because the NDP continues to suppress this report, Nova Scotians do not know what it contains. There has been a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request granted, but the Department of Labour and Workforce Development continues to postpone releasing this information.

Day after day, it becomes more apparent that the NDP does not like what this report contains and how it might affect the minister's next five-year gaming strategy. When he was on this side of the House, the minister was very vocal about transparency in government. Now he sits on the sidelines as government covers up reports that it does not like. The leash on ministers seems to get tighter and tighter as the days go by. My question to the minister is, when will your government release this report so that Nova Scotians can decide what they should and should not think?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I defer that question to the Minister responsible for Part II of the Gaming Control Act.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat my earlier answer. The process was flawed; the expert resource advisory panel gave the contractor plenty of opportunities to correct the deficiencies. That didn't happen, and so any reasonable government would make sure that any further money being put into that would be put into it in a responsible way. It didn't happen, and so the contract was cancelled.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

TIR - WAGMATCOOK: PROV. RDS. - PAVE

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Earlier in this session I tabled a petition from the residents of Wagmatcook First Nation to have three short provincial roads on the reserve paved. My question to the minister is, will consideration be given to the paving of these three roads?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I do appreciate the information that was brought forward in the petition form that was presented. That is a concern that has been addressed with the staff, and you did it the correct way - without the napkin. It is interesting that a number of these issues are coming up on the floor during Question Period, and I understand the importance of the issues. Each of these

[Page 1399]

decisions will be made as we look at how we're determining our priorities for paving, but I do thank the member for bringing it forth in the manner that he did.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I realize that the department has a policy on paving gravel or J-class roads, and that these roads are ones that the province would normally cost-share with the municipality. Since the Wagmatcook First Nation is a federal reserve, would the minister commit to funding the paving of these roads in partnership with the federal government through the Economic Action Plan?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, part of the discussion that I've had with staff on this particular topic is, of course, the role of the federal government as we look at what would happen on that particular reserve. I will certainly address the matter in the terms of the fact that I'm aware that these are roads that have and do need attention and they should be addressed. Whether it's the federal government or the provincial government's responsibility, there is a responsibility for us as elected officials to make sure those roads are safely maintained and in good condition.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, again, thank you to the minister. These three roads of Wagmatcook First Nation total less than four kilometres so my final supplementary is, will the minister commit to ensuring that these roads receive a high priority as part of the economic action plan?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite - that is the particular way which, of course, you address the issues and I appreciate how you've presented the information to me with your local priorities, as the members in your caucus and the members of the Official Opposition have done the same.

The concern, of course, is based upon the fact that we have a working relationship with the federal government and not in allowing an important project like this to get caught up in the bureaucratic exchange between the two levels of government. It is an important concern for you and your community as a priority and it will be addressed, but thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENERGY - RENEWABLE ENERGY PLAN: TARGETS

- ENTRENCH

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy - hopefully the Premier did advise the Minister of Energy before he announced the energy strategy the other day, unlike the bottled water announcement.

[Page 1400]

I was happy to see the government finally announce some aggressive targets on renewable energy and finally respond to the Wheeler report. The problem is, they are just that - they are just targets and the plan is full of statements about additional study, referring things to the URB, like the NDP do with everything else, and little concern about rate stability. Mr. Speaker, does the minister plan to entrench the renewable energy plan targets in legislation this session?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question - not necessarily the tone, but I thank him for the question.

I'd like to table an important document - a document that today at the Energy Conference on Renewable Energy down at the Westin, where we had the opportunity this morning to meet some visitors from the East Coast and not just the East Coast of Canada, people here from New England, people here from other parts of the United States - looking at this particular plan.

I want the member opposite to know that if he had taken the time, and we could have arranged a bus to go up to Dalhousie Mountain last Friday, that particular event and the reception that it has received in the community I want you to know has been overwhelming. Yes, there will be further consultation and, yes, there are things that are not perfect but it is a plan, it's a plan that is receiving recognition not just in this province, not just in this region, but in this country - and that is leadership from the Premier of this province. (Applause)

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I will take it from that answer that his answer was no, that he doesn't plan to bring in legislation since he didn't answer the question - which means the plan is meaningless since it has no teeth behind it without legislation.

This renewable energy plan, for as much of it is silent on the issue of opening markets for renewable energy suppliers to sell directly to municipalities, industry and, over time, other consumers, and the minister's own department has recommended this action repeatedly since 2003, yet this plan is silent on it. Mr. Speaker, what is the minister's position on allowing renewable energy suppliers to sell directly to consumers, as his department recommends?

MR. ESTABROOKS: I thank the member opposite for the questions. You know there has to be a certain balance in this price stability, there has to be a certain balance when we're looking at the particulars when it comes to topics of this nature - but I want to remind the member opposite that this is Question Period, not necessarily answer period.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, the NDP bring new meaning to the term that this is not answer period, because they never have answers for anything. All that we learn is when

[Page 1401]

they can't answer the question, it means the answer is no. So, again, we'll take it as a no for that.

Mr. Speaker, renewable energy producers across Nova Scotia are saying that renewable to retail sales are critical for them to be able to expand and make Nova Scotia a leader in renewable energy, and I know this minister would like that to happen. Scott Travers of Minas Basin Pulp and Power testified before the Resources Committee only a couple of weeks ago that, "It is absolutely required." The minister's own department has said that. This is also widely recognized as a term for rate stability and to spur development in alternative energy solutions.

Why is the minister not prepared to move on this issue even though his own department and the industry are saying this is a critical piece to moving Nova Scotia forward in renewable energy?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'll accept the member's advice from Cape Breton Nova as he constantly advises me on how to handle these questions - be patient, be patient.

To the member opposite, I understand this is an important issue for you, your caucus and for Nova Scotians. I want you to know that in the midst of the announcement, in the midst of the conference I attended this morning, the Minister of Energy is here from Prince Edward Island along with some other representatives from other provinces and states, that we are being recognized for this important initiative. There have been endorsements from First Nations, from municipalities, endorsements when it comes to tidal energy and wind. It's not perfect, but let me assure you, with further consultation it will be as good as anything ever presented. (Applause)

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

COM. SERV. - CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE: BENT FAM.

- DETAILS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last Fall, Mr. John Bent of Digby began the long and difficult process of applying for the caregivers' allowance. In January he received his first cheque, but there was a catch. Three months later a letter was sent to Mr. Bent from the Department of Community Service telling him his caregiver allowance would be reduced by 70 per cent. Instead of receiving the $400 a month for providing care for his daughter, who has MS, he now gets $120. My question to the minister is, how can you justify this clawback to a family who is barely making ends meet?

[Page 1402]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for your question. What Community Services is all about is, we're going in the direction of client services are first. Therefore, each and every case is individual and I'd be more than willing to look at this situation and we can reanalyze it for the honourable member and for the people that are affected by the decision.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, for a caregiver, not on income assistance, the value this government has assigned to a caregiver is about $13 a day. For those on income assistance, and barely making ends meet, the value assigned is $4 a day. Without the love and care being provided by Mr. Bent, this province would be paying a lot more in the form of institionalization care for his daughter - something he doesn't want, something this government should be doing to prevent it.

My question to the minister is, given the caregiver allowance is not considered income for the purpose of determining home care fees, why do you, as Minister of Community Services, consider it income for the purposes of providing assistance to our most vulnerable citizens?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, one of the main issues we face today is that a lot of the policies that have been developed over the years, unfortunately some of them do not work in today's world. That's why we're looking at the ESIA redesign and that's one of the commitments that I have made as Community Services Minister. We do have to go forth and look at changes and look at some of these policies that no longer suit individuals and that's exactly what we're doing. I understand the frustrations from those who are experiencing that and that's why I've made the commitment to go forward and make changes in that area. Thank you.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Bent has put the needs of his daughter before his own. He, like many other Nova Scotia families, bear tremendous financial burden for doing so. Families on income assistance should be thanked for providing care when it would be so easy just to have their loved ones placed in care settings that would cost taxpayers thousands of dollars a month. Instead, the NDP Government is intent on punishing them.

My final question is, will you take to Cabinet, at your earliest opportunity, a recommendation to remove the clawback provision for those on income assistance who qualify for the Caregiver Allowance Program, yes or no?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you very much, and I will look at the point in the question that you have. One of the things you have to understand is we have to do the redesign together, because of the fact that there's so many interrelating issues involved, in

[Page 1403]

different circumstances for different individuals in the province. Your situation that you bring forth is one of many, so we have to do it properly, take time, and to be strategic about it.

In the meantime, that's why I offered to look at each case individually, until we could get to that appropriate point, that we're able to implement a new and a good strategy that looks at people in this province, as we're there for them as clients and changes the whole understanding and the whole look of Community Services - that it's not for last resort, it's a stepping stone for a better life for Nova Scotians who absolutely deserve that.

In the meantime, what I'm saying is, bring those cases forward to me and I will deal with them on an individual basis. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

IOMAIRTEAN NA GÀIDHLIG: PRÓGRAMAN AS DEAGHAIDH

UAREAN NA SGOILE - BRONNTANAIS GHÀIDHLIG

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Fhir na Cathrach, Tha mi a'cur ceist air a' Bhana - mhinistear a tha an urra ri Oifig Iomairtean na Gàidhlig.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Office of Gaelic Affairs.

An cum sibh taic-airgid ri prógraman a bhios 'gan tairgsinn airson cloinneadh as deaghaidh uairean na sgoile?

Gaelic language grants for after school programs provide exposure and generate interest for young people to learn more about their culture. To the minister responsible, will your government continue these grants to support young people in pursuit of a better understanding of Gaelic?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the honourable member on what I think is probably a first in this Legislature (Applause) - perhaps not, the Clerk indicates perhaps not. Nevertheless, I also want to thank the honourable member for providing me with a translation and a copy of the question prior.

The Office of Gaelic Affairs has the same amount of money in the budget this year as it did in previous years. We are very pleased to use that money for a variety of programs, including support for learning Gaelic in people's homes and in community centres and, in fact, supporting young people learn more about the Gaelic language and their culture.

MR. MACMASTER: Fhir na cathrach, Thromhaibh agus air a' Bhana-mhinistear;

[Page 1404]

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister;

Feumaidh sinn taic-airigid sònraichte airson chùrsaichean cànain agus eòlas na Gàidhlig anns na sgoiltean. An obraich sibh fhéin comhla ri Ministear an Fhòghluim gus an dèan sibh cinnteach gu'n lean am maoineachas seo agus an inns sibh do sgoiltean na móir-roinne gu'm faod iad na cùrsaichean seo a thairgsinn?

We need targeted programs to support Gaelic studies courses and Gaelic language courses in schools. Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could even benefit from a refreshing through some of those courses. The courses offered at Citadel High are an example of the success of this investment.

Will you work with the Minister of Education to ensure funding continues and to communicate to all schools in the province so they understand they can include these subjects within the curriculum?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the coming weeks it is my intention to spend a little more time in the Office of Gaelic Affairs reviewing the activities of that office with respect to the outcomes and the impacts of the various activities. I certainly look forward to speaking with the Minister of Education as part of that process because I know there are a number of schools in the province and Pictou County, in fact, as well as in Antigonish and the Strait area, for example, that do have Gaelic programs in their schools. I think the information that the minister can provide to me will be very helpful in terms of looking at how we're using the current resources.

MR. MACMASTER: Agus a' cheist fa dheireadh a th'agam air a' Bhana-mhinistear, my final question to the minister is, Bidh neach-stiùiridh phrógraman 'ga fhasdadh gu goirid ann an Roinn an Fhòghluim. An dèan sibn cinnteach gu'n cum an neach seo prógraman a' dol, mar Institiud Samhraidh Eòlas na Gàidhlig agus Bùthan-Obrach do Luchd-teagaisg?

I understand a vacancy for a program coordinator will soon be filled at the Department of Education. Can you ensure that this person will continue the Summer Institute for Gaelic Studies and the workshop for teachers to support teachers so that an understanding of Gaelic can continue to be infused throughout the curriculum in art, history and language classes?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I would invite the Minister of Education to respond to that question.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I have to congratulate the honourable member for his heroic effort and I have to say that I used up my ability to speak Gaelic last Fall when I did part of a welcome to Scottish educators who were here in the gallery. They had come over to the province to study the way that we deliver Gaelic language programs in

[Page 1405]

our schools and they were extremely impressed and they're hoping to implement it back in Scotland.

To answer your question, I don't have the details on the Summer Institute, but I do know that we've contracted a teacher and a former consultant from the department to put on a two-day workshop next month in May in Iona. I believe over 40 teachers have already registered for that workshop. We probably spend over $200,000 to support Gaelic programs in the schools around the province and we've certainly been extremely impressed with the effectiveness of that funding and how many schools have been able to take advantage of it. So we congratulate the boards and we will continue to work with them to extend Gaelic programming as much as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TIR: INGRAMPORT INTERCHANGE - PLANS

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Two weeks ago the minister touted his $300 million road paving plan. Safe, accessible roads are always a good thing but some concerned residents of Ingramport are questioning the NDP Government's plan to build an interchange in that area. So my first question to the minister is, what are your plans for the interchange near Ingramport on Highway No. 103?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, Ingramport is a community very close to where I live. I've had the opportunity to speak to and listen to many of the local residents concerning the project. The important concern and priority for this government is that the Exit 5 to Exit 6 section of Highway No. 103 is going to be twinned. Typically when communities of that nature have a twinned highway which bypasses the old secondary road, they do request a connector which, of course, will take them up to an interchange on the twinned highway. This is the first part of the program when we're looking at the need for the connector and whether it should be built there or not.

I've heard from a lot of residents in the community, and I want to compliment the member for Chester-St. Margaret's. She has taken upon herself - the Minister of Community Services - and organized a community meeting, at which time this is not going to be an open house format. This is going to be a format for the people in the community to stand and have their say. I've heard from volunteer firefighters, I've heard from people who have a particular issue when it comes to the project. The concern, of course, comes down to the fact I'm going there to listen. That's going to be one of those public meetings where this particular Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is not going to have a lot to say, so you should probably bring a picture and make sure you capture that on film for yourself.

[Page 1406]

MR. GAUDET: Does the minister have a date as to when a final decision on the Ingramport interchange will be made?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Sometime in the month of June.

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

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. During Question Period, in reply to a question, the Premier indicated that it had never been brought to his attention regarding issues with the Human Resources Committee and the lack of disclosure that has been available to members of that committee. I'd like to provide the Premier, just to refresh his memory, a copy of Hansard, September 29, 2009, in which I raised that very issue with him. At the time, the Premier committed to take action on that, and if the Premier would like as well, I'm sure we could provide him with the newspaper articles of the time, which pointed to your government's hypocrisy on the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I said was, rather, that I hadn't received anything from the member with respect to this - I knew he had asked previous questions, but I realize that there was quite a lot of yelling going on, so perhaps he didn't actually hear the answer.

MR. SPEAKER: I think that's a difference of opinion between two members and we'll leave it at that.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, during Question Period on April 22nd, the honourable member for Clare had asked me a series of questions on the Easter Seals Wheelchair Recycling Program, so I would like to table that information and provide the honourable member with his own copy.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: 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.

[Page 1407]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

Bill No. 24 - Financial Measures (2010) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in the House of Assembly today to introduce second reading of Bill No. 24, the Financial Measures (2010) Act. When we were elected last year, our government inherited a difficult financial challenge. The essence of the challenge was a structural deficit that, according to our expert advisory panel, would lead to a $1.4 billion deficit within three years if nothing changed. We knew that this was an unsustainable financial path.

The 2010-11 budget, of which the Financial Measures Act is an integral part, is the first step in a four-year plan to get the province's finances back to balance. The Financial Measures Act enacts the statutory changes necessary to implement the budget.

I'm now pleased to outline for the members of this House the details of the legislative changes proposed. What I'm about to say is, of course, a summary only, and members wishing the precise technical details should refer to Bill No. 24 itself.

As this House will know, from late January to late March, I conducted what was probably the largest financial consultation in the province's history. The Back to Balance consultations included no less than 19 separate public meetings and a dozen other meetings with organizations like chambers of commerce. There is more than one way back to balance, and we wanted to give Nova Scotians a say in which path they wanted their government to choose. This budget embodies much of what we heard during that consultation process.

Among other things, Nova Scotians told us that three to five years was the right time to get back to balance. They also told us that they expect their government to identify and eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiencies. That's why the largest part of the $1.4 billion gap that we need to close will come on the expenditure side of the ledger. Mr. Speaker, $1.1 billion of the $1.4 billion gap will be on the expenditure side of the ledger. But those changes, although they require a great deal of planning and hard work, do not require statutory amendment and so they are not included in this Financial Measures (2010) Act, and I'll say no more about them today.

Nova Scotians accept that it is not possible, not reasonably possible, not responsibly possible to eliminate the structural deficit and return to balance entirely on the expenditure side. Considering that almost $7 billion of our $9 billion budget goes to health, education and community services, with another $1 billion going to interest on the debt, there are limits on how far and how fast cuts or inefficiencies can be found and expenditures restrained. We

[Page 1408]

take very seriously our obligation to provide quality programs and services to the people of this province, and that is why at least some of the gap is being closed on the revenue side.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, to be sure, no one likes to see increased taxes. If you ask Nova Scotians, including me if they would like to pay more taxes, most, if not all, would say no. We do understand that. However, it is a fact that the province does not have the ability to adjust some of the largest sources of revenue, such as equalization and other transfer payments from Ottawa or royalties from natural gas production.

If we were going to continue to provide quality programs and services particularly in health, education, community services and transportation, then consideration must be given to changes on the revenue side. Our expert advisory panel recommended that we increase the HST by 2 percentage points and that we seek more revenue from the highest income earners. Those options were discussed throughout the Back to Balance consultations and those options, which we adopt with some modifications, formed part of this Financial Measures (2010) Act.

In fact, an increase in the HST was the most commonly recommended measure in the Back to Balance dialogues. Most people told us that they thought they could live with the HST being returned to 15 per cent, which is, after all, Mr. Speaker, the level it was at for nine of the last 13 years, as long as it came with measures to eliminate or reduce the impact of the increase on those with low and modest incomes.

Although the HST increase is not itself in this Financial Measures (2010) Act , it does provide for the recognition of a new tax coordination agreement with the federal government that will provide for the HST increase.

The new agreement will also provide for point-of-sale rebates on children's clothing and foot wear, feminine hygiene products, and on diapers. Those measures which are a very important part of our plan will appear in regulations to the Sales Tax Act and are also not specifically mentioned in the Financial Measures (2010) Act.

Mr. Speaker, at the same time, the Financial Measures (2010) Act amends the Income Tax Act to provide the authority to make regulations to introduce two other tax credits. First, the Affordable Living Tax Credit designed expressly to help make life better for Nova Scotians with low and modest incomes; and the Poverty Reduction Credit, which will provide tax-free payments to help about 15,000 low-income Nova Scotians, many of whom have disabilities.

The bill also contains another measure to make life more affordable for seniors in Nova Scotia. In addition to the Affordable Living Tax Credit, any senior whose income is low enough to receive the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement will no longer have to pay

[Page 1409]

any provincial income tax. This measure will put about $12.5 million into the hands of low-income seniors. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, although I hesitate to do so, because all measures are measures of the government as a whole, I do have to point out to the House that this measure, this particular measure, was a personal initiative of the Premier.

During the Back to Balance sessions, I often heard the suggestion that at least some of the deficit gap could be closed by increasing the income tax of those with the highest incomes. This reflects a sense that people who can afford it can reasonably be asked to contribute a bit more. The Financial Measures (2010) Act therefore amends the Income Tax Act to introduce a fifth tax bracket for those with taxable income over $150,000. This is an explicitly temporary measure designed to help bring the province back to balance and will expire after a balanced budget is introduced.

This government is also introducing a number of measures to promote and support Nova Scotia businesses, including our very important small business sector. As described in Clause 7 of this Financial Measures (2010) Act, the rate of corporate income tax for small businesses will be reduced from 5 per cent to 4.5 per cent, effective January 1, 2011. Eligible businesses can apply this rate on the first $400,000 of taxable income. This is the first time there has been a reduction in the small business tax rate since at least 1992. Previous governments had the opportunity to do it but did not.

Mr. Speaker, our government is also proceeding in this budget with a number of other tax changes that were enabled by financial measures legislation in previous years. These measures include a decrease in the large corporations capital tax and an increase in the basic personal exemption.

I turn now to the issue of the Public Service pension plan. The bulk of this year's Financial Measures (2010) Act is taken up with amendments to that plan. Our government recognizes the value of the people who currently provide and have provided the services and programs Nova Scotians rely on from their government every single day. That is why we offer a competitive pension benefit package to more than 30,000 current and retired public servants who belong to the Public Service Superannuation Plan.

However, as we all know, the pension plan is not healthy. It is not in good condition. It is very seriously underfunded. At December 31, 2009, the pension plan is estimated to be at 69 per cent funding. That funding level is projected to decline to 30 per cent over the next three decades if nothing is done. To put it another way, today the plan's assets are $1.5 billion short of covering the existing liability and the interest alone on this deficit is more than $100 million per year.

[Page 1410]

This is not a situation that can continue. Every year that we do nothing the problem gets worse and the solution becomes more difficult and more expensive. The time to act to restore the Public Service pension plan to health is now. This problem has been developing over a number of years. It is a fact that the plan has some of the most generous benefits in Canada, many of which were defined when most citizens didn't live as long as they do now. It is also a fact that 2,000 employees working in the Nova Scotia Public Service today can retire right now, if they choose to, and another 4,000 will be eligible to retire in the next five years. The number of retired members in the plan continues to increase. For every 10 active members contributing to the plan there are seven pensioners receiving benefits and this ratio is only going to go up.

Aside from these structural issues, the recent turmoil in financial markets has caused a significant drop in the value of the plan's assets. As you can see, Mr. Speaker, we need to make changes to the pension plan's finances now or the plan's funding levels will continue to deteriorate to dangerously low levels. As Minister of Finance, I am the sole trustee of the Public Service Superannuation Plan. The trustee has an obligation to ensure the plan can meet its obligations now and in the future. It is a responsibility that I take very, very seriously.

As Minister of Finance, I must also ensure that the cost of the Public Service pension plan is affordable for the people of the province, not only today but in the future. Today, the province - that is to say, the people of the province - already bears the cost of employer contributions plus additional annual costs arising from the plan's unfunded liability. These pension valuation costs were approximately $150 million in 2009 and are forecast to keep growing if no action is taken.

Mr. Speaker, there are some who say that we should just leave the plan alone and allow the plan to return to health solely through investment returns, but expert advisors advise me that it is very unlikely that investment returns alone can restore the plan to health. It could happen only if investment returns quite a bit above historical norms could be sustained over a very extended period, and this would ultimately require increasing the risk levels for the plan's underlying investments. As trustee, I cannot responsibly follow a path that is more risky and more likely to fail than to succeed. That is why this Financial Measures Bill contains a number of amendments to the Public Service Superannuation Act. Our plan for pension reform is balanced and fair to everyone while restoring the plan to health and security for the long term.

Indeed, everyone is contributing to the solution. We do recognize that every member of the plan will be affected in some way. However, at the same time, no one group of plan members is treated preferentially, and everyone benefits from a plan that is healthy and secure far into the future.

[Page 1411]

I will now review some of the measures that have been taken and that will be taken to restore the Public Service Superannuation Plan to health and security for the long term. As this House will recall, we amended the Public Service Superannuation Act last year to implement a 13.5 per cent contribution rate increase effective in July 2009. Employees now contribute somewhere between 8 per cent and 11 per cent of each paycheque to their pension plan, depending on salary level. This amount is matched by the employer. Current employees are, therefore, already paying higher contribution rates than ever before.

The key measure in this Financial Measures (2010) Bill is a provision that will tie future annual cost of living adjustments to the health of the plan operating on five-year cycles. During the first five-year cycle, from now through 2015, the annual indexing is guaranteed at 1.25 per cent each year. The five years of guaranteed indexing will provide today's pensioners and employees soon to retire with a level of certainty about how much they can expect to receive each month.

I note in passing, Mr. Speaker, that the annual increase this year was zero and so a guarantee of 1.25 per cent each year for the next five years provides a certainty that should be helpful to pensioners. After the end of the first five-year cycle, the amount of the annual indexing adjustment will be tied to the health of the plan, and for each five-year cycle thereafter, if the plan is funded at better than 100 per cent, then the trustee or trustees can allocate the assets above 100 per cent to annual increases for pensioners or to a strategic reserve or both.

Let me say plainly that it is this government's intention that the future trustee or trustees should allocate all or most of the surplus to provide the maximum level of annual indexing consistent with the health of the plan.

[2:15 p.m.]

We do not, however, want to forestall completely the possibility of a strategic reserve, something from which all current and retired members of the plan may benefit. If at the end of each five-year cycle the plan is funded at less than 100 per cent, then the law will provide for an automatic contribution increase sufficient to return the plan to 100 per cent funding, unless the trustee or trustees are able to devise an alternative plan that has the effect of also returning the plan to 100 per cent funding. Either way, these amendments are intended to ensure that the pension fund will be maintained at or near 100 per cent funding for each five-year cycle. We cannot responsibly continue the current situation where full inflation indexing is provided, regardless of the health of the plan and regardless of the cost to the taxpayers.

Other changes are also being made to certain pension benefits. These changes apply only to members of the plan who were first employed on or after April 6, 2010. These changes will have no application to current retirees or to current active members of the plan. These changes too are reasonable and will keep plan benefits competitive so that our civil service can continue to attract highly qualified candidates. In addition to the changes I have

[Page 1412]

noted so far, the government is undertaking a refinancing of a substantial portion of the unfunded liability.

Before I move on, I would like to reiterate the importance of treating current and retired members of the plan equally. I have already referred to the difficult demographics of the plan, particularly the fact that a large number of current members are already eligible to retire and a larger number will soon be eligible to retire.

The changes to the pension plan have been carefully calibrated to ensure that we do not create a wave of unintended immediate retirements caused solely by changes to pension rules. That could happen and, indeed, is likely to happen if we treat retired members more favorably than active members. There is now no reason for any active member to accelerate their retirement date because of the proposed changes. The so-called rule of 80 and survivor benefits remain the same for all active members. All active members of the plan should make the retirement decision that is right for them.

In summary, all of these changes to which I have referred, namely last year's increase in contribution rates, contingent indexing, slight reductions in some benefits for future employees and refinancing of a portion of the unfunded liability, are designed to return the Public Service Superannuation Plan to full funding and then to keep it there. These changes to the plan are necessary and they are also reasonable, responsible, balanced and fair. Everyone is contributing something and everyone, absolutely everyone, will benefit from a plan that is healthy and secure for the long term.

Amendments to the Public Service Superannuation Act will also enable the introduction of a new form of trusteeship in future. The proposal embodied in this Financial Measures (2010) Act is that rather than have one individual, namely the Minister of Finance, as the sole trustee of the plan, the plan will move to joint trusteeship. The new Board of Trustees will represent the interests of all plan members and employers and will have fiduciary responsibility for the health and security of the plan. We believe that joint trusteeship better reflects the best and most modern governance practices for a large pension fund. Our intention is that the joint trustees will be carefully selected based on their relevant competencies and professional experience that will enable them to make the best decisions for the plan.

In the coming year, we will reach out to plan stakeholders, to develop the appropriate joint trustee structure in all aspects of the plan's governance. This will include determining how trustees are selected, and how decisions about the plan are made. We do not have a predetermined answer to what joint trusteeship of the Public Service Pension Plan will look like, nor is it possible to predict the time frame in which it might occur.

Any joint trusteeship will have to be done by formal agreement and will be subject to the approval of the Governor in Council. Sole trusteeship will continue until that formal agreement and that approval have been achieved. If and when this transition is made, the

[Page 1413]

province may assume a different level of responsibility for future financial obligations in support of the plan.

We believe this model has the potential for a stronger and more modern form of governance, with transparent decision making, professional oversight, and broad accountability for the health, stability and management of the plan.

Mr. Speaker, the changes to indexing and survivor benefits in the Public Service plan will also be applied to the pension plan for members of this Legislative Assembly. The Financial Measures (2010) Act amends the Members' Retiring Allowances Act to that effect.

Finally, this Financial Measures (2010) Act provides the authority for amendments to the Public Service Act that will clarify the relationship between the Public Service Commission and the Workers' Compensation Board. Repealing this section of the Act underlines the fact that the Workers' Compensation Board is not part of the government reporting entity.

Mr. Speaker, with that I move second reading of Bill No. 24, the Financial Measures (2010) Act. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak about the FMA - the Financial Measures Act. Of course it is interwoven with the budget, and brings to light perhaps, what are key announcements in this year's budget.

The Minister of Finance talks about the greatest consultation process on record, but it must be pointed out that it was, in fact, a very directed process. When you went to those forums you were presented with four guiding questions only, charts that supported the direction that government was planning to go were very, very much part of that process, and really, it was one formula presented in 19 different communities, and also perhaps, the best part of it was that it allowed for submissions.

However, we don't know much perhaps about the nature of some of those submissions because I had three of those in my office. Three people, in fact, who had attended the session in Kentville, three business people who found the process very constraining, very narrow, and not really able to put forth a wide range of other possibilities, that they saw, in terms of how the Minister of Finance and this government could conduct the finances of the province, make some of the desirable changes.

[Page 1414]

There is no question, we have to make changes in Nova Scotia. We know what the minister and government have brought forward is one approach. The main approach, at this point, is to generate additional revenue, and that additional revenue will come from the 2 per cent HST.

They are using that as opposed to, in the first year of government, make some of the tough decisions that were required around expenditures. We know that those will be needed, even in conjunction with the HST. It will be of interest as to how those are made known, how they develop over the next three to four years. There is the reduction of 1,000 civil servants and we will see where those cuts and changes will come and whether or not true efficiencies will be built in to the way the civil service carries out the business of the province.

One of the connections to the HST which is brought forward in the Financial Measures (2010) Bill is dealing with the rate of taxation between $93,000 and $150,000. The minister, in his remarks, talked about shifting some of the burden to the high income earner. Well, I think the Nova Scotians that I represent and most MLAs in this House represent a strong percentage of middle class incomes, those between $30,000 and $75,000. Let's use that as a figure.

That's the group that is going to pick up the burden of the 2 per cent HST increase. What the minister fails to point out in his Financial Measures (2010) Bill is that those income earners between $93,000 and $150,000 - actually it goes beyond $150,000 up to about $214,000 - will actually get a tax break. At first light and look at this particular budget and at the document when we were in lockup, my first reaction is the minister has overlooked - the Finance Department hasn't crunched all of the numbers to show what is happening here with the changes that are coming into place.

We now have a situation where there is no break for that $34,000 to $93,000 income earner in Nova Scotia. They will bear the burden of this budget and most likely many budgets to come forth. In fact, this will be one of those cornerstone pieces of how this government is formulating a four-year plan and that will return to the electors of Nova Scotia at some time in the future. This will be one of the decisions long remembered. The likelihood over the next three to four years of an additional 2 per cent coming from the federal government is very, very real. Nova Scotians could in fact end up with a 17 per cent HST. It's a very real, very likely possibility.

This is the area that I really wanted to focus on starting out, is that middle income earner who has been impacted negatively by this budget. The minister refers to shifting some of that tax burden to high income earners. The reality is that has not taken place. Those over $200,000, which is only about 5 or 6 per cent of Nova Scotians, yes, they will pick up an additional tax increase as a result of the surtax coming off the group between $93,000 and $214,000, which in effect have gotten a tax break.

[Page 1415]

I was not being coy when I delivered at least an early draft for the Premier of this province with his 2009 income tax return because the Premier of this province is going to get nearly a $500 tax break on his taxes next year. Meanwhile, that middle-class earner who goes to work day-to-day on $35,000, $40,000, $50,000, paycheque to paycheque, one paycheque usually away from some type of financial trauma, disaster in some cases if you lose a job -this is where the hurt is going to come with this budget. So let's make no mistake about it.

[2:30 p.m.]

Now, the premise of back to balance is really a poorly directed, and in fact not substantiated position of the NDP because we did not have to be out of balance to the extent that we currently are - in fact, over $700 million since June 9, 2009. We were not on track to spend an additional $700 million. This was an NDP Government decision to spend early on some of their main areas that they figured would gain strong political advantage, you know, purchasing of lands from J.D. Irving, which in essence is not a wrong direction. But in terms of the times we live in, we can actually take a strong look and say perhaps half that amount for securing these lands because there is no timeline. The province does not have a timeline on moving to 12 per cent of protected land. We will get there, we can get there, we should get there, but whether we should spend that kind of amount.

Then to put additional monies into the Industrial Expansion Fund and a significant amount of that money going to secure or help a sunset industry to hang on for, you know, a few more years. We will not have four paper mills in this province in 10 years time. As much as we may like to have them and have those jobs, good paying jobs, that will not be the reality for Nova Scotia. We know that and so where some of the big dollars of the $700 million have been directed can actually be called into question.

We really didn't need to go down the road of needing all of the revenues that currently will bring in from the 2 per cent and it was a very limited view of the Nova Scotia world for the minister to actually get a read of bringing in this HST. This is why we have heard from Nova Scotians, and we continue to hear from Nova Scotians, who feel very strongly against the HST. It's one that when every purchase is made, this is the kind of little indelible mark that the HST will remind Nova Scotians or Nova Scotians will be reminded with every purchase that it's no longer 13 per cent, it's 15 per cent, and that 15 per cent will become imbedded in the minds and consciences of Nova Scotians. Even if we get to balance in three or four years time, that's not going to perhaps have the same kind of reaction that I think the minister is hoping there will be.

We have come through a cycle of balanced budgets and, yes, there was more revenue in the province. But Nova Scotians will remember those additional hurts that have come about. So I think in this particular fiscal year, it was a poor time to drive up a massive deficit

[Page 1416]

and then ask the middle class to turn around and pay a significant portion. So we will continue to hear about this.

Now, some of the amendments to the Income Tax Act, of giving a small amount, an Affordable Living Tax Credit, does make some sense, but once again, Nova Scotians are saying, really, this is not a way of dealing with the poverty reduction that is required in this province. The minister talks about a structural problem with the finances. Well, we have a structural problem with the poor in Nova Scotia and this will not be a means to that end. It is a small way of cushioning, again, the impacts of a tax increase, the same as the poverty reduction payment that will go out to income earners of less than $34,000, basically $30,000 but on a sliding scale between $30,000 and $34,000.

When it comes to, you know, seniors having to pay income tax and I'm not sure if the minister had heard me during estimates on the budget in previous years, I think that was a real crime in this province that seniors who were getting their OAS and the Supplement and having to pay income taxes. I have heard over the years from a number of accountants who did seniors' taxes and that was something they were amazed at, that, in fact, that somebody with as little income as the OAS affords, $11,000 and something, that they would, in fact, while receiving the Supplement have to turn around - and yes it was only a small amount.In fact, it is hard to believe that some of those taxpayers actually had contributed to charity with that little income that they had and were able to nullify having to pay taxes. So that, indeed, is a good measure that we see in the Financial Measures Bill that will help some of the seniors in our province.

So, as the minister knows, I've tried to be fair on the things that are strong and supportive and that Nova Scotians can count on in the coming years that will be of benefit to them.

The small business tax is an area that, in fact, we have put forward to Nova Scotians during at least two campaigns. We've made it a very strong pitch in the campaign of 2009 and its value, again, to generating benefits to small business, which in turn reinvest in their business, which also will lead to further employment. Small business people do provide 50 to 60 per cent of the jobs in our province. I think we can look to a province like Manitoba for the significant change that has gone on in regard to the small business tax. They are in the process of complete elimination of the small business tax, which will actually take place this year, 2010. So moving from 5 per cent to 4.5 per cent is not a significant change, it will occur January 1, 2011. It is a small concession to business but it won't lead to the kind of change that small business was hoping that the new government would initiate very, very early in their mandate. I suppose we at least see a token effort in the small business category, and we hope that, perhaps like the corporation tax being reduced, this will be the start, over a number of years, of systematically reducing the small business tax.

[Page 1417]

Those are a few of the areas that have been brought forth in the Financial Measures (2010) Act. I think what will perhaps be coming forth from government, if this is the start of their plan for four years, are a number of areas where we can expect some significant cuts. If I want to send a note to any one group I think it would be our universities. Our universities will be forging a new MOU. I think with the prepayment, it was designed to get that money off to universities, get it out of the way and start with a new slate, a new approach in terms of funding universities.

I am expecting this to be a very, very challenging piece for government, because we know that we already have the second-highest tuitions in the country - and just barely the second highest. We'll move very quickly to the highest if government doesn't give a good degree of support to universities. In fact, that's an area in our province we have lagged behind other provinces, and that is government giving post-secondary universities and colleges a good percentage of their operating, and we've been very weak on the capital side. That's an area that our 10 institutions, 13 community colleges, will be needing.

Again, we haven't talked much in this House about the infrastructure deficit that these institutions do face and will continue to face. So it's going to be, I think, a very, very tough piece that we didn't see in this budget anything around universities, because the prepayment was made, which led to the current massive deficit, $488 million tabled in the budget, projected $222 million this year, over $700 million.

The minister likes to call upon what the Advisory Panel said was the direction that the province should be going. In fact, the Premier today in one of his answers referenced the three areas, but you know the one area yet that we seem to be lacking a significant push is growing the economy. That's going to be the sustainable piece that needs to be worked upon, because that's where new jobs will be created, that's where we will hold on to graduates from our universities and colleges.

We know the current tax credit put forward in brochure style during the election, $15,000, really amounts to only about $2,000-and something in actual tax credit. We don't get $15,000. Students will not get $15,000, and they know that, and they're reading that and they know that with the kind of debt averaging around $30,000 that our students have, it's going to be tough to hold them here in our province.

It's an area that, while the budget brings this measure in, again, it's not likely to have the calculated desire that government is banking on. In fact, our neighbour, New Brunswick, that instituted this some years ago has found it wanting in terms of capturing their graduates. Again, it's a measure that is there as part of the budget this year but, again, it's part of this NDP experiment, the same as going deep in debt in the first year of government's mandate. We will have to see how, in fact, that works going forward.

[Page 1418]

One big area that the budget deals with is that of pensions, the pensions of public service workers in this province, and these are very significant changes. I know that later on my colleague who has a real interest in this particular area will be making some comments about the changes that are there. Again, we know that there was need for some change in this direction but we are starting to hear from the public service, from the employees, that perhaps there is more here than meets the eye about the kind of changes and impacts that they will have in the long term. The new trusteeship, as the minister has talked about, in fact, could determine what happens after five years and if we don't have the pension 100 per cent funded.

[2:45 p.m.]

I'm very familiar with the teachers' pension and the kind of problems that it has had through the years, and this is why the NSTU went to a different formula for teachers retiring after 2006. Some were given an option and we know that a significant number decided to leave the profession because what was happening going forward was that indexing would be based upon the performance of the fund and many decided to leave. Those who are currently in the system or those who are on pension will be protected but those will now, after April 6th, be impacted in a different way.

There's a lot in this budget that Nova Scotians, as well as the critics in Opposition, are taking a look at and I'm expecting that over the next while all members, I would hope - I know all members of my Party - will speak about the Financial Measures (2010) Bill because we know that both in the short and long term, this is going to impact on the lives of Nova Scotians. This is the one thing that sometimes when we get those large documents and they have line-by-line items of the different departments, we kind of don't put that human face to a budget, but the budget and the policies that are behind it through the Financial Measures (2010) Bill, in fact, will affect every Nova Scotian.

Those are the effects that we will see and that we will hear and we will receive from Nova Scotians over the next number of days and, in fact, years because some aspects of this budget do address the long term, the one that I just referenced, pensions. That will have implications for somewhere, I think, in the vicinity of 15,000 to 16,000 Nova Scotians, and we are starting to hear from them in larger numbers each day as they get to understand the impacts that it will have.

Those are the areas that I felt needed to be addressed, starting again with the HST, the changes around income tax in our province, the pensions. These are definitely the big three that are in this year's budget and I'm pleased to have presented some of the voice of Nova Scotians that we are hearing around those areas. With that, I take my place.

[Page 1419]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 24, the Financial Measures (2010) Act. My remarks today will outline the philosophical difference that I have with this 2010 budget and I will outline a vision of how our Province of Nova Scotia can enjoy the experience of greater prosperity for people of all income levels. I believe we can achieve this vision with a commitment by government to live within its means.

In fairness to the minister, I do believe we share the notion that government must look to change and government must look to change direction to ensure we achieve balanced budgets. Now, the minister had mentioned that we were on an unsustainable path but I will highlight that we were on a path of balanced budgets. I would have to ask the question in this House, where would we be today had we not had balanced budgets over the past eight years?

I believe government should have stayed on that path. I believe we were closer to balance than the minister has indicated and I believe that a balanced budget could have been achieved without tax increases. The minister also said that $1.1 million of the $1.4 million figure that he has used to identify debt over the coming years will come from the expenditure side of the operating budget. I think that is good and, in fact, I don't believe we have any other choice and primarily because in Nova Scotia, we don't have any revenue windfalls to look to in the future.

I believe government should live within its means and I believe it was time for government to re-evaluate its direction. I don't believe this government chose to re-evaluate its direction in any meaningful way. There have been no meaningful changes to expenditure in this 2010 budget. Had there been, it would make things easier for our future. If changes are made today it would mean less drastic changes in the future. The reason I use the word "drastic" is because - and I've seen this from my experience with money and helping people save for their retirement - decisions today, once they're put in force, have a tremendous impact later on in life and they make things a lot easier in life if you make decisions that are wise today.

When I was preparing my remarks today, I asked myself, how relevant is this debate for most Nova Scotians? Now we look at the newspapers, the radio and the television, the media coverage of government and while every issue is important, some of them must seem silly in comparison to what we're discussing today. These are heavy issues and maybe that's why they're not reported on as often as some of the issues that we would deem smaller, or at least I would deem that are certainly less important than big decisions that are being made with this budget. Perhaps it's not easy to communicate what's happening with this budget in a sound bite for people but decisions to change direction may take years to affect the lives

[Page 1420]

of Nova Scotians. The government that makes these decisions may very well be long gone when those decisions take effect and that doesn't matter what government is in power.

Now, I think about, when people spend their time, I think about a notion that was brought to me some years ago where things are categorized as either being important or not important, or urgent or not urgent, and you can split that up into a quadrant of four. People say, and I do believe this, that your time is best spent in the quadrant of things that are within your control, that are not urgent but are important.

This budget I think, and any budget, is an example of that. It doesn't seem like it's something that's urgent because we're not going to see the impact of it perhaps for many years to come, but it is very important and I think that's why it is deserving of attention and the impacts that this budget will have are deserving of attention. They're deserving of headline attention because decisions today are urgent and important with respect to this budget and they're going to have great lasting impact on our future.

Mr. Speaker, numbers often do not seem very human and what makes it human for me is my vision that when we make decisions in this House, we are passing the torch to the next generation. Who are these people? Well, for me, I think of my nieces. I don't have children myself but I have four little nieces and I'm going to tell you a little bit about each one of them because I think about them when I think about these decisions.

My oldest niece, Sarah, is 10 years old. She loves to read. She loves animals. She had a pet calf named Daisy and, unfortunately, Daisy passed away this year and Sarah was very disappointed with that. It was an accident and this poor little calf got crushed when it was feeding with the other cows and poor Daisy was discovered one day and she was no longer with us, but Sarah, I think she would like to have a horse someday and I hope she gets to have a horse. I think she would take very good care of the horse. She's very good at keeping things in order. We noticed from an age when she was very young, she seemed to be interested or intent on keeping things in order, organizing things. So maybe she'll be an accountant someday.

Now, I've tried to teach her a little about investing and she knows the power of dividends and we've even counted out, I paid her her dividends for a few stocks that she owns and this has made her learn the value of investing and the value of saving, and perhaps the value of living within her own means. As a saver, she's creating power for herself and her future. She's good at Monopoly. In fact, she has beaten me and she has also beaten me at chess, and I will say that she has beaten me with her own devices without any handicaps. So Sarah is a very smart girl and I think about her.

I also think about Elizabeth who is next in line. Elizabeth is seven years old and all the girls are musical but Elizabeth enjoys playing the piano and she also likes dancing. She's not afraid to get up on the stage and dance when called upon and sometimes she'll do it on

[Page 1421]

her own accord. Now, Elizabeth thinks Monopoly is boring so perhaps she's headed for more of an artistic future.

I think of Annie, Annie is five and Annie is a funny little girl. She often comes out with a lot of funny things that you wouldn't expect from a young girl. She made me laugh recently when I was telling her I promised I would leave the office and come by for a visit. As you know, in this House, as you all know, we're all very busy and there are great demands on our time. I was feeling bad one day so I promised Annie and Annie's retort to me was, she said, you better not break your promises. I had to laugh at that and perhaps that's good advice for all of us here in this Legislature.

I think of Mary Catherine. Now, she's just three and we love her to death. She's a real cutie and her personality is developing each day. So these are the little people I think about who are so far removed from our decisions in this Legislature. (Interruption) Exactly, exactly, and what a member has just said, adjacent to me, is that it impacts them and it does. It will impact their future much the same way as 30 years ago decisions were being made that are impacting our future today.

So to me, Mr. Speaker, these numbers while they appear boring to many people, they are very important and they're very human. How can we better visualize these numbers? I'm trying to give this explanation for people out there who may not like numbers and they may be more attracted to envisioning things, perhaps with objects.

[3:00 p.m.]

I think of the economy as a train that's chugging along. There are many people needed to keep that train running. They're everybody we have in Nova Scotia. They're the young people who are going to school, who are trying to learn and to better themselves so someday they can go to work and add value for somebody. They're the people who go out and buy things in our province to keep the economy chugging along. They're the people who went to work today and the people who went to work last night, perhaps they're working shift work.

The government does many things, but one of the things it does is it taxes people and that's necessary, we get great value for that. But the taxes act like a brake on the train. If the brakes are too strong, taxes are too high, we slow the train down. We hamper the momentum of the train and, in this case, we hamper the momentum of the economy. How does a train pick up more people and grow? The train needs to make it to the next station and each time it makes it to a new station, it is much like a new business which begins in our province.

I can think of a couple recently, which happened in my own area, and one this government has supported and I thank them for that. One is Halifax Biomedical, which is based in Mabou and they're creating 75 new knowledge economy jobs in rural Nova Scotia.

[Page 1422]

I am happy about this because it says that we're really starting to live in an age where business can happen anywhere in this province and anywhere in the world.

I'm also happy about NewPage's and Nova Scotia Power's partnership to build a biomass co-generation facility. That's going to create more jobs. NewPage has been hiring people, I have friends who have returned home from working out West because they've been able to gain employment at NewPage. Some of this is because people are retiring and there's a new workforce going in, but the pulp and paper industry is one that's been on a precarious edge the past number of years as fewer people are buying newspapers and the world is moving more towards electronic means of distributing and reading information.

NewPage has strength in the fact that they're very strong, their technology is cutting edge and they have a strong workforce, they have a good supply of fibre and also the type of paper they produce they're finding it's meeting a market, not just that's become more popular, but it's a cheaper high-quality paper. These businesses can only thrive when our economy is thriving. Nova Scotia, our government, makes decisions around these budgets, they affect our economy here.

Let's put that visualization aside for a moment and look at factors that determine prosperity for Nova Scotians. One of them is our ability to be productive, our gross domestic product, or GDP. A lot of our GDP is based on our population - if our population is growing, it's easier for our GDP to grow. We have more people working, we have more people producing, more people selling, more money coming in in return into our economy to help support local businesses, be they convenience stores or restaurants, forms of entertainment, our recreation facilities in our communities.

But our population is not growing and that presents a challenge for Nova Scotia to improve our productivity and to improve our prosperity, because that's what it's all about. I think back to the community I grew up in, Judique. We no longer have a school there but we at one time had a Primary to Grade 12 school. I remember looking back at my yearbooks, even when I was younger, when I was still going to school, and I would see many people who were no longer in Judique. They had moved on to university.

I noticed something else. They didn't seem to be coming back. If we look at the period from the 1980s, there's almost like a cut-off there where we start to see almost everyone who graduated from our school in Judique has moved away from the community. That disappoints me because our communities are very important to us; no matter what Nova Scotian is listening out there today, you know that the community you grew up in is important. It's something you want to continue, you don't want it to die. When you see people leaving it makes you question the future. It's part of who we are, our communities. It's important for me to try to see a future for places like Judique and all the other communities in the area I represent and, truthfully, for everybody in this province because most of our communities are rural.

[Page 1423]

Now businesses in our economy face world competition. We have to be competitive here; we need to have a government that recognizes the importance of keeping things competitive here at home. And we can do that by having a government that reduces red tape, makes it easier to run day-to-day business, but we can do it another way - government can help to ensure that people who take a risk aren't heavily taxed. The bigger our government is, the higher our taxes are, the harder it is for that to happen, and I don't see this budget changing that.

We should not be taxing creativity and innovation. In effect, when we keep a large government, when we keep high taxes, that's what we're doing and we're making it harder for Nova Scotia to grow, we're making it harder for that prosperity to filter out to all the communities around our province.

So how can we grow our productivity? Well one way, and this might seem kind of humorous, but perhaps we should start a "carry on Nova Scotia campaign." I don't know if you're familiar with "carry on Canada," but I believe during the war effort there was a measure taken by government to encourage Canadians to have more children. I've heard it joked about in the past and it seems kind of funny - I'm not doing much about it, I'm 35 and I don't have any children yet, Mr. Speaker, so perhaps I'm one to talk (Interruptions)

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

MR. MACMASTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)

It is good to hear from the Minister of Finance that people are listening to my remarks today. I do say that as a point of humour, but there is some truth to that as well - it's important for Nova Scotia to continue with more young Nova Scotians coming up through the ranks, but that's something that's hard for government really to control. I think perhaps we'd be better to focus our efforts on trying to grow the economy.

If we look at our economy there are two sections: There is a public sector and there's a private sector. Bigger government means it's harder for private business to grow. I'm talking a lot about this, but I'm talking about it because I think it's very important and I think it's where our focus should be. If we look at private business, we look at people who take risks - they take risks with their own money, they put a lot of their own savings on the line to try to start a business and, yes, sometimes they make money - sometimes they make lots of money, but that's not a bad thing. They need to be rewarded. We need those people to take chances because they're the ones who create employment.

I think of that with somebody like Chad Munro, with Halifax Biomedical. It's in Mabou, and he has created 13 jobs in a very small community - and he plans to create 75 more over five years. That's a tremendous contribution, and I would like the members of this

[Page 1424]

House to perhaps give Chad a round of applause for making a difference in rural Nova Scotia, for creating jobs in rural Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Now Chad - and I hope Chad doesn't mind me speaking about him today - I am sure that he has taken time away from his family to do this. He has made many sacrifices and I think that is worthy of note. People who are working out there, trying to create these businesses make many sacrifices. They don't leave the office every day at a prescribed time, they leave it when they can leave. Many weeks go by, I'm sure, that even though they've worked, there's no paycheque because they've made a sacrifice and they're hoping that their sacrifice will result in greater prosperity for them. I think government needs to focus on helping those people, to make it easier for them. I think we're paying enough taxes. I don't think we should be increasing taxes - and I'm sure many of these people would agree.

I also think it's important for young people to have an opportunity to work for these kinds of businesses so that we'll have more young people willing to take chances, to start businesses and create employment and to create prosperity for this province.

I think also that if we can increase employment in this province, we will start to address the issue of our population. Our population is flat, and in some cases we might even say that it is declining at times. I think in 2006, it was the first year that we had more deaths than births in the province. Now, I think people would be happy to come to Nova Scotia - we have lots to offer - and I think people also want to stay here, but we need to have opportunities for them. I think this budget is not putting us in the right direction for that to happen.

Now, one of the things that I look at about incurring deficits, which will happen with this budget and the coming three next budgets, is that these deficits, if we can't pay for them today - that's obvious, because we have to go into deficit to make the expenditures that are outlined - when are we going to be able to pay for them in the future? That's the question I ask. Our economy is defensive here in Nova Scotia. We don't have fluctuations in revenue for government. We're not like Alberta, where revenues can fluctuate from 8 per cent to 25 per cent of their budget just because the price of oil goes up in value - something that's completely out of their hands, but something by which they receive great benefit. We don't have that option. So if we can't pay for it today and we don't see a future where we can pay for it, then why should we be incurring the expense today?

We're also hindering our ability to grow. The one thing that we have within our control is to try to live within our means so that we can have a future of lower taxes, so that we can reward the people who make our economy run. These are the people that I speak of, the entrepreneurs of this province. We should be balancing budgets today to hold our power over the debt so that our debt does not start to take power over us. Money is power, but it is only power when we are able to save it. It is not power when we hand it over to lenders who are willing to finance our debt.

[Page 1425]

I can't support this budget because I believe it puts the brakes on our train, our province. Higher taxes and no focus on trying to reduce the size of government defeat the purpose of trying to keep Nova Scotia moving in the right direction - the direction that we had been running in for the past eight years.

The other thing is that incurring this extra deficit has predicated the need for higher taxes. So it is a vicious circle, Mr. Speaker, and I'm disappointed that Nova Scotians are going to have to wait three years to have an opportunity to elect an government - a new government, one that values fiscal sensibility - and I don't believe we should be adding to our debt because it simply means we're hurting our future.

Now, many people don't understand money. This is where I believe the government should show leadership. It is where government must show leadership. Very few people understand money. We see this because we look at the saving rate - back in the early 1980s, the saving rates for most Canadians was in the neighbourhood of about 18 per cent. Now, that may have been because interest rates were very high and there was great reward to save money at that point in time. Over the past couple of years, we have actually seen saving rates move into the negatives, where people are spending more than they take in.

Why is this? Well, I suppose it is because everybody wants instant gratification; they want it all today. I also think it has to do with a cultural mindset change. Young people today never had to go through times like people who lived throughout the Great Depression had to live it, and those people learned the value of having to save because they had to. They went through a period where they were hurt by the economy and it made them think, well, gee, perhaps if times are good I should put something aside today so if that ever happens again, I'm going to be protected.

So my point, Mr. Speaker, is that very few people understand money, and that is where government has to step up to the plate and make decisions that help people, that benefit people. Sometimes those can be tough decisions, but they are important. Going back to my point earlier, we need to treat them with recognized urgency, for the decisions made in this budget will have a significant impact on Nova Scotians for years to come.

[3:15 p.m.]

For some people this obviously means change, and for some people change is something to be feared. I see change as potential, potential to improve the economy and potential to improve the prosperity of Nova Scotians at every income level. Change gives us potential to realize our potential, and what does potential for a smaller government mean? I think it means potential to someday have lower taxes. I think it means government services are stabilized. We don't have to worry about the cost of government because we have better control over it.

[Page 1426]

I think that it means a smaller government and, you know, many people in government are close to retirement. Maybe these people can leave government, perhaps they can become entrepreneurs, perhaps they can use the valuable experience they've gained in government to put to work within the private sector to help grow our economy.

Smaller government means less pressure to tax the people and it means power to decrease our debt and when we do that we're helping out the young people like my four nieces whom I mentioned earlier because they motivate me to make these statements.

A smaller government also means the ability to create a more competitive business environment so that businesses can prosper and create jobs for Nova Scotians. I think that a smaller government allows the government to perform better and there's greater accountability to the people. I also think, with all this talk about numbers, that it also means compassion because when government services are sustainable, Nova Scotians are protected.

My remarks today, I hope they've outlined my philosophical differences with this budget and I hope I've outlined a vision, a path that Nova Scotians could be taking today and I hope they have the chance to go on that path in the future. That path, my vision is that they will experience greater prosperity and I think that that happens with balanced budgets and with a smaller government, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I thought that perhaps we'd have a little bit more time before my turn arrived but I'm happy to jump up and say a few words on the Financial Measures (2010) Bill, which is before us today. As members know, the Financial Measures (2010) Bill is all of the changes to legislation that are required to really bring the budget that was voted on yesterday to make it reality, to make sure that everything is properly dotted and all of the Acts have been changed in accordance with what the direction is of the government and that's what we have before us today.

It's a fairly - not a huge bill really, as these things go, but it has a lot of different sections relating to various Acts. As the Minister of Finance has mentioned, a lot of the bill before us, this Bill No. 24, relates to changes to the Superannuation Act, which is our pension plan for current and past civil servants. It's actually having a lot of reverberations with those pensioners who are currently retired, people who are no longer in the workforce and people that are current employees of the province who feel that there have been some substantive changes made here in this Act, which are going to have long term reverberations in their lives.

Just to begin with that aspect of Bill No. 24, I feel that it's important that we look at this and consider whether or not the pensioners and the current members of the plan were

[Page 1427]

properly consulted in the run-up to this change. That's what really strikes me more than anything else, is that there was no consultation and that most, I would say all, members learned about this really when they received a letter, I believe it was from the minister. I understood - I haven't got a copy of that letter, I'd like to get it - that it begins with, the plan is more secure now than ever.

That was the quote that I was given in speaking to one of the pensioners who had called me and that would give you a great peace of mind that the plan is more secure now than ever. But what the minister said in his opening comments was that the plan is very insecure, that it's under-funded at 69 per cent, I think - I'll have to find my notes, I was writing them as the minister spoke - but that it's under-funded and that the trend is that it would go down as much as to only 30 per cent funded in the next 30 years, if nothing is done, if there are no changes made. (Interruption)

Now the minister says that when these changes are enacted, the plan will be more secure than ever. I think that a lot of people read that and said, my goodness, the plan is more secure than ever. Again, the letter sent to them, was not detailed in its itemization of what the changes would be, or how this would impact an individual. I think it was fairly general.

Again, as other members have mentioned, something as complex as pension legislation is really difficult for the average person to get interested in, get their head around and understand the implications of. I think those that are currently retired fully understand when there is a threat to their income, or the stability, or the security that they have worked for over their lifetime. They are probably a lot more aware than the thousands of people who are currently working for the government. I will say, that those working for the government are not in a position to speak out on this unless their union would, and their union has been silent.

That's a great question, where are the unions that represent our public service? NSGEU, or CUPE, or any of the other unions, we've heard nothing from them. Really, even a few months ago, a year ago when Bill Black was doing his look at pensions and pension reform, we had visitations at our caucus, at the Liberal caucus - I'm sure the NDP caucus did, too - where the union leaders were adamant that they had to protect the rights of their members, of these union members. Now they are uncharacteristically silent. They've just fallen off the radar screen because they don't want to cause this government any stress, and they don't want to shine the spotlight on this NDP Government. They certainly would not have hesitated one moment to blast any other government. They are really bending over backwards to give a lot of allowances to the NDP Government that they helped to elect, and there's no question of that either, because we saw letters to their members and calls to their members to vote for this NDP Government, it was going to be so wonderful.

Well I hope that the members, current employees, will realize that these changes were made without consultation and that there was no opportunity to sit down and say, here's the

[Page 1428]

condition of the plan, here's perhaps the dilemma that government found itself in, let's talk about what some of those options area. What we know, is that you can increase your contributions, you can decrease benefits, you can have people work longer.

The minister spoke about the rule of 80 and the rule of 85. I do think that if changes are going to be made on that one - I am pleased to see that current employees did not have a change in the rule of 80, that that will change for any new people who are joining the Public Service. I think in that case, it is a lot more fair because really, when you are employed and you enter into an agreement for a pension, that's a contract that you make with your employer. When you are - whatever your job is - I'm going to speak about professionals and so on, but if you go into that contract knowing that your skills and your education are worth a certain amount in the private sector but you choose to do public service, what has been told to our public servants over the years is you aren't earning as much, perhaps, as you would if you worked in the private sector, but you are getting a good, solid pension that you're working towards.

Now what we've done in this bill - and one can only assume this will pass and is a done deal - but what this Bill No. 24 does is effectively change the whole premise of the public service pension. No longer is the Minister of Finance the trustee - he mentioned he is the sole trustee right now. Well, all of a sudden, we'll create this joint trustees and a board that will take that off the provincial back, essentially.

I'm guessing there are tremendous savings for the province. We haven't heard a figure from the minister about what kind of savings are in there for the province, but I would bet that this is your single biggest savings you found this year, and it is because people are not as aware of how this is working and how it actually is affecting your bottom line.

I know that the underfunded liability for a pension - and if we're only funded at 69 per cent - then that underfunded liability is shown on our books of the province, and is an obligation that the province carries. So if we can distance ourselves from that and create a board, and put it all onto the shoulders of a board of trustees, and then the plan has to stand or fall on its own merits, then we have effectively unloaded that liability. That's how I would see it, and I think that's probably where the benefit is right now to the Province of Nova Scotia and the NDP Government that is looking hard for ways to, I guess, lighten their financial burden.

As I say, for the members of the plan, they felt they had a contract and an obligation was there from the government and that this has been done very unilaterally without any consultation, without an opportunity for them to even feel they had something to say in what measures would be taken or how that might be negotiated.

The minister has said he doesn't yet know what the board is going to look like, how it's going to be structured exactly. It seems like, okay, consultations are going to begin now

[Page 1429]

and I do believe the minister used that word, that he is now going to consult with the plan members as they go forward and create this new structure that's going to be in place for the future. That's great to have some consultation, but it's going to be after the fact, after this law is changed, and it really gives the government carte blanche to move forward as they like because they will have done this before the unions - well, the unions weren't going to get alarmed anyway because the unions probably knew all about it.

Their members should be asking their union leadership a question or two about where all of their dues that they've been paying for years and years to get representation and to be protected, where has that money gone? If all of a sudden the unions are silenced on an issue that's so fundamental to the 30,000 members who are represented there - well, there are 30,000 plan members, 12,000 I think are retirees already, so they would no longer be current union members but, again, they trusted their union to represent them and this is hitting very close to home. Now, what they're going to lose that we know for sure is the guaranteed indexing which was the cost-of-living indexing.

Mr. Speaker, you and I know the cost of living has been rising very, very slowly. It has almost been flat. I think this year, as we said, it was pretty much zero - no inflationary pressure this last year. So for the next five years there's a guarantee of a 1.25 per cent increase on those pensions but after that there is no further guarantee. The minister referred to the fact that the plan must be 100 per cent funded before they'll be looking at indexing or offering increases to the retirees and the pensioners. I think that is going to be a long way off to get from 69 per cent to 100 per cent funded. Now, I would like to know how they plan to do that so quickly. I mean, that's pretty amazing. Now we're putting hundreds of millions into that fund then as a province? Something has got to happen. If the minister thinks that it's going to be 100 per cent funded within a year, you know, that's pretty perplexing.

I will say, Mr. Speaker, that I have a meeting lined up with Steven Wolff who is the head of our superannuation pension fund, but, unfortunately, it wasn't prior to our getting up today to speak on the Financial Measures (2010) Bill. So I hope to know more about it tomorrow and I'll certainly be asking him how on earth this plan could go from 69 per cent to 100 per cent funded in one year. That, to me, is pretty astounding, especially if we're supposed to be on a trend, you know, the way things were, that we would be less than one-third funded in 30 years. I mean we were definitely on the exact opposite train. So, it is a big question to me and I would like to know exactly how that is going to be structured.

The minister seems pretty confident, but that's not unlike the minister, he tends to be very confident. So, you know, he thinks he has got it all figured out but, Mr. Speaker, I do mention that this is very complex stuff and there are an awful lot of (Interruption) It was sort of a compliment but what I do think is that there are a lot of complexities in this and a lot of factors that are out of our control. Again, we talked about the investments that are underlying these pension plans. Clearly when we're talking about the funding, that's money in the plan that has been invested so that the people who are current members can have that security and

[Page 1430]

know that they'll get their pension. We're not anywhere near 100 per cent funded. So, you know, I just feel that we don't know what the markets are going to do, or what our investments are going to do, and we're concerned about where the future is going to be.

Again, I just think that it's important that somebody stand in the House and make the point that the current members, especially the current pensioners, really feel that they have been, in a sense, hoodwinked and let down. They've been cheated out of what they felt was a guarantee when they retired. Some of them made decisions, Mr. Speaker, to retire early. That's not uncommon. I know quite a few people who are right now planning their own retirements and looking for how they can ensure that they have some adequate income in retirement and there are a lot of people who sit down with their financial advisers, look at the benefits that they're entitled to, or the money they've accumulated, and make a decision based on that about whether or not they'll retire this year or perhaps in five years time, or just what would work best in terms of their ongoing income. We know that people are living longer and, therefore, we have to have security in place.

So I just feel that there has been a breach of contract there, but I will say that in the wording of the Financial Measures (2010) Bill there was great care taken to craft the wording so there probably is no way to challenge it in the courts. I think the minister knows that when he was quoted in the press today as saying any challenge would be a waste of time and money. I think he knows that because they anticipated there would be a challenge and knowing that, arranged the wording so that could be really stopped dead in its tracks.

[3:30 p.m.]

With that kind of wording to say that they're not responsible for any previous commitments of any previous governments, I think it says something about no past promises of any government will have any bearing on this bill. Essentially with the stroke of a pen, we can rewrite the rules. We can just rewrite the rules for people who worked 30 and 40 years for the provincial government.

I know there's a sense that pensioners are lucky because they've had an indexed pension and they've been public servants and maybe there's a sense that this group won't have a lot of sympathy with the general public. I know there are a lot of people who have retired without adequate benefits, that have worked their whole lives and never had a pension plan. Mr. Black's pension reform had a couple of good suggestions and one is a portable pension plan that anybody who's out there working for small business or for companies that aren't large enough to provide their own pension plan, could join that provincial plan and have portability from one job to another since people nowadays tend to work for many companies over their working life. It's not like the old days when you joined a company and stayed there for 30 or 40 years.

[Page 1431]

So we need something that's going to provide a pension, provide a means for the employers to put money in and support their employees, which I think many companies want to do but they don't have a vehicle to do it. Those kind of suggestions from Mr. Black's report were good ones because their aim was to get more people covered with some kind of a plan to help them in their retirement.

What we don't want is a wave of retirement that's going to mean a lot of seniors that are living below the poverty line. I don't need to remind members of the House that many of the people living below the poverty line are senior women. Women who, because they cared for family members or didn't have the same opportunities as perhaps their husbands or others, didn't have the work and the pay they were entitled to really. Even when they did work they didn't make the wages that they should have and therefore you see a lot of older women who are living in poverty.

We should remember that these public servants are living on an average pension of under $20,000. The average Public Service pensioner who's going to be affected by these changes is earning less than, I think it's in the $17,000 range per year. It was quoted in one or two of the articles that I read today.

So we're not talking about fat cats, we're really not. We're talking about people who are living on a modest income. I know they're above the group that are going to get the special tax credit for fighting poverty and they're above the group that's probably going to get the Affordable Living Tax Credit, if you had a family income there, they may fall above that. But I'm really making the point that these people are living close to the bone and carefully and they're not wealthy people and that we should be considering them. As one pensioner said, they're not all retired deputy ministers.

They're the people who have worked in our front line in our Access Nova Scotia offices, in our motor vehicle branches. They're people who have done a lot of the clerical and hard work that's out there but not highly paid. What they offered was to work for those wages and get a good pension when they retired. This is going to threaten their future and they're very worried about it. When you set up your joint trustees and when the government distances itself from that whole concern about the health of the pension because we're going to walk away from it once we think it's going to be fully funded, I don't know how that's going to happen. As I say, if it's fully funded and we've set up a trustee board, we're going to wipe our hands of it, let's face it.

We're washing our hands and walking away and saying now you guys are on your own with your own trustees and you have to manage it yourself. As we mentioned earlier, that was done with the Teachers Union as well, but it was done in consultation with their members and it was not done without their knowledge. It was done with a vote, they actually ultimately voted on whether or not they supported that. They did set up a joint trusteeship

[Page 1432]

where they had more control. They wanted to have that control, at least a majority of their members did, and they were willing to do that in order to have a bigger say in their pension.

They were also offered the opportunity to retire now if you wanted to and take the benefits that were currently in place. So individuals could make that decision for themselves. The minister said that there was some concern, I think, about the number of public servants who are eligible to retire - 2,000 people eligible right now, and 4,000 more will be eligible in the next five years.

So we know that a lot of senior people, or people with a lot of experience, in our civil service are eligible right now or will soon be able to retire and it may well be that the minister was frightened of a exodus of those trained and experienced people - and I'm not surprised because, in fact, in the school boards they lost a lot of people in their final years. I know a number who were principals and vice-principals who decided now was the time to go, while their guarantee of an index was still in place.

Now, I know in the House we have a number of people who have been teachers and so they will understand exactly what I'm talking about - they were probably involved as members of that plan. But certainly it was done in a much more consultative way. It did raise tempers in the Teachers Union, there was no question - their president was under the gun while this discussion was ongoing, but they took a stand and they sold that position to their members and they explained what the benefits were and they explained what was at stake and they agreed to it. But where is that consultation in this bill?

If you get a letter that says, well, we've never been as secure as we are now and you're in good hands, don't worry, be happy, but at the same time you're taking away what had been a guaranteed cost of living indexing - and, Mr. Speaker, as an HRM member, I'm quite aware of the HRM pension plan and it has never offered indexing. Actually, the member for Dartmouth East had told me that Dartmouth originally had indexing in their Dartmouth City plan, but we didn't in the Halifax one - and the amalgamated plan has no indexing.

I have had the opportunity to speak with many pensioners and with their widows who have come in to complain that there has been no increase for years and years. A woman who was in to see me recently said the last increase had been in 2001, and then after they did a lot of lobbying there was something like a 0.25 per cent increase offered in 2007 or 2008. I mean, a quarter of a per cent - she said you could hardly notice it, it was so small. But I mean, of course, they took that because they're not entitled to any indexing, and they have lobbied - they've lobbied during provincial elections to say to us, what can you do and why does the Superintendent of Pensions, who is a provincial employee, have the sole responsibility to say yea or nay to any indexing?

[Page 1433]

Again, the HRM pension is not fully funded, and because it is not fully funded the Superintendent of Pensions, who is an office here of the provincial government, looks at that and she determines whether the plan is strong enough. She has routinely said, no, you don't have the strength in that plan. Even when the plan members have been agreeable to do it, or city council has said, yes, let's do it, the ultimate decision rests here in the provincial government and they've been told no.

I'll tell you, it's a travesty to see somebody who has been trying to live on that for 10 or 15 years with scarcely any increase and no obligation, no expectation that there will be an increase - and you can only imagine with the costs that have gone up how hard that is on our pensioners.

I say again, Mr. Speaker, we don't want to see people retiring in poverty after working their entire lives for the Public Service; that's just not something that we would like to see. Let's remember how long people are living, and I know the minister mentioned that part of the pressure on pension plans is that people are living a lot longer - and we celebrate that. We know our good health system is paying for some of that, new drugs, new procedures - and it is not just that they're living longer but they're actually living in a much fuller way, living healthy lives with a good quality of life and I think many of us can see that in our communities where older people are so active and so able to contribute because of their age.

But at the same time it means that if we're intending to retire in our 50s or early 60s - many people not waiting until they're 65 - it's simply many, many years of retirement that they have to try to live off their savings and on their pensions. So making a change like this - and I'm going to use the word "unilaterally" - is very harmful to the people who are covered and, I think, disrespectful in the sense that there was no consultation. That, probably, is my major concern that this would have taken people entirely by surprise, and that's not a way to treat people who have contributed years and years to their service to the Province of Nova Scotia in whatever capacity.

We know that we have good people and I think it's important that we make the distinction that this is not just about taxpayers' money going to fund people or bail out people, as the press likes to use. This is an employer-employee relationship. The Province of Nova Scotia employs these people and we made commitments to them and we are the employer and if that rests on the sole trustee at the moment, on the Minister of Finance, I hope that he understood that he is responsible for the employees of this province and that that fund ultimately does rest at his feet.

I think I've probably explained a lot about pensions already and how we feel about that. I just feel that in the past, when there was an opportunity for the members to pay extra money into the fund, they were offered contribution holidays and they actually had contributions returned to them at different points along the way. I think it was over 10 years ago that that would have happened in the 1990s. I think there was a year, at least, when there

[Page 1434]

was a contribution holiday. The members, in fact, the union has said to me before that they had wanted to continue to pay but they were told, no, you can't. Under the rules you can't continue to top it up, you've gone above whatever the percentage was, 105 per cent or something, which it's allowed to go to. They were not able to over-contribute when the plan was doing well and now the plan is underfunded and they're going to have to pay the price. That is really what we are concerned about here today on their behalf.

On the tax brackets, I think it's good to have the surcharge removed on the higher income earners, but as we've pointed out quite often here in the Legislature, in resolutions and otherwise, it's a little bit ironic that there's a high income bracket that's actually going to be better off today with the surcharge removed and the fifth tax bracket brought in. There is a large group there, I think it's sort of in the range of, certainly $150,000 I think is where it's the best advantage but it goes up to $200,000 where you'll actually be a little bit better off.

It's just ironic because this government is one that wanted to be fair and wants to help people on the lower end, as well, and I don't think it would ever have been deliberately set to recalibrate our tax system to make a benefit. In fact, in his opening statement, the minister said, we have to get people to pay their share and we all have to contribute. He used terms like that in talking about the new fifth tax bracket that's come in, which is unusual. Most provinces don't have five tax brackets so we've done something pretty unusual in doing that.

I understand that the government was looking for more income and so they have created that very top bracket, which there will be few people that fall into that bracket. I'm not sure of the exact number so I won't hazard a guess, but I know that there will be very few.

What's interesting to note is how very many people in Nova Scotia fall into the lowest tax bracket. A few years ago - and I imagine it hasn't changed greatly - I think it would have been about 2004 or 2005 when John Hamm offered a 10 per cent tax cut to all Nova Scotians, he was unable to do that because he didn't get the federal money that he was hoping or counting on that would have allowed him to do that. He had to backtrack on the 10 per cent tax reduction, which he had actually brought in, which payroll and companies across the province had begun to adjust for and people had been earning more. Well, John Hamm clawed that back but in doing so, he said, I'm going to leave that 10 per cent tax cut on the table for the lowest tax bracket. So people who fell into the tax bracket under $29,500, I believe was the cap, got to keep it.

What was interesting to me, was realizing that that actually meant 51 per cent of the people working could keep the tax cut. What a sad commentary for our province to know that half of our employed Nova Scotians who are paying taxes and working and trying to raise their families and pay their bills are within the lowest tax bracket and certainly less than $29,500, which was the cap at that time. As I said, interesting to see whether that's still the same. I haven't seen recent figures on the percentage of our workforce that fall into the tax

[Page 1435]

brackets but I'm sure - hopefully it's not 50 per cent anymore - it hasn't changed drastically. It's a sad commentary on our economy and on our province that we have such low wages and haven't moved our people into jobs that pay more.

I know when we hear from NSBI, that's Nova Scotia Business Inc., they talk about the kind of jobs they're trying to bring to Nova Scotia and they are looking at jobs in the financial sector and in the IT sector and research and bio-medical. They know that those jobs pay a lot more than the average Nova Scotian salary. For that, I hope they have success, I really do. I know we've seen some financial sector improvement with some big companies moving offices here and hiring young Nova Scotians. That's a plus, Mr. Speaker, but as members of the Legislature, each and every one of us should know what the average income is and where the people in our riding actually are in that and how they're living: how are they making ends meet?

[3:45 p.m.]

We have this Financial Measures (2010) Bill that is going to raise the HST by 2 per cent. Everything we purchase is going to go up by 2 per cent, except a few items that have now been exempt. I'm glad to see children's clothing and children's shoes are going to be exempt, that's very nice - although, quite frankly, I did buy clothes for my children at Frenchy's. I don't know if the minister ever did, but I used to think that was quite fun, to go to Frenchy's, and you could get good clothes for children and at a pittance, really. There is a Frenchy's in Halifax and there's a lot in the province to go to. So there are options for children and they can be good clothes. As I say, I think those of us who are here know that you can buy nice clothes for children without spending an arm and a leg.

Anyway, definitely it's good to see that we won't be charging them. It may be harder to get shoes, so I'm glad to see no tax on children's shoes. This again, just the provincial tax that is being removed, as I would see it, so we still are going to have to pay our federal portion of that tax. So don't be surprised, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker - if you are buying new children's clothes, there will be some tax on that. I know you have grandchildren you might be buying some for, so just in that regard.

I think that there's been a few items almost picked out of the blue about what we're going to take it off. Diapers is an interesting one. I know that when you have a young child you may use a lot of diapers - that's disposable diapers, I'm guessing. Is it all diapers, cloth diapers as well? (Interruption) Good. Well, of course, the cloth diapers would come under children's clothing, so there you go. I actually was thinking about the environmental lens when it came to disposable diapers. Why are we not looking at the environmental impact of disposable diapers, and why would we offer an advantage to the people who are buying disposable diapers? It is a product that is not good for the environment, that creates an awful lot of product going to the landfill that can't be recycled. It is something that certainly I've asked the question about.

[Page 1436]

I know a lot of young families are using cloth diapers, and there's a lot more interesting or probably better designs than there were in the past. One of the companies that sells those got a Business of the Year Award this year from the chamber of commerce - Nurtured is the company's name. I think it is on Windsor Street or Robie. But anyway, it's a new, very popular store and people are going there in great numbers because they offer really good service and they're selling high-quality cloth diapers. I think a lot of the young families are using them, so I do question where is the environmental green lens that the NDP should be putting on products that they want to support, so a little bit of a question on that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the small business tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: They're more concerned about bottled water.

MS. WHALEN: Yes, I guess. There's a little bit of a green lens there.

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of things in here for business, but very little to support the business community. We've got 0.5 per cent decrease in the small business tax, which I'm sure they appreciate and is seen as a step in the right direction - that's about all you can say when you take incremental or baby steps in a policy. It's not moving the bar in any significant way, but there is a recognition that that has been adjusted and that's a positive thing, and taking anything off a large business tax - I guess you call it large corporation tax - is also positive.

It's a real irony that we have a tax that is levied on companies simply because of their size - that they are large and they are successful, presumably they are profitable, and we charge them this extra tax just because they are a big company. We should really be offering something that rewards them rather than taxes them extra for that. I think we're glad to see any reduction in that as well, Mr. Speaker, but I had hoped to see something a little bit more that might do more to stimulate the business that is at hand for companies, large and small. Again, those are the two that are mentioned there in particular.

Mr. Speaker, the bill, as I say, covers all of the details. The increases in taxes, how the HST is going to be increased, many clauses on the impact with superannuation and how that's going to be implemented and overall, you know, I guess I don't need to say that we already voted against the budget, we really take exception to some of the moves in terms of how they're going to affect Nova Scotians.

On the special provisions that are put in place, the tax credits, I think in one instance it's not even really a credit, you'll simply get money if you are in - I have to look for my Budget Book here - poverty reduction credit, although it says it's a credit, often with credits they come off your income. You don't really see the money and, you know, it's not like a

[Page 1437]

cheque arrives at the door but the poverty reduction credit I think is intended to be that. It says, "Individuals or couples will receive $200 a year ($50 quarterly)."

What I'm surprised about here, Mr. Speaker, is when I started to read the detail, this is for people with no dependents, so they can't have any children to receive this, and it's for people who are primarily I guess living on social assistance. It pretty much says that. It says that it's to make life better for people living in poverty and it would probably help people with disabilities. A lot of these people may have disabilities. So I certainly do support that.

I know we have a lot of people, if they're living on Canada disability or on social assistance, it's very hard to make ends meet but a lot of the people that we worry about in poverty as well are the people with children because if you are raising your child in poverty, they lose in so many ways. They don't get proper nutrition. They may not get safe housing. They don't have the stability financially to seek education. So I have a concern about, you know, not just couples who are low income but perhaps single mothers who have one or two children and need that extra help.

I know there is a child tax credit. I understand the federal government provides that but I would see families that are living below this threshold as being at very great risk as well and I'm not sure why the definition was to be, it's either individuals or couples, it says. To qualify you must be 19 years of age with no dependents. You must be receiving social assistance through the Income Assistance and Employment Support Program as their main source of income.

So if this is only for people getting social assistance, I don't know why we just didn't adjust some of the policies or programs in Community Services rather than sending them a separate cheque four times a year. Isn't that a stunt of some sort, Mr. Speaker? Why wouldn't we simply adjust their payment? (Interruption) Yes, I mean these are people, when you look at their qualifications, and I think the members are seeing what I'm saying, in order to qualify you have to be receiving social assistance. So we're already giving them cheques as recipients of social assistance. So why are we now going to send them separate cheques four times a year, you know, with the minister's name on it and signed by the Minister of Finance?

It's a little bit peculiar to me that we would have chosen that route. You could still announce an increase in funding to the lowest paid people, those who are living on social assistance, those who are, you know, perhaps many of them with a disability, but you could do it through the Community Services Department. You could do it through an adjustment to the schedules that are used under social assistance, or I guess we call it Employment Support and Income Assistance Program, is what we call it, because those would be people I imagine who are not able to seek employment if they are in fact disabled. I think there would have been a better way to do that and I always am a little bit suspect when a government decides to send out a cheque independently, separately, to individuals who are

[Page 1438]

obviously in need but the government is trying to send them a separate cheque, to what, to curry favour or to make them feel that they are being listened to. I think it's a bit of a stunt and I'll leave it at that. I just don't think it should be done.

A few years ago during the 2003 election, just before the 2003 election, members will remember that we all received a $155 cheque and that was through the largesse of our government. Well, goodness me, today we don't feel like there's any room for that kind of largesse, do we, or the 10 per cent tax cut that was unsuccessfully tried. That would be my question on the poverty reduction credit, it sure sounds good but there are a lot of people with children who would need that money I think, you know, just as much or perhaps more, when you're trying to raise a child in poverty. So I am surprised that the cutoff and the requirement is that you have no dependents. That surprises me.

Mr. Speaker, there's a Nova Scotia Affordable Living Tax Credit and that, again, is for a very low threshold of income. It's $30,000 family income and that's two people working, we have to remember that. Oftentimes it will be a couple so you'll have two incomes - $30,000 is less than two people working full time. Actually I think many of you were working at minimum wage full time, you'd be over that if there were two of you, so I'm not sure the number of people we're going to be able to help. On the poverty reduction side, they have a number, they said it's about 15,000 people that will be helped by that cheque coming out four times a year, $50, for those that didn't catch it.

On the other one, on the Nova Scotia Affordable Living Tax Credit, the credit will be $240 per household plus $57 for each child under 19. Again, that would certainly help in a family that was living in very modest means, under $30,000 with their combined income. I'll remind you again that 50 per cent of Nova Scotians' taxable income is under $30,000 so we're talking about a lot of people in Nova Scotia. Although when you combine their income, those people living on that lower level are going to be over and won't be eligible for this tax credit.

Without a doubt, I'd say that the major concern that we have with the budget and with the FMAs is the fact that we're looking at an increase to 15 per cent for HST again in Nova Scotia. As often as the minister wants to say that, in fact, we were at that level for many years, the fact is, all of Canada had a 2 per cent decrease in HST, we're taking it back, that makes us the highest taxed jurisdiction in North America and that's not good for tourism or for business or for the sale of appliances or cars or luxury or big ticket items.

I can only imagine what the impact is going to be on the home-building sector. We have heard from them in the past that they were, in fact, at the meeting the minister loves to talk about, the Back to Balance meetings. I attended the one in Halifax, one of the last ones that were announced and held, and at that meeting Paul Pettipas, who is the head of the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association spoke with a lot of passion and conviction that he thought the 2 per cent tax increase would be very harmful to the home-building sector. New houses

[Page 1439]

are subject to HST and new houses are a measure of how well our economy is doing. All you have to do is turn to the financial pages or see when there's an announcement on how many new home starts there were this quarter. That's how we measure a lot of the economic strength in our community because it means there are people earning enough to buy those houses.

There are a lot of people working to build the houses. A lot of people are selling the home-building products and so building a single house has a great spinoff value, a lot of economic activity generated around it. When you add 2 per cent to the cost of that house, that's going to be a significant blow to homebuilders at a time when, ironically again, the government had been offering some benefit for people buying their first home or buying a new home and had just finished with a tax credit of some sort for people who would buy a new house.

This is going to be very damaging to them and maybe Paul Pettipas will wonder why he endorsed that so excitedly during the election, saying what a fantastic idea the NDP had, because the NDP has followed it up with a very unpleasant increase in tax for all Nova Scotians. Really we have to be very careful before we jump on a bandwagon and get excited about one short-lived tax benefit, which I think is exactly what happened with some people who didn't open their eyes and look at what else was on the horizon.

This increase in the HST is going to hurt Nova Scotians. It's going to drive people to our neighboring provinces to buy some of the bigger products that they would like to acquire and so that will be a great boon for our neighbours in New Brunswick. I know the minister loves to hear about New Brunswick and how they might benefit from this, but unfortunately, it is the truth and it creates even more difficulty for our towns and people who live close to the border.

There is an awful lot in this bill to talk about, the Financial Measures (2010) Bill, but I think that I've raised some of the concerns that I have and my caucus has. I know that there will be an opportunity for further discussion. With that, I'm going to take my place and thank you very much for your time.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to second reading of Bill No. 24, the Financial Measures (2010) Act , today. I must say that a couple of items (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The chatter is getting a little high. The member for Cape Breton North has the floor.

[Page 1440]

MR. CLARKE: Before starting, I do know that the honourable members - because I would pay attention to this and people might accuse me of coming to that line, close to it, with regard to unparliamentary language, but I do know the member for Halifax Clayton Park, I'm not making a point of order but the use of the word "hoodwinked" might be suspect, but the word "cheated", I do know from Beauchesne is unparliamentary. If during the course of discussion, we need to be mindful of that on both sides of the House. I know I might be a person who goes to that line but I do know if you cross it, as is the case, you have to be mindful of it. I just note that because the word was directly used. To the honourable member, Beauchesne says it's unparliamentary.

[4:00 p.m.]

Anyhow, that being said, I would like to speak directly to the bill itself. As was discussed about where we are with some of the measures that are being utilized by the government and brought forward by the minister and the concerns we would have about the basic needs. I know the honourable member for Inverness had talked about, we differ as a Party and a caucus about some of the measures that have been employed by the government and being implemented, in this case through the Financial Measures (2010) Bill by the minister. I know that we would look to other alternatives.

I recall, specifically if we look at HST, the 2 per cent, which really was a loophole that was presented by virtue of the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario utilizing and asking the Government of Canada to provide for an HST provision. The Province of Nova Scotia took advantage of that, what really was a two point reduction given by the Government of Canada and it wasn't a provincial reduction we had in the past, it was a federal reduction the Government of Canada had given to the taxpayers of our region. The New Democratic Party, as a government, decided to backfill through that loophole to get the money.

I recall when the budget was being formulated for the Spring budget that was presented in May 2009, that at Cabinet at the time, I do know that one of the models being looked at was HST - should that be something we look at utilizing? When you put that 2 per cent factor in, admittedly, it does look enticing when you're trying to find revenue at a difficult time. But, when you realized to acquire would have been well in excess of over $200 million and many uses for that, we also, as a government of the day and on principle, said we just should not be trying to even trigger taking away a benefit that was given by another order of government, the federal government to Nova Scotians.

We chose not to do that and we instead made choices to present a balanced budget and a balanced budget that was presented with great noise and fanfare by the now-government, then-Opposition, about all the flaws that they saw in it. Ironically, to come to power and basically breaking every promise they made associated with the fiscal realities and

[Page 1441]

presentation of the management of the Province of Nova Scotia saying they would have balanced budgets, that they wouldn't increase taxes, they wouldn't do prepays - all those things they had concerns about, they, when they became government, chose to implement without any of the sort of scrutiny that they would have sought as an Opposition Party.

However, they've done that and here we are, we've a 2 per cent HST increase that's going to happen. It's going to happen and affect Nova Scotians and some of the softer elements that none of us will dispute with regard to taking some relief, whether that's children's clothing and footwear, feminine hygiene products or diapers, people won't dispute that. But the reality is for a lot of working families, the overall impact is real and is going to have an effect and people have stepped back because they're not aware of what the full impact of tax increases.

It's one thing to try and put an array of benefits here and there, but people know tax and they understand a tax. It's immediate and they see it. What they know is this government has chosen taxation as a means of trying to fill in for the expenditures they've taken on. They've grown spending in the province, yet one of the things the Minister of Finance on his Back to Balance road tour, what I call the dog and pony show around the province, was asking and challenging people how they would grow revenues. All I've seen for the most part to date is a government that has grown expenditure and no offsets of appropriate revenues to balance that and provide real balance.

Mr. Speaker, I don't discount any of the efforts with regard to renewable energy and a strategy for the province but right now these renewable energy initiatives are going to have a cost impact on Nova Scotia, without seeing significant revenue-generating sources in other areas. I look at Daewoo with regard to the Trenton plant, that's important, a $60 million investment but it's also not immediately returned to the province because it is a longer-term investment and we hope in the longer term opportunities will be realized but in the short term it is an expense.

Then you offset that with communities such as Yarmouth and southwestern Nova Scotia with regard to the cancellation of the Cat ferry. While the government would claim that the business case was not there and still say they need to grow revenues, to take out what the impact of the subsidy for the ferry is - now was - when you saw an economic impact of $175 million, 500 jobs affected .When you look at it for the sake of what remained at the end of the day, a $3 million, $3.5 million at the most, divide, for the government now to have to face that they - the government, the NDP, the Dexter NDP Government, now own the highest unemployment rate in southwestern Nova Scotia that they've known, 17 per cent. As my honourable colleague, the member for Halifax Clayton Park said, the highest unemployment rate ever that people are aware of.

That is not a number or growth that the government should be talking about because that does not grow jobs or opportunities. The question really is, for the sake of $3 million or

[Page 1442]

$3.5 million and a $175 million benefit, when you look at the income sources to government from HST, from taxes that are paid, from personal and corporate income taxes that were derived from southwestern Nova Scotia as contributors, which would be much more than what the government took away from the people.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that no one has disputed the fact in the long term that the Cat ferry wasn't the suitable one and that a mono-hull vessel is more appropriate. I can think when we talk about Halifax, we know that the Metro Centre cost money for government to invest in. It doesn't bring immediate returns, it has always cost governments. The Halifax Regional Municipality has invested, the province has invested heavily, the federal government has supported initiatives. I can only imagine if they just did a balance sheet analysis of saying well, that bricks and mortar is not worth it, cut it out.

We all know that the economic impact in the HRM and, in fact, across Nova Scotia, is significant because it is the type of infrastructure that supports other economic activity and is an economic generator, just as much as the Cat was a piece of infrastructure that supported a transportation link that supported jobs. We don't dispute that the numbers are not what we would want, we don't dispute that the long-term solution had to be different. We recognize that the federal government - before they could even finish the analysis ,of which $1 million was being invested, the province made a decision.

More important, they've taken money out of the equation, Mr. Speaker, rather than put it in. It is ironic to have the Minister of Finance try to put forward a Financial Measures (2010) Bill which taxes Nova Scotians more and not have done things to offset it, in fact, could have benefitted Nova Scotians more as a result.

I also know that the Minister of Finance, on regular occasion, as well as the Premier and others who would try to position the government, that they've said, Mr. Speaker, the fiscal books, it wasn't the numbers we had anticipated, it was much worse, the sky had fallen after the June 9th election.

Mr. Speaker, what we found out after they spent a lot of taxpayers' money on outside consultants, on the audit that the Premier promised and then the non-audit after he came in government or what it became, that their own auditors from Deloitte sat in this Chamber during Public Accounts Committee and did confirm that the books - it was asked, were the books cooked? No, they weren't. Did they follow generally accepted accounting principles? Yes, they did. Did we, in the Province of Nova Scotia, enter an election in deficit? No, we didn't.

Deloitte in this Chamber for Public Accounts Committee indicated that when they took over in July, after the election, that the government was part of precipitating that they said the deficit when they took over the books was $53 million, after an election that was triggered during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. That is what the

[Page 1443]

NDP have as part of their legacy; those are the numbers, and those numbers speak for themselves. So out of that, Mr. Speaker, they went and gave the terms of reference to Deloitte, and unlike anything I've seen, they said you are to take the numbers of the May 2009 budget, make no other assumption or adjustments, make no other considerations, and show us what the numbers would be in out years from there. So they put the blinders on a process and not allowed for any other considerations, any other measures that would have been there from a consultancy basis.

So what Deloitte had from the government was, you can do a study but you can only do the study based on the numbers, based on assumptions which weren't even the current government's numbers and didn't take into account the changes that resulted because of the NDP putting an election as their priority rather than stability at a time when Nova Scotians needed it most.

So what we do have is this little chart, as a part of the dog and pony show for this Back to Balance, that has in the graphs to show people, and they've used that to say it is a fact. What was interesting, Mr. Speaker, I never noticed the validation from within the civil service to those numbers. They were outside numbers that they took as whole to try and justify a public relations spin-doctoring effort to try to put themselves - because what it was, what we knew, because where they were going, Mr. Speaker, was to creative a massive deficit in their first year, take spending at a time when revenues were down, and spend needlessly and try to blame the previous government based upon consulting out to get these numbers.

Their own economic advisory panel of experts told them not to do certain things that they spent money on as well and, Mr. Speaker, what did they do? Ignore some of that advice as well. They ignored it, these experts, so it has been a very selective process. However, what I do know is between the first NDP Budget and now this second NDP Budget, as well as other borrowing that they have taken on, Nova Scotians have now seen over $1 billion of extra debt in 10 short months. Those are on the long-term books of Nova Scotia.

The minister and the government can say what they want, but they created those numbers. They made choices at a time when political priorities were not people priorities and they weren't the priorities of average Nova Scotians. There wasn't a genuine agenda from the government. There wasn't the interest of working families at the core of what the government was doing. There was a spin-doctoring exercise of historic proportion that we have not seen here in the province of Nova Scotia. That is the reality. That is what history will show, and in fact their own auditors, their own consultants have shown that those are choices they made - not a previous government, not a previous session of the House - choices they've made.

[Page 1444]

Mr. Speaker, even on energy alone, with renewables - and again, I'm supportive because we initiated that path forward for renewables - what we don't have is a government that looks to growing the revenues that are necessary.

When we saw in New Brunswick with N.B. Power and Quebec Hydro, everyone thought it was going to become "Q Brunswick" next door with the deal that they put forward that would be devastating - and what happened in Nova Scotia? We sat by. Meanwhile, Premier Williams had brought forward his concerns, and Nova Scotians were quiet on that. We didn't hear, and we're saying, where are we with the Atlantic Energy Corridor and the Atlantic Energy Gateway initiatives that are long term and can create economic opportunity, much infrastructure with our transmission, with collaborating with Newfoundland and Labrador on the Lower Churchill, having a landfall on Cape Breton to see the opportunities that could be realized? Nothing was happening.

What happened with the Dexter NDP Cabinet and Government was sit and wait, and maybe we'll wait and see what they do and then we'll come up with our communications plan. We see that oftentimes, Mr. Speaker, and that is a reality. So when there were opportunities to advance initiatives, nothing has been done.

[4:15 p.m.]

We talked about our offshore, oil and gas play, and the minister often bemoans the fact that revenues are down, royalties are down, but we do not hear the government trying to grow those opportunities. Now, I did ask the Minister of Energy in the House about what's happening and he indicated that there are confidential talks going on and I will take that at word because I recognize that a lot of these companies, most of them, are dealing with the stock market, but we haven't seen an aggressive effort by the government to get out there and open up business opportunities for Nova Scotia.

We have not seen the government trying to grow revenues in a very much global, competitive environment. That is a shortcoming of this government and it is a real cost to Nova Scotians. It is impacting Nova Scotians as we speak in this Chamber today. It is something that is going to impact Nova Scotians as the member for Inverness had said before, governments prior had made decisions which we still have an impact today. The government today has made decisions that will impact, indeed, future generations and what we do know now, with the clarity of after the election dust having settled that Nova Scotians will pay a premium and a real price as a result of an NDP Government.

For this Financial Measures (2010) Bill is one more nail in the fiscal coffin, so to speak, of Nova Scotia. It may be what the minister and the government need to get those revenues, but the manner in which they're going about getting those revenues, the reasons for those revenues and the reasons for the practices of the government to date, I don't think are going to go away.

[Page 1445]

One of the things, Mr. Speaker, when I talked about the first NDP budget, with a massive deficit, the money, almost $500 million, $0.5 billion that they inflicted Nova Scotians with and trying to do a prepay so that the second year of $222 million wouldn't look as bad or that really in their second budget would try to make them look like the numbers were coming down. Just as much as they contrived the numbers going up with regard to deficit, they contrived a process to try to make the numbers go down, that the professionals have already analyzed and it speaks for itself.

So no discussion from the government is going to dilute or take away that reality. Nova Scotians, when they get a full understanding of the impact of this Financial Measures (2010) Bill, when they themselves are impacted by this bill that there is not enough offsetting benefits, if they truly have not created the conditions for a recovering economy in a post-recessionary environment, if they have not dealt with making sure that all of the economic sectors in Nova Scotia are being fully and fairly treated, we will suffer further at the hands of this socialist government.

Mr. Speaker, I know that in dealing with the matters that come before this House, we're going to see programs, initiatives, and it is all going to be there. As I always say, the good chairman of the establishment across the way, he and his inner circle, which apparently is very tight since some of the ministers don't even know what the chairman of the board is doing but apparently if you're in a special interest group, you know before your Cabinet colleagues do, as was indicated.

The Premier now has expanded, I believe, the panel - what's the name of the panel? (Interruption) The economic advisory panel - it had new additions to it, interesting additions as well, because it also speaks to additions that I think reflect the government and where they're trying to achieve their own balance, and at the same time Nova Scotians will quickly find out as time moves on that, I think, a lack of consensus will come forward. I think that some of the special interests that are being abdicated for - and we've seen the impact on working families already. So there is a real dichotomy of where this government had started when they were in Opposition to where they've arrived in government.

As I said when I started out, we had some choices facing us as a previous government, HST being one them, that we would not go down that road out of principle. Yet for a grasp of trying to offset both their spending, the commitments, the favours, whatever you want to call it, for all those who needed some reward, at the expense of the next generations of Nova Scotians in a very expeditious way for the NDP, but in truth, the long-term impact on this province is going to be one that this Financial Measures (2010) Bill - while the minister has presented his rationale, is not what the people in the coffee shops of the province are saying and, you know, people, when we were in government prior, would say, well, we hear them in the coffee shops. Well, I've heard them in the coffee shops and I know the honourable members can hear them in coffee shops.

[Page 1446]

The coffee shop talk about what this government is doing is much less complimentary than the speaking notes of the Premier, the Minister of Finance, and the government members. They know, and many of those members know, that average Nova Scotians, working families, thought they were getting genuine leadership. Instead they've got another bill of goods to deal with, and part of it is packaged up in the Financial Measures (2010) Bill - again to try to hopefully get down the road that in a budget or two, and I do hope the economy has the recovery, because I hope for Nova Scotians we have that level of recovery, that indeed, they will try to make it look - manipulate the graph so that, look, oh heavens, look how far we've come. But when the process was flawed from the beginning, they need not think the outcome is going to give them the benefit.

I look at today when people were talking about southwestern Nova Scotia, and members raised concerns again about the impact in southwestern Nova Scotia. Businesses are closing in southwestern Nova Scotia. They're not just downsizing, they're now closing. Unemployment rates, as I say, 17 per cent. So what did the Premier say? Well, you know, the good news is housing costs are up. Well, those are housing costs for luxury houses - and I don't think the 500 people, by and large, that were now turfed to the curb and put under the Dexter bus - that they, Mr. Speaker, were buying luxury homes, and the cost of those homes was something they could even access. That's the reality, because those are working families down there that could not benefit from that.

We all know, as was indicated by the member for Kings West, that there is a lot of price being moved up from the foreign purchases of homes around this whole province and it is a beautiful part of Nova Scotia. So those numbers go up, but the real number is 17 per cent unemployment now. Wait until the full impact is heard, and I have not heard, other than setting up a committee on top of a committee by the government to try to have their own influence on a process, and maybe to spin a story a bit better than what it is. So how is it, when that for the sake of an additional $3 million, $3.5 million, $175 million in direct economic benefit to an entire region - and as was indicated, and we have spoken in this House as Cape Bretoners before - when the Cape Breton resorts had 40 per cent of their traffic coming through The Cat, through the Yarmouth ferry, as a portal in the province.

Mr. Speaker, that's one of those realities, and so the government with political haste made a decision, but the people were impacted, and those very people who have been thrown to the curb, out of their jobs - as I've said, under the Dexter bus - they're also going to have higher taxes on top of it, with money they no longer have coming in as income. That's the reality. That is the reality for those families, and those people around the province, and what about the local entrepreneurs? The Minister of Finance can talk about trying to benefit the small business tax rates. When a company has to shut its doors there are no taxes, because there are no revenues, and there's nothing to expend. This government has put the locks on business opportunities and small business opportunities in this province. That's a reality. You don't have to question it because the companies are closing up in southwestern Nova Scotia right now.

[Page 1447]

The other concern is as a result of that ill-headed - and the nonsense that we've heard and seen from this government - how many more companies are going to be impacted around the province? How many summer students are not going to get hired because companies can't afford to bring on some extra staff? How many people are not going to be hired on for seasonal employment because the volume of traffic is not going to be there, because the tourism season has been disrupted this year? How many companies in and around the HRM that have benefited from our offshore are going to stall and feel a stalemate in their economic opportunities when they know that further offshore activity has not been initiated, because the government has not been proactive getting it done?

How is it, Mr. Speaker, people have clarity about the long-term future, as was raised by the member for Digby-Annapolis - and I've advocated and I have been pro-development, but I've also been pro having a panel to look at things and to put in a panel so that the industry, as well as traditional fisheries and communities and the environment, could be properly considered in a non-partisan, public, independent way.

The government refuses to do that, and what that tells us is the government, as we've seen with other measures, already has a plan but won't disclose it to Nova Scotians, because the last time an independent non-partisan panel was set to do work it did its work and a decision was made and that was a moratorium. People have said science has changed, the industry has changed, knowledge has changed, economic conditions have changed, but there's no ability for all sides, those that are pro and against a moratorium, those that just want to know what is the science, what is the community saying - we don't have that clarity because obviously there has been a decision made because of the way the government won't answer questions, as opposed to what they are, and that is unfortunate but it also means that Nova Scotians live in an environment of uncertainty.

What I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, about a political region, a geographic region, in this case the Province of Nova Scotia, with this much uncertainty, who wants to invest? Who is going to take an interest when the government has sent mixed messages on every economic sector that I can think of in the province - how does that grow revenues?

The Minister of Finance challenged people in those meetings. Before the hired staff took the microphones out of people's hands and wouldn't let them speak, he challenged people saying, where are you going to get the revenues? We've heard from Nova Scotians about what is necessary for revenue generation, yet again whether it was a consultant ripping the mic out of someone's hand in one of these road shows or the government just ripping opportunities away from people in the communities around this province, that is a reality.

I have not heard a chamber of commerce come forward and say kudos to the government. What they are trying to do is find some kernel of goodness, something positive to try to ingratiate themselves, maybe, hoping the government will take a better interest and,

[Page 1448]

Mr. Speaker, when the voice of small business speaks up, you criticize that voice, as was with the CFIB.

The Minister of Finance has done that, has done it several times in this Chamber alone, questioning the credibility of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. As I said to the Premier during estimates, on Hollis Street alone, two businesses I have been in, small businesses, mom-and-pop operations, one operator said before leaving and paying a bill, tell me, I just want to know, you are up the street there with all the other politicians - the CFIB, are they doing anything for us? I said yes, they are. I said they've stood up for you and the Minister of Finance has attacked them as a result. He said well, I'm glad to know that my membership fee is doing something for me.

There is a small business operator asking if the CFIB is doing it because they had faith they were, and were questioning it because of the types of actions the government was taking, the same organization the minister would attack - the mom-and-pop operations even in a metropolitan area are asking for that voice.

The minister also referenced chambers of commerce, I listened to them around the province. Well, I've heard from chambers of commerce and they disagree with the Minister of Finance. They all want better outcomes because we're trying to get through an uncertain economic time. So the pall of uncertainty that has been cast over this entire province by knee-jerk reactions on one hand, by sheer political determination to implement an agenda at any cost, including driving the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia up. They've been willing to do that, and then go out and try to suggest that everything is good and well. The real concern, and the Minister of Finance talks about "temporary measures" - I like that term, we have "temporary measures" we're going to put in place until things get balanced again.

[4:30 p.m.]

Well, hopefully the temporary measures will be just that, because we'll have a temporary government and only one chance at this to inflict what they have on working families throughout this province. That's a reality.

So in the Financial Measures (2010) Bill, of which there are many technical and financial mechanisms the minister will use and provisions set forth, we have to look at where we'll be after this. We all know that after this debate, the numbers are there across the way to make sure this bill and any agenda items get forced through. We also know that they will be held - as they leave this Chamber, we're already in the process of what the next, the third NDP Dexter budget is going to look like.

I'll be really intrigued where we end up, given the fact we have not made progress since the last government fell in May 2009. We have not made progress from the first NDP budget. We are not making progress - we're just pushing numbers through because there's

[Page 1449]

a majority to push them through. We're not putting people first - it's about NDP priorities. We've also seen, depending on who you are and what title you hold, you may just be in better favour than working families around this province who thought they were getting genuine leadership.

As this debate goes forward - and it will, we know that - we'll be listening to average Nova Scotians. We may even hear from higher income Nova Scotians who actually put a lot of their own money back into the economy to grow other jobs and opportunities. I'll be watching to see if they're holding back on investments. I'm also concerned for average Nova Scotians because the other thing we're seeing is something that is affecting nationally, and that is the bank rates. As we know, Nova Scotians who have debt, whether it's their own mortgages, their lines of credit, their credit cards - if bank rates start to go up, it impacts people and you'll see them hold off on spending.

Some of the very projections that people are talking about can be thrown totally off the table if other conditions change. That's part of the wider uncertainty that is out there. As a result of that, I've also seen other jurisdictions in this country take a more proactive approach as to how to deal with the fiscal situation. Again, we are dealing with a bill that's going to deal with expenditures and take more money in and take more money away, but we have not heard where the revenues are coming in and what the government's plan is to offset all those expenditures with positive revenue growth for Nova Scotians.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will leave my comments there for now. I know I'll be back another day to comment further. I want to thank you and the members of the House, and look forward to the minister's further comments on the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members who contributed to the debate tonight. Every suggestion, every comment will be considered as we move forward. With that, I move second reading of the Financial Measures (2010) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The Acting Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 1450]

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly an honour again to rise as the Acting Deputy Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 19.

Bill No. 19 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the comments of the members of the House and the process that we're unfolding, of course, with our historic Legislature and Law Amendments Committee, and I would like to make a few introductory comments on Bill No. 19.

Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, the safety and integrity of our highways are a key priority for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and, of course, it is an important issue for all Nova Scotians. This includes working closely with the trucking industry as partners in keeping travel on our highways safe and efficient, and during one of the many commitments that I have had the pleasure of dealing with since becoming the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that you have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the trucking industry as they are fully aware of course of the conditions of our highways and they are of course concerned about the safety because that is their place of work.

The department receives many routine applications to change weight limits on particular roads for certain vehicles. These, of course, come from members of the trucking industry. They are the experts. They are the experts in the cabs. They are the experts for looking at these particular situations and these routine applications end up on my desk. Once studied by department staff and approved by the minister, these applications require Cabinet approval and amendments to the road listings and the weights and dimensions of vehicles regulations. I know that members often pay close attention to it because in many parts of our province this is important as we look at the weights of highway restrictions as commerce of course never stops in this province. Particularly however, we have difficulties at certain times of the year when we're looking at getting access to certain highways and certain roads.

The proposed amendment that I'm introducing to the Motor Vehicle Act will give the minister the authority to make and improve ministerial regulations regarding the listing of these roads and for future amendments to those listings. Allowing the updating of road lists in this manner will reduce the necessity for Cabinet to deal with routine matters and allow changes to be implemented in a more efficient manner.

[Page 1451]

From my experience, based upon the advice that I receive from staff and then taking this forward to my colleagues in Cabinet - I know you might find this hard to believe, Mr. Speaker, but on most occasions the members of the Cabinet actually do listen to me on certain occasions. It must be my expertise and the great staff - I will put it on the great staff. Allowing the updating of the road lists in this manner will reduce the necessity for Cabinet to deal with these routine matters. That's important to know and this is after all the gist of the amendment which I'm introducing. Department staff, however, will continue to assess all requests for road reclassification and they'll make the recommendations to myself as minister or ministers of the future. It is the staff after all who are the experts and I will be taking their advice.

Mr. Speaker, we will continue our discussions with representatives of the trucking industry and where appropriate will respond to their requests in a timely manner, and that is the key issue - in a timely manner. They are important partners, the men and women in the trucking industry, and as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect and as the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, I'm pleased to always have their input. On many occasions, as I've said to so many of them, I'm just a phone call away. So with those few comments, hopefully members opposite will support these amendments as we expedite this important issue and work closely with the representatives of the trucking industry. Thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to say a few words on Bill No. 19. This bill is a housekeeping amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act related to road classifications and the trucking industry. This bill amends the Motor Vehicle Act to give the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal the power to make regulations prescribing highways or portions of highways that are included in classes of highways prescribed in other regulations. The proposed amendments will lessen the complexity and confusion of changes to highway weight and dimension regulations. According to government, this will make the reclassification process more efficient and therefore more economical for the industry.

Essentially, it allows the minister to expedite the process of reclassifying roads by his office, signing off on a change rather than having it go through the entire Cabinet process. The reason behind this is that when a reclassification of a road is granted, it can sit on the docket for a considerable amount of time before it goes to a Cabinet approval but the road is still in operation under the new classification. Because of this, the newly classified road is actually operating legally..

With those few comments, our caucus is pleased to support this bill through second reading and allow this bill to move to Law Amendments to allow the general public the

[Page 1452]

opportunity to come forward and comment on this piece of legislation. With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to congratulate the minister for bringing forward this bill. In my time in the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, one of the things that was quite obvious to me was the trucking industry a lot of time is controlled or influenced by many things that are outside of control - the weather, obviously frost levels in the Spring, the changing of designation for highways and roads. One thing I'm really proud that we were able to do was in regard to the updating of closure of highways in regard to dialing 511. I know the minister would be well aware of that because it was actually the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal that, I think, brought in one of the first 511 processes in this country. I tell you, ministers across the country are very interested.

I'm really pleased the minister has brought this forward. It only makes sense that the minister would have the authority as a result of recommendations by his staff to actually move on whether it's closing highways, opening highways or whatever. It's very important to the trucking industry. A lot of times they can't wait for days. We gave them the ability through the 511 to find out by midnight, for example, of a certain night that a road may be opening or closing the next day, that's very beneficial to the trucking industry. Again, for the minister to bring this forward today only makes sense that the minister with the expertise of his staff would make recommendations to him in that regard would be suffice and, in fact, would allow for those transactions to happen in regard to the closing or opening of a highway.

This is very appropriate at this time. I congratulate you minister on that and our caucus will certainly support the changes being made today by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in regard to Bill No. 19.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to move second reading of Bill No. 19.

HON. W. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members opposite. Those comments are much appreciated, particularly my predecessor at one time in that department. Based upon your reputation and how things were done at that time, that's an endorsement that I will thank you for publically again. With those few comments I move that this bill will

proceed through to the Law Amendments Committee and we continue the process of making Bill No. 19 law in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No.19. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1453]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Acting Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 41.

Bill No. 41 - Volunteer Fire Services Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[4:45 p.m.]

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today for the second reading of Bill No. 41 which will amend the Volunteer Fire Services Act. This Act not only helps recognize the efforts of our brave volunteers but also extends to them protection and security as they perform their volunteer duties.

While this Act currently focuses on the efforts of our volunteer firefighters in the province, there is another group of Nova Scotians who have consistently answered the call when their communities needed them - our many ground search and rescue teams.

Mr. Speaker, over the past 40 years the ground search and rescue teams of Nova Scotia have provided countless volunteer hours. These individuals spring into action, often searching for people they have never met, regardless of the situation. Through rain and snow, through harsh conditions any time of the year, these Nova Scotians are out there answering the call.

Mr. Speaker, it should also be noted that ground search and rescue teams played an important role in civil emergency response during major emergencies. This included events such as the Swissair disaster, Hurricane Juan, the 2005 floods in Lunenburg and Queens Counties and, more recently, the fires in both Porters Lake and Herring Cove. They assisted in evacuation, traffic control, transport and resource provisions.

Mr. Speaker, these men and women donate their time, efforts and resources, often at great risk to their own safety when an emergency strikes. That's why I am very pleased to rise today to speak about these amendments and, as I stated earlier, the Act already supports our brave volunteer firefighters as they help protect our communities. Now these protections will be extended to this outstanding group of Nova Scotians.

[Page 1454]

Among other things, this includes a payment of $100,000 in the unfortunate event of an accidental death during the performance of their duties. Thankfully, so far there has not been a situation in Nova Scotia involving a ground search and rescue volunteer where such a benefit would have had to be paid. However, going forward, it is important that protections be in place as these volunteers continue to head out to perform their duties, often into dangerous situations.

Mr. Speaker, all of us in this House can agree that ground search and rescue teams play a valuable role in keeping our province safe. I think I speak for most Nova Scotians when I say that the efforts of these volunteers is greatly appreciated. Through their actions they provide comfort and support at a time when people need it the most. With over 1,000 members, these teams of brave Nova Scotians respond at all hours to help in the most distressing of times and we recognize and thank them for it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise in my place and to give full support to this piece of legislation. It is one of those pieces of legislation that comes in after a good Act is in place but needs a little more embracive title and clause that actually has practical implications for ground search and rescue.

In my area of the province, and I am sure these comments would be echoed by the members from Kings South and Kings North, the Annapolis Valley Ground Search and Rescue has an outstanding reputation in our area. We have had several tragedies around the Cornwallis and Annapolis Rivers and ground search and rescue in the heart of winter have given untold hours and days to work, unfortunately in some of those cases for the recovery of a tragic victim.

We know, however, there are very many heartening stories of rescues, especially finding lost hunters, children who have wandered from a campground into wooded areas. We also have those kinds of very, very good results from Ground Search and Rescue.

Again, they are another of our volunteer groups, members of a volunteer group who have tremendous training. They come to Ground Search and Rescue with first aid, with CPR, with a whole range of skills to help advance their work. As the minister pointed out, we hope they don't have to draw upon an insurance policy that is in place, should they be caught in a very unfortunate and tragic situation.

I know in our area - and probably it is like this across the province - they put all kinds of man hours in to restore, for example, old school buses that will help move a large number of volunteers into the site where the search is going to take place. They have to do a lot of

[Page 1455]

their own fundraising. I know in our area they are hoping to be able to get an ARGO, so that they can go into rivers and swamps and areas to take part in searches.

What the minister has brought forward here is an absolutely important recognition, an inclusiveness in the highly regarded group of volunteers, along with the fire departments in our province. So our Party will give full support to this piece of legislation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in my place this afternoon to speak on Bill No. 41, an Act to Amend Chapter 13 of the Acts of 2002, the Volunteer Fire Services Act. This bill amends the Volunteer Fire Services Act to include recognition of and protection for volunteer Ground Search and Rescue workers and volunteer Ground Search and Rescue organizations.

Mr. Speaker, members of the Ground Search and Rescue, like volunteer firefighters, put their lives on the line each and every time they answer a call. They leave not knowing what is facing them and, like the firefighters, they do it on a volunteer basis. We need look no further than our own Cape Breton Ground Search and Rescue team to see the tremendous work that these organizations do.

Mr. Speaker, our caucus supports the legislation and sees it as another way to protect the families of Ground Search and Rescue, and we look forward to it proceeding to the Law Amendments Committee. With that, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm just going to take a couple of minutes as well. I want to commend the minister for bringing this bill forward. It is great to have this amendment. I'm very fortunate in Hants West and our area to have a great team there. It should be noted that these folks work with very little. They are not only volunteers, but they work with very little in some cases. I know in my area they had an old bus for travelling around in, and now a used van from one of the local fire departments, which is great, but at the same time they are still working with great difficulties.

It is good to be able to support them. I know that our government in the past has supported them through generator programs and some assistance in my local area, at least. Very worthy of mentioning, these folks, and the fact that this bill is very worthy in the support of this bill for these folks goes right where it should go, in support of these good, fine folks who are out there every day volunteering - no hesitation when you call upon them. I'm pleased to have this brought forward and I support it wholeheartedly, and thanks very much.

[Page 1456]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Volunteerism.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I am now pleased to ask the support of the House in moving this to the Law Amendments Committee. I move second reading of Bill No. 41.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 41. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 23.

Bill No. 23 - Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets Day Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets continue to make a valuable contribution to communities throughout the province. The Cadet organizations instill in our young people the principles of team work, citizenship, respect for others, and true leadership. Cadets also learn other valuable life skills such as public speaking, self-confidence, physical fitness and first aid. They can also participate in music, sports and enjoy a variety of summer camps.

Mr. Speaker, I just would say that I know this from first-hand experience, growing up in a very small rural community like I did in Milton and being a member of the Air Cadet 545 Squadron. This was certainly an extraordinary opportunity for me and we travelled around the province. We got to meet lots of other young people involved in Air Cadets as well. I sometimes find it difficult to realize how far in the rear-view mirror those days actually are but they are nonetheless a great part of one's experience.

The Cadets have a proud history in this province, Mr. Speaker. One of the oldest Cadet Corps in Canada can be found here in Nova Scotia. Ever since the first meeting of Cadets in Windsor in 1881, thousands of Nova Scotians have been graduates of the program. These graduates have become active, responsible members of their communities. Some have become leaders in their chosen fields such as business, science, arts and politics, but all of them carry with them, as I do, the lessons they learned while they were in Cadets for the rest

[Page 1457]

of their lives, and that's why I'm so proud to have introduced the Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets Day Bill and speak on its behalf today. The special day designated under this bill would commemorate all the work the Cadet programs do throughout the year in building strong and healthy youth in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it takes many people to establish and run a squadron or corps. The four Cadet organizations and the Canadian Forces are obvious ones to note but there are also community leaders, parents, service clubs, businesses and volunteers who support their local Cadets in many, many ways. All are richly rewarded by a group of young people who walk tall and proud into adulthood, carrying with them the life lessons learned in Cadets to help guide them. Our province is better because of it.

Mr. Speaker, with those comments, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 23.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise to speak for a few moments on this bill that the Premier has introduced and I would like to congratulate the Premier on introducing this bill to the House. It's probably long overdue and should have been done long ago but nevertheless it's a recognition of the programs that are out there for young people today, and have been for a long time. I just wonder how the Premier got in the Navy after being an Air Cadet but, anyway, he eventually took the right road and went into the sea element. (Interruptions) There's a saying that I've had for many years, go Navy, you know, and I know the Premier has a special meaning for that saying as well.

My first association with the Sea Cadets, and I'll talk about all the Cadets for a few moments but Sea Cadets in particular, my first association was when I joined the Sea Cadets back in 1955 at the tender age of 12. You had to be 13 to get into Cadets in those days and you had to be five foot two. The reason you had to be five foot two was that the Canadian Forces or the Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy at that time, only had uniforms that would fit people five foot two and up. So that's why Cadets had to be five foot two and you had to be 13 but a little slip of the pen could fix that up when you were trying to get into the Cadet Corps. So I actually got in a little bit younger than 13.

[5:00 p.m.]

One of my first remembrances of the Cadet Corps at the time - and all of the things that come after that, that make this a great movement was - we were invited up to the opening of the Canso Causeway in 1955. As Sea Cadets we were invited to go aboard - I'm not sure, my memory is failing me, but it was either HMCS Ontario or HMCS Quebec. We had two light cruisers in the Navy at the time and one of them was, I think, the Ontario. Anyway, that was a big thrill to be at the opening of the Canso Causeway and to meet some

[Page 1458]

sailors, RCN sailors, who still wore the square rig, in those days, prior to the integration of the Canadian Forces.

After that, the Cadet program evolved for me and other cadets at the time of going to summer camps, playing a role in the operation of those summer camps as you got older. My first recollection of that was the camp at Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Training Establishment Protector, which was at Point Edward in Cape Breton. It used to house upwards of 3,000 or 4,000 Sea Cadets every summer in three different sections. Some were there for two weeks; others, like myself, were lucky to get six or seven weeks there because we lived close. At that time, believe it or not, the Navy used to pay cadets who were on staff there, and I had the fortunate experience of doing some sail training in craft like - maybe the Premier would recognize them - dinghies, whalers and cutters. No longer in the employ of the Cadet movement, they've got more exotic names for those sailing craft then, but we used to do that sailing in Sydney Harbour. The city was alive at that time with cadets for a two-month period in the summertime.

A little later on, the Canadian Sea Cadet Training Establishment was commissioned as a ship in the Royal Canadian Navy called HMCS Acadia. HMCS Acadia was the successor to the Sea Cadet Training Establishment, and then cadets were invited to attend these camps when all regular force RCN people were then doing all the instructing, assisted by senior cadets like myself and hundreds of other people who were around then.

Then somebody had the bright idea to move HMCS Acadia out of Cape Breton and down to Cornwallis and integrating it with the Navy at Cornwallis. They said they were doing that at the time for practical purposes. Now we were on Sydney Harbour, a beautiful harbour for sailing, so they moved the Cadet Training Establishment down to Cornwallis, which had no harbour.

So what we had to do when we got there - we looked and the tide was out so far it would take you a day to get a dinghy out there before you could even sail it. Anyway, we had to go down to a place called French Basin, which was down the road, for our sailing when those classes took place. We were down there and we would take advantage of French Basin - which was very tricky sailing cutters in French Basin because if you didn't watch it, you could be up on the highway if you were under full sail on a windy day. Those 32-foot cutters or 27-foot whalers were pretty awesome craft to try to control in a small basin like French Basin.

Anyway, the Cadet movement really took off at Cornwallis over the years, and the Cadet Corps in Sydney - as you know, many people went through the Cadet Corps in Sydney - and Sydney Sea Cadet Corps at one time had over 200 cadets, and we had a band of 50 at that time during those heydays. I can recall that during the days of HMCS Acadia - the Deputy Premier should be proud of this - we had two bands, what we called the camp bands for the summer. One was the 40-person New Waterford Sea Cadet Band, one of the best in

[Page 1459]

the Maritimes at the time, if not Canada, and also the band from Summerside, P.E.I.. (Interruptions)

The Sea Cadet band in New Waterford, and the band from Summerside, P.E.I. were seconded for the summer, and the cadets were all paid in those days as the house bands for the summer camp and were involved in such great ceremonies as the Sunset Ceremony which I personally took an interest in. As a cadet, petty officer and chief petty officer, I was petty officer of the guard a couple of times and later on as an officer commanding the guard in the Sunset Ceremony. That was a big thrill for me but it was more of a big thrill for some of the other kids who were coming behind me at the time because they were in awe of what senior cadets were able to do with the support of the Canadian Government and the Navy.

Anything I say here references the Air Cadets, the Army Cadets as well because they had their own way of doing it, I'm just biased for the Sea Cadet movement. When I graduated from the Sea Cadets at the age of 19, in 1960 I think it was, something like that, I was offered a warrant in the Sea Cadets as an officer. I gladly accepted that and became an officer. Shortly after that, because of my background and because of the job I was doing in civilian life and because of my education I was offered a commission. Some people were offered a commission in the Royal Canadian Navy.

I guess one of the proudest days of my life of being a cadet was to be given a Royal Canadian Naval Commission which was done on parchment. I don't know whether Mr. Premier if yours were done split English and French by the time you got there, but mine was done hand written on parchment and it was signed by the Governor General and the Minister of National Defence. It simply said, along with the other naval jargon, it simply awarded me a commission in Her Majesty's Royal Canadian Fleet as a sub-lieutenant.

To me, that was just like winning a lottery because my dream had come true to get a commission in the Royal Canadian Navy. In those days, it was the Royal Canadian Navy, it wasn't Canadian Forces (Sea) you know. That was prior to integration.

I had the opportunity to travel as a reserve naval officer attached to Scotian at the time here and doing my work with the cadets in Sydney and in the late 1960s taking cadets from the Sydney Corps to and from the other corps as an escort officer. I used to be employed in the leadership school at Cornwallis and as such I'd be there for the summer. I had no problem getting a leave of absence from my job because they realized the valuable work that cadets were doing and the cadet officers were doing and the naval reserve officers were doing.

Anyway, in the summer of 1969, I had the opportunity to take 25 sea cadets to the United States to join up with the United States Navy, the aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington when it was based in Pensacola, Florida. We went aboard the USS Lexington to observe naval air operations in the Gulf of Mexico and do a report for the Canadian Government.

[Page 1460]

The cadets who were there with me were just in awe of this ship that had 5,000 sailors on it. They were accepted as part of the ship's company at the time.

What they were doing was they were training young pilots in what we would call Second World War vintage aircraft for low level flying. Unbeknownst to us, the United States Government was getting ready to invade Cambodia, the Tet Offensive. We asked why these sailors were being trained on Second World War vintage planes, propellor planes. Well, it was for low-level flying so they could drop some materials on the trees in Cambodia, that would kill the trees so they could see who they were going to be invading.

We knew nothing about that, but the cadets were being told that this was a training exercise, no problem, you fellows just enjoy yourselves. At that time, we did, but we learned a lot because they were actually simulating downed aircraft in the Gulf of Mexico, they were sending out rescue zodiacs to pick these sailors up and they were throwing them over the zodiacs and getting shark repellant put around them so they could fight off sharks in case they had to. The cadets were witness to all this kind of stuff.

I'm a little ahead of myself. I had the opportunity on Friday afternoons, I think the Premier - I don't know if there's anybody else in here who belonged to the Navy and spent some time in the Wardroom at Cornwallis, but I certainly did. On Friday afternoons the Weepers (Interruptions) I'm sure, but anyway I was sitting there, and one of the things you become aware of is the world around you.

I was sitting in the Wardroom having a beer on Friday afternoon and, like every other officer after the Friday's work was done, at about two o'clock in the afternoon - and that was late, but anyway - the smoking lamp was lit in those days, too. I turned on the television and it was Neil Armstrong on the television, setting foot on the moon. We were sitting there watching history being made around the same time the United States was getting ready to invade Cambodia. So those kinds of issues, and for cadets all of this stuff is something that you would never get if you weren't involved with the cadet movement.

Moving along after that to some of the other stuff that we were involved in, the integration of the Forces didn't mean a heck of a lot to the cadet program, except that we changed uniforms and we got outfitted with these horrible green outfits in the summertime and the square rig went by the boards and the navy blue disappeared and the white ensigns came down and all that stuff. I literally cried when they took the white ensign down off the ships in those days. I will never forgive Paul Hellyer - I don't know if he is still living, but anyway, they integrated the Forces.

Now they are getting back to values that each of the other components of the Armed Forces treasure. I'm happy about that because there is a great deal of history. I am regaling a little bit about it because this year is the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy. I would hope that one of the things that might come out of this celebration this year - and I

[Page 1461]

expect I will be talking to the Premier about this, because we were talking to some Navy people who were interested in perhaps getting a branch of HMCS Scotian back into Cape Breton, because it is an historic thing and at Point Edward there is lots of room down there and there's a great Army base down there now that has all the modern facilities.

They suggested that perhaps the Premier and I should trot on down to see the admiral one of these days and have a chat with him about perhaps doing a study on the value of putting a training base back down for cadets in Cape Breton Island and the reason for that is obvious. Because the cadet movement, while it was very strong in Cape Breton over the years, all elements - particularly the one I am most familiar with, the sea element - the numbers are going down so drastically that some of the corps are closing. I think there has to be a kick-start again to convince people of the value of these programs, the value of the responsibility engendered in young men and women now, for many years, who go through the cadet movement, and how it stands them in later life.

I can tell you that all the cadets I know who went through the Sydney Sea Cadet Corp No. 2 over the years have gone on to great careers, in both military life and civilian life - great careers in the RCMP, the police forces, the Canadian Forces, the Navy, the banking industry. It all started because of their discipline, their discipline when they were in the cadet corps that I belonged to and cadet corps that some of you probably belonged to throughout wherever your home communities were.

I can tell you that to be able to put together a 50-person band to welcome a ship of the line into Sydney Harbour, whether it be - well, in those days it was Tribal Class destroyers or DDHs, and the frigates came along a little bit later - but anyway, to watch the Sea Cadet band welcoming a ship of the line into Sydney Harbour was something to behold, and then to do a sunset ceremony for them with our also 50-person guard. Those are the days when we had 200 in the corps. Now, I'm sad to say, there are perhaps 20 in the corps in Sydney, and that's stretching it, and some of the other corps are having similar problems. So perhaps a kick-start in Cape Breton, Mr. Premier, someday you and I might find a few minutes to talk to the admiral about perhaps doing something about that, but that's for another day.

[5:15 p.m.]

The cadet movement, as far as I am concerned, was something that I cherished. I've never missed an annual inspection of the Sydney Sea Cadets Corp since I was a cadet and that's over 54 years that I've been attending inspections. Even when I was the Mayor of Sydney for 15 years, I would never miss an inspection. The one thing that I've noticed is that the quality of the cadets corp remains the same or even getting better, but the quantity has gone way down. While I see the people who are turned out - the young cadets, men and women, who are turned out, is excellent - the numbers aren't there and it is sad to see that we no longer have a band, that we no longer can put together a ceremonial guard We no

[Page 1462]

longer can get involved in things that we would like to get involved in simply because we don't have the numbers.

However, I should inform the House, through you, Mr. Speaker, that the programs are there. The federal government has been very supportive of the cadet program, no matter what federal government it was and is still there, the support is still there. The Navy League of Canada in regard to Sea Cadets is still there as a sponsor.

Sea Cadets, who want to, can travel every summer and get paid for it and go out and learn things about their country. They can go on American ships, they can go to Europe, they can go to the West Coast on camps out there or there can be what used to be called Stadacona here, they can go to Shearwater, they can go almost anywhere they want and get paid for it.

In addition to, there is a very generous scholarship program out there for cadets who want to go to go on to university. If you want to, now you can go as a cadet, and I'm putting a great commercial in here for anybody's parents who are listening out there or any young men and women who might want to join the cadets, I would appeal you to give it a try. Because on the scholarships, if you commit yourself to Canadian Armed Forces for a period of time, and you already have a profession and you want to get into the Armed Forces, they will certainly give you a bonus to get in and will certainly be the best type of employment that you could ever get.

If you're starting as an university student, I would say, Go Navy, but if not Navy go Air or go Army. (Interruption) Yes, I covered all the bases. But I'm an unabashed supporter of the Navy, as you can suspect by now. You can get a college education for nothing.

I had the opportunity to go up to Kingston, Ontario to the Royal Military College back in 1967, the Centennial year of 1967. I had some cadets up there for the summer and we got to know some of the recruits who were going through the officer training school there at the Royal Military College and I've got to tell you, these were bright young guys in engineering, mostly engineering students and electrical students They would graduate as Lieutenants in the Canadian Navy and would immediately be put to work. I can tell you that if a research project was done, the number of cadets that I know who even went through the Royal Military College or St. Jean, Quebec, or out on the West Coast at Royal Roads and those places, I think it was Royal Roads. Anyway, all of those colleges prepare you for the future, because you not only learn a trade that you can use in civvy street once you leave the forces, you have a trade that you can employ while you're in the forces that will enhance your educational requirements. You can go back for post-graduate degrees, even up to the doctorate level, if you want, while still remaining a member of the Canadian forces.

So, it astounds me that we're not doing a better job of promoting the cadet programs to our youth out there. Heaven knows we need something for the youth to grab onto . The discipline and the responsibility that you learn early in life, when you learn as a cadet, you learn a simple thing like "sir" or "ma'am" in the Navy. I learned that at a young age and

[Page 1463]

every time I see somebody I always say, yes sir or no sir to someone I'm meeting. You learn how to respect others that are in the cadet movement with you and to learn to respect authority and you do that at an early age and it never leaves you. I can tell you, it never leaves you.

The esprit de corps that you get whether you're in the Navy or whether you're in the Army or the Air Cadets or younger than the Sea Cadets, I congratulate the Premier again for mentioning the Navy League Cadets in his motion because they, too, are a very important part because they're a preliminary to getting into the Sea Cadets.

We didn't have that in my day but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I guess if I would ask one thing and the Premier certainly has introduced the bill to the House for discussion, and if I could suggest one thing to all our members, is that we take the time to take a look at the value of the cadet program and to encourage young constituents in each and every one of your constituencies to give the cadet movement a try. Now, it's not for everybody because there is a word there that's employed very often and one that we have to have in the cadet movement. If you're going on into the Canadian Forces, it's discipline.

Everybody is not acceptable to having a large degree of discipline but I can tell you, and the Premier would tell you this, that when you go through new entry training school, it's pretty rugged, you know, for six or seven weeks but after that it's not too bad. You don't go through the rest of your life getting up at 5:00 a.m. and running 10 blocks, or 10 miles or something, before you get your breakfast. That's during new entry training and perhaps in your courses but after that it's a pretty good life. I have to tell you that some of the people that I have encouraged to go on into the Forces, most of them went Navy because I encouraged them to try that first, and I can tell you that having been to sea a few times myself, it was quite an adventure and the young people that I know who are serving on Canadian ships today are enjoying that as well.

I enjoyed it when I was on there, but there is a lot of discipline, but if you're looking at your future and you're looking at establishing yourself in business or the professions, there's no better grounding, Mr. Speaker, than to come out of the cadet corps movement and enter the Canadian Forces at the entry level. Then, of course, like everybody, they aspire to become first a leading seaman, then a petty officer, and then chief petty officer, and then finally a commissioned officer, but the chief petty officer will tell you that the chief petty officer is it. They don't worry about the commissioned officers. If you want to enjoy a rewarding career in your life, there's no better place to do it than the Canadian Forces.

I've got to tell you and I'm going to wind up in a minute, Mr. Speaker, but I'm going to tell you that if you look at the benefit package of the people in the Canadian Forces, if you look at the pay schedule, for example, if you look at the facilities that you live in, if you look at all of the amenities that are there for federal government employees in the Forces, there's no better life. There's no life like it and that's another saying, Go Navy, no life like it, learn

[Page 1464]

to serve, you know, and I think that we've come a long way from the days that when you were in sight of the drill shed at Cornwallis, you had to double everywhere. You could never walk within sight of the drill shed down there and things have changed now considerably down there, but the cadet program for those of you who may not know, the Sea Cadet Program is still alive and well at Cornwallis in the summertime.

I was down there for the 50th Anniversary of HMCS Acadia a couple of years ago and had the pleasure of taking the salute one morning at the graduation ceremonies of cadets. I got down off the dias and I went out and I marched with them because I felt that, one more time, you know, and it never leaves you. Mr. Speaker, I would encourage everybody in this House to talk to young people about joining the cadets.

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

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand here today to talk about Bill No. 23, an Act to Establish a Day to Recognize the Royal Canadian Sea, Army and Air Cadets and the Navy League Cadets in Nova Scotia.

I, too, want to congratulate the Premier for bringing this forward. I think it's a very astute move on his part. I think this being the 100th Anniversary of the Navy, I think it really serves well for the young people of the community. I want to congratulate the member for Cape Breton South on what he had to say and his little history lesson for us all because not all of us had the opportunity to be members of the cadets. I happened to be a member of the Army Cadets for a period of time but they didn't last too long, but I couldn't help but think when the member for Cape Breton South was mentioning his beginnings with the Sea Cadets that I was only a twinkle in my father's eye at that time. What that really serves to say is the lessons that are instilled in the Sea Cadets stay with people for a long time and I think that's something we need to remember.

The Premier mentioned having the longest serving Sea Cadet organization here in Nova Scotia and that would be in Windsor and that would be Squadron No. 106. Again, the history and the fact that we could have something that would last that long is a very proud thing that we as Nova Scotians can talk about. (Interruption) I'm sure the Minister of Economic and Rural Development is saying he's very familiar and I'm sure he is because I know the role that his father played in many different areas down there with the Legion. I think that what we are talking about here today is that it seems to be a part of the way of life in Nova Scotia.

We talk about something that is fitting, when you talk about going and joining the Sea Cadets, there is a whole lot of education that you get there that you couldn't get anywhere else. You learn valuable life skills, you learn to work together, you learn to have respect and you learn about structure. These are all the types of things that we as a society really need so that we can grow and expand.

[Page 1465]

When we hear of all these things in school, when we hear about bullying and all those situations, we think about the kind of structure that can be given to someone when they join a cadet movement and I think it's something that is valuable for us.

Of course, here in Nova Scotia, a calling to serve in any type of military is a calling that I believe is very strong, very noble and probably there is no stronger calling than that of military service and the number of Nova Scotians that have taken on that task. The fact that the economy of Nova Scotia is surrounded and has been impacted on what has taken place with the military in Nova Scotia and the Sea Cadets and the Air Cadets and all the cadet movement is sort of the beginning of all that in my mind.

Now in my own constituency I have two groups of Sea Cadets, one in Marion Bridge and one in Donkin and as the member for Cape Breton South mentioned, these groups are shrinking, but the children, the cadets that are involved in them, they're very dedicated. The other people that are so dedicated are the leaders of the movement of the Sea Cadets. You know, it's one thing to have an organization, but if you don't have leadership and you don't have strong leadership, then that organization will die. We have very strong leadership in both those corps and we have the programs that were mentioned that are available through the Department of Defence to help keep these organizations alive, so it's very important.

There are so many opportunities opened up to some of these young children that are involved in the cadet movement, opportunities like there can be summer jobs. You can be off and learn how to work with others on a ship, you can see different parts of the world that you may never have an opportunity to see if you were just waiting and didn't have your involvement in the cadet movement. There are all kinds of opportunities opened up to these young people and give them a different view of the world. A lot of times, I think it gives them a lot more thanks for what we have here in Nova Scotia and where we live. It's a great education and it's an education that you can get by just being a hard worker and being dedicated and being respectful and that's something that I think is very important.

The big thing, of course, is sportsmanship. They learn to be involved, they learn to be part of different challenges that are going on as a cadet movement and all of this just builds character and makes better Nova Scotians and we're very lucky to have that.

One of the things that I think we have to think about and I've seen a couple and I've heard many speak about it - the member for Cape Breton South mentioned it too - and that, of course, was the Sunset Ceremony and what takes place there. It's an opportunity for the cadets to show off their skills and what they've learned. It's an opportunity to show their parents and their grandparents and their families, but it's also an opportunity to show members of the community what they have learned as cadets. With all these things, it builds the character and anything that we can do to build the character of our young people in this province, I think makes a tremendous amount of sense.

[Page 1466]

I know our caucus is very supportive of supporting this bill and look forward to seeing the first Saturday in November being recognized for the cadets in the Province of Nova Scotia. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: I'm pleased to rise and say a few words today on Bill No. 23. First of all to thank the Premier for bringing this bill forward. I won't be too lengthy because my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South took us down a nostalgic memory lane in terms of cadets.

That's where I need to start with this bill. That is the part cadets played in my life and in character formation. When I went to high school in Grade 9 in central Newfoundland, an all-boys school, 350 in the school, 300 were in cadets. We had a battalion of Army Cadets. I think the part that made a wonderful connection for all of us was that our instructors were true veterans of the Second World War. That played a real dominant part in our training and how we looked upon cadets, the military and the place it played in our lives at that time.

For many who came out of those battalions and Army Cadet, Navy and Air Force Corps, went on to military careers. Many of my classmates in fact. I see great value in the cadet program, in the cadet movement. A number of skills and a number of opportunities in either branch expands your horizons when you're an adolescent. For example, in my area, several thousand cadets that come to summer camp at 14 Wing Greenwood and the opportunity to experience flight, to go up in a glider and have those kinds of experiences are so truly valuable.

In my area, as I mentioned, is the Greenwood 517 F/L Graham Squadron and they still have over 100 cadets in their corps. Every Wednesday night they have training, I've gotten out to a few of their training nights because, as several members have said, it's a little bit of our past and we like to connect with things that were part of our own upbringing.

In our area, we have an outstanding instructor in Major Johnson. He has contributed immensely to the growth of the corps in Greenwood. He's been so recognized that he's going to take on an expanded role through southwestern Nova Scotia to actually work on all branches of cadets - Navy, Air Force and Army - to invigorate some of the corps that have lost a tremendous number of members and that may possibly fold. He's going to work on the recruitment and reformation of some of the corps that have gone through some difficult times.

[Page 1467]

I don't think it's any accident that a private school like Kings-Edgehill has a cadet corps. They realize the elements that the kind of training brings to the formation of their students. I think that association with school is a very strong connection and can help reach some of the goals of your overall programs.

One of the reasons that I really promote cadets is not only my own life experience but I know as a teacher at West Kings where there has always been a very strong program in Greenwood, something I noticed, some of the intangibles that students were picking up from the discipline, the training, the program, from the demands, getting them into a good schedule, which again, cadets require. For some, it can actually be two outings a week.

I'm pleased to see that the Premier has brought this bill forward and that we will, in the first Saturday of November, as MLAs perhaps, have an opportunity to go out and recognize a cadet group in our area.

Since becoming an MLA, I have not missed one of the inspections of the Graham Flight in Greenwood and I have a great honour this year - especially now with this bill that I am sure will be passed and I will be able to mention it this year at the inspection - in that I've actually been asked to be the reviewing officer for the Graham Squadron. So I will acknowledge the Premier on that occasion for bringing this bill forward. With that, Mr. Speaker, I take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Premier it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I really appreciate the comments that were made by all the members, most particularly, though, by the member for Cape Breton South. I thought it was instructive and reflective and I think laid out some of the history. It is wonderful to know these kinds of things because if we forget our history then we are forgetting part of the fabric of our communities and of our province. It was great to hear what he had to say.

I didn't get a chance to reminisce, or didn't take the chance to reminisce, quite as much as he did, but since I am standing to close debate on this bill, I would like to just note one thing, it doesn't really have so much to do with my time in cadets so much as my time in cadets led to my enrolment in the Armed Forces in many ways and, of course, into the Navy, that is that I received by way of e-mail, in fact, just about two hours ago, that my course training officer as I went through the naval officer training centre in Esquimalt is actually retiring this year or, as we say, swallowing the anchor - Lieutenant Commander Chris Bowie, has had a long and distinguished career in the Navy. He was both a leader and a mentor to many, many people who went through the naval officer training centre. I think

[Page 1468]

it is a great opportunity for me just to formally recognize the work that he has done and the profound effect he has had on many people's lives, many of whom today are flag officers, they are senior ranking members of the Canadian Forces, they are leaders in business and yes, some of them even leaders in politics, Mr. Speaker.

He said, and I put in a little note to him because I remember him saying this when we went through, he said you know the Navy doesn't mind getting a halfwit because we give them the other half. Of course I left the Navy early so I went, of course, into a profession where being a halfwit is not a liability but with a little naval training you could still have some success.

I just want to take the opportunity to really salute a guy who I think in his time in the Navy has done a great many good things for a great many people. Certainly as the member for Cape Breton South said, I certainly would have no problem going with him and talking to the admiral about the re-institution of a cadet program in Cape Breton. Unfortunately we're going to be losing Rear Admiral Paul Maddison later on this year as he goes off to, I won't say more important but equally important duties in Ottawa. There'll be a change of command and we'll be welcoming a new admiral here.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to close debate on Bill No. 23, the Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets Day Act. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 23. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

Bill No. 36 - Engineering Profession Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 36.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 36. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1469]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before I call another bill, I wonder if it's possible, with the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 16 - Summary Proceedings Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House without amendment.

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

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 1470]

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House to speak about proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. The amendment to Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of the Motor Vehicle Act is being brought forward today to enable participants of Nova Scotia's Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program to continue in the program even if they move to another province in Canada. Likewise, this amendment will enable alcohol ignition interlock participants from other provinces to continue under the program when they move to Nova Scotia.

The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program has proven to be an effective way to help reduce drinking and driving in other parts of Canada and the world. Nova Scotia implemented its Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program in October 2008. The program requires those convicted of alcohol-related driving offences to install a small handheld breathing breath-testing device to their vehicle's ignition. The device requires the driver to provide breath samples at random times while the engine is running. In addition, the program also requires participants to undergo a mandatory education and alcohol assessment program through Addiction Services. I must take away from the notes just for a second to say that we need to be very proud of this legislation that was passed, that we do provide the service along with the measures of the program. (Applause)

Under the current legislation, participants of Nova Scotia's Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program must return to the province in order to complete their program and reinstate their driver's licence. Those from other provinces who move to Nova Scotia must likewise return to their own jurisdiction to complete the programs before they can be granted a licence in our province. As people move from one province to another for work or for other reasons, it has become necessary for us to develop a way to keep participants under the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program until they have established that they no longer drive while impaired. This amendment is a proactive way of addressing one of the reasons why people are not able to complete their interlock program.

[5:45 p.m.]

This proposed amendment will help the government and enforcement authorities in Nova Scotia, as well as other provinces, monitor and reform impaired driving behaviour anywhere in this country. If approved, Mr. Speaker, this amendment will allow us to start discussions to enter into agreements with other provinces to put this change in place for our Interlock Program. This will be a positive step towards our fight against drinking and driving in Nova Scotia and everywhere in Canada. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the next speaker, the honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal on an introduction.

[Page 1471]

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery this afternoon we have a distinguished visitor - at least a distinguished visitor in the summertime when he acknowledges that I move there once in awhile at Brackley Beach - I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the Honourable Richard E. Brown, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry. Mr. Brown, would you stand and receive the recognition of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: A warm welcome to all our visitors in the gallery this afternoon.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill No. 13 on behalf of our Party.

I was listening to the minister, in her opening remarks there, talking about the Interlock Program and the fact that it is now going to be mobile, and that somebody could actually work away and not have to come back to Nova Scotia for testing or periodic examination of that. And that brings to mind, just recently a gentleman who was under this program was working out in Alberta - as a lot of Cape Bretoners are working out in Alberta - and had to come back to Nova Scotia to do another test. It was quite onerous for him because not only did he have the problem with the testing itself, he couldn't get it done out in Alberta. Anyway, that is going to change and they will be able to continue the program even if they move to other jurisdictions.

Similarly, new residents who must participate in the Interlock Program will be able to complete the program in Nova Scotia - that's another plus because from time to time there are people who move to Nova Scotia for various reasons and they should be able to get the same privileges that somebody from Nova Scotia away would get.

Mr. Speaker, the Interlock Program is for people who have lost their driver's licence because of an alcohol-related conviction or have an alcohol-related offence on their driving record. Participants now in the Nova Scotia Interlock Program who move to another province, again, must return to complete the program and this will change that.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is legislation that is moving in the right direction. It is not keeping the punitive nature of the offence itself to the fore; in other words, it is giving these people the opportunity to take advantage of the programs that are available by legislation in Nova Scotia and also in other jurisdictions across Canada.

There are several difficulties with the actual Interlock Program once installed in the vehicles - we've heard reports about faulty systems, including issues surrounding the warnings going off without real cause for them to do that. In one instance we read about a

[Page 1472]

participant who turned their windshield wiper on and it set off the Interlock Program, but I believe all of these things are being fine-tuned and that's a good thing.

Each time that happens, the participant must have their system re-calibrated at their own expense. So that, to me, is something that should be (Interruption) No, I believe they did at one time, but I guess we're moving to change that - the minister suggests that is the case. If it happens on a regular basis it can be costly and that is why I think if there was some latitude for that it would be good.

The participants should be assured by government that the system works properly all the time, and I believe that the legislation calls for that. So we support the legislation. Again, the person who I talked to will be very happy to hear that if he still has to come back every once in a while to Nova Scotia to have his system looked at or his penalty advanced, then he can do it out in Alberta, and likewise.

I believe it's a good bill and our Party will be supporting the bill, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 13 is a good bill and I commend the minister for introducing it in the House. This is a good bill because it protects drivers, not only on our provincial roads but on roads across our country. It is important for provinces in Canada to communicate with each other, to ensure safe passage on all our highways, and this bill accomplishes that.

This ignition interlock system gives people convicted of drinking and driving a second chance. People make mistakes. Sadly, in some cases these mistakes have caused injury and death to innocent people. This bill helps to protect the integrity of the offer to give drivers convicted of drinking and driving a second chance. It enhances accountability. It creates a system to better track compliance, to ensure that drivers respect the second chance they've been given. For these reasons the Progressive Conservative members believe that Bill No. 13 is worthy of our support. We will be supporting it.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I ask now to call the question. I move second reading of Bill No. 13.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 13. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1473]

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 18.

Bill No. 18 - Vital Statistics Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise before the House to speak about proposed amendments to the Vital Statistics Act. In the last 20 to 30 years the role of the deputy registrar general of the Vital Statistics Office has changed significantly. Apart from managing an effective registration system, the position now entails increased interaction with other government agencies and a heightened focus on requirements for security processes and proper validations of data.

Mr. Speaker, in 2008 the position of assistant deputy registrar general was created to provide an additional management support to the deputy registrar general and the Vital Statistics Program. This proposed amendment will give the deputy registrar general the flexibility to effectively delegate some of his or her duties to the assistant deputy registrar general whenever appropriate. With the ability of senior officers to share tasks effectively, the Vital Statistics Office will be in the best position to continue to meet the growing demand for its services.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Dartmouth East, we will be supporting this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, should this bill improve the operations of the deputy registrar general for the benefit of Nova Scotians, we are also pleased to support this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

[Page 1474]

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: I move second reading of Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 18. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce the next bill, I'm wondering if I can get the concurrence of the House. We're approaching the moment of interruption, but I've got two more bills to call and we'll close the government's business for the day. So if we say that 6:15 p.m. will be the moment of interruption, would the House agree to that?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for their concurrence.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 29.

Bill No. 29 - Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, before I begin I was negligent in not thanking the honourable members opposite for their remarks. I apologize for that. It is the learning of all the language too, sometime it takes a while. So thank you.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill No. 29, amendments to the Municipal Government Act. These amendments will allow the province to establish a debt collection program on behalf of municipalities. Part of our mandate as a department is to assist municipalities which in turn helps keep communities throughout the province.

[Page 1475]

Small debts owed to municipalities can be a challenge for them to collect. Bills owed for utility services, facilities rentals or bylaw infractions can add up to a significant amount owing to individual municipal units.

Mr. Speaker, currently, municipalities are owed an estimated $8 million in debt. Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations operates an effective debt collection unit, our highly trained staff provides compassionate and effective debt collection service.

The UNSM approached our department to see if municipalities could tap into these services to help them collect more of the debt that is owed to them.

Mr. Speaker, our government is happy to move forward with their request. First, the province needs to amend the Municipal Government Act to provide the legal authority to collect debts owed to municipalities. Once it has been implemented this program will give municipalities further access to the provincial government's expertise. Hopefully, this will help them to collect more funds that will, in turn, go back to their communities. This is one measure that will help sustain vibrant communities in every region of the province.

With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 29.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 29. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 33.

Bill No. 33 - Securities Transfer Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say a few words about Bill No. 33, the Securities Transfer Act. This new legislation governs non-trading aspects of securities. Its purpose is not to change the manner in which securities are issued, held or transferred, but rather to declare the relationships among the parties involved.

[Page 1476]

This bill brings greater legal certainties around the holding, transferring and pledging of securities. Mr. Speaker, under this new legislation, securities transferred electronically will now have the same legal certainty as those on paper certificates. This will reflect current business practices. This legislation also addresses the ability of holders to use their securities as collateral.

The Securities Transfer Act is the result of a collaboration with the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. The aim of this effort is to develop modern and harmonized commercial laws across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, uniform commercial laws help Nova Scotia to remain competitive in the national and international market place. It aligns us with what is becoming a global standard for commercial laws.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society and thank them for their partnership on this project. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of the Securities Transfer Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, from my personal involvement in the securities industry, I can attest to the value of this bill, it will make things more convenient for people and we support this bill as well.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

[6:00 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 33.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 33. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I defer to the honourable Opposition House Leader for tomorrow's business.

[Page 1477]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will call Opposition Members' Business, Resolution No. 593 and Resolution No. 481. I move the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have now arrived at the moment of interruption. The adjournment motion was submitted by the honourable member for Inverness:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and his Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage agree that they have made another rash decision not to fund the Hector Heritage Quay, and find a way to work with the Town of Pictou to keep this important tourism, culture and heritage venue afloat."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

TCH: HECTOR HERITAGE QUAY - FUNDING

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in my place to speak on this resolution. I find it remarkable this NDP Government continues to steamroll right along, forgetting those same communities who believed in them less than a year ago.

Whether it be the tax increases imposed by this government, taxes they said they would not increase, or the deficit-laden budgets which they said would never happen. This after eight consecutive years of balanced budgets under the former Progressive Conservative Government. As mentioned previously by the member for Cape Breton North, the accounting

[Page 1478]

firm engaged by this government confirmed that the books were not cooked and there was no deficit.

We need look no further than the latest attempt to interfere in the automobile insurance industry to drive insurance rates up to where they were in 2001 and 2002 to show that this present NDP Government is oblivious to the hardship that they are imposing on Nova Scotians from Yarmouth to Glace Bay.

Through all this, they are still refusing to say whether the NDP Government will fund the popular tourist attraction on the Pictou waterfront. We know the Hector is an important economic generator in the Pictou area and we know the role it has played, in not only the economy of the area, but also the culture and heritage of its people.

The burden of high municipal tax rates and the cost of a new sewage treatment system have rendered the Town of Pictou unable to maintain the Hector Quay without provincial support. The Ship Hector Foundation estimates $90,000 is needed to keep it in operation this year. It is imperative that if something is going to happen this summer, the Premier must grasp the impact of losing the attraction and the value of working together to keep this important tourism destination open this year.

The Premier must be clear on what has transpired in the outcome of recent meetings between related department officials and municipal leaders. The Premier has pointed out to the municipality that it is their responsibility to fund the Hector Quay. This is not acceptable. Here we have another example government that has committed to cutting costs without full comprehension of the consequences or the importance of government collaboration in making our province work together.

People want to know that our provincial leaders have considered all the consequences in cases where tough decisions are being made. They want some assurance that all options are being explored and we do not see that happening.

Mr. Speaker, this PC caucus has been bringing this issue of the Hector forward. Last week, I presented a resolution in this House commending the efforts of those trying to save the Hector and the pledge to sign the petition that they were circulating. That resolution received the unanimous consent of this House and I'm pleased to say that today the members on this side of the House have signed the petition and I encourage those on the opposite side to sign it as well.

We, as the PC caucus, have said we will be continuing to bring this issue forward until there is a resolve, and we will do just that, and with that I will take my seat and thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

[Page 1479]

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

HON. PERCY PARIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise tonight to discuss the question around provincial support for the Hector Heritage Quay. At the same time, I want to demonstrate this government's commitment to make life better for families in every region of Nova Scotia. I want to begin by telling you while we are working with the Town of Pictou and ACOA to find solutions for its infrastructure needs and tourism attractions, the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, Culture and Heritage have not received - and I reiterate, Mr. Speaker, have not received - an official request for funding to support the Ship Hector.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to point out that I heard the honourable member mention earlier a figure of $90,000. Because we work so closely with the Town of Pictou, as we do with other municipalities around the Province of Nova Scotia, I would like to inform the member opposite that that figure has since grown to be well over $140,000. Since an official request has not come forward, certainly not as of yet, the topic of what tonight's debate is all about is somewhat misleading. All requests for funding via these departments must follow a specific application process which is not cumbersome but necessary for the proper review and assessment of any and all requests.

We know a motion was passed last evening by the Town of Pictou which will allow requests for funding from the town to proceed. As a result, we expect to receive an official request for funding very, very shortly. Staff from both departments that I am responsible for continue to work very diligently in this region with various stakeholders and other levels of government, to help strengthen the area's economy and create good, meaningful jobs.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that last summer alone almost 20,000 tourists visited the Hector Heritage Quay. We appreciate the vital financial contribution that represents individuals and businesses throughout the county. We understand the significance the Ship Hector represents not just to the economy, not just to the tourism sector, but to the history of Nova Scotia and the descendants of the Scottish settlers who landed in the harbour in 1773.

We also hear the concerns members of the community have for the long-time future of this attraction. More than 1,000 individual signatures on a petition of support, collected in just a couple of weeks, sends the message that the people of Pictou County support the Ship Hector and there is a strong desire to see all levels of government be active in the dialogue.

Over the past three years, the province has made commitments amounting to nearly $37,000 for Ship Hector projects and I acknowledge that that was mostly for a former government.

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In 2007, the province supported the development of a comprehensive plan to provide strategic direction around sustaining the Ship Hector as a cultural tourist attraction. Subsequently, in 2008, the Ship Hector required repairs by dry docking, and a hull inspection which required towing and hauling the ship out of the water at a very significant cost. The Province of Nova Scotia supported those repairs and inspection, along with a marine rail line engineering study. This also included an operational and development plan for the Pictou waterfront, including the Ship Hector. As you can see, the town has been working with provincial staff over the years to address concerns related to the Ship Hector, and staff continue to attend meetings and work with the stakeholders to help ensure the ship's sustainability.

Despite the economic challenges of the last year, many communities and companies across the province have been successful in their efforts to compete and innovate. For instance, Pictou County is known for its thriving entrepreneurial talent and community spirit - it is home to great companies like Empire, Advocate Printing, MacKay Meters and MacGregor's Custom Fabrication. The local RDA, the Pictou Regional Development Agency, emphasize these assets by partnering with its companies to address the shortage of workers in the area by championing a multi-year recruitment and retention project - it's a nine-point plan which covers many areas to educate both employers and job-seekers on the benefits of locating in Pictou County. The RDA charted local strengths in an asset map, and to reach out to young people a networking group for young professionals was formed.

In addition, the RDA launched a Welcoming Community Advisory Council and secured funding for a full-time recruitment and retention officer to lead the project, as well as co-hosted its first rural development conference in River John very recently.

Provincial programs such as the IEF, the Industrial Expansion Fund, the Manufacturing and Processing Investment Credit, the Productivity and Innovation Voucher Program and more are also supporting businesses in times of need to innovate, expand exports, and to increase productivity.

Certainly in the northern region of this province, the Industrial Expansion Fund is working to create good jobs and to grow the economy. A recent example of that is the provincial partnership with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of Korea to create a wind turbine and blade manufacturing facility in Trenton, which will create green jobs and help stimulate the wind power industry in Nova Scotia. When fully operational, DSME Trenton is expected to generate almost 500 quality jobs, an annual payroll of $20 million, direct tax revenue of $3 million per year, and indirect tax revenue of $1.8 million each year. This is a significant investment in opportunity for Nova Scotia. We are contributing to Trenton's Mainstreet improvements to attract tours, support local businesses and to cultivate commercial development.

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These are just a few examples of the great work and successes we are seeing in this particular area of the province. We also know that entrepreneurship and collaboration is alive and well in Nova Scotia. InNOVAcorp, recently awarded LST Energy first place in this area through its provincial I-3 competition.

Mr. Speaker, by focusing on our innovations and assets while also diversifying our economy, we will attract new jobs and newcomers and build a more sustainable future for all of Nova Scotia. We will continue to work with communities and business to identify initiatives to help strengthen the economies of every region, increase employment, and create stronger, sustainable communities. We look forward to our continued work with the Town of Pictou and relationship through the Ship Hector, and we'll await an official funding request from the town.

[6:15 p.m.]

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm also pleased to stand in my place tonight to speak about the Hector. I'm not sure just where the minister went there, but he left the Hector for a while and went inland a ways. I want to assure, too - I'm going to speak about it tonight and it's going to be a smoother sailing trip, and I assure Legislative TV I'll stand still tonight and I won't roll out of view if you're watching me.

Anyway, I want to speak a little on the Hector tonight, and I know I've only got 10 minutes but that's probably lots. I want to speak about the Hector not being worth a few jobs but the Hector being significant to the heritage of this province - not only for Pictou or Nova Scotia, but for all Atlantic Canada. The Hector is a flagship. The Hector took on considerable historic significance with the arrival in Pictou of 189 passengers in September 1773. This voyage marked the beginning of a massive wave of Scottish immigrants to the Port of Pictou.

Mr. Speaker, I've got four pages of boats that followed her - four pages here - and I'll read a few off. I'll just read a few off, because this is what the Hector represents. It doesn't represent a few jobs - which is great in the community of Pictou - it represents a fleet, a wave of boats that came across the Atlantic and brought people to this province. I will tell you why later, if it hadn't brought those people across to this province, other things wouldn't matter. We wouldn't even be here talking about anything, because this is where we came from. Every one of us in this House came over on one of these boats probably - not all of us. I came a little earlier, and I see two or three here who came earlier on other boats that probably won't get mentioned here tonight, but I could talk about them for a while too.

I'm going to name a few. In 1773 the ship Hector sailed from Loch Broom and arrived in Pictou and she brought 189 passengers. In 1775 an unknown ship came. It never

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even had a name on her. The vessel was wrecked on Prince Edward Island, and there was only a small number of immigrants onboard who made it ashore to safety.

In 1790 another unknown vessel containing a large number of immigrants who went to Prince Edward Island, and Reverend Mr. Maceachern, who turned Bishop of Prince Edward Island, settled there, and they came from the Western Isles. In 1791 two vessels, one of which I believe was the Dunkeld, arrived at Pictou this year with a large number of settlers from the Hebrides. Most of these people moved further east along the north shore of Antigonish and Cape Breton.

In 1801 the ship Sarah brought 700 immigrants. The ship Aurora, in 1801, brought another few hundred. Another ship, the Dove, of Aberdeen, brought settlers to Pictou. In 1802, a vessel, name unknown, brought 370 Highlanders to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. The ship Favourite sailed from Ullapool, wherever that is, and arrived in Pictou with 500 passengers onboard. The ship Alexander in 1803 arrived at Pictou with another 350 passengers onboard.

Let's see, in 1805 the ship Polly arrived in Canso with - they didn't know how many were aboard her, but she was full. In 1806 the ship Rambler came out of Scotland, and that landed in Prince Edward Island and then came over to Pictou. In 1808 the Claredon - anyway, I could go here all night, I've got pages full of them, but this is what the Ship Hector represented. This isn't really about the Hector. The Ship Hector started this wave of bringing our people across the Atlantic, some of them three months long, a three-month sail. I know what I saw on Georges that night, I imagine they saw a few breezes coming across there, too. Three months getting across in some of these old ships to come to Pictou, to come to Cape Breton, some came to P.E.I., some even came into New Brunswick but this was the wave from Europe that brought all these along.

As I said before, I've got four pages here, I could table them. I guess it's not necessary to table them but there's lots there but this is what is going on. So here we have a Ship Hector that is representing all of us and our heritage and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage is thinking about letting this go? We even have ships, we have the Bluenose II and the Theresa E. Connor that is in Lunenburg. She just represents the fishery that we started after we got here. We got the Ship Acadia, go down the street here a couple of ways, tied up to the dock, it represents the Battle of the Atlantic, it represents World War II. That wouldn't even be there is the Ship Hector had never come.

Mr. Speaker, I guess the point I'm getting across, we've got to keep the Ship Hector intact, for the good of not only this province, we've got to keep it intact for the good of all Atlantic Canada and not just all of Atlantic Canada, all of Canada. The Ship Hector - the significance that ship has - whatever we have to do, whatever the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has to do to keep this going, he's got to keep it going. It's only common

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sense. To let that go would be one of the biggest shipwrecks that this province and this country ever had, if this Ship Hector is let go from Pictou.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my seat and thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member. I want to thank all the honourable members for an excellent debate tonight.

The motion for adjournment has been made. The House now stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:23 p.m.]

[Page 1484]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 778

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas the Cumberland County Blues have been to the Don Johnson Tournament three times in four years with teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, talking part and all being deserving of credit for their gamesmanship and sportsmanship; and

Whereas Captain Cody Roach, who was playing his fourth and final year with the Blues, was instrumental in motivating his team with these words, "just leave it all out there" when they were trailing against the St. John's team 2-1; and

Whereas the Cumberland County Blues captured their first Don Johnson Cup Atlantic Junior B championship by defeating the St. Margaret's Bay Ducks by a score of 4-1 on Sunday;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the players of the Cumberland County Blues, their families, coaching staff, volunteers, and fans on their most successful year to date, and wish them all success in the future, especially those players who are leaving the team as they go on to other life challenges.

RESOLUTION NO. 779

By: Ms. Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove)

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

Whereas the Bedford Volunteer Awards were created in 1982 to honour the many volunteers of our community; and

Whereas Bedford Academy nominated Shirley Hall to receive the award from its organization at the recognition ceremony on Sunday, April 18, 2010; and

Whereas Shirley has served Bedford Academy as a teacher's helper for 10 years, and has also served as a chaperone on school trips, and she has managed two minor hockey teams and served as treasurer for one of the teams;

[Page 1485]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Shirley Hall on being honoured for her volunteer service by the Bedford Volunteer Recognition Committee, and wish her well in her, no doubt, many and varied future volunteer activities.

RESOLUTION NO. 780

By: Ms. Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove)

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

Whereas the Bedford Volunteer Awards were created in 1982 to honour the many volunteers of our community; and

Whereas the Bedford Lions Club nominated Hardy Powell to receive the award from its organization at the recognition ceremony on Sunday, April 18, 2010; and

Whereas Hardy has served the Bedford Lions Club for 50 years, with 40 years of perfect attendance, and after a lifetime chairing many committees, cooking many meals, and building, repairing, and renovating items throughout the community, was awarded the highest honour given to Lions, the Melvin Jones Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Hardy Powell on being honoured for his 50 years of volunteer service by the Bedford Volunteer Recognition Committee, and wish him well in his, no doubt, many and varied future volunteer activities.

RESOLUTION NO. 781

By: Ms. Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove)

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

Whereas the Bedford Volunteer Awards were created in 1982 to honour the many volunteers of our community; and

Whereas Bedford Lawn Bowls nominated Susan Banks to receive the award from its organization at the recognition ceremony on Sunday, April 18, 2010; and

Whereas Susan has served Bedford Lawn Bowls for seven years in a variety of roles, as Treasurer, Chair of the Kitchen Committee, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and has been a member of the Dartmouth Volksmarch Club, serving in a variety of executive

[Page 1486]

roles, and as secretary of the planning committee of a national Volksport convention held in Wolfville in 2008, and acted as secretary of the Canadian Volksport Federation for six years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Susan Banks on being honoured for her volunteer service by the Bedford Volunteer Recognition Committee, and wish her well in her, no doubt, many and varied future volunteer activities.

RESOLUTION NO. 782

By: Ms. Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove)

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

Whereas the Bedford Volunteer Awards were created in 1982 to honour the many volunteers of our community; and

Whereas the Bedford Horticultural Society and the Fort Sackville Foundation nominated Roslyn Duffus to receive the awards from their organizations at the recognition ceremony on Sunday, April 18, 2010; and

Whereas Roslyn has been Chair of the Grounds Committee at Scott Manor House since 1998, and is also: a former treasurer and president of the Nova Scotia Rock Garden Club, a distinguished piper with the Pipes and Drums of Clan Farquharson, an active member of the alumnae of the Halifax Ladies College since 1987, serving as Treasurer of Alumnae Funds and Scholarship Funds, a member of the Atlantic Woodworkers Association, donating many of her creations to fundraising efforts, and a generous gardener who has donated her expertise to others and many of her plants to fundraising efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Roslyn Duffus on being honoured for her volunteer service by the Bedford Volunteer Recognition Committee, and wish her well in her, no doubt, many and varied future volunteer activities.

RESOLUTION NO. 783

By: Ms. Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove)

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

Whereas the Bedford Volunteer Awards were created in 1982 to honour the many volunteers of our community; and

[Page 1487]

Whereas the Bedford Leisure Club nominated Mary Rogers to receive the award from its organization at the recognition ceremony on Sunday, April 18, 2010; and

Whereas Mary has served Bedford Leisure Club for six years, including time as president, Chair of the Program Committee, and as part of the knitting group of the club, as well, she has volunteered with the library program for English as a Second Language, all of this following a rewarding career as a volunteer and township councillor in Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mary Rogers on being honoured for her volunteer service by the Bedford Volunteer Recognition Committee, and wish her well in her, no doubt, many and varied future volunteer activities.

RESOLUTION NO. 784

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas Bill Ward of Springhill had his name added to CTV's list of Maritimers of the Week, and none are more deserving; and

Whereas Bill Ward has lived a lifetime of selfless volunteering and lives to help people, and despite being struck by a car and dragged for two blocks at the age of five, he defied the odds and survived, and rather than let that incident define him, he overcame the challenges to become a homespun hero; and

Whereas over the years, Bill Ward has maintained minor hockey league statistics, looked after the time clock, and helped with equipment, and away from the rink he shovels snow for seniors, contributes to the Santa Claus Parade and Winter Carnival, is a church deacon and past chair of the Baptist Brotherhood, and at one time spent his Springs and summers coaching minor girls softball;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Bill Ward on being named CTV's Maritimer of the Week and applaud him for always being there for his community.

RESOLUTION NO. 785

By: Hon. Karen Casey (Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party)

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

[Page 1488]

Whereas the Aramark Award of Achievement in Environmental Leadership recognizes organizations in Nova Scotia that have made a significant effort to improve the environment through grassroots or staff-led initiatives; and

Whereas Helga Hoffman-Ortan, an operating room nurse from Colchester Regional Hospital, this year's winner, was recognized for her work to introduce green practices in the OR which have reduced waste; and

Whereas the award also recognizes her leadership in founding a Green Team, supporting planning for the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified hospital in Nova Scotia, and spreading the Green message among her peers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Helga Hoffman-Ortan for the provincial recognition she received for her innovation and environmental leadership.

RESOLUTION NO. 786

By: Hon. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Official Opposition)

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

Whereas Susan Bent, an Intensive Resource Teacher at Annapolis East Elementary School, is a tireless advocate for students with special considerations; and

Whereas Susan's support for her students goes far beyond the academic to include life skills, interaction with the community, and working with families as they help their children find a place in society; and

Whereas Susan's passion in recognizing the differing needs of each child and providing for those needs - physical, emotional, and intellectual - in their homes, their school, and other aspects for their lives earned her a innovative teacher provincial recognition on April 19th at the Black Education Centre in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Susan on this well-deserved recognition and thank her for her dedication to helping others.

[Page 1489]

RESOLUTION NO. 787

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas the Oxford Bantam Junior Bears were in Eastern Passage in March 2010 participating in the Matt Fidgen Memorial Tournament, which was especially challenging to the girls as they were playing in a higher division than they were used to and facing stronger competition; and

Whereas Oxford was consistent in winning the first three games that placed them in the final championship game against Prospect and they came out roaring right from the opening tip off with their defensive mastery which would not allow Prospect to penetrate for easy baskets and counter attacking with their speed and beating their opponents up the court; and

Whereas the Oxford Bantam Junior Bears clinched the game and they finished with a score of 47 to 27, winning another banner for their school, with top scorers being Mallory Thompson with 16 points; Kennedy Petten and Alexa Thompson with six each; Katy Reid, Morgan Bishop, and Jenna Colborne with five apiece; and Catherine Hurley with four; and tournament MVP for Oxford was Mallory Thompson;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Oxford Bantam Junior Bears for winning the Matt Fidgen Memorial Tournament Championship and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.