The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 10-5

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

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
SPEAKER'S RULING: Surname of Premier used in referring to government.
(Pt. of order by Hon. M. Scott [Hansard p. 227, 03/30/10])
Usage Acceptable 254
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 255
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 112, Youth Science Mo. (03/10): Science Teachers - Congrats.,
Hon. M. More 256
Vote - Affirmative 256
Res. 113, Africville - Past Chapter: Righting - Acknowledge,
Hon. P. Paris 256
Vote - Affirmative 257
Res. 114, Heritage Gas - Cdn. Gas Assoc. Award,
Hon. M. More 257
Vote - Affirmative 258
Res. 115, African Heritage Mo. (02/10): Leading Ladies - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Paris 258
Vote - Affirmative 258
Res. 116, Atkinson, Jill: Scam Jam 2010 - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex 259
Vote - Affirmative 260
Res. 117, Oulton, John/Bishop, Patricia: Outstanding Young Farmer
(Atl. Reg.) - Congrats., Hon. J. MacDonell 260
Vote - Affirmative 260
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 118, Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd. - Excellence in Bus. Award,
Hon. S. Belliveau 261
Vote - Affirmative 261
Res. 119, East Coast Music Awards (2010): Vols. - Congrats.,
The Premier 261
Vote - Affirmative 262
Res. 120, Crosby, Sidney: Winter Olympics Performance - Congrats.,
The Premier 262
Vote - Affirmative 263
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 13, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. R. Jennex 263
No. 14, Sales Tax Act, Mr. M. MacMaster 263
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 121, Stewart, David - McLeese Award,
Hon. S. McNeil 263
Vote - Affirmative 264
Res. 122, Fin.: Tax Increase - Halt,
Hon. K. Casey 264
Res. 123, Sir John A. Macdonald HS Flames - Boys Basketball
Championships, Hon. W. Estabrooks 265
Vote - Affirmative 265
Res. 124, N.S./N.B. Border: Staggered Gas Prices - Election Promise,
Mr. A. Younger 265
Res. 125, Sydney Ports Corp.: Tourism - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Bain 266
Res. 126, Grant, Shauntay/Daye, Gilbert: Amistad Voyage - Congrats.,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 267
Vote - Affirmative 268
Res. 127, Fin. Min.: HST Road Show - Results,
Mr. L. Glavine 268
Res. 128, OTANS: Work - Commend, Hon. C. Clarke 268
Res. 129, Women's Instit. N.S. (Gore Br.) - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. J. MacDonell 269
Vote - Affirmative 270
Res. 130, Basque, Elsie Charles: Order of Can. - Congrats.,
Hon. W. Gaudet 270
Vote - Affirmative 270
Res. 131, Ocean Leader Fisheries, et al: 1-3 Tech. Start-Up Comp -
Hon. C. d'Entremont 271
Vote - Affirmative 271
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 132, Beleaf Aveda Concept Salon & Spa - East. Kings C of C Award,
Hon. R. Jennex 272
Vote - Affirmative 272
Res. 133, Connolley, Don - RTNDA Lifetime Achievement Award,
Ms. K. Regan 273
Vote - Affirmative 273
Res. 134, Rankin Fam. - ECMA Award,
Mr. A. MacMaster 273
Vote - Affirmative 274
Rea. 135, MacDougall, Gordon: Nation/Commun. Serv. Congrats.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 274
Vote - Affirmative 275
Res. 136, Fin. - HST Hike: ERD Min. - Oppose,
Hon. K. Colwell 275
Res. 137, Swinimer, Tracy: RRFB Bike Contest - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 276
Vote - Affirmative 276
Res. 138, Liverpool Reg. HS TADD/Queens Co. RCMP Commun. Policing -
Safe Driving Promotion, Ms. V. Conrad 276
Vote - Affirmative 277
Res. 139, Vincent, Ida: Aboriginal Housing - Efforts,
Mr. T. Zinck 277
Vote - Affirmative 278
Res. 140, Handley Page Air Cadets Squadron 689 - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. M. Scott 278
Vote - Affirmative 279
Res. 141, NSCC Continuing Care Asst. Students: Ocean View Manor -
Fundraising, Ms. B. Kent 279
Vote - Affirmative 279
Res. 142, Hector Heritage Quay - Prem./TCH Min.: Pictou - Assist,
Hon. K. Casey 280
Res. 143, Gaul, Mr. Carroll - Birthday (100th),
Mr. G. Ramey 280
Vote - Affirmative 281
Res. 144, Haley St. Adult Serv. Ctr.: Music Therapy Prog. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 281
Vote - Affirmative 282
Res. 145, Cumb. Co. Commun. Credit Union Midget Girls Hockey Team -
Championship, Mr. B. Skabar 282
Vote - Affirmative 282
Res. 146, Cornerstone Wesleyan Church: Legislators Sunday - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Whynott 283
Vote - Affirmative 283
Res. 147, MacKinnon, Richard: Prov. Court Judge - Appt.,
Mr. A. MacMaster 283
Vote - Affirmative 284
Res. 148, CentreStage Theatre - East Kings C of C Award,
Mr. J. Morton 284
Vote - Affirmative 285
Res. 149, Jamieson, Justin: Grant Mem. 4-H Leadership Tour - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 285
Vote - Affirmative 286
Res. 150, Dory Shop: Funding - Congrats.,
Ms. Pam Birdsall 286
Vote - Affirmative 287
Res. 151, Sargent, Art: Son Pham - Donation,
Hon. M. Scott 287
Vote - Affirmative 288
Res. 152, Glode, Joan: Order of Can. - Congrats.,
Hon. W. Estabrooks 288
Vote - Affirmative 288
Res. 153, Baddeck Acad. Students: Remembrance Day Poster Contest -
Congrats., Mr. K. Bain 289
Vote - Affirmative 289
Res. 154, Company House - ECMA Award,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 289
Vote - Affirmative 290
Res. 155, Lego Comp.: Pictou Mind. Sch. Students - Congrats.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 290
Vote - Affirmative 291
Res. 156, N. Queens Spartans - Boys Basketball Accomplishments,
Ms. V. Conrad 291
Vote - Affirmative 291
Res. 157, Shearwater Commun. Coun. - Lt.-Gov.'s Award,
Ms. B. Kent 292
Vote - Affirmative 292
Res. 158, Bright Beginnings Child Care Ctr.: Funding - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Skabar 293
Vote - Affirmative 293
Res. 159, Millwood HS Girls Basketball Team - Bronze Medal,
Mr. M. Whynott 293
Vote - Affirmative 294
Res. 160, Best Toyota - East. Kings C of C Award,
Mr. J. Morton 294
Vote - Affirmative 295
Res. 161, Stevens, Gordon - Uncommon Group of Companies:
Bus. Success - Congrats., Mr. L. Preyra 295
Vote - Affirmative 295
Res. 162, Hub Space People Innovation Inc. - Hfx. C of C Award,
Mr. L. Preyra 296
Vote - Affirmative 296
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 14, Fin.: Internal Tax Review - Table,
Hon. S. McNeil 297
No. 15, Trade & Convention Ctr.: Funding - Prov. Share,
Hon. K. Casey 298
No. 16, Amherst Gas Tax: URB Decision - Respect,
Hon. S. McNeil 299
No. 17, Prem.: Barristers' Soc. Fees - Amount,
Hon. S. McNeil 301
No. 18, Gas Prices (Northern N.S.) - URB Decision: Prem. - Involvement,
Hon. M. Scott 302
No. 19, ERD: Yarmouth Ferry Shutdown - Repercussions,
Hon. K. Colwell 303
No. 20, Fin. - Insurance Act: Amendments - Details,
Mr. A. MacMaster 305
No. 21, Educ.: Tuition Support Prog. - Press Conference,
Ms. K. Regan 306
No. 22, Fin. - HST Raise: CRA Poll - Impact,
Mr. A. MacMaster 307
No. 23, Health: Public Consultation - Stakeholder Involvement,
Ms. D. Whalen 309
No. 24, Intl. Tattoo - Prem: Chief of Staff - Involvement,
Mr. C. Porter 310
No. 25, Com. Serv. - Target 100 Prog.: Limits - Explain,
Mr. T. Zinck 311
No. 26, Nat. Res.: Land Purchase - Clear-Cutting,
Mr. L. Glavine 313
No. 27, Prem.: Election Contributions - Rules,
Hon. K. Casey 314
No. 28, Health - ERs (24/7): Protection Fund - Use,
Ms. D. Whalen 315
No. 29, Prem.: Ship Hector - Funding,
Mr. K. Bain 316
No. 30, ERD: Rail America - Subsidy,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 318
No. 31, Prem.: Yarmouth Residents - Meet,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 319
No. 32, HPP: LIFEPLEX Wellness Ctr. - Access,
Mr. H. Theriault 321
No. 33, TIR: Layoffs - Details,
Hon. M. Scott 323
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 6, Industrial Expansion Fund Transfer Act, Hon. S. McNeil 325
Hon. S. McNeil 325
Hon. P. Paris 327
Hon. M. Scott 330
Hon. K. Colwell 333
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 4, ERD: Yarmouth Ferry - Serv. Ensure, Hon. S. McNeil 336
Mr. L. Glavine 337
Hon. P. Paris 338
Hon. C. d'Entremont 339
Mr. A. Younger 342
ADJOURNMENT MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Child Care Ctr. Repair Fund - Importance:
Ms. P. Birdsall 345
Hon. Manning MacDonald 347
Hon. C. d'Entremont 350
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 1st at 12:00 noon ~ 353
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 163, Boissonault, Mme. Huberte: Guinness Bk. of World Records -
Inclusion, Hon. W. Gaudet 354
Res. 164, N. Col. Mustangs Boys Basketball Team -
Truro Sport Heritage Soc. Award, Hon. K. Casey 355^

[Page 253]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for today's business is to begin.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I understand as a result of a point of order from yesterday, and the comments from yourself, you are ready to rule in regard to some comments made here in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to provide this document to hopefully help you with your decision, maybe it has already been done. In regard to members of the Opposition referring to the Dexter Government, a quick search of Hansard showed that over the years the government has been called the Hamm Tories, the Hamm Government, the Hamm PC Government, MacDonald Tories, MacDonald Government, and so on and so on.

There are 273 times, just a quick search of Hansard showed that that has been done, I'm sure we can find many more. In fact, Mr. Speaker, you may have done it yourself. I know I've done it and I think that - I don't think any disrespect is meant by that. It has been accepted in this House over the years and I would ask you to consider this as you make your decision.

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253

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, to the point of the member for Cumberland South, just because they used it didn't mean it was right. The rules clearly say that you cannot name members. Thank you.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I too rise on a point of order. Yesterday in this Chamber the member for Annapolis asked a question to the Premier regarding the ferry service that has been killed by the NDP Government. I was going to put "Dexter" in there but I stayed away.

The Premier stated, "In fact, the subsidies were such that the government was essentially paying in excess of $400 for every person who stepped off the ferry. That, obviously, was not sustainable."

I feel that the Premier has misinformed the House and Nova Scotians by skewing those numbers. It did not cost $400 per person travelling that ferry service; according to government's own numbers, it cost $13.43 per person from 1997 to 2009, inclusive. Government did invest $20.15 million in the ferry service in 2006 to 2009 but did not subsidize a single penny from 1997 to 2005. Even if I used the 2006 to 2009 numbers, or 385,500 people at the $20 million subsidy, I get only $50.27 per person.

Mr. Speaker, where did the Premier get those erroneous numbers and will he please table them in this House so that these numbers can be clarified?

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. I will take that as a difference of opinion, or at least a difference - different researchers apparently, but at this point it's a difference of opinion.

SPEAKER'S RULING: Surname of Premier used in referring to government. (Pt. of order by Hon. M. Scott [Hansard p. 227, 03/30/10]) usage acceptable

I am going to read a short Speaker's Ruling that came from the member for Cumberland South. The honourable member for Cumberland South rose on March 30, 2010, on a point of order. I indicated that I would research the issue and report back. As indicated by the member, there is a lot of research there that indicates that on a large number of occasions over the past few years the surname of the Premier was used in referring to the government. For example, referring to past governments as the Hamm Government or the MacDonald Government is quite acceptable or, presently, the Dexter Government is fine. However, any other reference to a Premier or Cabinet Minister that uses any unparliamentary

[Page 255]

or derogatory term - and, of course, that wasn't done but if it could be or should be in the future, that is not acceptable.

The proper address to any member in this House is the honourable member for whichever riding, or the honourable Minister of whichever department. So I hope this clarifies the situation and thank you for your attention.

I should point out under Rule 5(5) today, under late debate, this is the resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the vital importance of child care organizations such as the Lunenburg Day Care Centre and the Bye the Sea Nursery, recent recipients of funding through the Child Care Centre Repair Fund.

That was submitted by the honourable member for Lunenburg and will be discussed at the moment of interruption at six o'clock or before, if it should occur.

Now we're ready for the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We're on day four and Page 4 of a petition that is being carried out for the county of Cumberland County because of a headline that said, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises." Mr. Speaker, the petition says:

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

Mr. Speaker, there are 52 names to this petition, on which I have affixed my own, and it brings the total at this point, on day four, to 170.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[2:15 p.m.]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 256]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 112

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's future depends on innovation; and

Whereas in Nova Scotia's science classrooms we promote hands on, minds on learning and every day science students are engaged in decision making using inquiry and problem solving techniques; and

Whereas every March in Nova Scotia, we celebrate Youth Science Month;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the province's science teachers and all others who work hard to develop our students' skills as we celebrate Youth Science Month in Nova Scotia and across the country.

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. 113

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

Whereas Africville was once a bustling African Nova Scotian community on the shores of the Bedford Basin that boasted a proud and unique culture and heritage; and

[Page 257]

Whereas 40 years ago, in the name of urban renewal, the community of Africville was razed by the City of Halifax, leaving the community broken and dislocated; and

Whereas on February 24th the Halifax Regional Municipality apologized to the former residents of Africville and along with the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Government of Canada, contributed funds to the building of a fitting Africville memorial;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and celebrate the righting of a past chapter in the province's history by steps taken in pursuit of reconciliation respecting the Africville 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. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 114

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

Whereas this government believes that workplace safety is a shared responsibility among all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Canadian Gas Association Safety Leadership Awards recognize individuals who make significant contributions to employee or public safety relating to the natural gas distribution industry in Canada; and

Whereas Heritage Gas employees in Dartmouth, namely Chris MacAulay, Michael Borys, Andrew Reid, Jim Young, Jason Rhinas, Jean-Guy McLaughin, Brian McKay and Nevin MacKinnon recently received an award from this national organization for their important contributions to improving public safety at the Canadian Gas Association Operations Conference in London, Ontario;

[Page 258]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia congratulate Heritage Gas and its employees for their commitment to safety, wish them continued success in efforts to promote public and workplace safety and encourage all Nova Scotians to follow their fine example.

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. 115

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

Whereas February was African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas we celebrated the 26th Anniversary of African Heritage Month with the theme Leading Ladies, Lasting Legacies; and

Whereas the theme Leading Ladies, Lasting Legacies celebrated unsung matriarchs Ada Fells, Beryl Braithwaite, Edith Cromwell, Willena Jones, May Sheppard, and Geraldine White in the African Nova Scotian community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and continue to celebrate the contributions that Ada Fells, Beryl Brathwaite, Edith Cromwell, Willena Jones, May Sheppard, and Geraldine White have made to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 259]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, before I do my resolution, would you allow me to do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. JENNEX: In connection with my resolution on March being Fraud Prevention Month, I would like to introduce two people who are here today in the east gallery. I would ask them to stand. We have Don MacKinnon, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the Maritime Provinces, and Jill Atkinson, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau of the Maritime Provinces. They work hard to advance consumer education in this province, and I am honoured to be their guest in their upcoming meeting in April. I would like the members of this House to give these two very important people a very warm welcome. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 116

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

Whereas March is Fraud Prevention Month, an international annual campaign that includes a number of fraud awareness activities to help educate the public about the dangers of mass marketing fraud; and

Whereas Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is a proud member of the Fraud Prevention Forum, joining dozens of other organizations to fight fraud during Fraud Prevention Month; and

Whereas Jill Atkinson of the Better Business Bureau of the Maritime Provinces helped organize Scam Jam 2010 on March 24th, an event that partnered government, the private sector, and consumer agencies to provide information and awareness to Nova Scotia consumers;

[Page 260]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Jill Atkinson and everyone involved in Scam Jam 2010 and applaud their efforts to help Nova Scotians become wise consumers.

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 Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 117

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

Whereas the Atlantic Region's title for Outstanding Young Farmers was awarded to Patricia Bishop and Josh Oulton of Port Williams, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the couple have launched a successful community-shared agriculture program as well as developed a new organic vegetable farm for the health of both their family and their community; and

Whereas as winners of the Atlantic Region's Outstanding Young Farmers award, which recognizes farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and who promote the contributions of agriculture, they now move up to compete for the Canadian title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer their congratulations to Josh Oulton and Patricia Bishop for being recognized for their excellence in farming by winning the title of Outstanding Young Farmers for the Atlantic Region and wish them the best of luck as they compete with other young farmers from across the country for the national award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 261]

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 Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 118

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

Whereas in December 2009, Jimmy Kennedy, co-owner of the Cape Breton-based Louisbourg Seafoods, accepted the Excellence in Business Award for export achievement; and

Whereas Louisbourg Seafoods remains competitive despite a great number of challenges faced by the industry, showing leadership and a great degree of responsibility towards the ocean's resources; and

Whereas Louisbourg Seafoods Limited employs over 500 local residents at its four facilities across the region in Louisbourg, Glace Bay, North Sydney and Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd. for their role in the seafood business and for their carrying on a great Atlantic Canadian tradition.

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.

[Page 262]

RESOLUTION NO. 119

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 the East Coast Music Awards were celebrated in Sydney, Cape Breton between March 4th and March 7th; and

Whereas hundreds of volunteers welcomed musicians and music representatives to the annual conference, festival, and awards ceremony; and

Whereas the volunteers worked hard for months to ensure the events were successful and a good time was had by all;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate all of the volunteers of the 2010 East Coast Music Awards for their hard work and commitment to showcasing Nova Scotia's fine hospitality.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 120

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

Whereas Cole Harbour native Sidney Crosby made Nova Scotians proud when he scored the winning goal in overtime in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver; and

Whereas Mr. Crosby's goal, on the final day of competition at the Games, secured a Winter Olympic record 14th goal medal for Canada; and

[Page 263]

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians from across the province cheered as Sidney once again made hockey history;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sidney Crosby for his outstanding performance at the Winter Olympics and wish him continued success in his hockey career.

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. 13 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Ramona Jennex)

Bill No. 14 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 31 of the Acts of 1996. The Sales Tax Act. (Mr. Allan MacMaster)

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. 121

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

Whereas David Stewart, a teacher at Middleton Regional High School was recently awarded the Willis S. McLeese Award; and

[Page 264]

Whereas this prestigious award is presented each year to an individual who is recognized as having made an outstanding contribution to student debating in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas David, in his role as debating coach at Middleton Regional High School, successfully lobbied the Department of Education to have a debating course included as part of the curriculum and was a delegate at the 2008 National Student Debating Seminar;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate David Stewart on his recent accomplishments and thank him for his continued commitment to educating the students of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 122

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 broad-based tax increase, like the one proposed by the Minister of Finance on his Back to Balance tour, would put less disposable income in the pockets of Nova Scotians who are already struggling in a steep recession; and

Whereas tax increases do not stimulate the economy and cause us to lose our competitive edge in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas this further erodes the trust Nova Scotians put in their newly-elected NDP Government who made the promise of no tax increases central to their campaign;

[Page 265]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly urge this government to make the commitment today that they will not proceed with a harmful and detrimental tax increase.

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 Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 123

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

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald High School's boys basketball team captured the Provincial Division 1 Championship on Saturday, March 6, 2010; and

Whereas a great deal of hard work and a lot of heart was demonstrated by both Coach Colin Brien and the players to come back from an early deficit; and

Whereas the Sir John A. Flames defeated Cole Harbour High School in the championship game by a score of 90-86;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Sir John A. Macdonald High School Flames boys basketball team on their Nova Scotia Provincial Division 1 Championship.

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 266]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 124

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 member for Cumberland North promised during the 2009 election that an NDP Government would stagger prices for gas from the New Brunswick border to deal with lower New Brunswick taxes; and

Whereas the Premier agreed with the member for Cumberland North that an NDP Government would honour this promise, but after being elected looked for a way out of making the decision themselves knowing it was bad public policy; and

Whereas the NDP, like so many other issues they did not want to make a decision on, sent the issue to the Utility and Review Board which ruled today that the NDP proposal of differential gas taxes is "contrary to the preponderance of evidence";

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cumberland North and the Premier acknowledge to the House and to the people of Nova Scotia that their promise during the election to stagger gas taxes from the New Brunswick border was a crass vote grab and an admission that the expensive gas regulation system is a failure.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 125

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

[Page 267]

Whereas the Sydney Ports Corporation is positioned to have its busiest cruise ship season in recent history, expecting over 83,000 visitors to the Port of Sydney this year; and

Whereas the economic benefits of these visits could be substantial to our Island, stimulating much-needed spending and spinoffs for Sydney's downtown core and beyond; and

Whereas in spite of the refusal of this NDP Government to support tourism in Nova Scotia, an increase in cruise traffic for the Port of Sydney could potentially help ease the devastating impacts felt by the loss of The Cat ferry service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Sydney Ports Corporation for ensuring Cape Breton Island remains the destination of choice for tourists and wish them the best of luck throughout the upcoming cruise season.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 126

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 tall ship Amistad, a replica of a 19th Century ship which has become an international symbol of resistance to slavery, sailed into the harbour of Havana, Cuba, on March 25, 2010, the United Nations' International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade; and

Where the Amistad has made several very popular visits to Nova Scotia since its launching 10 years ago, in recognition of the ongoing heritage of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas two well-known African Nova Scotians, Shauntay Grant and Gilbert Daye, were onboard the Amistad when it sailed into Havana Harbour, representing Nova Scotia and the African Nova Scotian community;

[Page 268]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Grant and Mr. Daye, and all those involved in the historic return of the Amistad to Havana, for their participation in marking the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

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. 127

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

Whereas a recent poll showed 74 per cent of Nova Scotians said they would be against an increase in the HST; and

Whereas contained within the summary of the Finance Minister's highly-managed public relations road show is a disclaimer that clearly states "we can't generalize this information to the whole population."; and

Whereas given that the minister himself has acknowledged the difficulty that small groups had in reaching any consensus whatsoever during the minister's group-work time during the public relations road show;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly point out to the Finance Minister that it is disingenuous to proclaim any consensus regarding the minister's public relations road show and strongly urge him to state the facts clearly, Nova Scotians do not want the NDP to hike the HST.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 269]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 128

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 Offshore/Onshore Technologies Association of Nova Scotia, or OTANS, supports the long-term viability of the oil and gas industry; and

Whereas the former Progressive Conservative Government made significant investments in funding to OTANS to promote business in the oil and gas sector in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the current NDP Government needs to recognize the vast potential of the energy sector and give it the proper attention and resources that are required for this sector to thrive and grow in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the essential work that OTANS does on behalf of the oil and gas sector and workers in Nova Scotia, while recognizing the need to aggressively advance new and expanded development.

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 Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

[Page 270]

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

Whereas Adelaide Hunter Hoodless' 18-month-old son died from drinking impure milk in 1897; and

Whereas the Women's Institutes were created directly from this beginning, organizing rural women to provide a forum to better themselves and their communities; and

Whereas on April 11, 2010, Gore Branch of the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia will celebrate its 25th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the Gore Branch of the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia for their contributions to their community for 25 years and wish them success for 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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 130

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 Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and dedication over a lifetime; and

Whereas Elsie Charles Basque of Saulnierville has been named to the Order of Canada; and

[Page 271]

Whereas Elsie Charles Basque was named to the Order in recognition of her pioneering contribution as an educator and volunteer work on behalf of Aboriginals and seniors in Nova Scotia and the United States;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Elsie Charles Basque on receiving the prestigious Order of Canada and thank her for her many contributions to our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

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 February 9th, InNOVAcorp announced the winners of the I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition, which is a competition for Nova Scotians with potential new knowledge-based businesses; and

Whereas Ocean Leader Fisheries Ltd. located in Wedgeport was chosen as the second place winner in Zone 2, receiving an award package valued at $40,000, which will assist them in developing an anti-inflammatory extract for the companion pet market that is derived from a marine species called the sea cucumber; and

Whereas the sister company of Ocean Leader Fisheries Ltd., Ocean Pride Fisheries Ltd., has been processing sea cucumbers along with other fish species since 1999 and in 2004 the new company was formed specifically for market development of the leathery-skinned marine animal and is the only sea cucumber processor in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the principals of Ocean Pride Fisheries Ltd. and Ocean Leader Fisheries Ltd., Milton, Bruce and

[Page 272]

Jules LeBlanc, on winning the 2nd prize in this competition; for their ability to recognize a lucrative business opportunity and thank them for providing approximately 80 jobs to the area.

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to do another introduction this afternoon?

MR. SPEAKER: Sure.

MS. JENNEX: Thank you. I would like to welcome Joan and Roger Boutilier from Wolfville to the Legislature this afternoon. They're up here in the east gallery. Joan and Roger are dear friends of mine and also active within our community and active within our constituencies. Thank you very much for being here today.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 132

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

Whereas Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce, EKCC, is a chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations and individuals in Eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings celebration on Wednesday, March 10th, at the Old Orchard Inn and Spa in Greenwich; and

[Page 273]

Whereas Beleaf Aveda Concept Salon & Spa in Wolfville was awarded the prize for Best Fitness Club or Spa;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the management and staff of Beleaf Aveda Concept Salon & Spa for their achievement in being named as the Best of Kings in 2010 and acknowledge their exemplary contributions to the Kings County 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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 133

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

Whereas Information Morning is Nova Scotia's number one ranked morning radio program and host Don Connolly joined that program 29 years ago; and

Whereas Don is known far and wide as a fair and balanced interviewer, a thorough researcher and a really nice personality to wake up to; and

Whereas the Association of Electronic Journalists recently announced that Don Connolly will be honoured with the 2010 Radio and Television News Directors Association Atlantic Region Lifetime Achievement Award at the RTNDA Atlantic Regional Awards Banquet in Saint John, New Brunswick on May 1, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. Connolly on his well-deserved award and wish him every future success.

[Page 274]

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.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 134

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

Whereas the Rankin Family is one of the most famous and successful music groups in Nova Scotia music history; and

Whereas their impressive resume includes 15 East Coast Music Awards, six Juno Awards, four SOCAN Awards, three Canadian Country Music Awards, and two Big Country Music Awards; and

Whereas for over 20 years this successful group has been delighting crowds from coast to coast, and for that they were recently honoured with the 2010 ECMA Director's Special Achievement Award in Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Rankin Family for yet another award win and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 275]

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. 135

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

Whereas Thorburn resident Gordon MacDougall served in the famed Devil's Brigade during the Second World War before returning home to Pictou County in 1945; and

Whereas Mr. MacDougall has been dedicated to the Royal Canadian Legion for more than 50 years, with sales of wreaths and poppies and supporting outreach services to other veterans and their families; and

Whereas this celebrated veteran was honoured recently for his more than 50 years of assistance to others through the Royal Canadian Legion;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Gordon MacDougall for his service to our nation and our community in both war and peace.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 136

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

[Page 276]

Whereas the minister charged with economic development for the Province of Nova Scotia was challenged to represent the voices of those who drive the economy and stand in opposition to the Finance Minister's HST hike; and

Whereas the minister's response was "thus far our track record speaks for itself"; and

Whereas when the minister's record speaks, it includes the devastation of entire communities in southwestern Nova Scotia, putting entire industries at risk, eliminating hundreds of jobs, increasing the funding to the politically-controlled IEF on a whim, failing to complete the broadband project on time, and avoiding confronting the economic impact of playing political games with the Cumberland jail;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly strongly urge the minister to do the right thing on this file and stand up for business, for jobs, and for economic development, and tell the Finance Minister that Nova Scotians do not want the NDP to hike the HST.

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 Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 137

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

Whereas recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy and involves processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials; and

Whereas Tracy Swinimer of Windsor, Hants County, was recently presented with a new mountain bike by Jerome Paris, director of operations of the Resource Recovery Fund Board after her ballot was selected during the annual Waste Reduction Week; and

[Page 277]

Whereas by making regular trips to the recycling depot to turn in her bottles and juice containers, Tracy is demonstrating the importance of recycling and encouraging those around her to do the same;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Tracy Swinimer on her recent win and wish her all the best for a greener 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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 138

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

Whereas promoting basic survival skills to newly-licensed drivers has become very important to students in Queens County; and

Whereas during the Fall of 2009, Liverpool Regional High School's Teens Against Drinking and Driving joined efforts with the Queens County RCMP Community Policing Office to remind drivers to stay safe; and

Whereas the importance of getting the message to everyone about not drinking or using drugs is the simplest and safest way for them to stay alive;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize Liverpool Regional High School TADD group and the Queens County RCMP Community Policing Office for their promotion of driving safe in Queens County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 278]

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 honourable member for Dartmouth North. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 139

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

Whereas supportive housing should be recognized as a necessary community service, diligent efforts are required to support, sustain and develop enough quality housing and supports for people who need them; and

Whereas Ida Vincent is the only person working full time to connect Aboriginal people with stable housing and the services they need, she does it all, connecting people with health services, apply for SIN cards and apply for income assistance and employment support; and

Whereas since 1981, Tawaak Housing has been operating 57 properties with 145 units and two buildings that are designated specifically for supportive housing to assist individuals transition from homelessness to independent living and self-reliance;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate Ida Vincent on her continued efforts to support Aboriginal people to bridge the gaps between homelessness and transition to self-reliance and independent living.

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 279]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 140

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

Whereas the Air Cadet League of Canada is one of the country's most important resources for youth leadership development skills; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 45 felt young people in and around the Parrsboro area could benefit from the establishment of a local cadet corps; and

Whereas on April 1, 1985, the Air Cadet League charter for 689 Parrsboro was signed and youth in Cumberland County have been benefiting from its presence and commitment to skill training and leadership ever since;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate 689 Handley Page Air Cadets Squadron, Parrsboro, on its silver anniversary, which will be celebrated with a dinner and fundraiser at the Royal Canadian Legion in Parrsboro on April 17th.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 141

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

[Page 280]

Whereas for the past two years, the Nova Scotia Community College and Ocean View Manor have partnered to give students taking the Continuing Care Assistant Program hands-on experience; and

Whereas the students in appreciation for this opportunity has completed a community awareness project for the develop of a Snoezelen Room, which is a therapeutic and recreational room beneficial to people with sensory, cognitive and physical disabilities; and

Whereas this Snoezelen Room provides a fun, recreational and multi-sensory environment for people with disabilities by providing stimulation and relaxation through the use of smell, touch, sound, colour and light;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the Continuing Care Assistant students of the Nova Scotia Community College Class of 2010 for their efforts in raising funds for a much anticipated Snoezelen Room for the residents at Ocean View Manor in Eastern Passage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 142

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 tourist attraction the Ship Hector is the replica of the Dutch cargo ship that brought many of our province's Scottish families to Nova Scotia in 1773 including Frasers, MacKenzies, Sutherlands and the MacDonalds, establishing Pictou as the "Birthplace of New Scotland"; and

[Page 281]

Whereas the Ship Hector is not only an award-winning tourist attraction but an opportunity for people to learn about the history and culture of our province in a unique hands-on experience; and

Whereas the Town of Pictou, unable to continue funding this important project, has turned to the provincial government for assistance and has been turned down, throwing 17 people out of work and hurting the tourism industry in Pictou County;

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 and find a way to work with the Town of Pictou to keep this important tourism venue afloat.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 143

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

Whereas Mr. Carroll Gaul recently celebrated his 100th birthday at Hillside Pines Home for Special Care in Bridgewater; and

Whereas we recognize the important contribution our seniors have made to raising their families and building our communities; and

Whereas we value all seniors and the myriad of contributions they have made to building the social fabric of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Mr. Gaul and offer him best wishes on receiving this important and impressive chronological milestone.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 282]

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. 144

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 Haley Street Adult Services Centre is a not-for-profit agency promoting vocational and social skill development for adults serving more than 60 people with disabilities and has been in operation for more than 25 years and provides the only service of its kind in the Northside area; and

Whereas the focus of the centre is to enhance the quality of life for clients and their families and to help them be contributors to society; and

Whereas the majority of the clients participate in a goal-oriented musical therapy program offered by Shelley Allen of Take Note Music School which has lifted the spirits of the clients and has helped them to interact with one another;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the staff of the Haley Street Adult Services Centre on the use of this innovative therapy and thank the Take Note Music School for delivering a great program for the clients.

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 283]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 145

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

Whereas the Cumberland County Community Credit Union Midget A girls hockey team is now golden after winning the provincial championship on March 28th in a shut-out victory over the South Shore; and

Whereas the team made hockey history in Cumberland County as the first female team in the area to qualify for and then win the provincial championship; and

Whereas the team, after only 15 years of existence, has effectively changed the face of hockey in Cumberland County as these young women encourage confidence and physical activity among their peers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to the Community Credit Union Midget A players and staff as they celebrate their gold medal win and earn a spot in the records of Cumberland County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 146

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

[Page 284]

Whereas on January 31, 2010, the Cornerstone Wesleyan Church in Hammonds Plains hosted a Legislator Sunday to allow an opportunity for the community to meet their local politicians and become more involved in their community's government; and

Whereas the Cornerstone Wesleyan Church welcomed federal Members of Parliament, municipal councillors and provincial Members of the Legislative Assembly to speak about their role in government and take the time to discuss the community with its members; and

Whereas members of the community had a chance to meet and talk with their elected officials in the comfortable and familiar setting of the Cornerstone Wesleyan Church;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Cornerstone Wesleyan Church for their initiative in hosting this Legislators' Sunday which allowed the community to meet, get to know and recognize their elected officials from all level of government and extend to the church best wishes for their future events.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:00 p.m.]

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. 147

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

Whereas on November 10th, 2009, Richard MacKinnon of Troy, Inverness County, along with two colleagues, was appointed a provincial court judge; and

Whereas being a member of the Bar for 32 years, including time with the Public Prosecution Service in Port Hawkesbury, leaves Mr. MacKinnon well prepared for the upcoming challenges his new role will pose; and

[Page 285]

Whereas the importance of quality appointees like Mr. MacKinnon cannot be understated, as few pillars of our society are more important to uphold than the effective legal system, for it is truly the foundation needed for societies to progress;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Richard MacKinnon for being appointed a provincial court judge and wish him all the best in his new position.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 148

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 Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce is the chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations and individuals in eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings celebration on Wednesday, March 10th, at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich; and

Whereas CentreStage Theatre in Kentville was awarded the prize for best entertainment value;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the many volunteers of CentreStage Theatre for their achievement in being named as the Best of Kings in 2010 and acknowledge their exemplary contributions to the Kings County community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 286]

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 on an introduction.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker. It's a great pleasure for me to rise this afternoon and indicate to the House that we have one of the councillors from Pictou County Municipal Council, Andy Thompson. Councillor Thompson very ably represents the people of Plymouth and surrounding area in Pictou County. I would ask him to stand - he is in the east gallery - and receive the recognition of this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome Councillor Thompson and all our visitors here this afternoon to the Legislature.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 149

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

Whereas 4-H is a nation-wide program dedicated to the development of young people, to help them become responsible members of society while having fun at regular get-togethers with other 4-H'ers; and

Whereas Justin Jamieson of Falmouth was recently selected to attend the Second Annual Kevin Grant Memorial 4-H Leadership Tour in Yarmouth, where he will have the opportunity to meet community leaders; and

Whereas by participating in events such as this, young people like Justin have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and get a broader view of what Nova Scotia has to offer as a place to live and work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Justin Jamieson on being selected to participate in this very worthwhile event and wish him all the best with his future in 4-H.

[Page 287]

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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 150

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia NDP Government is committed to creating secure jobs for our economy, boat building is a traditional industry and a significant source of employment in rural coastal communities; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has a global reputation for boat building and the long-term viability of boat building is important to our rural communities and province's economy; and

Whereas The Dory Shop in Lunenburg has been building traditional dories for over 90 years with fine craftsmanship and traditional building techniques;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate The Dory Shop in Lunenburg for receiving funding in investment fisheries to aid in marketing activities and development of marketing materials.

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 288]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery. At the beginning of this week I welcomed the new member from Inverness to the House, and I want to recognize our candidate in that by-election, Ian McNeil, who is with us today. Ian has been doing some great work on behalf of myself and our Party, and Ian, I want to welcome you to the House. I don't want you to be discouraged by anything you see here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 151

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

Whereas Art Sargent of Parrsboro may live on the opposite side of the world from Vietnamese youth Son Pham but they have a special connection; and

Whereas Son Pham returned home recently with a new lease on life thanks to the removal of much of a large tumour at a Boston hospital, while he spent the past two years living with a family in Halifax; and

Whereas the costly procedure was made possible thanks to donations that poured in from across Canada, including the generous support of Parrsboro's own Art Sargent, who is a local car dealer and blueberry farmer who took the time to have Son Pham visit him in Parrsboro on several occasions, where Son gave a painting he made of a Ford sports car to Art;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature commend Art Sargent on this unselfish act of donating funds and his time to this special young man and playing a large part in improving the quality of his life, and we wish Son all the best in his future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 289]

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. 152

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

Whereas Joan Glode, the Founding Director and Executive Director of the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services of Nova Scotia, has been named as a member of the Order of Canada; and

Whereas this White's Lake resident and highly respected leader in the Mi'kmaq community regards herself as merely a team leader; and

Whereas Ms. Glode was one of the 57 new appointments from Rideau Hall for leadership and devotion to the social welfare of Aboriginal children in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulates and thanks Joan Glode on becoming a member of the Order of Canada and for all her work and devotion to the Aboriginal 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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 153

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

[Page 290]

Whereas last November, Baddeck Academy was the only Cape Breton school with three separate provincial Remembrance Day artwork poster finalists, who all placed second in their respective grade categories; and

Whereas the three provincial finalists were Grade 9 student Kaitlin Chadwick in the Junior Black and White Division, Grade 10 student Brittany Fitzgerald in Senior Colour, and Grade 8 student Duncan Nicholson in Intermediate Colour; and

Whereas Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 53 in Baddeck was the only Legion Branch in Cape Breton which had respective placings in the Nova Scotia/Nunavit Command;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the dynamic artwork exemplified by these four students at Baddeck Academy, keeping alive the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served and are serving Canada in times of war and conflict.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 154

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 East Coast Music Association recently announced the winners of its 2010 Industry Awards during the ECMA Festival in Sydney; and

Whereas the Company House is a popular new music venue located on Gottingen Street in Halifax's North End and was nominated for an Industry Award as Venue of the Year after only nine months of operation; and

[Page 291]

Whereas the Company House received the Industry Award as Venue of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the owners and staff of the Company House on their well-deserved honour, and express their best wishes for many years of continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 155

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

Whereas three East Pictou Middle School students worked over a two-year period to build, tear down, rebuild and operate a robotic device out of LEGO pieces; and

Whereas Eric Kowalski, Ryan Pitts and Nick Charlton travelled to Acadia University to take part in the first-ever LEGO League "Smart Move" robot programming competition against 19 other teams from across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these talented students overcame technical issues in the final round to win the competition;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Eric Kowalski, Ryan Pitts and Nick Charlton of East Pictou Middle School who have demonstrated what teamwork, persistence and determination can accomplish.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 292]

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. 156

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

Whereas athletic competition in our provincial schools is so important to the development of our future leaders in Queens County; and

Whereas the North Queens Spartans in February of this year went undefeated at the Nettie Benedict Memorial Senior Boys Basketball Tournament and went on to win the Western Regional Division 4 banner; and

Whereas the Spartans captured the 2009-10 Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation's Division 4 Senior Boys Basketball Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the North Queens Spartans of Caledonia, Queens County, for their athletic accomplishments and wish them success in all of their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 157

[Page 293]

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

Whereas Shearwater Community Council, consisting of 11 volunteer members, Master Corporal Glen Johnson, Corporal Greg Watts, Master Corporal Bill Vyse, Corporal Kirk Kreitzer, Melissa Watts, Master Corporal Adam Sherlock, Maureen Allan, Master Warrant Officer Jason Johnson, Corporal Glen Keefe, Petty Officer Nedia Coutinho, and Sandra Hulan worked tirelessly to make their community a great place to live and provide support to its families; and

Whereas the Shearwater Community Council has a list of accomplishments which include an annual Spring cleanup, Spring and Fall yard sales, PMQ beautification contest, as well as residents can look forward to an annual PMQ Christmas decorating contest; and

Whereas last Fall, the council and community efforts were recognized by Her Honour Mayann E. Francis, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, as one of this year's Community Spirit Award recipients;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend the Shearwater Community Council for their dedication and efforts for the betterment of their community, and congratulate the entire community and partners as recipients of the Lieutenant Governor's Community Spirit Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[3:15 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 158

[Page 294]

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

Whereas this government is committed to ensuring more young people are able to stay and build a life here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Bright Beginnings Child Care Centre at Amherst received close to $24,000 in funding from the province's Early Learning and Child Care Plan to improve upon their facilities; and

Whereas Bright Beginnings, licensed for 58 children aged 18 months to eight years, is celebrating its 35th year in 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Bright Beginnings on receiving this funding so that it can continue to nurture some of the young minds that will shape the future of Cumberland County and, indeed, the rest of 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.

The honourable member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 159

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

Whereas on March 4-6, 2010, the Millwood High School girls basketball team and coaches participated in the Provincial Basketball Tournament in Canning, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas they played against some of the best teams from across the province and had the opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have been developing all season; and

[Page 295]

Whereas they advanced to the bronze medal game verus Amherst and played a very close game, winning by a margin of four points to earn the bronze medal for themselves and their school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Millwood High School girls basketball team and their coaches for winning the bronze medal at the Provincial Basketball Tournament, and wish them the best of luck next 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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 160

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 Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce is the chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations, and individuals in eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings celebration on Wednesday, March 10th at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich; and

Whereas Best Toyota in Kentville was awarded the prize for Best Car Dealer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the management and staff of Best Toyota for their achievement in being named as the Best of Kings County in 2010, and acknowledge their exemplary contributions to the Kings County community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 296]

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 Citadel-Sable Island.

RESOLUTION NO. 161

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

Whereas in 2004, Gordon Stevens began the Uncommon Group of Companies in Halifax by establishing and managing innovative retail environments and selling high-quality products which might otherwise not be available in the marketplace; and

Whereas the Uncommon Group of Companies has been attracting customers to its collection of stores, including Uncommon Grounds Coffee Houses, Uncommon Kids Gear, Rum Runners Rum Cake Factory, Sugah! confectionary, and Carbonstok products for home; and

Whereas Mr. Stevens was honoured by a Silver Award for Business Person of the Year by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce at their 10th Annual Business Awards on January 28, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Gordon Stevens on his business success with the Uncommon Group of Companies and for showcasing locally made Nova Scotian products to the world.

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 297]

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

RESOLUTION NO. 162

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

Whereas in 2009, Joanne Macrae, Rob MacArthur, Tracy Boyer-Morris and Sera Thompson brought The Hub Space People Innovation Limited to Halifax; and

Whereas The Hub is a work and meeting space which offers its members access to the space, tools and resources needed to run an event, launch a project, host a meeting or operate a business and be virtually connected to Hub members in Halifax and around the world; and

Whereas The Hub Space People Innovation Limited was honoured by a silver award for New Business of the Year by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce at their 10th Annual Business Awards on January 28, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate The Hub Space People Innovation Limited on their business success and for providing the people of Halifax with a variety of work space and meeting options.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:21 p.m. and end at 4:51 p.m. A reminder again that BlackBerrys or other electronic equipment should not be in use during Question Period.

[Page 298]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN.: INTERNAL TAX REVIEW - TABLE

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Last Fall the NDP Government very quickly killed a public review of the tax system in Nova Scotia. It was begun by the former Progressive Conservative Government. A tax review is desperately needed. Nova Scotians have the most uncompetitive tax system in the country. The Finance Minister claimed this review would be conducted internally instead of with public participation, so much for being open and transparent. My question to the Premier is, we are less than a week away from the budget being delivered, where is that internal tax review and will you table it in the House today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reality with respect to the process that was started by the former government was that it had essentially come to an end in the department, it was stalled, it wasn't moving at all. Essentially what happened was the Minister of Finance took over that process in order to examine it for the purposes of the upcoming budget. But I'm happy to let the Minister of Finance respond to this question more fully for the Leader of the Official Opposition.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the reality of the situation was that when I arrived in that office, the tax review was completely stalled. In fact, I and this Premier and this government are the ones who've started it again.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that during the June election, his own department has said they delayed that review and his own department has said on many occasions there was a public component to it. The only thing this government has done is cut out the public, so much for being open and transparent. This government has spent two months travelling around our province asking members of the public if they support a tax increase, that's not a tax review, that's a show of hands. Now this government is talking about increasing the HST by 2 per cent. My question to the Premier is, what has your Finance Department told you about the damage of a 2 per cent increase in the HST to our economy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the Department of Finance has said is, of course, what most people have said when they look at the systematic way in which this province was driven into debt and that is that there needs to be an effort on behalf of this government to get back to balance. This is the government that is going to undertake that procedure. The Back to Balance sessions that were held around the province were to engage the public and allow them to have an opportunity to have input into the decisions that now have to be made for the benefit of the people of the province.

[Page 299]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, what the Finance Department told that Premier today is because of his decision we are $341 million more in debt today paying a bill that wasn't due until next year. The facts are clear. Nova Scotia has the highest corporate tax in the country, our province has some of the highest gas taxes in the country, our province is the only province with a capital tax on large corporations. Our land transfer tax and probate tax are the highest in Atlantic Canada. We are already uncompetitive compared to our neighbours. This will only increase with the HST being raised.

My question to the Premier is, how can you justify increasing the HST when all evidence points to slowing the recovery and stunting economic growth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the economic panel that reported for the government on our behalf talked about the necessity of looking at all three components of the approach to dealing with this problem and it is to increase economic growth, which we are doing. It is to ensure that we undertake an expenditure management initiative, which we are also doing and of course ensuring there's sufficient revenue to actually pay for the services that you are providing. I appreciate the comments of the Leader of the Official Opposition, however I didn't hear those when the Liberals imposed a 15 per cent HST back in the 1990s.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

TRADE & CONVENTION CTR. : FUNDING - PROV. SHARE

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. As we sit here today, a few blocks away the old ChronicleHerald building is being demolished to make way for a new trade and convention centre. The proposal and design for this building were unveiled on May 4, 2009. Many businesses and further development of Halifax depend upon the support of this government and the support it can provide to the trade centre development.

My question to the Premier is, do you support the commitment of the provincial share to fund this project?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reality is there was no proposal that was unveiled. In fact, there was an artist's concept that was put forward and the problem is that there is currently no project before the Government of Nova Scotia. What we have done is ensure that there is an appropriate RFP put out. The member opposite would understand that we're waiting for that proposal to come forward and we said that we're prepared to consider an appropriate project for that site.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the new convention centre was to be up and running by January 2013. Between June 2007 and February 2009, at least 70 international conferences turned away from Nova Scotia because facilities here were deemed to be insufficient. That

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equates to a loss of 54,000 delegates, 86,000 room nights and an estimated $65 million in overall economic impact.

My question to the Premier is, knowing these economic benefits and the associated construction jobs that come with the development of a new centre, will the Premier state today that his government will honour any commitment to support this project?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be extraordinarily unwise to commit to the support of a project when you have no idea what is actually being proposed. We're going to wait for the RFP to be responded to, we're going to have a look at the project, we're going to decide whether or not the economic benefits support the investment by the province. That is the way, of course, that we do business on this side. Unfortunately, it was not the way that they did business when they were in these seats.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, in a CBC story on March 19, 2010, the Premier's minister, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, in response to questions about the convention centre stated "he hasn't picked a side yet in the dispute over a new convention centre" and I will table that article. It appears that some members of the NDP caucus, including the members from Halifax Citadel-Sable Island and Halifax Chebucto support anti-development groups like Save the View, and Heritage Trust.

My question to the Premier is this, if the minister has not yet picked a side in this dispute, will you help him with that decision by reminding him and all members of your caucus that Halifax cannot afford to lose delegates, room nights and millions of dollars due to a lack of a convention centre?

[3:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, the minister wisely decided to wait until there was actually a project and a proposal to review. I don't blame him a bit for waiting to see the proposal before making the decision. That makes sense.

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

AMHERST GAS TAX: URB DECISION - RESPECT

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has released their decision on the issue of the Amherst gas tax. The decision clearly reads, "Cumberland County is to remain as a separate zone as established under the Regulations. No changes are necessary to the wholesale margin or retail mark-ups."

[Page 301]

The URB has told the NDP Government that their plan to slice up the province even further is simply not a good idea, so my question to the Premier is, will the Premier respect the decision of the URB and not change the rules for some Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as you would know, the decision of the Utility and Review Board came down this morning with respect to this important matter. We have had the opportunity to receive it but we have not had the opportunity to do a full review of the decision. Obviously we understand that this is their decision. It is not all that we would have liked it to have been but it is what it is and once we have an opportunity to review it, then we'll make a decision.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure - if he's not going to respect the decision by the URB, why did you give it to them? It was your decision to hand the decision over to them. Why did you pass it off to them if you're not going to respect the decision they have given you?

Mr. Speaker, many people are still going to be travelling to New Brunswick to fill up their tanks. This is because gas retailers are not given the ability to compete and customers are not able to benefit from this competition. With the NDP border tax scheme now off the table, the only way Amherst retailers are able to compete with their cross-border rivals is through deregulation. Needless regulation just doesn't make sense. It hurts Nova Scotians every time they fill up their tanks and is a needless cost at a time when government is looking for every source to save revenue.

My question to the Premier is, will he throw out this confusing and ineffective system of government control to keep the price of gas high in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we received the report of the Utility and Review Board this morning. We intend to review it. I wonder, though, if the Leader of the Official Opposition has shared that opinion with his colleague in New Brunswick where they have a regulated gas industry?

MR. MCNEIL: The answer to that question would be yes. It is his job to look at New Brunswick, it is my job to represent the people of Nova Scotia and it's your job and maybe you should start.

Gas regulation is not working, it has never worked and it never will. Prices are too high in Nova Scotia and people are driving to New Brunswick to fill up their tanks. Retailers are not even allowed to compete for customers and customers are not given the chance to benefit from low prices which competition will demand.

[Page 302]

Regulation is not working, it is bad policy and it needs to go. My question to the Premier is, will the NDP Government get their hands out of the pockets of the people of Nova Scotia and allow them to get a fair price on gas?

THE PREMIER: The reality is that gas regulation has meant that the average price of gas in this province has fallen below the national average. That is something that didn't happen before regulation and so, Mr. Speaker, I intend to give the same consideration to the suggestion of the Leader of the Official Opposition as apparently his colleague in New Brunswick does.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on a new question.

PREM. BARRISTERS' SOC. FEES - AMOUNT

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier confirmed that his Barristers' Society fees have been paid for by taxpayers since 1999. About a month ago it was reported that it was 2006. In the interest of openness and transparency, can the Premier clear this up?

My question to the Premier is, when did the taxpayers start paying your Barristers' Society fees - in 1999 or in 2006?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe what I said to the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition yesterday was that it was the government policy since 1999 and that it was the same rules when we came into government and that when it was brought to my attention we terminated that policy. I believe that's what I said.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has indicated that he will pay his own fees in the future, but only after criticism from the public. Premier MacLellan knew it was wrong. Premier Hamm knew it was wrong. Dr. Smith knew it was wrong. The member for Richmond knew it was wrong. His own Finance Minister knew it was wrong. So would the Premier please stand in this House and tell the people of Nova Scotia how much money they forked over to pay his Barristers' Society fees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I've responded to this question, to the Leader of the Official Opposition. The reality is that this was an ongoing allowance that was put in place by the previous government - the same as the other allowances that were put in place. When it came to my attention, of course, I terminated it.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, his own Finance Minister knew it was wrong. Other members of this House knew it was wrong. Premier MacLellan knew it was wrong. Premier Hamm knew it was wrong. The only one who seemed to not know there was a problem with

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it was the present Premier. The Premier has said he will no longer use taxpayers' money to pay his Barristers' Society fee. It was wrong going forward. Why was it right in the past? So my question to the Premier is, will you pay back to the people of Nova Scotia the money that you have billed to them for this unnecessary fee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said, this was an allowance that was in place. It was put in place in 1999 by the previous government. In fact, it covered other members other than myself; he knows that. What happened was when we came into government, we terminated that allowance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

GAS PRICES (NORTHERN N.S.)- URB DECISION: PREM. -

INVOLVEMENT

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, through you my question will be for the Premier. As you would know and the House would know, last year during the election campaign the candidate for Cumberland North and the Premier in an effort to garner votes in Cumberland North told people in the area they would fix the problem in regard to gas prices in northern Nova Scotia. As a result of that, after the election the Premier decided to turn that issue over to the URB and I just heard the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition question the Premier about that.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, we received a copy of an e-mail that says, "The Premier's Office was quite clear. The issue is to be dealt with by the UARB. It should determine what process/procedure it will use to deal with the matter. If any support is required in terms of moving this forward, the Board is to contact the Premier's Office." In the handwritten note beside that, it says "PO" - which I'm assuming is the Premier's Office - "PO overseeing this politically."

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is, since the election of June, what involvement has he or his office had in regards to the URB decision on gasoline prices?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the only involvement we've had is to forward it to the Utility and Review Board for a review and a decision which came down this morning.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, when the Premier and the candidate last year suggested that, they knew full well that this would pit community against community in Cumberland County. They knew full well that fixing the problem of gasoline prices or taxing had to be a provincial issue and not a regional issue. They knew that they were suggesting pitting Amherst against Springhill, Oxford against Pugwash, and for that the Premier and the

[Page 304]

member for that area should be ashamed of themselves. (Interruption) Absolutely. First it was a correctional facility, now it's gas. What's next?

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is, you're devastating rural Nova Scotia, especially Cumberland County, what's your plan for economic development for Cumberland County?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the people who are pitting community against community are not on this side of the House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: The reality is that the government is engaged in trying to strengthen the economy in many regions and I wish that I had the assistance of the honourable member in trying to do it.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, you know what? The Premier asked for some help and I'm going to give it to him. I'm going to offer today for the Premier to come to Cumberland County and we'll sit side by side, we'll face the communities in Cumberland, the public, we'll let them understand what issues have been decided in the last nine months and let them decide who's working for them and who's working against them. Will you come to Cumberland County? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, of course I'm always pleased to visit the various parts of the province, which I do frequently. I want the member to know that our dedication to ensuring that Cumberland County has a sound and growing economy will not waiver, that we intend to continue to invest in companies like we did with LED Roadway Lighting, which created more jobs there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. The Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: We're going to be making additional investments in companies in order to help them create more jobs in Cumberland County and the member should just stay tuned.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

ERD: YARMOUTH FERRY SHUTDOWN - REPERCUSSIONS

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. On December 18th, the minister announced there would be no longer support for the international ferry service out of Yarmouth. He announced this with no warning and with no plan. My question to the minister is, why was there no thought given

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to the repercussions of shutting down the service and as a result, shutting down the Town of Yarmouth?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, with respect to Bay Ferries, we deliberated many hours, many days, weeks, months about the Bay Ferries. We studied the business case, or I should say the lack of a good business case, with respect to Bay Ferries.

We have endeavoured to work with the communities of Yarmouth. We put together Team West, things are revolving even as (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. When the minister or the person who is answering the question, I would ask the House respect them, they will have the opportunity to give an answer. Everyone will have their turn in the House, I'd ask you to wait your turn and let the minister speak.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, we continue to work with the people in Yarmouth and the surrounding area with Team West, which involves Economic and Rural Development; it involves Tourism, Culture and Heritage; it involves all those government agencies. Not only that, but it involves people from Yarmouth, business people and community leaders.

Team West is looking forward to the future. Some decisions had been made and they've left that in the past.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if the minister was even aware of the jobs that would be lost when he turned his back on this service. I would like to know how we can justify 189 immediate job losses. I would also like to know how the minister, who is supposed to be developing the provincial economy, plans to address the over 600 full and part-time jobs that now hang in the balance because of this government's recklessness and thoughtlessness on this decision. My question to the minister is, where is your plan to deal with the impact and an economic strategy for southwest Nova Scotia?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, as I rise in my place today, I'm not going to get into a debate about numbers because any numbers either opposition Party wants to put up - I mean, we can stand here all day for weeks and we can talk about numbers. Nothing is accomplished by that. Nothing is accomplished by that. What we are doing, and I reiterate, we are working with the good people in Yarmouth about their future and they are alongside and in line with us. Thank you.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. COLWELL: I trust the minister will realize that we're talking about the lives of people, their livelihood, and the need to make an income. We talk the numbers - probably our numbers are low. Hopefully they are not low, hopefully they're high, but the real

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situation in southwest Nova Scotia is there's a serious problem because of shutdown on the ferry. The people of Yarmouth need a strategic and sustainable plan for their economy and they need it now - not next week, not next month or next year. They need it now. People's lives are at stake here. They're working on a plan in southwest Nova Scotia, but they're doing this without any help or interest from the minister.

Mr. Speaker, when will this minister get around to actually developing the economy and create badly-needed jobs in southwest Nova Scotia for these families in need?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I think I've already answered that question. We have a strategy in place. You know what's unfortunate about this, Mr. Speaker? Do you know what's really unfortunate about this? It's that we have certain members in the House of Assembly who are fear-mongering, and what we are trying to do is, we are being proactive and we (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development has the floor.

MR. PARIS: We are working with the people in Yarmouth for the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

FIN. - INSURANCE ACT: AMENDMENTS - DETAILS

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, my question - my first in this House of Assembly, and no doubt there will be many more to come in the coming days - will be to the Minister of Finance. Through the Speaker to the minister, your government made overtures that you will be making amendments to the Insurance Act. Will you create a publicly-run auto insurance agency?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, in 2003, the previous government implemented a system of caps on compensation for injured people, which were intended to establish more affordable insurance rates but did so at the sacrifice of fairness. Our government has said that we will make the system more fair, and we've said that we're going to do it. I've said publicly, and I'll say it again today, we're going to do that during this session of the Legislature. That's a promise that we made, that's a promise that we'll keep.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, this causes me some concern, but my first supplementary I will direct to the Premier through you. Mr. Premier, you indicated that in December, you would eliminate the $2,500 soft tissue injury cap to compensate car accident victims for pain and suffering associated with injuries deemed to be minor that will heal. How well do you think your decision will benefit those who practice law and generate profits from these cases?

[Page 307]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is not my concern. What is my concern is that it benefits people who are actually injured in car accidents who were forgotten when the regulations were put in place.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm concerned about fairness to Nova Scotians, and our Party believes that we have a role to play in making Nova Scotia affordable. To the Minister of Finance, why is this government considering a removal of the soft tissue injury cap when we have seen a reduction to the tune of over 25 per cent in auto insurance premiums for Nova Scotians since that cap was put in place by the Progressive Conservative Government in 2003?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the essential problem is that the previous government - with the support of the Liberal Party at the time - implemented a system that privileged the premium above everything else at the expense of fairness, at the expense of fairness, at the expense of fair compensation for people who are badly injured in automobile collisions. What this government promised to do and what this government will do is ensure that there is a proper balance between affordability and fairness. We will do that during this sitting of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

EDUC.: TUITION SUPPORT PROG. - PRESS CONFERENCE

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Department of Education had a press conference scheduled for last Monday to indicate its intentions for the Tuition Support Program. The press conference was postponed on the day it was supposed to occur.

Mr. Speaker, parents have been waiting long enough for an announcement on the Tuition Support Program. The minister has been reviewing the latest report for months; parents and students are still waiting.

My question to the minister is, has another date for the press conference been set? If so, when will it take place?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately due to my illness, we had to postpone the press conference at the last minute and I do apologize for that. We just recently rescheduled it and I just want to make sure that the stakeholders are available before I announce the date, but I would suggest it is going to be within the next two and a half weeks. Thank you.

[Page 308]

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, the Tuition Support Program helps families pay for education for their children with learning disabilities, education the department does not currently offer. Families cannot wait any longer for an announcement, they deserve a full explanation of the government's intentions for the program. They do not deserve to be ignored by the government when a budget is introduced.

My question is, will the minister make the announcement prior to the budget, as she had originally planned, and if so, can the minister stand up today and assure families they will continue to receive tuition support?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, it certainly would never be our intent to suddenly cut off a program to families who are benefiting from tuition support in a way that would unfairly impact on the families, in particular the students. So certainly communication has been held with the families, to allow them to meet any deadlines that they are facing. They certainly will not be negatively impacted at all by the delay. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, earlier today we spoke with Gayla Gerrior. Gayla's son, Liam, attends Bridgeway Academy. Gayla said: I don't know what we would have done without the Tuition Support Program. Now Gayla has registered her son for another year at Bridgeway but the government has made it clear there are going to be changes to the program. She doesn't know what those changes are going to be. This is a very stressful thing for these families. We want to know, what reassurances can the minister provide to Gayla and Liam if they are going to be able to access tuition support next year?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure that I can add any additional information. We understand how valuable some families find this particular Tuition Support Program and the government always walks a fine balance between wanting to protect and expand the public school system and provide any additional supports that certain families need. You can be sure that we will try to benefit all students in need of extra supports in our school system and elsewhere. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

FIN. - HST RAISE: CRA POLL - IMPACT

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, Corporate Research Associates Inc. and the CBC recently released a poll which indicated that 74 per cent of Nova Scotians were against the idea of HST tax increases. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what impact has this poll had on your decision to raise the HST?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to congratulate the member for his first set of questions, now his second set of questions in the House. It's obvious he has

[Page 309]

got a good future in the House - the tone, the pace and volume of the question - and just imagine how good he's going to be when he gets his facts straight.

Mr. Speaker, the whole premise of the question is something that hasn't happened and what I would say to the member who did attend, as I recall, two of the 19 Back to Balance sessions so this will be familiar to him, for people who are opposed to the HST, my answer is not to argue with you and say you're wrong. My answer to those people is to say all right then, if that option is off the table, what else would you have the government do to get back to balance? So I would like to hear that answer from that member.

MR. MACMASTER: Facts, Mr. Speaker, the session that I attended, 40 per cent of the audience indicated that we should legalize marijuana and I don't think that represents a good cross-section of the views of Nova Scotians. One might even say some people may have been invited to attend the consultations. As I said yesterday in my remarks, where one stands depends on where one sits. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACMASTER: My first supplementary to the minister is, should the federal government raise the HST back up to its 7 per cent portion? How does the minister feel about Nova Scotians paying almost one-fifth more for almost everything they buy?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Back to Balance process was the most extensive financial consultation ever held in the history of the province. There were 19 separate public sessions around the province attended by nearly 1,500 people. In addition to that, there were a dozen other sessions with business groups, union leaders, Aboriginal chiefs and other people as well.

Mr. Speaker, there were 21,000 hits on the Back to Balance Web site. We have received almost 1,000 written submissions. This has been the most democratic and transparent consultation process, but I understand why they don't want to listen to this democratic and transparent process, they don't recognize it because they never did it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, while I'm not a Rhodes Scholar like our esteemed Minister of Finance, when I took marketing research at St. F.X., I learned that a leading question is a bias question and it leads to inaccurate data. The questions posed by the minister during his consultation included opinions of his own to lead the feedback. For the sake of the trust of Nova Scotians, would the minister take initiative to have the format of the Back to Balance tour evaluated by an independent marketing agency to ensure that the process the minister used to obtain the data was accurate and unbiased?

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MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Back to Balance process was an outstanding success and when we started we really didn't know whether it was going to work or not and we're so pleased that so many people participated because they have such a passionate interest for the future of this province.

Mr. Speaker, we knew we were onto something the very first day, not just because at the Legion in Whitney Pier 130 people turned out, three or four times our expectation, but because in the very first session at the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, they had their highest turnout in years and they said they liked the format so much they were going to adopt it for all of their future meetings. (Applause)

[4:00 p.m.]

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

HEALTH: PUBLIC CONSULTATION -

STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. We have just heard how much the NDP Government values consultation and I know that when the Minister of Health was in Opposition, she was also a big advocate for consultations with stakeholders. In fact, she recognized their role in helping to shape government policies and programs. But just last week in response to a question on the development of a mental health strategy, the minister said - and I would be happy to table the article from The ChronicleHerald - it said, "I'm not prepared to wait as minister of health until we have some perfect strategy developed before we take action. We already know that there are some things that are needed."

So my question to the minister is, if you believe in public consultation, isn't it more effective to involve stakeholders early on in the development of a mental health strategy rather than waiting until after the fact?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. There are more than 20 studies that have been on the mental health system in Nova Scotia over the past 12 to 15 years. We have a lot of information about areas where we need to take action and we will be doing some work in some of these areas as we're able to with respect to resources. As for a mental health strategy, we committed to

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doing a mental health strategy in our Speech from the Throne and this will be very much a consultative process with stakeholder involvement.

But what I was meaning by the quote the honourable member referred to is, I'm not going to wait to act in the areas that we know require action until a strategy has been developed. Mr. Speaker, that could take as much as 12, 14 or 16 months and I'm not prepared to put off acting when we have to act.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we also have reams of studies on the emergency health rooms and yet we hired somebody to spend a year to go look at that, an expert for $100,000. So I'm not sure how that equates to our mental health strategy.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the minister say that she is looking at the involvement of the experts, I believe the experts in this case are the front-line organizations that work with mental health and the families that represent and advocate for their family members.

I would like to ask the minister whether or not she agrees that to get a strong universal buy-in to a new health strategy, do we need to involve those experts, those front-line organizations from the beginning and not after the fact?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member that all of the stakeholders will be involved in the development of the mental health strategy.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it is well known that I, personally, and the members of this caucus, take this very strongly, that we were looking for a mental health strategy and we believe that we need it soon, we need action soon as the minister said. But to make it useful in the long run, we need to have a group in place to help ensure that it remains relevant, that it gets periodically fine-tuned, that it is evaluated on an ongoing basis, that it have some flexibility built in, and a council of mental health professionals and advocates could provide that flexibility.

So my question to the minister is, is the minister willing to stay true to her roots in consultation and appoint a council of mental health professionals and advocates who can provide the minister with advice from the front line?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we'll be working with stakeholders around the province as we develop the mental health strategy. With respect to governance in an ongoing way, to monitor such a strategy as it is implemented, that is an issue that remains to be decided and something that would have to be discussed, I think, quite broadly through the process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 312]

INTL. TATTOO - PREM.: CHIEF OF STAFF - INVOLVEMENT

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. Does his Chief of Staff, Dan O'Connor, work full-time for him or is he working part-time for the Queen's visit? If he's working full-time for the Premier, will the Premier explain today why he is involved in informing the Chairman of the Board of the International Tattoo that the Queen would not be attending?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, of course my office is very much engaged in the question of how we can facilitate a warm reception for Her Majesty the Queen and ensure that she feels the warm regard the people of Nova Scotia feel for her. The decisions with respect to the itinerary for the Queen's visit will be decided by the Palace.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has talked about the safety concerns expressed by the Tattoo's artistic director, retired Colonel Ian Fraser. The Premier said last week in a television interview that his office was not involved in the Queen's itinerary, yet his Chief of Staff is the one who informs the Tattoo's Board of Directors that she will not be appearing. Will the Premier explain that, please?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I have pointed out repeatedly, my office is involved in facilitating the visit of Her Majesty the Queen, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that her visit here is a successful one and that she is accorded the respect and regard that the people of Nova Scotia would expect.

The decisions with respect to her itinerary are communicated to us. Of course if there was information that we thought was relevant to others, we would forward that on, but those decisions are made by the Queen's staff.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, through you again to the Premier, I still am not convinced - nor are others, despite all the Premier's bluster today - that his office is not involved, especially when his Chief of Staff is phoning and informing the Tattoo Board that the Queen will not appear. On the CTV News earlier this week, Mr. Fraser said he was still hopeful something can be arranged to have the Queen attend the Tattoo, providing safety concerns are met. If not, the people of Hants West would still like to see Her Majesty in our constituency, as we invited her to attend last December.

The question is, who is in charge here, the Premier or his Chief of Staff? Will one of them fix the situation for the Nova Scotia International Tattoo or will our province continue to receive negative press around the world for this unnecessary interference?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have replied twice to this question. I don't think the member opposite has understood what I have said, that the decisions that are made

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with respect to the Royal visit are done by the Queen and her staff. The itinerary that is set out, of course, for security reasons (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I remind the member for Cape Breton North that the Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The itinerary for the Queen, of course, is also a matter of security. They control the release of that information to finalize those decisions and, of course, they will do it when it is appropriate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV. - TARGET 100 PROG.: LIMITS - EXPLAIN

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. On February 24th the Premier and the minister announced a new program, the Target 100 program. The minister has stated that the program is designed to recruit, train, and employ 100 Department of Community Services recipients, over the next two to three years, for jobs at co-op businesses around the province.

My question to the minister is, why would her department limit the program to 100 recipients when in the same press release - and I'll table that, Mr. Speaker - the Co-operative Council said that over the next few years it will have hundreds of vacant positions to fill?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank the honourable member for his question, because I know he cares about the people in the province. What I'd like to explain is that this is a wonderful partnership and so, as in any new partnership, we are exploring 100 targeted positions with the goal to go forward. We know and we can see that this is going to be a successful program and we know that there are many other opportunities for hundreds more but the initial goal is to reach 100 jobs.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, it was Dianne Kelderman, chief executive officer of the council, who quoted, "It is a win for the co-ops looking for employees, a win for Community Services in its efforts to provide people in need with opportunities to become independent and, most importantly, a win for those who find not just a job, but a career."

My question to the minister is, how is her department going to communicate this opportunity to its recipients and have all case workers been made aware of the full content of the program now?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, certainly it's very important to us. We have an open communication system within the department so staff, all our staff, know about

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the program, especially the case workers who work with people on an individual basis. So they'll be able to identify the needs on an individual basis and if they see an opportunity and they express to that individual that this program is available and there's an interest there, then we will work with that individual to go forward with the opportunity to work with Target 100.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, I applaud the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council for forming this partnership with the department, a partnership that will see its recipients are on salaries that will start from $10.50 an hour to $15 an hour. The question here, however, is who really wins and I don't believe it is the recipient when they will have 70 per cent of the income clawed back.

My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, when will her department and the NDP Government make changes to this policy of a 70-30 clawback? One, it only acts as a disincentive to employment, one that her government in Opposition was so openly opposed to.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: The Target 100 Program is a fabulous program because there won't be a clawback for the fact that the individuals will be working and receiving payment. Some of the positions are up to $14 and $15 an hour. So it creates a new opportunity for that individual and families. We're also working on the ESIA redesign and we'll be looking at all those particular policies that I'm extremely excited about and we'll be looking at those type of policies that the honourable member is referring to.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.: LAND PURCHASE - CLEAR-CUTTING

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. On February 17th, the Minister of Natural Resources announced that the province had purchased 9,710 acres of land from Wagner Forest Nova Scotia Ltd. I applaud the notion of securing coastline for public ownership but the New Democrats have made a mockery of this announcement by agreeing that Wagner could clear-cut the land before the province hands them $9 million of taxpayers' money. My question to the minister is, why are you purchasing land for the purpose of preservation and allowing Wagner to decimate the forests at the same time?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. Yes, I would say that on the face of it, it appears to be a contradiction, although I think the facts would see it to be something quite positive. Nova Scotians actually own very little of their coastline as far as in terms of in government hands. So this is 22 kilometers of coastline in this parcel of land. This was an extremely high value piece of property. I mean actually in regards to the question yesterday and the $300 for Northern Pulp land, this was

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$900 an acre for this land and actually which was a lower price than we were anticipating we would have to pay. One of the concessions we made in order to get this piece of land was to allow them to harvest about 25 per cent of it.

I have to say that saved Nova Scotians about $1 million in the price of the land. We will be able to manage the forest as it grows back on that property and it will. This land will then belong to Nova Scotians for generations to come and I have to say as much as (Interruptions) Only about one-quarter of it's cut down, as the member for Cape Breton South might listen. Mr. Speaker, we're pleased that we were able to acquire this piece of land at all. Thank you.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the NDP are permitting Wagner to clear-cut using the most devastating type of forestry, whole-tree harvesting. This type of harvesting almost always results in non-natural regeneration. By the minister's own admission, it will take 40 to 50 years to get some semblance of a forest back.

For six years we stood here in the House hearing the NDP wage war against this very practice. My question to the minister is, why are you sanctioning the destruction of this area in Cumberland County by allowing Wagner to use whole-tree harvesting?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources and I would ask that you keep your answer as reasonably brief as you can.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm willing to give that a shot. For the member opposite, the whole-tree harvesting would be on 500 acres of the 2,000 acres. I don't know what he means by unnatural regeneration - the fact that it's regeneration would mean it's natural. (Applause) It will regenerate and the way that forest develops will be under our control and the control of the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, with this government's argument, I wonder whether the minister also feels Nova Scotia parks should be clear-cut for a quick dollar given that they too would grow back in 40 years or so. My question to the minister is, when can we expect a provincial policy on whole-tree harvesting in Nova Scotia?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the member may not be aware, but in the agreement to allow NewPage to use Crown land for their proposed electrical generation that they have been pursuing, in order to get permission to use wood off their Crown lease for that purpose, one of the conditions to that agreement was that they couldn't use whole-tree harvesting. So that's the start of a policy, but until we finish our strategy review, I think there won't be any change across the province. Those recommendations should be on my desk in about two weeks, I'm hoping.

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

PREM.: ELECTION CONTRIBUTIONS - RULES

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Rules around financial contributions to political Parties during an election campaign are clear. All leaders, all political Parties and all Nova Scotians are aware of these rules. At the time when your Party accepted a $45,000 political contribution from Mainland Building and Construction Trades Council, the rule stated, "The total contributions by an individual" or an organization "to each recognized party and all candidates and electoral district associations of that party must not exceed five thousand dollars in each calendar year."

My question to the Premier is, what was going on when your political Party - your NDP party, with you as a Leader - that this rule was not understood or respected?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in fact the Chief Electoral Officer had a look at the incident described by the member and what they found was that we did not and could not have known about the facts surrounding those donations.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, accepting contributions that violate this rule is seen by many as an attempt to undermine the fundamental marker of democracy. Breaking the election laws was illegal, the imposing of a fine of $10,000 was the maximum fine that could be imposed, paying the fine was an admission of guilt. My question to the Premier is, what do you have to say to Nova Scotians about your role as Leader when these events occurred?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Chief Electoral Officer found that, of course, we did not and could not have known about the circumstances surrounding those. My instructions when it came to my notice was, of course, to send those back immediately. I think those were unambiguous and, in fact, I checked to see whether or not they were sent back and was told that they were.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the Statute of Limitations prevented HRM police from responding to the request for an investigation; questions remain unanswered. What do you have to say as Leader, Mr. Premier, within your Party, and what have you said to your Party to assure Nova Scotians that your Party does understand the rules and that those rules will be respected in the future?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we did, as the member opposite knows, is that we introduced legislation in this House to ban union and corporate donations. Thank you.

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

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HEALTH - ERs (24/7) : PROTECTION FUND - USE

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In last week's Speech from the Throne there were a number of lines that related to emergency rooms and they're all of great interest to Nova Scotians. I will quote from that document, it said that, "Last September, Doctor John Ross was appointed as the province's first-ever Advisor on Emergency care. . . Dr. Ross' report will help form the basis of the government's plan to ensure that families have access to the emergency care they need, when they need it. The Emergency Department Protection Fund will be used to fund specific initiatives in the plan."

My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to using the $3 million protection fund to keep emergency rooms open 24/7 as she and her government promised in the 2009 election campaign?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Our government is very committed to ensuring that there is high-quality, safe, accessible emergency room services from one end of this province to the other and that is why we appointed Dr. John Ross, a very well-respected emergency room doctor to be our adviser on emergency room care. Dr. Ross will be reporting shortly, his interim report. I think the honourable member and members of this House will view the findings in his report, his interim report, quite favourably, thank you.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear an answer from the minister about whether or not she would maintain the commitment made during the election just past to keep those emergency rooms open 24/7. I think Nova Scotians had an expectation that we'd hear a yes from that, not waffling on that answer. Again, we're expecting an interim report soon from Dr. Ross and I would like to ask the minister if she can indicate to Nova Scotians the deadline that she has given Dr. Ross for the delivery of this interim report.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, Dr. Ross was appointed in September. He began his work, he has been around to many of the district health authorities, he has met with emergency room physicians, he has met with people in communities. His interim report will be available shortly and I'm very much looking forward to the kind of discussion that his interim report will no doubt generate here in this House and in the community.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we all know that Dr. Ross has had extensive consultations with stakeholders and some would say these consultations have resulted in some great community upheaval, so it's certainly well-noted and marked that he is travelling the province. It seems to me the NDP Government had all the answers during the election

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and now they are really stymied and stuck waiting for the cover that will come from this report from Dr. Ross.

I'd like to ask the minister, as my final question, if in the spirit of openness and transparency, will the minister commit to releasing Dr. Ross' report immediately upon receipt? Just yes or no please, minister.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Ross has had many things to do. He is putting the final touches on his report. He will be reporting fairly soon. I will be responding to that report as soon as I can, and I know that the honourable member will be very constructive in the process of having discussions about how we move forward, Mr. Speaker, as she always is.

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

PREM.: SHIP HECTOR - FUNDING

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. On September 15, 1773, the Ship Hector landed just outside of Pictou after an arduous journey across the Atlantic. Blown off course, the ship was long overdue, food was running perilously low, and many of the passengers died of smallpox and dysentery during the 11-week voyage in the hull of a cargo ship.

Mr. Speaker, 237 years later the Ship Hector has been blown off course again, this time by a lack of government funding for this important tourist destination. In the March 23, 2010 edition of the New Glasgow Evening News, which I will table, the MLA for Pictou West stated that he would be raising issues from the floor but that he had Cabinet colleagues and Premier Dexter to call. Number one on his list was the good ship replica and development of the surrounding waterfront.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I guess the MLA for Pictou West can't count on the Premier and Cabinet to help him with his top priority for his constituents. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to going to Pictou to meet with the residents, to explain why he decided to shut down this important tourist facility?

MR. SPEAKER: An interesting question. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: And thank you, Mr. Speaker. I tend to think that the member for Pictou West does an excellent job of representing that constituency, making his views fully known. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the community is having a difficult time balancing its financial priorities, as are many communities around the province, as are both the federal and

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provincial governments. What we have said is that we are prepared to look at what we can do, in the context of what other funding may be available, in order to try and address this very difficult situation.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, in 2002 the Hector Heritage Quay was the winner of the Attractions Canada Award. Not only does this venue directly employ 17 people in the small town of Pictou, it was a well-known destination attraction, bringing tourists to the area and to the local shops, restaurants, and hotels. Like the Yarmouth Cat ferry and the jail in Springhill, this is yet another example of how this government is turning its back on rural Nova Scotia. This is yet another ship sunk by the Dexter Government. My question to the Premier, can you tell Nova Scotians now which rural town will be next to feel the wrath of this government's policies?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am assuming, of course, that that is a rhetorical question because, in fact, what we are looking to do is ensure we strengthen the economies of rural Nova Scotia from one end of the province to the other. That is why we are making the important investments that we have made in Pictou County. That's why we have gone forward with the Northern Pulp announcement. That's why we've gone forward with the investment with Daewoo in the local economy.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work at strengthening the economy of rural Nova Scotia.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Ironic, isn't it? The Ship Hector is not only an important tourist attraction in our province, it is also an important venue to learn about our province's Scottish culture and about the history of our ancestors who fought to come to our province. How did it come to this point? Considering all of this, Mr. Minister, how did you come to the decision to not fund the Ship Hector and allow it to shut down?

[4:30 p.m.]

HON. PERCY PARIS: To the member opposite, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say, as you are aware, we met with the officials from the area. They put a request forward to us. We did fund part of the consultation that they were seeking. The purpose of the study that they were conducting was to determine when the next steps were.

What we also did, Mr. Speaker, is we carried that forward to see if there was anything within the department that funding that Ship Hector would fall under in the terms of what we are able to fund. Unfortunately, it is sad to say, like so many other jurisdictions around the Province of Nova Scotia, there just wasn't a fit.

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

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ERD: RAIL AMERICA - SUBSIDY

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I imagine you weren't too happy about that last answer over there. Anyway, my question is for the Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

Mr. Speaker, recently, RailAmerica announced that if a subsidy does not continue for Cape Breton Railway, it will close this portion of the line. Today is the deadline. So I want to ask the Minister of Economic and Rural Development, will your government provide the $10 million subsidy RailAmerica is seeking?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that we are in serious negotiations and deliberations with Cape Breton Rail. They have been very co-operative. We find them very easy and willing to deal with. Even though the current contract does expire, we still have ample time to reach some sort of deal, if a deal is to be met. So, it is still ongoing.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: More consultation, I guess, Mr. Speaker. My first supplementary. There is no doubt that a subsidy to this rail line is essential to the economic development future of Cape Breton Island. However, assurances also must be made to Nova Scotians that RailAmerica will treat Cape Breton landowners properly. One of the big concerns in the area has been around the fees charged by Rail America to residents who live along the rail line. Another grant is necessary, but another grant without conditions will be a mistake. My question to the minister, will you ensure provisions for landowners are made as part of any subsidy agreement with RailAmerica?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, again, we are in negotiations with Cape Breton Rail, and certainly the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is part of that process and as far as I am concerned, conversations with Cape Breton Rail are going along very, very well. They are being very co-operative and when the time comes, we will let everybody know, including the members here, what decisions have been reached and what agreements have been made.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I just hope that decision doesn't come, Mr. Speaker, after they are gone. What we have heard from this minister, in this session, indeed in the last session, that he has been meeting with everybody in Nova Scotia, but there hasn't been any decisions made and every time he meets with somebody, the end result is that we can't do anything. So that goes for Yarmouth, it goes for Pictou and now they're meeting with the rail authorities.

Mr. Speaker, in February 2009, the current Premier reiterated his Party's support for the landowners adjacent to the railway and I have a copy of the letter from Darrell Dexter,

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who was then the Leader of the Opposition, stating that he continues support for the landowners: It is still the NDP position that if the railway does not come forward with a rate structure that is fair to the property owners, then the minister should move forward and use the regulatory powers within the Railways Act to establish a structure of fees fair to everyone involved. The needs of the families must be treated fairly - Darrell Dexter, Leader of the Opposition.

I will table that letter and I would ask the Minister of Economic and Rural Development, in the spirit of what the now Premier and former Leader of the Opposition has said to the people of that line, will you protect the citizens of Cape Breton in any deal with RailAmerica?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the conversations that we are having with Cape Breton Rail, and I mean the Cabinet conversations, will remain at the negotiating table and it's not something we're going to negotiate out of those parameters.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

PREM: YARMOUTH RESIDENTS - MEET

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. The Premier continues to fail Nova Scotians and his betrayal of the people of southwest Nova Scotia - now Cape Breton, Cumberland, Pictou - has inflicted great economic harm to communities and working families who expected genuine leadership from the Dexter NDP. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier commit to meet with the people of Yarmouth, in Yarmouth - yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Well, of course, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to meet with the people of Yarmouth as I am with the people in any of the communities around the province and I can tell the member opposite that we intend to continue to work to strengthen the economy of rural Nova Scotia as we are already, as we are tracking new companies to this province, new investment, new capital investment. That is the secret to having economic prosperity in this province and we intend to continue to do it.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, if he needs a little help, I would be more than happy to give him my per diem so he can come down to Yarmouth and visit with people from Yarmouth.

Mr. Speaker, we have here who is supposed to be the man of the people, who is refusing to meet with the very people of whom he previously declared he was the champion. The unionized employees of Bay Ferries expected more than a pink slip and a slap in the face. Apparently not all unions are created equal or treated equally. Apparently the 189 union members don't get the same treatment as the Halifax union bosses.

[Page 322]

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier explain why the backroom union deals of Halifax don't extend to the rural reaches of the province?

THE PREMIER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I treat all workers in this province with respect and I have met with the representatives of the workers with Bay Ferries. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: In fact, Mr. Speaker, I've met with them several times. I think it's important for the members opposite to understand that these decisions were not taken lightly. They were not taken without consultation. They were not taken without a thoughtful investigation of all the facts surrounding this ferry and the reality is that it was an unsustainable service.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we're going to devote our efforts to try to find an answer that's going to strengthen southwest Nova Scotia and, unfortunately, that needed to be done years ago and it simply wasn't.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, if it hadn't been for Friday, if it hadn't been for an emergency debate, the Premier would never have spoken to anybody in that union because luckily they came here to see what this government was going to answer. They didn't get any answers, but I thank the Premier for going up there and meeting with those people on that day. He didn't give them any answers and I think he'll end up paying for that one.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier is now in leadership, his Cabinet's inability to do the numbers and his cowardice to refuse to meet with the people of Yarmouth, in Yarmouth, is proof of the positive that the Dexter NDP has a two-tiered governing policy: one for their backroom friends and one for the rest of Nova Scotia who have not curried favour.

Mr. Speaker, why doesn't the Premier just admit that he has failed the people of Yarmouth or could he just stand up and show leadership by agreeing to meet with the people of Yarmouth, in Yarmouth?

MR. SPEAKER: I would remind the member to be very careful in your choice of words. I'll let it go this time but be careful.

The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to respond to something that was said that was just fundamentally untrue. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the employees with Bay Ferries. As I've said, I've done it now a number of times. (Interruption)

[Page 323]

Mr. Speaker, he asked me if I met with them, I have met with them. (Interruption) He asked the question, but he apparently doesn't want an answer. The reality is that spending some $12 million in a subsidy for a service that was actually weakening the region rather than strengthening it was not our idea of something that was good for southwestern Nova Scotia. We want to make sure that we take that money and that we have the resources to be able to work to strengthen the economy in that part of the province.

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

HPP: LIFEPLEX WELLNESS CTR. - ACCESS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. For the past two months, members of the LIFEPLEX Wellness Centre in Cornwallis have been left in limbo as all parties involved develop a management plan to operate the facility. The facility closed its doors to its paid membership on March 20th, leaving 1,100 people without a facility to use. They have been left without a place to maintain and improve their health and well-being. My question to the minister is, what active role has the staff in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection played to ensure these 1,100 members can access the LIFEPLEX Wellness Centre as soon as possible?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The Office of Health Promotion and Protection is very much involved in helping recreational facilities around the province build good infrastructure and maintain the infrastructure. However, we are not involved in the day-to-day operational support for those recreational facilities. Those are responsibilities that fall to the municipal government and local communities. Therefore, we are not involved with the operation of that particular centre; however, we are aware of what is occurring, and we do know there is a problem there. Thank you.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Department of Seniors could help out, because it is seniors with a problem down there. It may be months before an agreement is reached with another operator. While no one can argue that a new operator would be beneficial and in the community's best interest, it is clear that up to now the province has been silent. Eighty seniors use the facility for their arthritis and their rehab classes. The door to their facility is now locked. Recently a contract had been negotiated with the municipality so that a local swim club now has access to the facility for two hours a day, five days a week. My question to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is, would the minister be willing to direct her staff to meet with the Municipality of Annapolis in order to develop a plan for these seniors so that they will be able to resume their arthritis and rehab classes?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, although I'm not the minister responsible for seniors, I am very interested in the health and well-being of seniors around

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the province. I would be happy to speak with the honourable member following Question Period today to get further information about the seniors' program at that particular centre.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, here are the facts. A new facility remains idle. Members are unable to access it, and seniors' health is deteriorating as a result. The result is - and I believe the minister would agree - we will likely pay more money as a result of the worsening health of these seniors than it would cost to come up with some funds to allow them to resume their rehab classes. My question to the minister is, is it possible for her department to free up some funds to allow seniors to access the facility for health reasons until such time as a new agreement is reached?

[4:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I would be more than happy to speak with the honourable member after Question Period, to learn more about the particular services that he is referring to for seniors in this particular facility.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

TIR: LAYOFFS - DETAILS

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. We have just become aware that many certified, full-time employees of the minister's department have received their layoff notices. I wonder if the minister could tell the House today, how many across Nova Scotia are being laid off?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member opposite for the question. The specifics, of course, as we involve with the traditional layoffs at this time of the year remain a concern for all of us because we have many employees throughout the winter season who give us many long hours. Then, of course, we are in the soft season, as we call it, as I know the member opposite was the minister in the current position I am in. Then, of course, we have the problem with the fact that yes, we have work to be done, but we have no asphalt plants that are up and operating.

I want to assure all members of the House that we are very carefully considering what has been called on numerous occasions by previous governments and by this minister, too, as we're bridging the attempt to keep as many people as possible on this time of the year. There are other factors, of course, when many of the men involved are going on to get other jobs in the private sector. I, myself, have heard from members in my constituency concerned

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about this issue. I have heard from members of my - my backbenchers also brought it to my attention and it is something that remains an ongoing concern. It is something we are going to try to improve in the future. It's an issue of real concern because these men and women provide quality service throughout the difficult seasons of the year and now, as we go through these difficult months where they take a layoff, it is unfortunate and it is something that we are going to continue to address in a timely fashion.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the minister, over the last couple of years the previous government was able to find additional dollars to ensure that we were able to keep those employees working for two reasons: one obviously was to get the much-needed work done; the second was to ensure that we have valued employees here working instead of going out West or going on to other jobs. So it is very important to the department to keep those people working.

Mr. Speaker, last year when there was some indication through the media that there could possibly be some layoffs in Transportation, the then New Democratic Transportation Critic, who is now the baby minister for Transportation, said: It just doesn't make sense in this economic climate to be laying off regular workers when there's plenty of shovel-ready maintenance work to be done. Again, she repeated later that month: In these difficult times it seems that keeping people employed, especially in rural Nova Scotia, would be a key goal of the government. If that was true back then, why is it not true today?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, the framing of the question is not appropriate, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, but I'm not going to comment upon that because I think the concern is we are concerned about these employees who work for us in our department. I will be the first one to admit that I have met with some of these gentlemen and it is disruptive, there is no doubt. We will be taking as many positive steps as possible to ensure that there are as few as possible people to be laid off in the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. It is difficult, there is no doubt, and I share the member's concern about this as all members of the House have brought these individual cases to my attention. We're doing the best we can with the limited dollars we have and we'll continue to do that.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. No question about it, again, over the last couple of years, it is very difficult to find those dollars to keep those employees working.

My request to the minister today, on behalf of all those employees who have contacted my office and continue to call is, will the minister go back to his department and determine whether there may be additional funding within the department or through Cabinet, to ensure that these very valuable employees, many of them with the department for decades and who are certified, full-time people - not seasonal, part-time people - certified, full-time employees of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and have been for a number of years, will the minister go back, talk to his officials in the

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department, talk to the Premier and Cabinet, to see if additional dollars can be spent to keep these employees working, especially at this time of the year?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, again my thanks to the member for bringing this forward. I will assure every member of this House who comes forward to me, as I've heard from members on this side of the floor who brought individual concerns to my attention, I welcome those particular answers to come forward. I encourage members of all Parties to bring forward the concerns. It is those individual cases, because I will certainly agree with the fact that we have a number of valuable employees that are caught in this disruptive time each and every year.

What can we learn from past experiences? We should make sure that we're putting the value of these employees first so members on all sides of the House who have employees in that situation throughout the province, I encourage them to bring the names of those particular employees to my attention. We'll look at it the best we can.

Again, as the member opposite knows, having been in this position before, it is a difficult time particularly when it comes to dollars. I'm appreciative of what you're offering to us. I thank you for your time and I want you to know, first and foremost, those valuable employees will be my top priority.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The time for Oral Question Period has ended.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills For Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6.

Bill No. 6 - Industrial Expansion Fund Transfer Act.

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak to Bill No. 6. The essence of this bill is transferring the Industrial Expansion Fund out of the Cabinet room and into the business arm of the government, which is Nova Scotia Business Inc.

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Let me begin by saying to you that the majority of these loans are being delivered with the best intention of trying to create some employment across our province, but the fact of the matter is, in this time when government is talking about being open and transparent, making sure that tax dollars are being spent in an appropriate way, the fact that the applications that are being put before them are being scrutinized for the business case, that it is important that we move it out of the secrecy of the Cabinet Room and move it to the business arm of our province, making sure that the business case is being made for each and every one of these loans.

The real challenge is, no one knows how many people have actually applied to that fund. No one knows whether or not - what the parameters are around many of these deals and the fact that they're sitting around the Cabinet Table leaves the impression that it's more of a political decision than it is a business case decision on why these loans are being delivered to the people of this province.

When the Minister of Finance was on this side of the House on many occasions, he criticized that fund, he suggested that the fund was a slush fund for Cabinet Ministers to be able to curry favour with their voters, with Party faithful. Interestingly enough, like so many things that have happened when this Party crossed to the other side of the House, they forgot what they said on this side, and are now beginning to fall into the trap of the old practice.

Leading up to the end of February, they deliver an additional $175 million to this fund. Interestingly enough, they tried so hard to distance themselves from the previous government, but they quickly started acting like them in a hurry. It is unfortunate for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and the dollars that they deliver to the government of the day is not being treated with the respect in an open and transparent way that all of us get an opportunity to see.

One of the reasons why we've suggested that this money be shifted from the Cabinet room to NSBI is because we believe every dollar that the government is spending should be put through a business case model, but I also have issue with NSBI. I think as the minister - and I know he's interested in hearing this - seriously considers this piece of legislation to move that fund out of the Cabinet room to NSBI, he also needs to make sure that the business arm of our province, of our government, is also open and transparent. The fact that in the last budget there was one line talking about the total budget for NSBI. He hasn't told us about the salaries of the people who are working there, hasn't told us about whether there are any bonuses being paid, hasn't told us what's been delivered on the investment we've made to NSBI. It's important that it becomes open and transparent. It's important that Nova Scotians get an opportunity to see how we are investing their money.

Mr. Speaker, no one is questioning whether or not government should have the ability to be part of investing in our economy. As a matter of fact, I think every member on this side

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of the House has been encouraging this government to invest in the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia through supporting a ferry service for one more year, allowing us as a region to put together a solid business case and a new business model that will work in today's era.

But what we want and I think what Nova Scotians are looking for is to make sure that those decisions are made in the light of day, that people get an opportunity to view those decisions and the reasons why they are being made and in some cases, Mr. Speaker, on why the decisions aren't being made. Why are some people being the chosen few and others are being denied? Is it on a poor business case model or is it on voting pattern?

As long as we continue to leave those decisions in the Cabinet Room, there will always be those questions in the minds of Nova Scotians. Are we making those decisions based on the business case or the political case. We believe and I believe that moving that fund into NSBI and the business model that has been applied by them with some success, albeit in only some parts of our province, but it would be a better fit to be guiding the decision making that we're doing when it comes to the tax dollars in terms of investing in our economy.

As I said to you a few minutes ago, Mr. Speaker, as you carefully look at this piece of legislation, it is important also to carefully look at the mandate of NSBI, the business arm of our government, to make sure that it is more open, more transparent, but it also has the ability to respond to the needs of the small business owner in this province.

Mr. Speaker, we provide tax credits for people who come in and create jobs in this province and yet, we do very little for the men and women who have been creating jobs in this province for generations through the tough times, have stayed with us to help build the economy of so many of our communities. They are the same people who are investing not only their dollars but their time and energy and their expertise in making sure that rural Nova Scotia not only will stay alive but will remain vibrant and really an option for young people to come and stay and build a life for them and their families.

But it is important though as we go through this process and this transition that we are looking at every dollar that this government is spending in an open and transparent way. The idea that you're following the pattern of the previous government, of leaving it in the Cabinet Room only to be seen by the chosen few who get the opportunity to sit around the Cabinet Table, is not good enough for Nova Scotians any longer. Nova Scotians have made it very loud and clear that they believe the decisions that government make, need to be made in the open, they need to be defended by government, because if you believe in the decision that you are making, then you can defend it and you should defend it to all Nova Scotians and we need to get an opportunity to see how those decisions are being made in an open and transparent and public way.

Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, I will take my seat and listen to the debate.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the remarks and the comments by the Leader of the Liberal Party and I would say that there were some points that we can agree upon when you talk about governments and transparency. I think, certainly, we are on the same page.

I would like to respond further to Bill No. 6, an Act to Transfer Industrial Expansion Funds from the Department of Economic and Rural Development to Nova Scotia Business Incorporated. The Industrial Expansion Fund, or IEF as it is more commonly known, is a valuable economic development tool to grow the economy of Nova Scotia. It complements tools used by other organizations such as NSBI, InNOVAcorp and others used from across government.

[5:00 p.m.]

The IEF helps businesses and productivity and innovation, business expansion and growth, and contributes to a prosperous and sustainable business climate for Nova Scotia. Investments made through the IEF generate valuable tax revenue and significant economic spinoffs for the province while helping companies compete in the global marketplace.

Through the IEF and other tools, the Department of Economic and Rural Development is able to help protect jobs and support business to be more competitive and to be more sustainable. The IEF has considerable flexibility and provides financial support such as loans and guarantees when many traditional sources are reluctant to do so.

It's important that government play an active role in maintaining and creating jobs, especially at a time of economic challenges. This means not only helping existing businesses succeed, but also attracting new businesses to the Province of Nova Scotia. The IEF contributes to helping government keep its commitments to make life better for families and for the future generations, laying the groundwork for those to come. The department administers the IEF and is implementing measures to strengthen effective governments and transparency.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important and I'm going to repeat it - the Department of Economic and Rural Development is in the process of implementing measures to strengthen effective governments and transparency. All transactions through the IEF are publicly announced and the department produces annual reports to demonstrate investments in all regions of the province, crossing all sectors. With the permission of the House, I would like to table that report.

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The government recently responded to the Economic Advisory Panel's suggestion to grow the economy in order to meet the serious fiscal challenges facing the province by increasing the capacity of the IEF by $75 million. This was done to respond to the needs of businesses from across the province. While the IEF and the Government of Nova Scotia are creating good jobs and growing the economy, we are also making tough decisions as we face the necessity of living within our means and getting back to balance. We must focus our efforts on sustainable business opportunities. Since June 2009 government has authorized 14 transactions for a total of $191 million through the IEF. These helped create approximately 780 jobs and sustained 2,400 jobs. An independent study indicated that $2.90 was returned for every $1 spent.

The department and NSBI have a successful track record of partnership to create jobs and economic returns for the Province of Nova Scotia. NSBI assists local companies and attracts new ones with payroll rebates, loans and venture capital while the IEF is focused on business development and assisting existing businesses with loans, incentives and guarantees, which make a significant impact on the quality of life we, as Nova Scotians, enjoy. For instance, Montreal's Castle Hall, manager of hedge fund risks and due diligence is expanding to Halifax with a payroll rebate from NSBI and in training and recruitment, an investment incentive through the IEF.

There are many other examples of these partnerships such as with register.com of Yarmouth, Professional Quality Assurance, Citco, Kane, Research in Motion, and that's just to name a few. NSBI and the IEF partnered to attract and retain these successful businesses to Nova Scotia that have brought thousands of high quality jobs with them and significant tax revenues.

The province's IT, financial services and aerospace and defense industry are thriving as a result of the great work of both NSBI and the Department of Economic and Rural Development.

Investments in these sectors and others do not only strengthen our economy, but also help to keep our youth here and attract them back to live, work, play, and raise their families in our beautiful province.

One of the most prosperous examples of this partnership is NSBI's successful attraction of Korea's DSME. They came to Nova Scotia to build and export wind turbines and blades from the former TrentonWorks facility. The Departments of Energy and Economic and Rural Development were able to build on this attraction by working to provide financial assistance in an equity agreement to bring this internationally successful company to Nova Scotia over other jurisdictions. This is a great example of NSBI and the IEF working together to bring valuable jobs back to a small community that has a great facility to offer.

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In the case of DSME, some cultures and countries prefer to deal with governments rather than arm's-length agencies, and the IEF gives us the ability to do this. Perhaps one of the keys to the successes of NSBI and the IEF working closely together on different investments is partly through the co-location of our staff. The department has staff that are co-located with NSBI staff in six areas of the province: Bridgewater, Pictou, Port Hawkesbury, Sydney, Truro, and Windsor. The individuals at these offices are working together to ensure economic growth and development in those particular regions.

Over a six-year period, ending March 2007, the IEF had a return of $2.89 on each $1 invested. There were 3,240 new and maintained jobs through the IEF for fiscal 2009-10 that represent all regions and sectors in the province. During the last fiscal year, NSBI's work with clients and partners resulted in up to 2,733 new and retained jobs and up to $180 million in payroll for Nova Scotians.

Some great examples of investments made recently across the province through the IEF include Cape Breton. Sydney's Harbourside Commercial Park received assistance through the IEF to create a thriving new marine park that will expand and attract businesses and create jobs.

In the capital region, Irving's Halifax Shipyard received assistance to help create jobs, grow the economy, and modernize and upgrade infrastructure to increase their competitiveness.

Sustainable fish farming is a great story of an immigrant who settled outside of Windsor, bringing his water recirculation expertise to establish a unique state-of-the-art aquaculture company. This very, very unique business startup raises and grows European sea bass. In addition, the $4.75 million loan announced today by Scanwood Limited will create greater effectiveness through newer, innovative equipment. This is more evidence of the effectiveness of the use of the IEF as an investment tool. Company chairman and co-owner Bo Thörn told us that they are thankful for this support from the province as it will enable the company to modernize. There are many other great stories. It is the world's leading designers, such as LED Roadway Lighting.

On that note, I will say in closing there are certain things that I've heard the Liberal Leader say that we certainly agree with, and there's certainly no argument from this minister or from this government when it comes to transparency and things around government. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, and to the member opposite, that we are investigating this and we are looking at this and there are changes that are coming very, very soon. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

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HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to stand today and speak to Bill No. 6, entitled An Act to Transfer Industrial Expansion Funds from the Department of Economic and Rural Development to Nova Scotia Business Incorporated.

I'd like to start out by saying that this bill was introduced by the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition, and while there may not be a lot of things that he and I will disagree on, and haven't in the past, I would have to say at this point starting out that I believe that the Leader of the Official Opposition really underestimates the potential of the Industrial Expansion Fund. I think it's a result of not having the opportunity to have worked with it, like many of us have over the years. I'm going to talk a bit about that in a few moments.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that if a Liberal Government were ever given the opportunity to do what the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition says, I believe it would cripple the cornerstone of the economy of Nova Scotia. The Department of Economic and Rural Development has a variety - as was indicated by the minister - of funding mechanisms in which they can perform valuable funding services.

The Industrial Expansion Fund is just one of those tools used by the Department of Economic and Rural Development. Through the Industrial Expansion Fund, as has been historically shown in this province, companies can be helped with a lot of issues they deal with, particularly in these economic downturn times we've seen and a soaring Canadian dollar and very tight fiscal markets.

I know there's a very successful businessperson in my own area, John Bragg, who owns Oxford Frozen Foods. Mr. Bragg, I believe, in one way or another through his family, probably touched around 1,000 people in Cumberland County. As Mr. Bragg has told me and he would tell everyone - I'm sure the minister maybe has had an opportunity to speak to him. If not, I'd encourage him when he gets up that way to speak to him - as he would tell you, the banks in downtown Toronto want nothing to do with supporting rural Nova Scotia. When they won't look at infrastructure, for example, in Oxford, if they won't look at supporting and providing infrastructure money for operating, for capital, who are businesses like that to turn to?

Dr. Hamm, when he was Premier, any time he would come to Cumberland County he would always want me to try to arrange a meeting with Mr. Bragg, and he would always tell me, you know, as politicians and government we should never, ever argue with success. If there's a success story in Cumberland County, it's John Bragg. I think you would find that John Bragg over the years has dealt with various governments, has dealt with the Liberal Government, has dealt with my government when we were there, and now I am sure is dealing with the New Democratic Government.

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One thing you'll find about Mr. Bragg is that every commitment he makes in regard to his business and commitments of repayment of any funds or any commitment around funding that is provided to him through government programs such as we are talking about here today, he will meet every one of those commitments. He will never miss a payment and the province will be fully repaid what it loans, plus money.

The thing about the Industrial Expansion Fund, Mr. Speaker, that everyone should know, is that the Industrial Expansion Fund is not a pot of money that Cabinet just scoops up and sets aside and says okay, let's line up and let's see whose hands we can get this money in, what business the province can do. The money that is set aside in the Industrial Expansion Fund is actually the opportunity for the minister, with the blessing of Cabinet, to borrow - when I was there we increased that amount to $175 million, and I know that this government is now working on a new plan - the ability for the department to access up to $175 million when I was there, through the Industrial Expansion Fund. Companies and business would approach the department - obviously NSBI first and/or the Department of Economic and Rural Development - and apply for funds for programs from that specific fund.

Now the Leader of the Official Opposition mentioned earlier about the way that the money is handed out and how it is done behind closed doors, and how he would support it if there was a sound business case. Well, I want the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition to know that each and every time that a company applies for money under that fund, there is a strong business case developed.

So just to answer that concern that the Leader of the Official Opposition has, there is a business case. There are people in the department who have been there for many, many years. I'm going to use Marvyn Robar as an example, who's been with the department for 25-plus years. Marvyn Robar would do a thorough analysis of every business case brought forward, every request brought forward by a business to the department and then, in turn, as a result of that request and his thorough investigation, he would make a recommendation to the minister as to whether he believed it was a good investment for the province or not, and whether he would recommend that minister take it to Cabinet.

[5:15 p.m.]

You know, Mr. Robar being the credible individual he is, a dedicated person and I can tell you that - I know I was home myself when I was a minister and received a call from him late on a Saturday night. The man was in the office trying to work on a file he knew was very important to the province, it was going to create jobs and here he was in the department working to ensure that Cabinet the following week would have the proper information it needed to make the right decision. I can assure this House that Mr. Robar, and his colleagues who work in the department, would never sign his name to a document, make a recommendation to the now minister to take to Cabinet unless he believed in his heart, from his experience, that it was a good investment for the province.

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I think there's a perception out there that the IEF is a political slush fund and I've heard it said many times that government or Cabinets will use it to their own advantage and that is about the farthest thing from the truth that I've ever heard in this House. The IEF is just another tool that the minister has at his disposal, through his department, to assist business in Nova Scotia.

There used to be a gentleman with the department years ago and he's retired now, his name is David Lake. David told me that governments, we're always trying to create opportunities and bring more jobs to Nova Scotia but he always said as well, it's a lot easier to protect a job than it is to create one. You know, if you look around this province over the last 10 years and you look at businesses that have, for whatever reason, folded up and left this province or closed their business, I think if the right tools were in place, it's easier to protect those jobs and try to keep them going than it is to try to attract a new business to the province.

Now, just a note on NSBI. NSBI has done a tremendous job over the last number of years and I'm not for a moment saying that they haven't. They're great on the world stage, they brought many jobs to this province that are in the financial sector, the insurance sector. They've gone to places like Bermuda and attracted companies that probably otherwise we would not have been able to attract as a province, so I see a role for NSBI in that regard but I believe there always has been and there is now, and I believe there will in the future, a strong role for the Industrial Expansion Fund under the Department of Economic and Rural Development.

Mr. Speaker, I know the minister just cited some statistics but I think that some of them really deserve to be repeated just to ensure that the members really appreciate what the Industrial Expansion Fund has done over the last number of years and as he mentioned, an analysis was done in 2007 by Collins Management Consulting Ltd. and the results of that study showed that the IEF created or maintained 11,000 full-time jobs during a six-year period, which ended in 2007.

We've heard over the last couple of days some discussion about monies that were used to create jobs in Nova Scotia and, by the way, I want to go on the record and say that I've said here before that I'll be very critical when I believe the government's made a mistake or done wrong, whether it's the correctional centre in my own area or The Cat ferry or the Hector in Pictou. That's our job here to point out when we think there are shortcomings but I'll also, given the opportunity when I think the government's done something right, applaud that decision and hope that they will continue to make those right decisions in other communities.

The Industrial Expansion Fund, I believe, the announcements that the minister has made over the last while I think were absolutely the right decisions to make. A lot of these

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in rural Nova Scotia that without the fund - and if the minister would think about this, he said that they're looking at possibly some changes. I just hope the minister will keep in mind that some of the announcements he made since becoming minister last June, if changes are so that those decisions are outside of his ability to decide or to recommend to Cabinet, or outside of Cabinet's ability to decide on, a lot of those jobs that were either produced or created over the last year may not be here. Hopefully the minister and the Cabinet understand that the IEF is very important to maintain, it's a useful tool that's been used for decades in this province and I think the banks across this country but especially in the U.S., the failure rates we've seen over the last number of years when it comes to the loaning of monies is very high.

I believe the number is right, the Industrial Expansion Fund I think traditionally over the last decades it has been in place, it's probably been 40 years, I think the average loss under that fund is about 6 per cent. I would suggest that any bank in this country would love to be able to loan money to businesses like the Industrial Expansion Fund does and have a failure rate of only 6 per cent - very, very low.

I think the Industrial Expansion Fund is a tremendous fund. I hope the minister maintains the ability to use it to help Nova Scotian companies and maintain the jobs here and I want to give particular praise to the many staff, the public servants who work at the Department of Economic and Rural Development, for the great job they do on behalf of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I've really enjoyed the discussion on Bill No. 6, a bill to transfer the Industrial Expansion Funds to Nova Scotia Business Inc. Over the years the Industrial Expansion Fund has provided funding for many companies as has Nova Scotia Business Inc. under the programs that they do, but I feel, as my Leader does and as our Party does, that the two of them, if they were merged, would actually be a lot more efficient and, indeed, remove the perception, whether it's real or not, that it's money given out on a political basis.

I would suggest that probably sometimes that would happen and sometimes it wouldn't, but I just want to look at a couple of the things here that sort of glare out at you. I'm not against supporting new jobs and businesses in the provinces, far from that, it's just the opposite, but when you look at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in Trenton, a place that definitely needs a lot of employment, and if you look at a company the size of Daewoo when they came to Canada to build turbine towers, turbine blades, and this is something that really should be provided and built in Canada, I think that's wonderful. I think the location is great where TrentonWorks is.

However, I question the amount of money that the province and the federal government put into this program as compared to the company, because it seems just a little

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bit disproportionate. For instance, the province, through all the money they've put into it and through everything run together, including an equity position, there was $60 million. The federal government came up with $10 million and the company came up with $20 million. That's just a little bit over a 20 per cent investment for a company. Now, that's not a bad deal. That's not a bad deal if you can get it from anybody, but we've seen so many disasters in Nova Scotia over the years where companies come in, have a very rich loan or a grant, or whatever you want to call it, a forgivable loan from the province and bang, when they run out of work or they run out of good management, or whatever the case may be, they're gone and the money is gone. We're on the hook and it creates our deficit even further.

The minister says just under a $3 return on investment for every $1 that the Industrial Expansion Fund puts in, that's a fair return, but if we would work with some smaller companies that export, the return is $7 for every $1 that you export outside the country. So I think that the department wants to re-look at their math a little bit better and see, indeed, where the best investments would be.

The only list I have seen on the money that has been invested, around $170 million - and I haven't done the math on this to see if it all adds up, I don't think it does here, except Daewoo is $60 million of that. It appears there have only been 13 companies that they've listed so far and I know the minister listed off many other companies. I just definitely would like to get that list and see who all those companies were and more details on exactly how many jobs that they produced and did, indeed, improve in the province, but we're talking about efficiency here.

We have field workers out there through Economic and Rural Development and Nova Scotia Business Inc., we have RDAs out there, and the thing is if we could put this all together under one operation such as Nova Scotia Business Inc., as this bill suggests, and make this, as the government has said, open and transparent. I mean, let's be open and transparent, let's provide more details on these things, but there is still time, you can still protect the identity - not so the identity, but the business ability of companies that need to get this thing, that won't affect their competitiveness in the open market.

When you look at some of these things, the question that I see here, if you support, for instance, the Daewoo Shipyards to the tune of $70 million worth of funding, which is - well, we'll see how that works out, but I'm interested to see the Competition Bureau and the free trade agreement if they decide they're going to export these products into the U.S. They might be tagged as a government-sponsored operation and if they are, they will be hit with tariffs.

If that happens, will this deal fall apart, will it continue? What happens if it does fall apart? Hopefully there is enough market in Canada for wind turbines and towers that they can, indeed, put many people to work here and ensure their operation or, indeed, they can ship these products to other parts, to Europe - we're way behind Europe now with that sort

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of technology - ship it to Europe or ship it to some other countries, indeed, will be very positive.

It's skeptical, you see so many of these things come forward and you see the lack of transparency. Loans are given and it makes you wonder. The minister clearly said in his statement that the money is made available and no one else would give it, no one else. I wonder how much difficulty Irving Shipbuilding would have getting $20 million from anybody, a very solid company, one of the strongest companies in the Maritimes, indeed, probably one of the strongest companies in Canada and a $20 million loan wouldn't be a very big deal.

Now, I've got no objection if they've made a good business case for Irving getting a $20 million loan to modernize and upgrade their infrastructure to increase their competitiveness, I have no issue with that at all. But indeed, could they have gotten the money somewhere else? If they did, did they get the loan from the province because the terms were better, the interest rate was better, and at the same time we add that to our debt and we have to pay interest on that ourselves so are we really getting the money back and the return back that the minister indicated we are? I would be interested in seeing those numbers and seeing those numbers if they really do work.

As you go through this whole thing, there's some medium-size and some reasonably small companies here that did get help in some areas of the province and it probably made a lot of sense to do that. But again, this could easily be used and transmitted through Nova Scotia Business Inc. and make it more transparent and allow them the opportunity to do a best business case.

In some cases - I can remember when we were in this Legislature, forgivable loans that were given out to Magic Valley. I read the business plan that they had there, it was the exact same business plan they had 10 years before that and they were turned down. Nova Scotia Business Inc. even turned them down, but, again, I believe it was the Industrial Expansion Fund that supplied them with funding. I have no idea to this day whether the forgivable loans really made any difference in the company or not. Hopefully it did, hopefully it did employ a few people so we did get a little bit of return on our investment.

It is not all as rosy as the Opposition, the Third Party has said. It is not all as rosy as the government has said. There are some of these things that definitely don't work as well as they could.

Now when you get a part of government, an arm's-length operation of government saying no, we're not going to loan money to someone like Magic Valley and then the government comes along and says oh yes, we are, it's a good investment and then make a forgivable loan. That's a grant, no other way to put it, it's a grant. So it's no interest, no return and from the business plans that I reviewed at the time, it was the exact same business

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plan that was refused 10 or 20 years earlier. They just rewrote it, put it back in and got the money this time.

There really has to be some transparency with this, there has to be accountability with this, we have to see good business plans come forward from the businesses to ensure that, indeed, it is a good investment for Nova Scotians.

The government is talking about increasing the HST. That's going to make Nova Scotia companies less competitive, it is going to give Nova Scotians less money that they're going to have to spend on products in Nova Scotia. It will hurt the economy. Does that mean that the Industrial Expansion Fund is going to have to bail some of these companies out?

Usually when you bail a company out, unless they restructure and organize better and better management, it doesn't help. What happens is they get deeper and deeper and they get to the point that it doesn't make sense to operate anymore and again, the investment is gone and it's all over with and unfortunately the taxpayers, at the end of the day, pay the bill and the bill doesn't go away. The bill is added to our debt and our debt grows and grows. The interest on that grows and it's to the point pretty well that Nova Scotia, I think if the debt is projected the way that they say it is going to be and the deficit that this government has decided to move forward instead of making tough decisions and doing the things that they should be doing, they're going to tax Nova Scotia's business out of business. Thank you.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for debate on Bill No. 6 has now expired.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Res. No. 4.

Res. No. 4 - re ERD: Yarmouth Ferry - Serv. Ensure - notice given Mar. 26/10 - (Hon. S. McNeil)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join a number of members of the Opposition and government to speak about the loss of the ferry, The Cat, serving Maine to Yarmouth. December 18th was a black day in southwestern Nova Scotia. It was the day that is still reverberating in that area in particular, but actually through the whole tourist industry of our province.

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In fact, just in the last hours, the people working at the Colony in Yarmouth have been given their layoff notices for the end of May. They are going to close the Colony, which is an arm of the (Interruption) - yes, an institution, right, they're going to make it into an institution, but for Rodd Hotels, it was part of their enterprise in Yarmouth, and this is what is going to take place in a ripple effect across southwestern Nova Scotia. We will see a number of bed and breakfasts, where over 50 per cent of their visitors came to Nova Scotia by way of The Cat, down the French Shore and the South Shore, and we're going to hear more stories like what happened to the Colony in the coming weeks and coming months.

When a community hears from as far away as Joggins and the Inverary in Baddeck that this will have an impact on them, we know that something devastating has taken place. When I first heard of it, what I was shocked by, of course, was the Merry Christmas on December 18th, you just lost these amounts of direct jobs and 400 to 500 indirect jobs from the loss of The Cat. What I could not understand was why not a transition of one year? Let Bay Ferries know that we cannot continue with The Cat.

Now there are a number of Scandinavian countries, European countries, that had fast ferries and they got rid of them when a barrel of oil reached $100. But they made a transition period in order to get a single-hull ferry back into service, and this is exactly where the NDP truly missed the boat, was to provide a transition year to Yarmouth, to southwestern Nova Scotia, indeed, to all the province, to have a year of adjustment, and you would have seen at least a couple of business proposals and, hopefully, we will still see them. Because once you abandon a service for one year, a service that I believe has been going since about 1840, and once you've changed that pattern, it takes some time to recapture and recoup those businesses that are related to an important link.

In 2005 when Scotia Prince came out of service, it took a number of years to recapture some of the business lost and the same thing will happen here for sure. In fact, the Tourism Department - and I was at a meeting in Cornwallis a couple of weeks ago - and the Tourism Department and all those involved with tourism, Destination Southwest Nova, are scrambling to let people in the U.S. states know that there is actually another way to get to Nova Scotia. That's how fundamental an interruption for some people who've always relied and who base their vacations on coming across to Yarmouth.

When we change patterns like this, it's not one year, it'll be several years that tourism, and Yarmouth in particular, will be impacted. I know down through the Valley there are tremendous numbers of our old heritage homes that have been turned into bed and breakfasts. In chatting with a number of those owners, they know this summer they will be impacted and many will have just one employee addition instead of two. The same way for the Oak Lawn Zoo, the Aviation Museum in our area who track how people come into Nova Scotia, they realize they will have fewer visitors to those very, very strong tourist attractions this particular summer.

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It's the loss of a service, it's the change in the pattern of getting to southwestern Nova Scotia that will have long-term and long-range impacts in this part of Nova Scotia. There was another way to handle this situation. Most will agree that The Cat itself, that type of fast ferry, was not viable, not sustainable, but that a single hull ferry with some transportation in addition to passenger service was the way to go. That's what should have been investigated before terminating that vital link into Yarmouth.

This will be a very difficult summer for the people who rely upon tourism in southwestern Nova Scotia. With that, Mr. Speaker, I take my place.

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

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, first let me confirm this government's commitment to make life better for families in every region of Nova Scotia. I also want to state my concern that we are doing a disservice to the strong and talented people of the southwest region by continuing to emphasize the loss of the ferry rather than talking about the tremendous successes and assets of the region.

I am speaking of successes like Tri-Star that exports its ground ambulances from Yarmouth to 42 countries around the world. We applaud companies like JHS Fish Products of Iceland, now located in the community of Tusket. It is using technology and innovative thinking to develop dried fish products for markets in Nigeria and elsewhere.

We celebrate Xona Games, first place winners in InNOVAcorp's I-3 competition. Another great moment for Yarmouth is the recent announcement of the re-established air service from Yarmouth to Portland. There are more successes from a tourism perspective. Recently, tourism staff were contacted by the owner of Trout Point Lodge. The company is exploring the possibility of attracting another air service to the Yarmouth area. While it is too early to comment on the viability of that idea, more discussion will be taking place in the coming weeks between the department and Mr. Perret.

Since 2007, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has invested almost $400,000 in development in marketing projects in Yarmouth and the Acadian Shores. It is working with industry members and municipal officials to explore even more new opportunities. We are working with our strengths and looking forward. We have mobilized a team, Team West, to include representatives from the Department of Economic and Rural Development; Tourism, Culture and Heritage; NSBI; together with federal and provincial partners the team will mobilize and discuss the issues and opportunities facing southwest Nova Scotia.

I am pleased to share with you today that government is prepared to invest $600,000 to support the important work of this multi-stake player team. What's important, Mr. Speaker, is this is not new money. I want to confirm that this government is working hard

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to live within its means while at the same time supporting economic growth and good jobs for Nova Scotians.

Bay Ferries Yarmouth proposed a reduction to the $3 million committed by the previous government. As you may recall, this $3 million was to help the company cover its debt servicing and maintenance costs associated with the boat until a new use for The Cat was determined. We are pleased to accept Bay Ferries' proposal by providing them with $2.4 million now. The company will be in a much better position to be able to identify a new use for The Cat. We thought it was important to the people of Yarmouth that we reallocate the savings from this agreement to help spur tourism and economic development in Yarmouth and its neighbouring communities.

With the resources in place to help this team do its work, we will see that the area's entrepreneurial spirit and successes with partnerships will come together to lead the way to renewed opportunity.

I accept the work of this team will be informed by the results of a transportation study for the southwest region. Funded by ACOA, this study involves a number of provincial government departments and businesses and community stakeholders. It also involves the federal Transport Department and representatives from the Province of New Brunswick.

The government steering committee for this study will receive the final draft report shortly for its review and feedback. ACOA has indicated that this study will be made public within the next month. By focusing on our assets and diversifying our economy, we will attract new jobs, newcomers, and build a more sustainable future for all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand tonight and talk to this issue once again. I'm appalled at the minister standing today and reading the exact same speech that he read yesterday. There's not even a word that he changed - it's the same speech. Why doesn't he just package it up, put it on the Web site so people can see it, and just say, refer to the podcast, because he doesn't want to come to the point that there are people affected by this decision. He says we need to move on. Well, they didn't give him a good answer of why this happened in the first place, and if I have any suggestion at all of what to do with The Cat today - it's still sitting there in Yarmouth, you just gave them $2.4 million, why don't you all load on it and go for a long ride and don't come back, because Nova Scotians don't want to see you guys running this province. If this is the kind of leadership that you're going to be giving, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I think all of you thought by talking to the people in Yarmouth - the NDP people in Yarmouth, the Ken Langilles, the David Olies, those kinds of people - that this would just

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blow over. You know, Yarmouth won't say anything, they're a bunch of pushovers, so you can give it to us and we'll take it. (Interruption) They don't have the guts, the minister hasn't had the guts to come down to Yarmouth, the Premier hasn't had the guts to come down here to address the issue. Why did you make the decision? We've been asking for the numbers. What has been the economic impact statement? What did you look at to make this decision? You said, we looked at this long and hard and we made a very tough decision, yet, when we asked the question, yesterday the Premier stood in his seat and he said that it cost him $400 for every person that walked off the boat - $400 - where the heck did he come up with that number? He pulled that one out of his hat.

If I try to do the math - let's do Math 101, let's try to do a simple addition here. Mr. Speaker, it says the cost per person since 1997 - if we look at 1997, that's when Bay Ferries took over the system from Marine Atlantic - it costs somewhere close to $14. There were 3.5 million people who came through the Port of Yarmouth on the ferry system.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, okay, fine, let's take that equation and stretch it out just a little bit longer, let's look at The Cat and let's look at The Cat since 1997. I can tell you that that number, from 2006 to 2009, there were 385,000 people who came across on The Cat - 385,000 people, nothing to turn your nose up at. So 385,500 at a $20 million subsidy, well I get $52.27 per person. Where did the Premier come up with $400? That is what I was afraid of. I was afraid that they didn't have all the facts. Mr. Speaker, I was afraid that they didn't do their work. I was afraid that they didn't do their due diligence and the statement from the Premier basically told Nova Scotians that they didn't do the work, that they were rash, they listened to the wrong people.

Mr. Speaker, I want the Premier and I want the minister to come and talk to my friend, Calvin d'Entremont, who runs A Day By The Sea Tours, who, by the way, just bought a new bus last year so that he could take the people off the boat and show them the Acadian Village, the Acadian museum and all the areas through Argyle and into Yarmouth. What is he going to do this year? You know he is pretty sure he is going to have to go and sell the bus. So if maybe the minister has a purchaser for his bus, that's how you're going to be able to help out my friend Calvin d'Entremont.

Yesterday I brought Esther and Gil Dares. Mr. Speaker, I could talk about the marshalling company, Ginger MacKenzie and MacKenzie Security. They don't know what to do with all their people, what to actually tell them. So they say we want to move on, all right, let's move on a little bit. What can the minister do for southwestern Nova Scotia? He talks about the $600,000 that he was able to glean from the agreement with Bay Ferries by doing a full payout. Well, God darn it, he could have paid out the full $3 million with the support of the municipalities and actually had a boat running. What kind of math is that? What kind of investment is that in the future of Nova Scotia?

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I welcome the fact that they are participating in Team West. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is an ACOA-led initiative, one that was announced by MP Greg Kerr on Friday. I'm very glad to see that the minister was paying attention and that he is going to pay further attention by putting some dollars into this process.

I also said on Friday, when I was speaking to the emergency debate, I said that he needs to come with at least $1 million to try to keep the companies in southwest Nova Scotia, in Argyle, in Yarmouth, in your riding, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, of Clare, in Shelburne, in Queens, in Lunenburg, in Halifax, all through the Valley, and let's talk about Cape Breton and everywhere else that right now are going to have trouble making ends meet because this government has made such a very short-sighted decision on not funding The Cat.

Now, Mr. Speaker, again they throw things like JHS Fisheries. Thank you very much for bringing in a handful of jobs. Thank you very much for the work that you are going to do at Register.com, thank you for the work that you're going to do in the future to bring what I hope to see a handful of jobs here and there. They will not make the 500 jobs that have been lost today. There are 500 jobs and there is going to be infrastructure loss.

Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure loss is the one again that really will concern me. We're talking about the Rodd Colony Harbour Inn. Of course Rodd Hotels, in order to make ends meet in Yarmouth - I mean they have two facilities, they are going to have to close one down. They are going to have to invest heavily in the other one. What is going to happen to that? We're going to lose the Colony. I mean how many Nova Scotians have been to the Colony? There have been a lot because they have probably the best chowder available in southwest. We do have lots of good restaurants as well but the Colony is second to none.

Mr. Speaker, what is Gail going to do? My cousin Gail d'Entremont, who has been the cook there for the last 20 years, where is she going to find work after this? Where is the wait staff, where is the housecleaning staff? You know those people were probably working on minimum wage anyway and here they are now thrown to the wolves.

You know, Mr. Speaker, those are the people. That's why I continue to bring this issue forward and I'm hoping that the Deputy Speaker, the member for Clare, I will be bringing this issue forward on a regular basis as well and I hope the member for Kings West would bring this forward as well. I hope my colleagues will continue to bring this up as well because we will. This is an issue that's very important to Nova Scotia. It is not one that can be brushed under the carpet and hope that it never comes again. Southwestern Nova Scotia feels like it was thrown under the bus and they've got to fix it and they better fix it for 2011.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to join the debate on The Cat ferry. You know, The Cat didn't even get its whole nine lives out of this government before

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they threw it under the bus. It's interesting when you look into this and you start looking at the reaction and you start looking at some of the implications that the government has suggested over the past while that turn out to be false. We've heard the members of the Third Party note that the numbers were wrong, that the costs that the Premier suggested yesterday do not match up with the numbers that they were given by the government.

You can go on and look at the newspapers in Portland, Maine, that indicate that the first they heard of it was after it was cancelled and that they were a bit disappointed that they were never actually approached. Now, you know, you're looking for partners and they're quoted right there. Yet the Premier feels that operators were consulted and I'm sure if they were, especially the City of Portland would have heard about it before as well. We have not only Yarmouth but we have the Municipality of Queens and the Municipality of Kings both passing motions opposing the government's decision. Those are very easily accessible and a quick search of most of the top tourism Web sites and tourism writers across the United States shows them pretty well unanimously condemning the provincial government for this decision.

So, if the goal of the NDP was to get some media attention for Nova Scotia in the U.S. from this, they certainly did that. Unfortunately, the media attention that they got, when you read the comments on places like the Wooden Boat Forum - I need my glasses so I can actually see what I've written here - or the Portland Press Herald or Travels with Hilary, some of the top tourism sites, what do they say? Their comment in all of them is, Nova Scotia is now much more difficult to reach as an American tourist.

That's exactly the message that we want to get out in the United States, you see, and this is the problem. My colleague here a few minutes ago was quite right when he suggested that, you know, I think everybody pretty much agrees that The Cat was the wrong boat. We heard one of the NDP members from Halifax yell that out during Question Period earlier today. The thing is, people aren't saying it was the right boat. People are saying, whoa, you know, you gave us no notice about this. You dropped this on us without any time to come up with an alternative plan and anybody in marketing - the member for Inverness talked about marketing earlier - can tell you that once you lose customers, even if customers are down with the economy, it is much harder to get them back.

So if you had given them notice, allowed people working with the government to find an alternative solution for next year's season, then you could have kept those customers. Well, now you have created a situation where, you know, the Portland Press Herald and other newspapers, the North American travel writers association, are saying Nova Scotia is now much harder to reach. Do you know how hard it is to turn that perception around? It is very difficult, it may be impossible, and that's where it's going to have the impact.

Let's not pretend that this impact is just in Yarmouth or even just as far as places like White Point, which has expressed concern. There will be an impact here in HRM as well. Maybe it's not as many rooms at the Inn on The Lake in the minister's riding as it is at the

[Page 345]

Rodd Colony but there are still people who come through Nova Scotia on their travels, starting or ending their trip often on the ferry service out of Yarmouth, to make that decision.

If the government truly could stand by and say we have all the correct information, they would have tabled this information in the House, they would have provided this information publicly - all the information that they used to make this decision, they would have passed that on and made that public at the time of the decision. But they haven't done it and that just suggests the government is hiding something or that there is information that it does not want the public to see that it came to making a decision.

They've had months now to release that information, to release all the information that they used. In fact, it would appear from comments by ministers in the media at the time, they didn't even know there was a penalty clause when they made the decision. Let's have every bit of information that Cabinet used to make that decision. The decision's been made by Cabinet so there's no need for Cabinet confidentiality on any of those documents now. Let's have all of those briefing documents released and released now so the people of Yarmouth can see them, the people of Nova Scotia can see them and the people of this House can see them and have the same information.

Clearly, the information that we are receiving from operators, from government departments is different than what the ministers are saying in public. So, there has to be some clarity on that and there has to be a reckoning of those numbers.

In haste this afternoon, you can tell that the minister was feeling some heat on this issue because what did we see this afternoon - well not only did he read the same speech as yesterday, which baffles me. I mean, speak from the heart about this issue; if you really believe it, speak from the heart about it. It's seven minutes that you could speak from the heart. You don't have to read the same speech two days in a row.

Release the information, make sure that we all have every bit of information that Cabinet had at the time it made this decision and pulled the rug out from not only people in Yarmouth but people across Nova Scotia who are relying on this. We know the economy is down, everybody expected the numbers on the ferry services to be down at a time of a bad economy, just like tourism numbers are down all over.

The fact is, now this is one more blow. We're already seeing the closures, we're already seeing staff not being called back. This is a massive impact to these communities. If it wasn't an impact, you wouldn't see councils across Nova Scotia, municipal governments that are arguably closest to the people, passing motions against the government.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the time the House has afforded me today to discuss this and I will take my place.

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MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for debate on Resolution No. 4 has now expired.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: How soon we forget. This completes the Opposition's business for today and I turn it back to the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: That's a loaded statement, Mr. Speaker, turn it back on - I move the House do now rise to meet tomorrow from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. After the daily routine and Question Period, if time permits we will do Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I move the House do now rise to meet again from 12:00 noon to 4:00 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.

The House stands adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

We have now arrived at the moment of interruption.

Tonight's late show was submitted by the honourable member for Lunenburg.

"Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the vital importance of child care organizations such as the Lunenburg Day Care Centre and the Bye the Sea Nursery, recent recipients of funding through the Child Care Centre Repair Fund."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

[Page 347]

CHILD CARE CTR. REPAIR FUND - IMPORTANCE

MS. PAM BIRDSALL: It's my honour today to speak on behalf of our government regarding recent investments made in child care across the province. I will speak today about two such investments in my area of Lunenburg - Bye The Sea Nursery School and the Lunenburg Day Care Centre. One of our government's commitment to ensure more young people stay and build a life in Nova Scotia means we need to have day care centres.

[6:00 p.m.]

Lunenburg is a small town, renowned for it's UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. This designation ensures protection for much of Lunenburg's unique architecture, civic design and being the best example of planned, British colonial settlements in North America.

Visitors come from all over Canada and the rest of the world to enjoy Lunenburg's seafaring history and appreciate the beauty of this town. Lunenburg is the birthplace of the famous schooner, Bluenose II, and has a long history as an important seaport associated with the boat building industry. But Lunenburg has changed as the times have changed.

This summer, Lunenburg is looking forward to the extensive refit of Bluenose II, which will be a terrific tourist draw, day trips from all over everywhere, documentaries may abound, it is a very interesting project and we're very, very proud to have it happen in Lunenburg.

This town is also the home of trade plants such as Highliner Foods and also the growing high-tech industry with companies such as ABCO Industries Limited, Lunenburg Foundry, Composites Atlantic Ltd. and the new video game development company, HB Studio, are making their home in this historic community. Mahone Bay's Reinforced Plastic Systems is a world-class company with a solid future and a very, very bright future.

In addition to larger companies, small businesses such as Terra Beata Cranberries flourish along with smaller shops, boutiques and internationally recognized restaurants, multiple summertime festivals and a vibrant, year-round Farmer's Market.

Recently, Mr. Speaker, I attended a film festival, which was put on by the Council of Canadians talking about farming in our area. A film that was featured was called the Feast or Famine by a young man named Timothy Tracey. In that, it featured a number of young farmers who are actually looking at farming as a real and viable option for the future. This is very encouraging for the slow food movement.

With all that Lunenburg and the surrounding area has to offer, it is not surprising that young families are attracted by the natural beauty and charms of this community. Today,

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many Nova Scotian families find that the reality of their lives demand that both parents and single parents need to go to work, which means that community daycare for their children is absolutely essential. Choosing daycare for your children can be one of the most important and one of the most difficult things for parents to do. But if you are living in Lunenburg and have children, Lunenburg Day Care and Bye The Sea Nursery offer much to you.

The cheerfully painted building that houses both of these learning centres is located in the heart of the town, Mr. Speaker, and has been hugely important to the parents and to the children of our area for 37 years. I have often seen little groups of brightly dressed children on their outings with their caregivers exploring the town. They walk along hilly streets and spend hours down by the waterfront, which is the home of Canada's icon, Bluenose II. The boat building and waterfront activities are what make this such an interesting town for children and adults.

The Bye The Sea Nursery and Lunenburg Day Care share much more than a building. These two facilities share main goals in their pursuit of early childhood programming, care and education. Many of us in this Chamber have our own children and, perhaps, grandchildren, and we know how important the first few years of life are to the development of well-rounded individuals.

Today's child care facilities face a redefined family, one with many demands and many directions. As such, children come to rely on the care they receive while their primary caregiver is at work. Our government's investment in child care will help people who care for our children when we are not able to do so and in the best facilities to work. For instance, the $34,900 grant given to the Bye The Sea Nursery will be used for repairing their leaky foundation, allowing employees and children the ability to play and learn in a healthy environment. If you'll pardon the pun, the stability of the structural foundation at Bye The Sea will enable employees to focus on the foundation a child needs to grow.

At the Lunenburg Day Care Centre, which will receive a grant of $38,900, the funds will be used mostly outside the building on the playground. I am told that the area will be resurfaced with a poured rubber and will be made completely wheelchair accessible. There will also be many structural repairs to the front entrance of the building and the playground area.

We may not have played on a poured rubber playground, but I'm sure many of the members in this House will recall a time or two playing on a swing set or climbing up the stairs to the slide, and since we didn't have the safety of poured rubber, we probably remember band-aids along with the laughter. Rest assured, at these two institutions in Lunenburg there will soon be much more laughter for the children playing outside and enjoying the fresh air.

[Page 349]

This wonderful facility was created originally by Joan Lantz and Ruth Foley in 1973. We are proud to say that this daycare centre has the biggest capacity of a facility of this kind in Nova Scotia. Close to capacity at any given time, the Lunenburg Day Care has 106 spaces and a wait list for their under-5 program. If you do the math, you'll see that several thousand children have shared wonderful memories from their early years, making friends for a lifetime.

As you can imagine, after 37 years the Lunenburg Day Care has very strong ties to our community, and the operation of the daycare has stayed in the family, so to speak, after Joan Lantz retired. The current executive director is Joan's daughter, Patricia Lantz Randall, who is charged with running the daycare and nursery. Patricia works tirelessly with her team of dedicated employees - 25 to be exact, 18 of whom are early childhood educators who have received formal education in child care. Some of the staff have been employed with this facility for decades. Now that's a commitment to such a very important job.

We as a province can't go wrong investing in children. The well-being of children is an important concern of the community and society at large. Our government is proud to support the centres like the Lunenburg Day Care and Bye the Sea that provide an atmosphere where children flourish. We are proud to invest in centres that support social development, foster co-operation and relationships with other children, and at the right age help children learn their own level of independence.

The two centres I have spoken about tonight lay the ground for effective learning for children in Lunenburg. Staff members work with children and with each other to help develop new skills that children will use throughout their lifetime.

I am proud to be part of this government and the government that has in only a few short months in office invested millions of dollars in early childhood development. I am not only proud because of the investment I have spoken about, I am proud that this strategy stretches across the province from the Whitney Pier Day Care Centre to the Boys and Girls Club of Yarmouth.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the chance to speak about the great work done by the people at Bye the Sea Nursery and the Lunenburg Day Care. Thank you.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to join the debate this evening on the issue of recognizing the vital importance of child care organizations. Let me start off by saying that I think we're probably going to see more of this self-promotion of various areas by members. Because of the fact that they're not going to be able to do that with political advertising in their ridings, they're going to have to come here now and make their case for their ridings and try to get the message out that way. I would say that the

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members are going to have difficulty getting the message across in the future. I've always said that you don't need to self-promote your riding - all you have to do is work in that riding and you should be able to get elected. That should be sufficient.

Having said that, I take the remarks from the member at heart and I would say that she mentions that millions of dollars were spent on daycare centres in the past year, but she neglected to mention that it was $6.3 million and only $173,000 out of that $6 million was to help renovate and expand just two child care centres on Cape Breton Island. Now, she didn't mention that. She also didn't mention that nine of the 12 approvals went to NDP ridings, nine of the 12 approvals, since this government came to power, went to NDP ridings. The Minister of Community Services said in response to my question last Fall that was just a coincidence, that was just a coincidence, you know, that nine out of the 12 grants went to NDP ridings and that was just a coincidence. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, nobody in Nova Scotia believed that last Fall and nobody would believe it today that that was just a coincidence. Those were politically motivated. We didn't get anything close to what we were supposed to get for daycare centres in Cape Breton Island and, again, I asked that question in the House and I was glad to see that the Explorer and Discovery Centre in Sydney finally has some funding. Nevertheless, it seems that this government is very selective of what centres get funding, as they have been very selective on what other agencies get funding in this province of late, and it certainly doesn't seem very transparent, although the minister went to great pains to say that not only was it a coincidence but it was the right thing to do. Well, you know, out of $6 million, I wouldn't think that $173,000 out of that $6 million going to Cape Breton was indeed the right thing to do.

I can tell you that she mentioned that one of the grants went to Cape Breton Nova which, of course, in Cape Breton is an NDP riding, but nothing close to what Cape Breton Nova needs or deserves, as well as Cape Breton South, Cape Breton North, and all the other ridings on Cape Breton Island, but she did mention that Cape Breton Nova, with a little boost for the member for Cape Breton Nova because he happens to be a New Democrat, but I mean he's not very happy, I don't think, with the amount of money that he received there. He's probably grateful for the little bit of money he received, but nothing like he should have received for his daycare centres, and the same in Cape Breton South, and the same in the other Cape Breton ridings.

There wasn't very much mention here of what we need to do about a strategy around daycares in the future and I'm not saying that the member neglected to say that. The member was promoting her own daycares in her area and that's fair, I don't have a problem with that, but we should have a debate here in this House sometime in the near future, Mr. Speaker, about the strategy that should be coming to this House and presented by the minister for the future of daycare centres, both public and private daycare centres in this province in the future.

[Page 351]

There has been much debate over the past few years about public versus private daycares and they're forgetting in that mix that the problem is that there should be mobility. The people of this province should have the ability to go to the daycare centre which meets their needs and the needs of their children closest to their home. It shouldn't be whether or not it's a public daycare or a private daycare. The service should be made available as close to the homes of the people who want and deserve that particular service - the hard-working mothers of this province who are out there working and the families who need adequate, affordable daycare, be it private or be it public, and I think that this government has to come to grips with that.

We asked the question last Fall, and I'm sure the Third Party did as well, the whole question about where is this province going with a daycare strategy? Looking after daycare workers adequately, Mr. Speaker, is part of that strategy. We have to let daycare workers know that we care about them. We have to let daycare workers know that they are important in their communities and that we should be funneling parents to have their children go to these daycare centres which meets their needs, the ones that are closest to their homes, closest to their workplaces, and never mind whether it's not-for-profit or for-profit centres as long as the children are getting looked after. There's room for both in this province and this government should know that by now because presentations were made to suggest that there is room for both public and private daycares in this province.

There haven't been any announcements, Mr. Speaker, recently, about subsidized daycare spaces since this government took office - not a thing, not a thing. You know we've had some repair work done, as the member alluded to, which is a good thing, although I don't think there was certainly a strategy around that even, it was just cherry-picked in some NDP ridings that needed some physical work done to their centres and a few things like that.

[6:15 p.m.]

A lot of ridings were left out, but that's not the end of the story. The end of the story is that subsidized daycare spaces in this province are desperately needed for hardworking parents, and they're not coming forth with these spaces. That's the kind of strategy we should be looking at down the road here, and hearing something from this Minister of Community Services, what she's going to do to provide adequate daycare spaces in this province, both public and private.

I'm glad that the member for Lunenburg brought this to the House tonight. It gave me an opportunity to talk again about what I talked about last Fall, about the need to provide adequate daycare spaces and to look after daycare workers, and not treat them like some kind of second-class citizens and only react when the pressure is on about providing adequate daycare space. They should be taking the lead in that. It's a very important service.

[Page 352]

As the member rightly said, we should be looking after our children - we should be looking after our children in these daycare centres while their parents are out trying to earn enough money to exist in this province, in some cases, or to grow their economic future. They need help; the help is not there. There are waiting lists for both public and private daycares in this province, and we have to attend to this very important need. We have to convince Nova Scotians that there is a future for daycare centres in this province and adequate daycare space will be available for people who need it in this province.

Last Fall we introduced a bill in the House on this very issue, and of course it went nowhere; the minister said there was no need, that they had the strategy in hand. Well, here we are in the Spring session, and I don't see anything happening except that a couple of daycare centres that had some physical improvements made were announced, and again, $170,000 on Cape Breton Island of the $6 million doesn't speak well for (Interruption) Yes, and that was just a coincidence, of course, that most of the 12 ridings were NDP. I guess I can take that at face value. I'll leave that to the people of Nova Scotia to decide, that 12 announcements were made and nine of them were in NDP ridings. I'll leave it to the people of Nova Scotia to judge what the minister has said about this, that that was entirely coincidental.

The fact that was also coincidental, or just maybe an accident, is that out of $6 million only $173,000 went to Cape Breton Island. That doesn't speak well for the attention being paid to even the two NDP ridings that are still on Cape Breton Island. It seems to me that the government has written off Cape Breton Island. They have two members down there, and either they figure those members can get elected on their own or they're going to throw them under the Dexter bus before the next election, because this government is doing absolutely nothing in Cape Breton Island except coming down, making announcements, disappearing, and nothing happening. That is not sufficient for the people of Cape Breton Island. We should be standing up and demanding more service, demanding our share of the economic strategy that is still missing from this government, but I think that Cape Bretoners should be encouraging the Deputy Premier from Cape Breton Centre and the member for Cape Breton Nova to encourage their government to do more in Cape Breton Island, so that we can at least get our fair share of any economic improvements that may come our way - if there are any economic improvements coming our way. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, there's always a peril to going after the member for Cape Breton South because he's so eloquent in what he brings forward and, of course, his arguments are always well-founded and he's got the history of this House to work with him. We call him the Dean of the House.

I want to thank the member for Lunenburg for bringing this issue to the floor. Child care is, of course, something that is extremely important. I know she wants to come forward

[Page 353]

and talk about her riding, and she did have that opportunity, but the neat part about this procedure is that we're able to talk about the government and take exception to some of the things that maybe she has said.

Mr. Speaker, again, I want to congratulate the Lunenburg Day Care Centre and Bye The Sea Nursery. Of course, they were recent recipients of the Child Care Centre Repair Fund. I'm sure the dollars they required were much needed and I'm sure that it will benefit the residents of Lunenburg and area for a long time to come.

Now, I'm wondering though, looking at the last discussion that we had in this House no more than 15 or 20 minutes ago when we were talking about the devastating effect to southwest Nova Scotia with the loss of The Cat. The member for Lunenburg talked about the tourist industry, talked about the tourist draw for the reconstruction of the Bluenose II. Well, for gosh sakes, where are these people going to come from? You know, we know, I know that the majority of the people that end up in Lunenburg were people that came off the boat in Yarmouth. That drove their way up and would partake in the process, the tourist industry, seeing the waterfront, being at the Fisheries Museum of Nova Scotia and participate in the daily life of Lunenburg.

Which is a lovely town, a great town, one that I was very pleased to be invited to a number of times by her predecessor, the late, great Michael Baker. I know that without the input of Michael Baker on child care and supporting us in May 2006 when we brought in our daycare plan, the one that brought over 1,000 new seats to this province, that brought over 550 of those to be subsidized spaces that could move with the families.

What we're seeing is this government - I think over the next couple of years - to continue to take credit for a lot of work that I did, that my predecessors did, that our government did, because they were all wonderful programs. Programs that will have a lasting impact in this province.

I want to talk about the Le Jardin des Petits in Tusket. We have a brand new school community centre with a brand new daycare in it, a facility that is second to none and it came out of the hard work of a number of ministers and myself as well as the federal government to make sure that our area not only had a daycare but also had a bilingual francophone daycare. One that my children can go to even though they're a little old, there's maybe times I feel like I should send them there, but ultimately, they're probably listening to this too, so they'll get a kick out of it, André and Alec, that I want to send them to the daycare now. There are times when they do deserve to go there.

That was our hard work. That was this government's hard work to make sure those went in but what have we seen in the last year? Outside of taking credit for what we have, there's no new programs here. There are no new improvements. The member for Cape Breton South talked about the lack of support they're having there. There are two members

[Page 354]

that sit on that side of the House and where is their influence on the Premier or on the Minister of Community Services or any one of those ministers for a matter of fact. They don't have it.

As a matter of fact, I see the member for New Waterford thrown under the bus. When a bad decision has to be made, who does the Premier send out to make that announcement? I feel bad for the Deputy Premier because he's sent out to do those things. That's the disdain I think that Premier, that Cabinet, has for Cape Breton. God forbid we talk about southwest Nova Scotia.

The Minister of Economic and Rural Development stands on his pegs again today and reads the exact same speech that he read yesterday. I just can't believe the insult - adding injury to insult or insult to injury, whichever way you want to look at it - is beyond me. It's beyond me. What that means in southwest Nova Scotia is that we're probably not going to need the daycare. There will be 500 or so families with children, how many children are affected by this decision? Those kids have been thrown under the bus. We're going to have some phenomenal daycares to send them to but they're not going to have to go because their mom and dad aren't working so they're not going to be able to afford the daycare to begin with.

They're going to have to stay home. Even though we have these wonderful investments, when we talk about what's happening in our area, to be quite honest, rings hollow to many of the people in southwest Nova Scotia. I count southwest Nova Scotia to include Digby-Annapolis, Clare, Kings West, both Kings and going down from Lunenburg right up on back down to Yarmouth, which includes the Queens. What puzzles me about some of these decisions is that there are a number of backbenchers, NDP backbenchers, who should have had some kind of influence on some of these decisions. Apparently they don't have that influence, apparently they are not listened to by the Premier or the Premier Emeritus, Dan O'Connor, or whatever. Who is making the decisions? They are very, very tight.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that the backbench, in my estimation - and like I said, I'm glad that the member for Lunenburg brought this issue forward and talked about her community because she's not going to have the opportunity very often to do this, because I don't believe that the front bench or the Premier's Office is going to allow her to do it. Just like the member for Kings North, just like the member for Antigonish, just like the member for Truro-Bible Hill, just like the member for Pictou Centre. I could go on but those are the only people I am seeing.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that decision-making is held at the top of this government and he doesn't have any clue about children, he has no clue about families in any part of Nova Scotia. I feel bad for the backbench here (Interruption) Yes, exactly, they've gone for power at any cost. They've thrown Nova Scotians under the proverbial Dexter bus.

[Page 355]

Mr. Speaker, I think people come into this House with dreams and thoughts about what they can do and how they're going to influence the lives of their constituents, whether it be in child care, whether it be in education, whether it be in health care. There are many issues that are affecting the daily lives of our people, but we continue to see the disregard for these issues in non-member held ridings, and we'll continue to see in non-front bench held ridings. As a matter of fact, there's maybe a few guys and girls on that front bench who will not be looked at as well.

We look, Mr. Speaker, at Pictou West and the issue around the Hector. Again, they took the Speaker and threw him under the bus this time. Nobody is sacred here. I look at the member for Antigonish, and of course I wish him well and I welcome him to this House of Assembly, but I'm hoping that he didn't come with too many expectations to this House that he is going to be able to affect the lives in Antigonish. As a matter of fact, it looks like he lost his jail to Pictou Centre, just like the member for Cumberland South lost their jail to Pictou Centre. Do you know why? Because the member for Pictou Centre was allowed, the Minister of Justice was allowed to make his own decision on where that thing goes and he took it away from two very good ridings and took away the millions of dollars that was invested in it.

Mr. Speaker, we brought forward a child care plan, one that made sense, one that had millions of dollars attached to it. We created over 1,000 seats across this province and we've seen no expansion whatsoever by this government. Where is the expansion going to be? Where is the investment going to be? A couple of little grants here and there is not going to cut it. We really need to make sure that the dollars land in the hands of the people and the families, to be able to give them that step up, to make sure that families are able to take care of their families, able to participate in child care and make sure that they have what they need to be families in Nova Scotia. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time allocated for late debate this evening has now expired. I would like to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late show.

The motion for adjournment was made earlier. The House will now rise to sit again tomorrow at the noon.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 356]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 163

By: Hon. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

Monsieur le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résoluton suivante:

Attendu que les membres d'une grand famille acadienne a établit un nouveau record dans le livre Guinness pour le plus d'enfants vivant au délà dé l'âge de soixante dix ans; et

Attendu que l'ancien record établit était de douze enfants vivant au délà l'âge de soixante dix ans; et

Attendu que les 13 enfants vivants d'Edgar T. LeBlanc and Anna Landry originaire de Moncton de Nouveau Brunswick ont établit un nouveau record mondiale;

Qu'il sort résolu que les membres de cette Assemblée félicitent et tramets ses meilleurs voeux et souhait longue vie a Mme Huberte Boissonault de la Point de l'Église et les membres de sa famille pour avoir établit un nouveau record dans le livre Guinness.

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

Whereas members of a large Acadian family have earned a place in The Guinness Book of World Records as the family with the most siblings living over the age of 70; and

Whereas the former world record was set for 12 siblings over the age of 70; and

Whereas 13 surviving children of Edgar T. LeBlanc and Anna Landry of Moncton, NB., have set a new world record;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mme Huberte Boissonault of Church Point and her family for having set a new Guinness world record and wish her many years of good health and happiness.

[Page 357]

RESOLUTION NO. 164

By: Honourable Karen Casey (Colchester North)

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

Whereas hard work, dedication, and commitment are more important than the limitation of a small rural school population on the North Shore in regard to success on and off the basketball court; and

Whereas the North Colchester Mustangs Boys Basketball team won most games by an average of 30 points, were the NSSAF Division 4 Colchester District Champions, the NSSAF Division 4 Northumberland Regional Champions, and were the first team from a Colchester County school to capture a NSSAF Provincial Championship in any division for boys basketball in a generation; and

Whereas the Outstanding High School Team Award, presented to a school team which has achieved exceptional success in their particular sport over the year, was recently presented to the Mustangs by the Truro Sport Heritage Society;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to the team players and coaches of the North Colchester Mustangs Boys Basketball team for their outstanding achievements.